May 30, 2017 538

A Night Above the Phoenix Lights

As a native of Phoenix, I've always been mesmerized by one of the most prominent geologic structures in the area, a peak in the Superstition Mountains known as the Flat Iron. To ascend this peak requires arguably the most demanding hikes in the Phoenix area: a four mile one way trek from the base of the range to the top of Flat Iron. Over years of hiking in this area, I've developed an itch to backpack camp at one of the highest destinations has consistently grown within me. On an idyllic Spring day in March of 2017, I finally cured that itch.

With my pack and camera gear, I began the hike in the early afternoon and reached the summit with about 20 minutes to spare before sunset. I quickly found a campsite, set up my tent on the rocky ground (using large rocks to weigh down the corners of my tent, as the ground was too solid for stakes), and threw on my windbreaker to bear the 30MPH wind that persisted throughout the evening. Just as the sun was crossing the horizon, I took off with my camera and tripod to snap some very memorable photos of an otherwise vacant mountaintop.

As daylight faded to starlight, the city of Phoenix below and its suburbs began to illuminate like a sea of fireflies. I took many moments to relish in the intense solitude of being alone atop this mountain, while seemingly so intimate with my hometown, just a few miles away. Fortunately, I was able to capture a few of these precious moments in the form of self-portraits with my camera and tripod.

Not long after exploring and taking photos, my sleeping bag was loudly calling my name, so I ate my PB&J dinner, hydrated, and laid down for a slumber in an epic campsite overlooking the city. I had intended to wake in the early morning hours in order to capture a few images of our galactic center, but awoke with the sun peaking over the horizon and thus washing out any chance of Milky Way shots. However, my beautiful experience of watching the sun rise and gradually illuminate the Valley of the Sun once again was not hindered. As the city lights diminished, sunlight pushed through the shadow of the western facing mountain on which I was standing, eventually turning to a scene of morning daylight. While soaking in the relieving warmth of our star, I packed up my camp and made my way for further exploration before heading down the trail and to my car. Again, I was still alone on this mountain, a rare opportunity to explore a fairly heavily travelled area without any disruption. 

This was my first solo backpacking journey, and will certainly not be the last. With use of my Sony A7, I successfully and (in my opinion) beautifully documented my memorable overnight adventure overlooking the gorgeous Phoenix Metropolitan Area of Arizona.