A Week in the White Mountains: Part 4

A Trip Report: 2016-07-28

THURSDAY:

Up early and out late, again. That morning air-bath and being thawed out by the sun sure has its appeal. We have oatmeal to stick to our guts, as a lasting belly full. I have mixed in a banana and some vanilla yogurt.

Curiously the family that has invaded our privacy and solitude has an extra tent sitting out on the meadow in the sun. Could there be a new influx of intruders? As we pass by, DF figures that it is just getting dried out.

With our curiosity leading the way, not much more, we have decided to try another fork in the same road that we have been down twice now. This one might lead us to the gorge made over eons by the creek. This one might bring us to a creek-side camping spot for the future. It might lead us there and through to the miles in the distance. Perhaps it may lead out of the forest and onto the grassy high plains and vistas looking down into the desert valley to the north. Whatever happens, it will lead to the sense of freedom, connectedness, sensuality and abandon by doing it naked.

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The walk is very pleasant, a nice stroll through the forest. We do notice during an uphill grade that this high elevation can still get to us.

We see a huge meadow to our right, through the trees. This is a remote place, like where we might dream of seeing a mighty horned elk with a herd of cows. There is what looks like a jeep trail leading off toward it. We give the disturbance in the grasses a try. We wander out into this isolated vastness, which is walled by a rich deep green forest. The grasses are taller, there is no over-browsing by cattle. There are no cow pies, but many rocks to step over. The whole of it seems very private. Perhaps sometime, a place for a tent might be cleared of the frequent exposed volcanic rock. I imagine that this might have been a place with a hunting blind. It could be a great place to wait for wildlife observation. There are no herds of elk, nor deer, no browsing bears, not even a bunny, but we are not disappointed. There is something very special here.

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Back on the actual road, we are still hoping that this is the road that connects us to where we turned around yesterday at Carnero Creek.

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While strolling back under a forest canopy, I see someone around a bend coming our way. This time, it is not another squirrel. It is a woman and she has seen us. She is apparently alone. I turn to DF to notify her as I pull my sarong around me. DF steps back behind a tree, to arrange her pink dress shirt.

The woman begins to turn around. I call out pleasantly, “We’re just covering up for you.” She is confused as to what to do, unsure.

Covered up and continuing forward, I ask, “Perhaps you can tell us where we’re going?” We certainly have no clue.

She doesn’t answer, as if ignoring us.  As we get more near, she asks us if we are just wandering. She gets friendly and begins to go on and on. She tells us that she thought that we were “peeing” and didn’t want to disturb us. I tell her that no, there is no problem, that we were just hiking naked. She tells her story of being way out on the Gila Box not seeing anyone for days and the minute that she dropped her pants a church group came over the ridge, Murphy’s Law for hikers.

She tells us that two days ago, she had a herd of twenty elk cross the road right in front of her. She tells of a large herd of deer. Our mouths water and a sense of envy grows. She tells us where this happened and how to get there. I just feel disappointment because I have no idea where these places she references are. It is evident that there are many more miles of this free hiking to be had.

She goes on about how she stays away from where the quads are, because they scare every animal away with their noise. She reports that someone was hit by lightning in Flagstaff, just the last week.  Even as we depart, she has us turn around to share something more. I drop the sarong before she is out of sight. I’m sure that for her, it’s okay.

The road comes around and crosses a section of that huge meadow. We find another road along where the meadow drains.

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We take the downhill route to see if it might connect to where we thought that we might end up, in the canyon of Carnero Creek. I know from topo maps that most canyons and gullies will eventually connect with that.

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After a while, we see that boulders have been placed to block the road. People have made a trail through the forest around the boulders. We know that we will find seclusion, but this isn’t the road that we had hoped for.

Passing on, there is a tall berm to keep people from using the road, who are going the other way. The tracks appear to show us that quads are enjoying riding over the steep berm, undaunted by its blockage. This berm does signal the presence of another road that this one T’s into. We decide to rest on a large fallen tree, consider our situation, and snack.

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Dark clouds can be seen, but down in this gully, we can’t be sure of their extent. This makes me slightly nervous. We have been enjoying ourselves strolling. I suggest that we have a difficult hike coming up this year in the Huachuca Mountains and this would be a good time to train. We march quick and hard, uphill on the road that we just came down. It is done in fifteen minutes and we are again in the grand meadow observing the weather. We are pleased to know that there are no threatening lightning storms.

Creative Fantasy Begins to Flow

We wander on down the trail into the forest on the far side of the meadow.

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We are looking for places to set camp in the future, as we are just enjoying ourselves.

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Plans and fantasy begin to form in my mind. We now know that we can have a huge nude playground up here. The drawback is that it rains many afternoons and turns cold in a standard tent. Sitting, waiting AND DRESSED in a cold humid tent part of everyday is not fun. The solution is a portable wood burning stove, which I have at home. It needs a high quality tent. We would be comfortable in a small warm dry cabin-like place in the woods. We’d need a cozy atmosphere like that. A cabin tent could be a space to relax comfortably, not just something to hunker down in.

I enjoy the work involved in camping, the more deliberate living with less of the convenience, like moving rocks, chopping wood, a small gas stove, and adjustments. We recognize it as healthy exercise and natural.

My parents used to live up here on a golf course six months out of the year. It gets addicting, especially when Tucson’s summer heat is the alternative. People get attached to homes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in communities up here. In retirement, we could be up here several times each year, for a week and more, but instead in a different new spot, unattached, relaxed, leisurely reading, meditation, hiking, etc. Just hanging out naked, picking fruit from the tree of a grocery in town. Here, there is a different state of mind… So I ask DF, “If you could be warm and comfortable up here, could you see yourself doing something like that?” She says, “Yes.” Maybe we’ve got something here, in time.

We have continuously been presented with the sight of a communication mountain nearby.

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This whole area has cell phone service…”Maybe,” I think. “An extremely cheap retirement home that doesn’t hold us down…” “Maybe,” as he scratches his chin, standing naked in raw nature thoroughly appreciating this life.

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Heading Back, an Encounter and a Happy Ending:

As we head back, the sound of quads approaches. We walk off into brush and I sit down on the ground partly hidden by small trees. DF just gets to her knees with that pink shirt, no camouflage. I might be passed by, but she stands out. This is an elderly couple. She notices DF and as she passes, she waves to us quickly. The overweight hubby isn’t even aware of us, as he passes. They have to keep their eyes on the rocky road, looking for the smoothest route and avoiding hazards.

DF is concerned that my legs aren’t together and asks me about that. “Sideways at a glance, no. They will not see anything unless they stop to stare.” We could be assumed to be caught doing toiletries. Wouldn’t stopping to watch be impolite? We find that we have another trick in the bag. In a remote context and in a pinch, just squat, in compliance with any of the remote concerns of law.

Bear Claws

Bear Claws

As we approach the wired gate and the view of the neighbors, I comment sarcastically, “Well, back to civilization.” I get my sarong from under my shoulder strap and make ready to cover up.

Old Bear Claws

Old Bear Claws?

At the gate, I feel like I want to shout. The neighbors are gone! I am done with cover-ups and concerns. I am free to roam!

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We have another fire this night. The wood is still burning slow, a challenge. We use smaller pieces. We don’t want to be up late with a log.

Last year, south of here, I felt so lucky to have heard the call of a lone wolf in the night. This evening, four can be heard in communication. Each seems to have something unique to say. They are a team. Perhaps they know that they are confusing the animals in between. Perhaps they are herding them. Perhaps, they just need to let each other know of their whereabouts.

DF catches a shooting star across the opening in the trees.  We bite slowly into ginger snaps and sip warm tea. This is such a good place.

 


 

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