I normally don't hike on weekends so those who can only hike on weekends don't have to put up with the additional traffic on the trails. But I had to get out today, and I'm glad I did and glad I made the selection I did
My initial plan was to do the Praying Hands Loop, a hike I tried to complete last year but spent too much time photographing a pair of Rock Climbers. So today I got an early start and was one of the first at the Cross Cut Trailhead and enjoyed the solitude along the well worn trail headed straight up through the foothills.
The trail I was on was angling too much towards the Massacre Grounds, so I left the trail and began bushwhacking my way over towards the Praying Hands formation. The route I took was rewarding because it took me past some interesting formations along the way and presented some excellent photo ops of the scenery behind me. The sun was just coming up on Four Peaks and the Goldfield Mountains and they were showing their best first-sun colors. Peak 2636 along the Massacre Grounds Trail (the pointy one), was especially interesting from this angle as I was now high enough to be looking down on it as the sun lit it up.
If we can get some more rain, it should be a knock-out spring, already everything is showing a lot of green and the plants appear healthy (even the Catsclaw has sharpened its talons)
As I got closer to Praying Hands, I could hear voices, and was soon able to make out six figures at the base of the rock formation. So I approached the group and during introductions, found out that one of the climbers is suzaz
out testing her healing ankle again. I told the group that I would stick around for a while and take some photos of them from various angles as I explored the area below the cliff face.
The exploration part was interesting, the photo work was fun and the ground, although steep, provided good footing so I worked my way around the rocks and the base of the cliffs shooting wherever I could find steady footing. I was using a lot of zoom so I used a small portable tripod to steady the camera. I gave the camera a 2 second shutter timer to allow me to obtain focus, trip the shutter button and take my hands off the camera. I would like to have called out for the group to "Say Cheese" because from 1/4 mile away, I was able to capture facial expressions
I had promised my wife that I would be back around noon, so I began working my way back along the same route I came up on. As I descended, I kept shooting as the group worked their way up the steep sides of the Praying Hands. Soon the sunlit rock was in shadows and I was only able to capture silhouettes of the climbers as they clung to the rocky surfaces
and finally the lead climber broke out into the sun on top of the rock
I have a lot of respect for those climbers who challenge the heights and the vertical rock walls and formations
, but it ain't for me
. I prefer the walking and hiking with the steepest climbs only high enough to ascend without ropes and tools
. I'm sorry I had to leave early, but I hope the group completed the climb without incidents. You guys ROCK
This of course, leaves it open for another trip, when maybe I can complete the loop