|Purple Blossoms of Spring as seen on the Hellhole (or Hell Hole) Trail in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve|
The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is a vast area north of St. George. The reserve was initially formed, in part, because of the desert tortoise. These seldom-seen residents are a threatened local species. The reserve status protects this land for recreational use and I’ve enjoyed several jaunts into various parts of the reserve. Some have famous names like Yant Flat or the Vortex. Others are unknown.
On this day I hiked into an unknown area named “Hell hole” because of the miserable heart in the summer. My visit had clouds and rain and I felt it more like a desert garden than a pit of despair. I know that a waterfall can appear from the high cliffs if it rains enough. I hoped for a waterfall appearance . . . but got something different.
The trail heads up a wash on the west side of Red Mountain. The sandy going makes for slow travel. Raindrops falling on and off had me donning and doffing my rain jacket several times. The sheer cliff walls get closer and closer until you cannot go any further. The hike ends at the cliffs.
This furthest-possible location holds some beautiful scenery. A handful of healthy cottonwood trees hide beside some muddy watering holes. In March they are freshly green and vibrant against the sandstone backdrop. After taking a few pictures here I explored a bit more and found my greatest prize: a large bush blooming with purple flowers. Desert blooms are rare and beautiful events. This tall bush was at peak for color and evenly covered with blossoms on every branch! Even more unique, there wasn’t another bush like it anywhere. I photographed several angles and perspectives in the light rain and left feeling satisfied that’s I’d captured something rare and wonderful.