Adventure to sacred land

Adventure to sacred land

The Superstition Mountains, WOW is the first thing that comes to my mind after my visit there this past February. I love photography but unfortunately I don’t get to travel much for that work, so whenever I go somewhere I usually bring my Canon 5D Mark III so I can capture whatever I can while I’m away. I love Michigan and the Midwest but I’m a sucker for mountains. Every time I fly in to Seattle for a NFL game I’m just in awe of the Cascades. This trip to Arizona was for the Superbowl with NFL Films. I fortunetly had the day off that Saturday before the big game so I decided to get out and do some hiking. After researching the area and finding many options such as Camelback Mountain and Lookout Mountain, I decided to drive a little further East of Phoenix to the Superstitions.

I was super excited to go because hiking mountains isn’t something us Midwesterners do very much! I was just hoping I’d have enough time in the day to get far enough to satisfy my craving. I made my home base the Lost Dutchman State Park. The drive there was pretty smooth aside from some “big city” traffic driving through Phoenix.  Once you get to a certain point near Apache Junction theSuperstitions start to come in to view and I knew right away that I was going to someplace special.

 

When I pulled up it was a standard park fee to enter, I believe $7. Once I parked, I jumped out with the camera and before I even left the parking lot…

 
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Yeah, WOW. Those low clouds blanketing and weaving through the mountains sure started off the hike with a surreal feeling. Moving on through the trail on my way up to the mountain I couldn’t help but feel how close the mountain felt it was to me, although my legs were telling me a different story. Now, the initial hike up to the Green Boulder (2580′) wasn’t that bad. The trail was for the most part smooth with light rocks and a slow and steady incline that mentally you couldn’t feel but physically someone that doesn’t hike elevations like that would feel. Here are some photographs I captured as I was hiking up to the Green Boulder.

 

 
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The desert scene on the way up was incredible especially if you consider that those Cacti are ridiculously old (like 100 years to get that big). Those Cacti sprinkled in with other light vegetation with the surreal mountains in the background was just breathtaking and only the tip of the iceberg. For my out of shape 33 year old body getting to the Green Boulder area was a relief but mostly because it felt like I “got somewhere”, somewhere sacred. The views at this point looking back out toward Western Arizona were incredible.

 

 
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You can see the vastness of the landscape when you are up this high. Also notice the vegetation is green and close to blooming at this point in the year. After taking in this location I noticed a short cut which ran straight across along side the bottom of the mountain. The trail was small and more “rough” but still not bad and there was not much incline. The view of the mountains didn’t change much but the landscape around it did.

 
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Out of the pictures I captured on that portion of the hike this one stands out the most.

 
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When you are around these mountains you can feel why the Native Americans thought of them as sacred. The low lying clouds weaving through jagged rocks looked and felt very spiritual.  As more clouds rolled in and through there were times it was difficult to see what might lie ahead with the mountain. As the side of the mountain ended and curved “up” my eyes came upon this…

 
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Never being there before this was a very big surprise. I didn’t realize that I was heading toward  the part of the trail where you turn and head up to the basin that leads up to Flatiron Peak. All of a sudden I felt like I was in prehistoric times, almost in another dimension. I felt like at any time a Pterodactyl was going to fly out of the clouds from the peaks of the mountains. It was surreal…

 
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This turn “up” was “IT”, the moment I was waiting for. I was thinking, “This is what the Native Americans saw and this is why it was so important to them.” I’ve never been so in awe of anything in my life, it was truly life changing. I know that might seem a little dramatic but I’m being honest with you, it gave off such a spiritual and sacred feeling. The view was more dramatic as the climb got more steep and more rocky.

 
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Climbing that path led me to the basin, which was at 3100′. At this point my legs were feeling it but honestly it wasn’t that bad at all, the scenery took a lot of my mind’s attention away from the climb. This was the basin heading up to the Flatiron Peak.

 
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At this point I took a few minutes to rest and take in this location with the sign and the Mountains surrounding me as if they were going to close up and swallow me entirely. From here on up the hike gets very difficult. It didn’t help that it was very damp so securing your footing on the rocks and dirt was a challenge. Once you get to a certain point, after challenging terrain, there is a very large steep climb up smooth rock. Unfortunately this is were I had to stop my journey. My footing was getting bad being that it was so damp, which made this steep, smooth surface very dangerous. I didn’t want to risk getting injured with the fact that I was shooting the Super Bowl the next day. With that said, I still had a little left in me before the climb down, so I went a little off the path and found a couple waterfalls. These were like hidden gems, tucked away in the mountain.

 
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After that I made my climb back down, stopping on the way taking more pictures every chance I had. Overall the hike took me around 4 and a half hours. I most likely would of went all the way to Flatiron Peak had the terrain not had been so damp (would of took another ~2 hours hiking). Once I got back home to Michigan and started editing the photos I again realized just how amazing this location is. I can tell you that it changed me, gave me perspective, gave me even more appreciation for Mother Nature than I already had, which I didn’t think was possible! In my opinion this is a must see location not only in the USA but in the World. You don’t have to be a expert hiker or a photographer, just get out there and hike, see what the Native Americans saw and felt.

 

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The Superstition Mountains are the most inspiring place I have ever been to and I do plan on going back to explore more of this sacred land. I encourage you to do the same.