After a frenzied few days shooting for a bicycle tool company, we finally had a day to relax and take time for ourselves. The one minor hitch was that it was raining, and it had been, hard, for a couple of days. There was a chance of a break later that day, as the remaining storm cells sputtered out. We slothed around all morning, tying up some loose ends from the shoot, and also dropping off a model at the airport. We could see blue sky now, yet it was moving quickly throughout the whole greater Phoenix area. Antsy to get some shots, Henry had the idea of fixing up some old-school freeride lips east of town. We had both scoped the site out a few days prior, seeing dilapidated mounds of freeride’s blossoming era in the early 2000s. While it was absurdly wet, we decided to roll the dice due to the coarse nature of the soil.
The caliche, or calcium carbonate, that is present in desert soils is from the weathering of rock minerals, and whereas in more temperate climates caliche dissolves and gets transported out of the soil by water, in the desert, there isn’t enough water to remove it from the system. It accumulates, forming a tough, white layer on rocks and sand. The silent beauty of this substance is its sticky character, binding sand, and rock as it hardens. The soil for this hip jump we rebuilt was extremely sandy, yet this caliche, along with the copious amounts of water, allowed us to stack and pack a solid lip in a matter of hours.
And we got luckier. A storm cell sat in a peak above us, dumping its contents into the same drainage, but not us. We were in a beautiful blue pocket, with swirling storm clouds, and an increasingly good low-angle afternoon sun. WIth the lip finished, Henry took to hiking and testing, refining the lip as he went. Trevor messed around with angles, cheesin’ at the incredible light bouncing around different mountain islands in the valley.
The atmosphere was cleansing and affected all your senses. The cool, humid air gave the desert a refreshed feel like it was purged of the toxins from the nearby human utopia. The fresh air tickled your nose hairs and cooled your lungs through and through. The soft light created different hues throughout the sky, even in locations, you would not expect. We started running around the zone, hitting various features as the light aligned.
While the light wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we both were relatively shocked we didn’t come away drenched and cold. After a few days of bad shooting conditions, it was amazing to roll the dice again and be successful. Henry was happy to have gotten some solid jumps in after a hiatus of the bike big, and it was also amazing to see some locals excited that we rebuilt an old icon jump of the area!
Photos by Trevor Lyden
Editorial by Henry Lanman