Total Miles: 758.0
Stars, sunsets, sunrises, distant mountains. This trail has been full of them—atmospheric settings abounding in a land of vast open space. Day after day your eyes are drawn to them, these obvious sights, and yet to focus only on them is to overlook that which is right in front of you.
Rewind to only our fourth day on trail, a steady rain beating down on our morning hike to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. When it briefly paused, I looked down to see perfect water droplets formed on each and every aspen leaf that now lie carpeting the ground. Bending down to look at what would surely be just one of several million such leaves I’d walk over that morning, I was amazed at the detail I never would have otherwise noticed or even thought to inspect. Acting like tiny magnifying lenses, the beads of water put every vein and every texture under a microscope.
For a moment, I had returned to that state of curiosity through which every young child examines the world. Waning as if it was a luxury, a decadence that can no longer be afforded amid the grinding gears of adulthood, it’s the kind of curiosity so often lost as we age, the importance of the big picture overwhelming our former innate fascination with detail.
Since that day over a month ago, I’ve thought a lot about the detail we walk past, and the appreciation of the natural world that is lost in doing so. With the help of iNaturalist’s Seek app—capable of identifying thousands of plant and animal species, even while offline—and making gratuitous use of the iPhone 13 Pro’s fantastic macro photography capability, I set out to capture and identity as much of the trail’s overlooked detail as I could.
Textures and intricacies pop out that you can hardly imagine had been there all along—an entire world in each and every object, hiding in plain sight. The Arizona Trail seen through a child’s curious and amazed eye. The Arizona Trail up close...