Photo by Josh Cihak

Sedona has always held a very special place in Phoenix resident Josh Cihak’s heart. The landscape photographer often makes the two-hour trip up north to reset and reconnect amidst the area’s raw beauty, which he says makes being present an absolutely effortless endeavor.

“I have hiked Soldier Pass to Seven Sacred Pools four times over the last two years,” says Cihak, noting that he has repeatedly sought a perfect shot of the popular site — free from the usual crowds and with the “pools” actually filled with water.

“I made the drive up early Sunday morning with expected rainfall, which typically limits the crowds on trails. I got to the trailhead around 9 a.m. Coming to a drizzle, the rain was nearing its end. By the time I was 0.3 miles from the pools, it had completely stopped, leaving a stillness in the air that I can’t describe.

“As I approached the pools, the red rocks began to glisten as the clouds were clearing, which left a milky haze over the valley. This was my final backdrop with the pools filled, in complete isolation, and a fog-tinted filter covering the rocks. It was such a serene moment — and a frame that I have been chasing for quite a while.”

Cihak aspires to, within the next few years, build a seasonal home in Sedona and open a gallery downtown to display his work.