I only had time for a little hike for my first afternoon, it was about one and a half hours before sunset. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me, plenty of time to hike up the valley accross from my rig, to these little hills!
The views are amazing, especially as the sun goes low in the sky. I look back at red rock vista behind me, with the desert landscape in front of me with awe, what a sight!
As I climb up to the first hill, I notice holes in the rocks. They make me nervous, what could be in them?
I shine a light (flash from camera) into a few holes. Nothing to be seen in these. So, at least not all the holes are full of eyes staring back at you.
I notice around me many holes. They look sinister; there still could be something watching me from them. Hell, an army could be hidden in all of those.
I climb up the first hill, pretty easy. The one behind looks like it is more of a view, and not full of holes like the hills to my left. Up I go!
The view up here is much better, can see the light of the setting sun bathing the desert below me, quite the light show. But the sun going down reminds me, darkness will be soon, time to get off this rock. I decide rather than going down the ridge to the first hill, then down, I’d go straight down to my left – I can see the bottom.
I see distant vistas through a gap in the hills as I start down, nice, but I need to concentrate on getting down now – it’s really starting to get dark, and I don’t want to be scrambling down a steep slope in the dark. I carfully step down, but I’m hurrying a bit, flailing my arms about to keep balance.
Suddenly, I wack a plant beside me in my flailing. Ouch! Uh-oh. I look at my left hand with horror. Remember the Cholla that stuck to my shoe? That was my left hand, the last three digits had multiple thorn clusters stuck to them. This was going to hurt.
I steel myself and pull the first one. Wince with the pain. Blood flows freely. Steel myself for the pain I know is coming for the next one. Pull again, hard – these suckers come out of skin with almost as great a difficulty as the shoes. Pull again. Again. Look at my bloodied digits. Only one more cluster, and a bunch of orphan thorns left. Pull again. Yank little thorns out.
I look at my throbbing hand in the dimming light, did I get all of them? Wipe the blood off, looks OK, but the pain makes it hard to tell if a little thorn is still in there. Nothing to do but walk back to camp. I give every Cholla wide berth as I make my way to the bottom, and walk down the gully back to my rig.
I inspect the damage back in some proper light – seems I got everything. The pain has subsided – really the worst part is pulling those SOBs out, they really hurt with those spine hairs that dig inward. It seemed Kofa wanted me to pay further for my view that afternoon.
I enjoy the sunset, feeling my hand every once in a while for any possible remaining spines.
But I don’t give up easily. I look up at the sky and decide despite my hand that some astrophotography is in order, I didn’t go through all the trouble of packing that tripod to not get out on a night like this!
I learned from these photos that cloud and moon is not necessarily a bad thing in astrophotography – a quarter moon, and a bit of hazy cloud add a nice effect to these photos. But it is time for bed and sleep to help heal the hand.