A spectacular sunset

Clouds positioned perfectly.

Clouds positioned perfectly.

By luck last night, I ended up atop the summit of North Mountain to witness a grand sunset.

It was a rare summer day in Phoenix.  Monsoon season.  Clouds had set in, temps in the 80s, down 20 degrees from norm, and a light breeze stirred the creosote leaves.

I had intended to hike the inner basin, trying to get my legs back after two months of dormancy, pampering myself too much from the heat.

At the Visitors Center at North Mountain Park in Phoenix, I’d run into an old acquaintance, Mike, who was preparing to lead a group of 25 hikers up Shaw Butte for a night’s view of the city.  It was then he told me of the baby rattlesnakes just emerging on North Mountain.  I changed plans on the spot and soon headed up the paved road to the summit.

A special sunset coming to an end.

A special sunset coming to an end.

While not seeing even one snake, I reached the top about 30 minutes before sunset, and stood there, camera in hand, waiting for what I figured would be a spectacular sunset.  The clouds in the west were just right, a low batch of cumulus hanging on the horizon.

As sunset approached, at 7:24, I was stunned to see some of the other dozen hikers on top start down.  They were going to miss the best part of the evening.

I stuck it out, and it was worth the wait and the trouble going back down to the VC parking lot in darkness.  You see a lot of great sunsets out here in the Southwest.  But this was special.


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