Tanque Verde Falls, Tucson, Arizona, USA by Jeff Maltzman

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Picture Story

For much of the year, the creeks and washes of the Sonoran Desert are reduced to either a mere trickle or run completely dry. The land becomes parched, the soil cracks, and only the heartiest of plants, denizens of this harsh climate, manage to survive. However, during several months over the summer, and for a shorter run in the late winter, soaking rains fall upon the arid land, revitalizing the canyon streams and bringing life anew to the desert. These are my favorite times to hike the many nearby canyons and photograph the numerous ephemeral pools, small cascades, and larger waterfalls that privilege us with their brief but memorable visits.

The hike to Tanque Verde Falls is somewhat challenging, requiring a fair bit of wading, boulder scaling, and scrambling up the sometimes steep and insecure hillsides. Numerous spots along the way appear, at first, to present insurmountable obstacles. However, with a bit of exploration and modest effort a path forward is ultimately discovered. And the rewards- views such as this- are well worth the effort. The "main" fall, measuring about 80 feet in height, is just visible in the background behind the cottonwood tree, while these lower falls are approximately 25 to 30 feet high. I had hoped to frame a composition that incorporated both falls in a meaningful way, yet the steep rockface to the left precluded climbing any higher. I waited until the morning light had dropped a bit down on the left, providing a bit more dimension to the scene. Ultimately, I was happy with this image, as it gives just a hint of the waterfall above the ledge, inviting the viewer to imagine climbing that last bit of the cliff to see what lies beyond.


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