Report From The Trail: Deirdre Rosenberg and the Sky Island Traverse

Report From The Trail: Deirdre Rosenberg and the Sky Island Traverse


I was rattled at once today, by a particularly light-colored western diamondback who was lounging in the sun. She blended in so well with the ground that I didn’t notice her until she boldly lifted her head and shook her rattle; a five foot long welcome committee just for me as I made my way to a flat spot to set up camp. 

My Sky Island Traverse is not the Sky Island Traverse you’ve read about from other thru-hikers.

It’s a route and adventure I created to link up the Madrean Sky Islands of Arizona, on foot, over the span of a year or more as I study and photograph the incredible biodiversity and variety in each of the unique mountain ranges. My backpack weighs nearly half my body weight. Water is cached sporadically. My career as a conservation photographer and my passion for epic Type-II fun are deeply entangled.

There is more biodiversity in flora and fauna in the Madrean Sky Islands than anywhere else in the country; more than most places in the world, in fact. Which is what makes the Sky Islands so important and so magical. A region that must be conserved and protected.

At this point in my traverse, I am about 300 miles in and have photographed roughly as many unique animal species. I have traversed through the desert valley floor among towering saguaro cacti, up to magnificent stands of ponderosa pine, finding great joy in the manzanita, yucca and juniper forests between. 

As I write this, I am on the tail-end of Section 2, the Santa Catalina Mountains. They are mind-numbingly varied. A paradise for any naturalist. Previously, I hikes the Tortolita Mountains. They are range dear to my heart. Section 3 is the Rincon Mountains and I can see them from the spot I’m calling camp for the night. I am excited to discover everything I can about them.

Learn more about Deirdre’s journey here

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