A Continuing Series:
I occasionally write about the stealth trail and solitude that I find walking out my door in Tortolita.
I stepped on a cholla pricker, which mainlined perfectly into the nerve that had already been bothering me as Morten’s Neuroma. I have been laid up for three weeks and stir-crazy. This has kept me from getting out to Havarock for several weeks in total, but today, I am wearing light shoes and have half a pain pill in my belly, not to mention the determination that a health set back can give to bust out of its shackles.
The rains have continued. Few of the seasonal plants have turned down. They have just kept on flourishing. It is very green. There is no dust. The ground is saturated. I’m heading out for some sun and naturism.
The first thing that I notice is the lack of trail. The rains have made it all but disappear. The sands have washed out even the animal trails, turning them into little ravines. The monsoon growth is everywhere, the grasses everywhere, the washed and blown about debris of all kinds make the track indiscernible. I have barely begun and I find myself standing looking for the small landmarks that no longer stand out. Much has grown. Branches spill into my former walkway. Cholla cactus hangs into my path with bundles of needles at shoulder height making my passageway thinner. I have to pull my elbows in and squeeze through at points. A lot changes occur in the desert with a few thunderous storms.
I make a wrong turn and backtrack on what was my familiar trail. I continually discover that the visual safety that I trimmed to see where rattlers might be, is now resting under shrubs. These plants have grown back thicker. All is very lush and healthy. This has been an unusually long monsoon season, unheard of in the last a century…except last year. The monsoon season’s patterns have continued to change, since 1989. As things are today, it is beautiful and this moment deserves to be enjoyed like a gift.
I see where a large deer has been through very recently. The loose kicked up soil is still moist. Things dry up in the desert quickly and this hasn’t. The prints are big and these tracks are several inches deep in the soft soil. This fella is fat on the bounty. A smaller deer has also left less severe messages. I check once more. Perhaps it was a javalina, but no, the collection of tracks are spread out in breadth, and larger than the short legged neighbors.
This foot injury gives me pain at the middle toe and the ball adjacent. It is just a small spot now, unlike the swollen entirety three weeks ago. Sometimes when I step down, a protruding rock upsets my balance as the surprise creates the natural instinct to quickly lift away from pain.
I find the spot where I usually cross on rock surfaces so as to not make tracks or trail. It’s like fording a creek and using stepping stones. I find every step very difficult. My movement needs to push off with that toe, but pain disallows the launch. Setting the painful encumbrance down, while balancing on a multitude of shapes is slow, careful and focused. I take care where I formally enjoyed the dance.
This “stealth” trail has nearly disappeared. My secret passage is all but a secret memory. The desert has taken back any trace of my construction. It is only my memory that tells me where it once meandered. In disbelief, I have to stop and gather my bearings. “Is that really the trail? It looks…”
I find my way to Havarock. I climb atop, after stepping across the pile of boulders. A packrat has scattered staghorn cholla branches here and there, as if to make a barrier of landmines. My already impeded footing is more challenged. There are several pieces of debris on my boulder.
Before I sit, I find a stick and swat the debris off. It’s a makeshift broom for some quick housecleaning.
It feels good to be back. My familiar roost reminds me just how perfect this place is. How the smooth contours flow and fit my form.
I sit awhile. Thought leaves to solely focus on the sensations of the present moment. To listen, silence, the buzz of a bee, an occasional bird call. I feel the sun on my back, tanning my shoulders. I look down and around about Havarock. The javalina haven’t been here since before the last rains a couple of days ago. None have stirred with my coming. No one is home.
My meditation just continues. One moment links to the next. I notice stiffness here and there, the neck, the lower back. Sitting on a couch convalescing has had its toll. I stretch, a twist here and there, exploring, discovering each part of the body and what relieves the damage. I sit up tall and straight, a deeper breath naturally is pulled in and then it gently seeps out in relaxation.
A noise! Could it be a grunt? What animal? A snort. It’s a deer, or javalina? I stay quiet, waiting for more information. It is a javalina? But, where? The foliage is thick, and I can’t be sure where it is coming from. I listen as my eyes search.
I wait patiently and I’m rewarded by a rustling in the hackberry where they have stayed before. I still wait. I see a large one, but I can’t be sure if there are more of them. Soon enough, it wanders out into the open, not very far away. It is stretching.
It appears to have been sleeping and in the laziest manner it is stretching. It takes two or three steps and passes on in motion. The motion stops suddenly, like there is a freeze frame, but only for a quick moment. There is a sound and motion returns. It farted. I stifle a laugh. It has all the couth of a sloppy stubble faced, out of shape man in a wife-beater t-shirt and rumpled boxers getting up from a nap, scratching lazily. All it needs is a half smoked stogy from the night before, hanging from its lips. It’s a pig. It wanders out of view. I hear nothing for a few minutes, and then it returns to the nest. A lazy afternoon in abundance and security.
I see no more activity. I stand. I have been here a while observing. Still with kinks, I stretch myself, gazing across the valley. It feels good. It does feel like freedom in abundance and security. I lift my arms as high as they will go. I look up through my hands, which are framed by turquoise infinity, as I swish them around. My spine nearly pops. There is relaxation. It’s time to leave.
I move in a writhing dance with my arms, twisting the unused body, looking for elasticity. This dance serves me well, as I wander and step through the dense foliage. I now know that I am recovering and that health is joy. In one moments there is only one thing in all of my being… thanks.
I’m heading up into the mountains for a couple of days to escape the heat. A report is forthcoming.
Happy World Nude Hiking Day!