Mt. Graham II-Exploring in the Foothills: A Trip Report

Early November 2013

The last trip report told about the numerous potentials in the Pinaleno Mountains; too many to explore in just one day. This will become a huge playground for us. I have topo maps of the northern base of the mountain and I wanted to look at the potential for the trailheads and camping. Perhaps we might hike down a canyon from top to bottom. We had to hurry back to arrive at our friend’s place in the foothills of the north face. We needed light to orient, unpack and then have dinner. The arrival timing was perfect. A lesson in congeniality awaited us….

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We ended up walking under the moon in a silent night. We finally  collapsed on a futon bed and reflect on changes through life. We sleep comfortably like two comfy logs jammed in a soft slurry, until daylight begins to beam into the structure.

I step out door into another perfect morning, which will lead to a perfect day, eventually in the mid 80F’s. Framed by the huge mesquite, I am struck by how good life is, as I, bared of everything, wander around on the soft earth, feeling the sun.

Setting out on a hike down a reservoir road, and through desert over a hill with our host/guide, we come to a spot where four or five neighbors hold property next to some Arizona State Trust land. They have varying habitats. We begin walking through the forest of mesquite and weeds coming out onto a trail that leads us to where one neighbor has started a living environment. Then after that, we pass an artist’s studio, where there is an efficient smaller wood sweat/sauna. We come upon a fine stone house owned by yet two more artists. The open front door reveals a small antique travel trailer in the center. They had lived in it, while using the local stones to build their home around it. It is now the kitchen and sitting as if a piece of camp art, or a valued museum piece on display.

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We go on. The next neighbor is at home, working on a new home. Our friend shouts at his friend, announcing, “Warning, naked people coming through.” He just smiles, as he tells him that we are going for a hike.

We trek on into the trust lands, through a gate. The trust is very abused. Immediately the vegetation becomes much less diverse and the mesquite and ground tortured. A rancher rents this area from the state to raise cattle. He has destroyed a water pond used by wildlife recently, by grading away a very old aqueduct and letting cattle over use it.

We had intended a swim

We had intended a swim

He had been grading illegal roads the same way. Disgusting.

Carefully planned aqueduct now in pieces

Carefully planned aqueduct now in pieces

We head past this, and up a rocky stream bed, passing the shade of a few cottonwoods, before turning back.

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It was pretty pleasant going for most of the three miles out and then back.

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There is no need for any clothing. It is absolutely liberating.

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We had crossed over into Deadman Canyon with the magnificent Pinalenos rising above.

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We loop down a dirt access road to an amazing find. This place had obviously been a trading center for the Native Americans. There were so many pottery chards that we couldn’t walk without stepping on some.

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It was from all over.

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I recognize some of the pottery style. Several tribes had traded together here, traveling great distances.

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Some was from other places at different times. There is a rock foundation for a hut. There are channels for irrigation where they grew crops.

We return and eat a fine meal once again. We discuss alternative home construction and the new stone house that he wants to build.

The sun goes down. It gets cold fast and I put on clothes again. Even pants! How disconcerting! We drive to Wilcox, and gas up. The heater is on, the truck warm, so we get unbundled from the silly clothes. Home, unload, shower, bed.

 

 

 

 

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