A Week in the White Mountains: Part 5: A Trip Report

2016-07-29

FRIDAY:

Up and alive a 6:45! There’s a large wispy cloud formation changing the light to something like a slight overcast. Naked, I walk out into the large meadow, being careful to stay in the warm sunlight. It was cold last night, but things are changing fast. Standing there, I put my hand up to block the direct glare from my eyes. I glance down the fairway-like meadow toward where the Rainbow Gathering had been. The rays are going through these unusual clouds, creating a small circular rainbow over the site.

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As I return, DF is up and gathering her wits. We take a stroll to the springs arm in arm, with cameras in hand.

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 We want some shots of the spring with the effect of the morning sun directly on the place. That light seems to enhance color, like a blessing on the wonderment. Shadows create contrast.

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I want to see if I can capture that.

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We relax and soak it in.

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Pine needles shine like crystalline stars, as the light goes through the morning dew.

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The varieties of flowers glisten with this same crowning touch. DF sits and meditates on a flat rock next to the springs. Mother Earth sends water out of the rocks there, giving us life and bounty.

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She wants to connect with that earthy energy.

Back at camp, I take a sun/air bath again. There is a refreshing light breeze. We watch squirrels chase each other. They seem to enjoy their dance, jumping and climbing as play.

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These up here seem very aggressive. I’m not sure if they are playing, or doing ritual, or protecting their nests and territory, or what.

A Squirrel’s Work

A Squirrel’s Work

Yesterday, one scowled at me from a branch, as I approached the tree. It shouted at me and banged its tail against the trunk, making a cracking sound.

I have planned a walk for later. I stroll up the road to the other meadow to check my bearings for where we would come out of the forest later. I notice with my whole body, that the wind has shifted. I also know that there are other campers further down this road. I am in an exposed position. Somehow, it feels exposed, like walking nude in a public place.

I turn to see DF coming out of the forest, striking me as some sort of nature goddess.

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She has found a path to walk on. She gathers me and we return that way. She shows me a piece of log that has taken on the likeness of the surrounding rocks.

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At the creek’s springs, she dips bottles and collects water for our needs, bundles them in a box and takes them home.

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I see a small patch with seven different colors and shapes of flowers. I’m reminded that all of these green plants that we have to walk on, will someday have to flower, too.

Bare feet crushing no plants

Bare feet crushing no plants

Butterflies cross the meadow. High above there is wind, but here below, there is calm. I feel something on my leg. I brush it off only to realize that it is only a blade of grass fooling me.

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We sit gazing across the landscape. As I go for two new drinks, I quip to DF that my camera is at ready. I jokingly tell her, “Just grab it when the bull elk and twenty calves walk by.” “How come we aren’t seeing the bears up in the trees?” We have found scat everywhere, near and far. We find tracks, but no sightings.

Big Blue the Ox’s Hoof Print

Big Blue the Ox’s Hoof Print

A Brief Exploration

We eventually lay awhile in the shadow of a spruce on my camping mat. A tiny young pine and daisies tower next to us. We decide to take that short walk through the forest to the meadow to the west. We climb, squeezing through the branches of a fallen tree, which is coated with something like Spanish moss.

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We come to the rock where I had found one of three bugout shelters on an earlier excursion. That time, I was in solitude.

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Another Stealth Blind

Another Stealth Blind

This time we turn right, finding a station to look down on the spring from above.

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Up here, I can’t help noticing a strong smell like urine. I think only a bear could do that. I listen carefully. I don’t want to disturb someone sleeping. I’d like to observe a bear, but at that moment, I question the idea.

We continue on. Everything is similar, but different. Staying on a trajectory is difficult with so many obstacles to go around and inability to see very far. A slight move in direction can fan out a great deal before it is noticed. In the desert, we can always see a distant landmark and know that we are on track.

Lots of Deadfall

Lots of Deadfall

I find fresh bear scat.

There are many fallen trees to get through, particularly in this one spot. Two trees, which are still standing, obviously have been hit by lightning.  We wonder why this has apparently happened here so often. After that explosive bolt a couple of days ago, we welcome any insight to avoid strikes.

At Meadow’s Edge

At Meadow’s Edge

By the time that we make it back to the road, there is dark sky to the southwest.

The Coming Entertainment

The Coming Entertainment

It is time for lunch and things will be cooling off soon.

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Rain comes.

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We sit a half an hour waiting for the downpour to stop. When it does, we grab an umbrella and walk down the road where, during the last few days, a number of quads have gone in, but not returned. In rainforest thickness, we take an offshoot. It dead ends. It could be a great camp. I take note. We return to base, still not knowing where this road goes.

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I bring a tablet and a Bose portable speaker and guitar into the tent. We light two candles, which are set in the chrome containers of tin cans filled with sand. The rain will be coming and going. There seems no let up to the on again off again rains. There will be no fire tonight. We sit on the thick wool rug, leaning on the mattress and my pad, now converted into a chair and listen to music. DF wants something lively.

When she goes out to rehydrate spaghetti that I had made for backpacking, I turn the music up. We dance in the not ideal, but pleasant evening air under trees. We find ourselves listened intently to music for hours. There are no distractions, no “to do” lists, no internet. We hear all of the words and all of the music. I play the guitar again, just before bed. Those two candles have kept much of the cold away.

About 10:00 pm a rumble, like the sound of a biker gang is heard out on the road. I look out of the window screen and it appears like two flashlights are very near us. I jump out of the tent to investigate. In the direct vision, I realize that it was a distortion. Our concern that late Friday night weekend campers may be arriving, keeps us alert. It is cold, rainy and late and these quads are out there. They keep shouting at each other. We have the tent lit up and I stand outside with a flashlight pointing toward their way. One has a blue light shining under it. Through the trees, it looks like an accident scene and a police vehicle. They finally leave. It has been very strange.

SATURDAY:

We wake up just before the sunrise. The sky has no clouds. It is a huge gorgeous orange. We appreciate this show for a while and then go back to sleep.

The next time that we climb out of the tent, clouds are coming and bringing overcast. It won’t be a warm day. We have had enough of cold and we had planned to mosey on home the next day anyway. It is time to leave…after an omelet.

We take two hours to break camp. Out on the road, we decide to go through the Apache Reservation passing by old Fort Apache and through Geronimo’s pass. Take me back, I wanna ride in Geronimo’s  Cadillac.

Old Ft. Apache

Old Ft. Apache

About 20 miles from our desert home, I turn on the blower fan for the air-conditioner to cool the truck. Even naked, it is hot on the desert floor. There is a loud noise and it won’t blow air. Seems that a squirrel had climbed up in there and wasn’t fast enough for the tread-wheel, but that’s another story.

P.S. Biodiversity:

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