Saturday Snapshot: Valley of the Sun

Hayden Butte, Tempe, AZ

For the first and last time in my college career, I climbed Hayden Butte at sunrise. (Hayden Butte is ASU’s “A” Mountain – a.k.a. the one with a big letter “A” on it.) It was a short little hike but certainly enough to let me know how out of shape I am.  I started around 5:30 or so, reached the top and enjoyed the view / caught my breath until full sunrise at 6 am.

It really was quite a good morning for a hike; the temperature was about 75 degrees or so at 6am and the breeze at the top was very pleasant.  There was also a lot to look at.  I didn’t realize that Pat’s Run was happening today, and even this early in the morning thousands of people were gathering.  I could hear an announcer and as the sun came up all these crowds wearing red shirts were amassing, parking in ASU’s massive lots (lower right of the top photo) and hopping off the light rail:

So I spent a good hour up there on the rock watching all of the hubbub. (For Pacific Northwesterner reference, Pat’s Run is about half the size of Bloomsday in terms of both race length and attendance numbers.)  Speaking of my homeland, I say “rock” because that’s really all Hayden Butte is: a craggy rock jutting up out of the desert.  “A” Mountain has about as much in common with a mountain as Tempe Town Lake – the water in the snapshot – has in common with a lake.

Spokanites will also understand my confusion from hearing the expression “The Valley” used down here in Arizona.  I grew up understanding that to mean the Spokane Valley (now technically the City of Spokane Valley).  But here, “The Valley” is short for The Valley of the Sun – a phrase that refers to the entire Phoenix metropolitan area.  Only about 4 million people live in this Valley, so it’s just a little bigger than Spokane’s. According to Google-fu, it’s even larger than Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue smushed altogether.  It’s one BIG valley.  With extra sun included.  Better take your photos at sunrise before the temperature breaks 100!


2 thoughts on “Saturday Snapshot: Valley of the Sun

    • Thank you. It’s really quite something to be up on the rock in an area where virtually everything else is on a flat plain – a whole new perspective on a landscape that I usually only traverse in two dimensions.

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