Four Peaks Pickup 2010

The 2010 Four Peaks Pickup has come and gone, and once again the Sonoran desert is a little better for it. Tim Huber and Danica Moore spearheaded the event and tackled the enormous task with Everest-sized spirit. They brought together the talents and hard work of numerous individuals, families, clubs, groups, friends, and businesses for a big day of transformation. Just under 500 people turned out to clean up almost 25 tons (yes, that’s fifty thousand pounds) of trash from this otherwise beautiful area that stretches west of the mighty Four Peaks, just northeast of Phoenix, Arizona.

Why is there so much trash? Great question. Some will say it’s ignorance, some will say laziness, many will say “because they just don’t care” and obviously it’s because the area is so convenient to a sprawling metropolis of over four million people, but I continue to be perplexed and insist that no reason is good enough to explain it. Human behavior, logic, whatever, I just can’t relate. It won’t compute in my head.

Why would someone seek out a place like this. . .

Four Peaks Arizona

to do this. . .

Again, I can’t comprehend. It doesn’t compute.

The Four Peaks area and the Mazatzal mountains were once home to the Tonto Apache people. Not far north of the peaks lies the site of old Camp Reno, a short-lived military outpost positioned in the region along with others in an effort to daisy-chain the U.S. military efforts along this Arizona portion of Apachería in the late 1800s. There are tales of lost gold mines somewhere around the base of the peaks and accounts of Apaches who continually brought in ample amounts of the metal to obtain goods and supplies. An amethyst mine that is thought to have been originally worked by the Spanish is located on the southernmost of the four peaks and is the only mine in the U.S.A. that produces world-class specimens of this highly valuable gemstone.

The area of the cleanup is a watershed of the Mazatzal mountains, and contains numerous canyons and springs that flow westward to the Verde River. Spectacular buff-colored granite boulders and imposing rock formations dominate the topography and along with classic Sonoran desert flora and fauna create a magical atmosphere that is unique among the world’s landscapes.

The good news is that I see an improvement. When I visited an area along Cottonwood creek that my wife Sharon and I worked on last year, it was in much better shape. Overall, I think there was less trash, and perhaps future efforts and awareness will make a lasting change.


Before-and-after comparison of one of the cleanup sites

Overland Journal sponsored the event with boxes of magazines and raffle prizes that included subscriptions, hats, and decals.

Tim and Danica asked if I would photograph the event this year, which I was more than happy to oblige. The full gallery of images can be seen here: Four Peaks Pickup 2010 photo gallery

Overland Journal’s Director of Advertising, Brian McVickers, with his children, Max and Charlie

L to R: Chris Marzonie (Overland Journal Editorial Director), Tim Huber, Danica Moore (Four Peaks Pickup masterminds) Thank you Heidi for the photo

More links:
Four Peaks Pickup website (more info, photos, and videos)
Tim Huber’s blog, SOAZ “Exploring the Southwest one paycheck at a time” (it’s a good one!)

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