White Mountains 2017 Part II: A Trip Report

2017-07-25

Remember, when you right click an image, it becomes larger and more clear.

The Second Morning:

The sun is out, the skies are changing alternately from partly sunny to partly cloudy every while. It is sometimes cold and then turns to sunny warmth. My body just takes it in. We are stiff from the long hard drive. Massaging of shoulders and stretching are required.

I step outside, wandering no place in particular, for no clear reason. I’m waking up in stages. DF warms water for tea. We hear a sound, causing both of us to look up at once! It is a braying sound. It is unusual. Somewhere in a drawer in the back of my mind, I have memory of a TV documentary, decades ago, which recorded the sound of a bull elk. It has to be close. We know this terrain, we know that there is a meadow on the other side of this woods. We know how far. Sound and wind places the animal there.

I sit down to quickly slip on my five toe shoes, grab my camera and I am swiftly off to take advantage of opportunity. I haven’t seen an elk in many years; this could be a male with a herd.

I swiftly go up the road across the spring fed creek, which leads to the next meadow to the west. As I come out of the tall trees, I take care not to alert any animal which may be there. Nothing is seen. I silently creep across the grassy field.

I pause and listen, camera at ready. I creep further, until I come to a small boulder rising from the grass. I want to experience this in a primitive manner. I want to experiment with the idea that clothing may give man’s scents. I want to experience what God has given a hunter in senses. Perhaps a wild animal will not recognize a nude human, as a human being. I drop my hat to the ground, quickly slip my long sleeve t-shirt over my head and throw it on the rock. I am nude now, a hunter. I am out to capture an elk with a camera. The sun is out. I’m feeling it.

I continue to creep up a small hill and through a thin piece of woods, which is between me and the rest of the meadow.

My body reports that I am down wind. There in the trees, I smell a distinct wild animal. I ponder if it is fresh, or just left markings. I take even more caution, as I stalk. I place each footing in my five toe moccasins upon an exposed rock, so as to make no sound in the grass, or to accidentally break, or crunch a twig. At the forest’s edge, I survey the field. There is a rise to it. I still can’t see what is beyond that. Squatting down, I make my way, camera in hand.

As my vision comes over the rise, I spot six, maybe seven beast. Friggin’ cattle!

Desperately I look for the elk whose bray that we heard. Nothing but friggin’ cattle are to be seen….

Poor Excuse for a Wild Elk!

A beautiful Day Continues:

After a wonderful breakfast of cinnamon, almonds and pears all ground up together, with fresh strawberries on top, we decide to walk about. As if by divine timing, a quad appears near our camp. Typically, they will visit the spring and either return, or take the Forest Service road, which bends around our site and connects in a loop. Our plan does not include any use of clothing, but our shoes…maybe my hat. We are not pleased to sit and wait to see what the driver decides. We go ahead and leave camp with a camera and water bottle. If he follows us, then we will simply step off of the road squat, sitting to hide our genitals and thereby curb any legal questions. He never comes our way.

We find a cattle/animal path running parallel to the road. It is more inviting than the harsh rocky FS road route. It meanders through the trees and grass. Sometimes, we delight when the soft branches of spruce caress our nude bodies, as we pass through.

One goal is to find places where we can camp for extended times in the future. Places where we can leave a tent and some gear in the forest and know that it won’t be disturbed. We don’t want to have to break camp when we go to town for fresh food, or dancing on a Saturday night. This path leads us to one of these potentials.

New Trees Grow Out of Decaying Stumps

It is all ours, wonderfully secluded.

There is flora, with fairy-tale moss covered stumps and rocks.

It is a healing environment, alone in a rain-forest.

We find a border fence of barbed wire, and in good condition. We follow it to find an opening, or a loose wire to crawl through. Maybe there’s a log, stumps, or a rock to use to climb over it. Along the other side there is a hint of what was a path. Perhaps the fence construction team used it. The fence begins to run up a hill. I see what is probably an old deteriorating logging road. These make good trails for nude hiking. They are not in current use. They are definitive enough to follow and return on without getting lost in a deep forest. They smooth out the terrain with a fairly even grade. Sometimes, they go somewhere. We decide to have a big lunch and come back, making a hike out of it.

 

The hike:

We have protective shirts, umbrellas and plenty of water with us this time. We don’t know if there could be a chill, or rain. DF had found a spot to climb through the fence, as we returned for lunch earlier. We follow the path along the fence until a fallen tree blocks us. On our way, bushwhacking around this, we notice the camping area that we had visited on the other side. The fence begins to rise and we know that the remnants of the old road are up there.

After a climb, we do find the trail and it is going both ways. We construct a cairn to mark where we will return through the thick raw forest to the passage through the wire fence.

Quickly, the old road disappears, so we head back the other direction. We find a fork in the road. Taking the uphill route further into the forest, we find a steep slope and probable ending, but it sweeps up to a wider, more established conveyance. Another cairn created and we continue, realizing that we have a clear, easy, well marked route through a forest all to ourselves.

We travel for well over an hour through this.

We enjoy the moments.

There is much diversity along the way.

We look for tracks and observe scat, the fauna, the size of the trees and the stumps and smell the fresh air.

This One has Claws

There is a sound of heavy animals on hooves. We stop cold in our tracks and look at each other, alert. Silently, we creep ahead, so as to not disturb the animals anymore. I whisper to DF, “Get your camera out, “as I slowly pull out mine from its pouch. There, in between the trees is a brown colored butt on long legs. It is definitely not a cow this time. It is an elk, or the biggest deer that I have ever seen.

There is another more grey figure making its way with its side to me through the numerous trees. I raise my left hand and signal, “two.” I begin to snap pictures, extending all of the telephoto that I have. DF’s high-end camera would do better. I hope that she can see what I see in my lens. We continue to sneak up closer. The grey-like one ambles through, as I try to catch it at a clear moment through the thickness of the multitude of trees.

Elk Butt

They are off and deep into the forest quickly.

Mushrooms in Moss

We walk on. We tree hug and observe energies.

Where Do You Want This Tree Moved?

We try to capture the numerous orange and black spotted butterflies as they alight on the flowers of lavender thistles.

A very young and cute squirrel passes before us, bounding across a downed aspen, which has blocked the trail. DF is delighted. I’m disappointed to have missed it. It then crosses back. Yep, it is very cute on its freeway of a log.

We pass through various groves, through aspen and spots filled with pine-cones.

At one point, we stop to count six different kinds of pine in an area merely 40 feet in diameter.

I have been carrying DF’s shirt for a while, affording her to feel more completely naked and unencumbered. Now, I’m ready to give my feet a rest. I find a stump and place her shirt on it for her to sit on. I pull my own t-shirt out and place it next to it. I offer the seat and she sits, but quickly jumps up startled, and begins to giggle! The stump has rotted underneath.

As she placed her weight upon it, most of it slowly gave way under her. It was a sinking feeling that she couldn’t immediately fathom. I give it a try. Not as much stump caves under my shirt, and I find comfort.

A Previously Collapsed Stump

As she looks on, she discovers a grouping of tiny salmon colored mushrooms, a species that we have not seen before.

Nope, Not Salmon Enough.

We bravely take turns and touch one. It caves, feeling like a tiny deflating balloon and then it springs back. DF tries it herself and takes photographs. We try several adjustments in hopes of getting the true color out of these.

As we walk, we are putting on and taking off our shirts. There are many clouds in the sky, some cumulus, some darker.

These clouds are clumps, which block the sun and create shade. In one minute, our bare bodies are getting hot in the sun, then a light breeze refreshes, or the shade of a tree gives relief as we pass. Moments later, the sun is hidden behind a cloud and we feel cold. When the light breeze passes through this time, there is a chill, even goose bumps. Over and over constant changes are happening to us. It is alive and sensual. We note this and I turn to DF and exclaim, “It is good to be naked, to be in this body, in the wonder of the moment.” We both smile and continue, enjoying our naturism.

High above, there are many clouds, the rest is blue.

There is one distant darker cloud to the south. A few drops fall on various spots of our bodies. They are just a pop here and there, a delight. They are tiny drops like a misty rain, but they only make contact every several seconds. It stops for a few minutes and then it returns, only this time within a warm sunlight. This is “in the moment.”

We return. Our cairns work very well. We have returned home for tea.

Bears Love Aspen

 

The braying comes to the Spring!

We are about to sit for that tea, when the same sound of a bull elk comes from next door at the spring-head. We can’t miss this one, which is so close. We immediately snatch cameras and creep in the direction of the sound. DF stops, she sees it! I haven’t yet and continue. It can’t run away before I get a shot. There is a huge black beast at the beautiful creek.

I come from behind a large tree and find a black bull. It is not a bull elk. It is a domestic bull! First I’m confused and wondering how the animal came about such a non-domestic sound. Then, I’m upset that the damn thing is tearing up the wonderful creek with all of the diversity. These cattle ruin it for everyone, me, the other humans and all the natural animals in this ecosystem. From behind a tree, I begin to howl and growl and bark my best wolf chatter at the imposter. I look for a rock to throw. Oddly there are no loose rocks here. I’m used to a desert, I guess. The huge beast bolts and runs away up the hill and out of sight. My bull elk that I have been chasing is a ranchers cow?! Did he really pick that up somewhere?

The next Day:

We start slowly.

I lay out a mat and towel in the sun at camp. DF is going to work on my reoccurring sciatica, with some myofascial work and massage. She lays me out, relaxed like a corpse.

We have a long discussion about decisions that need to be made. I take notes for us and make lists to organize the process. We are after all on a retreat.

We begin to deconstruct our camp, but as a rain storm sets in, we find ourselves cuddled up under the thick woolen bag together. In time, a long and powerful deluge buries us. Thunder rumbles through, and then cracks close to us. We both jump together. This storm passes very slowly.

The surroundings are now a lake around us.

Afternoon sunlight returns, illuminating the multitudes of glistening beads of water in the trees.

Everything is fresh.

There is some chill in the air.

Camp is broken and tucked away in the back of the truck, again. We come to a stop in the middle of the road on a crest. After a couple of days, we will soon be out of four wheel drive. The vast region is before us. The ski slopes are seen carved into the mountain in the distance.

Apache Ski Resort

Driving toward home, the rain kicks up again. Water appears as steam on the two lane highway.

DF decides on some grapes. She unbuckles her seat belt, turns and on one knee, she is squeezed between the seats, looking in the cooler in the back seat. This could be a curious sight to an observant other driver, but if a car was coming from the other way, their attention might be grabbed by something else. At this moment, on the side of the road, captured by a barrier fence, an elk is slowly making its way to safety.

I exclaim, “Oh cool, an elk.”

She carefully slowly returns to facing forward grapes in hand in disbelief, “Oh sure.”

“No, really.”

“Like all of those falling stars that you see and I don’t?”

“No, I swear.”

She sighs.

We stop off to see how the country store has changed with new ownership and what would be available for us during a longer stay. I see late afternoon sunlight shining through falling rain, outside the door. I hurry to open the doors of the truck to keep DF’s clothing dry. She just gets back out again and stands in the rain. There is a double rainbow arching fully across the sky, a very good omen. She is after photos.

She gets back in the truck, daubs off her camera and simply gets undressed.

We are off into the spectacular sunset, beams of light, the works!

It is spectacular all around.

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