When I actually got to the top of the foothill, I was able to see Phoenix as I think it was intended; from above, as its name of the mythical bird for which it is named suggests. I sat on a nearby rock and began to look out and reflect on my trip, taking in the sounds of the people around me, laughter filling the air as my camera did its thing. As I began to lose light in the west, directly north of me was the city, suddenly shimmering as if set ablaze. What I saw in that moment was bigger than words, so self-apparent that all I could do was laugh and then not, until things were quiet and I was left agape.
Phoenix at sunset from South Mountain.
When the sun set on Phoenix, I grabbed my stuff and took stock of my work. The photos I felt were dramatic and impressive, every one of them except those of Phoenix itself. I couldn’t be closer I felt, but it would have taken a different camera setup or moving a mountain. Understandably, my frustration lie at my own feet. Climbing down the foothill, I took some parting shots of the large saguaro cactus in the area. They were like giants next to me, their forms oddly anthropomorphic. The cactus had “skin” that wrinkled and furrowed as well as “hairy arms” set in the orans position as if engaged in eternal prayer. I could see us in these trees, and them in us as well. Being next to the cactus made me feel a sort of kinsmanship with my environment, and even with time itself. How many people had stood where I stood? I would be hard to guess, but the realization reemphasized how important it was for people to see this place.