A Bug is a Bug (Unless its a Photo)

If I’d spotted it creeping across my carpet, I’d have crushed it into a paper towel with a shiver and no shame. But as this bug was moseying across red sandstone on Camelback Mountain, I instead dropped down to the best camera angle, thinking it quite spectacular.

As was the view… Camelback Mountain rises some sixteen hundred feet above downtown Phoenix. The incongruity of this heap of a mountain is striking as one gazes down into the flat basin of desert city below. Similar lumps of reddish rock loom in the distance, bold backdrops to Sky Harbor International’s constant air traffic. During my recent visit, a friend and I clambered up a trail labeled “strenuous” hoping for a good late afternoon work-out.

We got our work-out and then some! As a cardio-nut, I didn’t find it strenuous so much as “scary.” And altogether lovely… Sheer drop offs, sliding gravel, and the occasional wind gust made an inward lean preferable. Ascending the uneven terrain was akin to stepping up the equivalent of three or four stair steps at once. The climb required focus and a constant momentum, more than a little bit of nerve, and a lot of photos.

Camelback’s granite base soon gave way to sedimentary rock cemented with a pleasing rust colored sandstone that provided wonderful contrast to the sparse foliage along the way. Purple lupine sprouted steadfastly in unlikely places. The occasional palo verde tree clung tenaciously at cliff edge. Cacti such as yellow brittlebush, jumping (or “teddy bear”) cholla, hedgehog and barrel provided occasional splashes of color and texture.

The ascent was the easiest part. After a water break and panoramic elation, the rapidly approaching sunset chased us back down the mountain. We descended quickly, knowing how fast the flash from afternoon to darkness can be when shielded by a mountain. Climbing down felt a lot like downhill biking with the brakes on and made for good “jello” legs when we finally walked contentedly out from under Camelback’s shadow.

Phoenix Couple Travel Tips


0 Comments to A Bug is a Bug (Unless its a Photo)

  1. Cool photos, Heather! Neat hike!

  2. What a fascinating, beautiful, hair-raising walk. Way to go.

  3. Don

    This was a lovely post. Why, that ugly bug it was so sleek and slender, he, she, or it, was, indeed, beautiful!

    I love your voice; the narration really adds to your blog. If only I had such a lovely voice, I would only write an introduction to each of my posts and narrate the rest.

    Keep it up – love it, just love it!.

  4. Makes me want to plan an outdoor trip right away…if only I would follow through…

    “A Bug is a Bug (Unless it’s a Photo)”….yeah, I would smash it in a second but in a photo there seems to be some fleeting admiration…a dawning that this is another form of life. Oh…for all the bugs I have killed!!!

  5. nyte

    very nice pics i love the mountains

  6. Thanks for sharing those great photos! It feels so good to reach the summit- very relaxing. 🙂

  7. creepy spider…I love your post, beautiful photos…;)

  8. Heather

    SF Girl,
    It was exhilarating; far better than the Stairmaster!!

  9. Heather

    Suzanne,
    It’s almost “trip” time for you (Nina too)! Hope you enjoy the family time; I’ll look forward to reading about it…

  10. Heather

    Thank you Don!
    I haven’t heard your voice, but I always learn something from your posts.
    It made me laugh to realize how differently I reacted to a bug posing for me beside a trail. Maybe if I were to first photograph the occasional spider in the family room…?

  11. Heather

    Adrian,
    I’ve swatted and smashed my share too! It’s contextual, I guess. I move them aside when I garden but eliminate them when they trespass my house. Must be the “mama lion” in me…?

  12. Heather

    Thank you Nyte,
    There’s something wonderfully inspiring about mountains and oceans and starry nights. I think it’s just good to know the World is bigger than your own world sometimes…

  13. Heather

    Land Projects UK,
    That hike felt amazing! I’d been sick in the morning (lack of sleep, getting the kids launched to Hawaii, lack of sleep yet again…). Climbing (and a good lunch) burned out the negatives and made me feel like myself again. Only better…

  14. Heather

    mee mOe,
    I know you love photography as well. It is infinitely relaxing to reduce one’s reactions to camera captures. Reducing the extraneous expands wonderful spaces within; I loved living with that sort of focus for a few days!

  15. Now i want plan a outdoor trip…

  16. Fantastic to find your blog, Heather. You’ll know who I really am as your new Facebook Friend.

    I really enjoyed listening to your narration, as well as seeing the super shots.

  17. That’s a beautiful way to get a workout. Nice colorful pictures. Thanks for sharing this experience with us. Bugs, Yuk! Ha, ha…. Just kidding!

  18. Heather

    Sascha: Looks like you do a fair amount of traveling yourself… I enjoyed your post on Laos.

    Jean-Luc Picard: Thank you so much. That means a lot coming from one as creative as yourself!

    Intrepid: An outdoor work-out beats the gym any day of the week. Just wish Ohio had mountains (besides the ones made of laundry)…

  19. Mountains of laundry, Mountains of junk mail… I know what you mean. It’s nice to get away and experience different places. We have lots of mountains out here but I’m still partial to the Rocky Mountains. Aren’t there some nice hills in eastern Ohio?

  20. Heather

    Intrepid,
    Yes, we have the Hocking Hills etc about an hour or so to the southeast but nothing like what you have out there near LA (or those wonderful Rockies!)…

  21. I have just wandered upon your blog and have immediately fallen in love with it, The layout, the photographs, your writings and your readings all make the experience so enjoyable.

    Sometime ago I added an audio introduction to my blog, and have often considered adding some commentary to the occasional post…. Your wonderful recordings are a great inspiration for me.

    I look forward to visiting your blog again to read/listen more.

  22. Heather

    Graham,
    Your site is amazing! I bookmarked it immediately. Thank you so much for the kind comments.
    The recording is an easy add-on for me as a voice-over talent; glad you like it…

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