We awaken to the morning sun under the thin veil of the net tent canopy. The quilt and our own shared body heat have kept us warm through the night.
Today we will make the ascent up several miles into the east side of the Rincon Mountains using the Miller Creek trail. It is a climb. That we know, but little else. We are in for a list of wonderful surprises today.
This is day two of our weekend trip. Here is day one:
We are determined to expand our sense of self in liberation with our newer strategy when encountering others. That is exciting. We are feeling refreshed and ready.
The Newer Strategy:
First we have our morning chores and preparations. DF hikes up to the top of the ridge, as she had last evening. She checks her cell phone for messages of good news. I see her up there, hands in the air, stiffly attempting to not move and lose her connection.
We dine a delicious quick breakfast and break down our camp. We will have to leave to be back for a 7pm board meeting of the Tucson Sweat Alliance.
Everything tucked away, we proceed on a nude hike in a perfect morning. We won’t be dressed today. We have something for our shoulders and to sit on only. It feels a bit naked and more liberated, as we take action on our convictions.
We walk through the cars in the parking lot and squeeze through the trailhead gate, which is barbed wire with a post and loop contraption in two stages. We are in familiar territory. It is familiar from a walk four years ago during a monsoon in lush completely verdant foliage:
It hasn’t rained since last July, and this is a different season.
Most species have adapted to the extreme weather.
We wander along the path through the tall grasses in silence, when suddenly, from the trail behind me, I hear DF whisper my name loudly, “look!”
There are four large odd figures ahead crossing the trail casually and carefully.
We soon recognize them quite clearly as wild turkeys.
My camera is rapidly pulled from its pouch and I begin to creep and focus. DF, acting a bit stunned, or transfixed, is slower to be at ready. We snap. They move from sunlight to shadow as our camera shutters snap in reaction either too fast, or too slow. We take multiples just to grab the best result from the frantic button tapping. It isn’t a turkey shoot and we want to be sure to capture a couple of good shots.
They walk across the trail and then to the nearby creek bed, to begin their climb up a hill’s slope. We zoom in, we try our best to capture these colorful prehistoric-like beast. We follow them carefully, not to take their casual alarm to the next level. Taking in every moment of this experience, we have milked all that is available.
We continue up the trail.
The manzanitas are like a forest.
There are openings, and there, large trees associated with riparian areas break it up.
There is little slope along here, as it is about as level as a creek bed, more a walk in the park.
We photograph whatever takes our fascination along the way.
Some of the signs of autumn are showing themselves.
Although late in the year, we do have a Fall change. There are only the beginnings of the color of falling leaves.
We try to give justice to the rich color and texture of the manzanita’s deep red bark. It is difficult until the day’s light changes.
The bushes are as tall as small trees, as if in a pleasant otherworldly forest.
There is no breeze again today and we are struck by the stark silence of our surroundings. A bird call, the sound of our feet and our breath is typically all that our ears catch. We hear the sound of our inner voices, but soon the irrelevant chatter becomes background to the calm.
Along the way, tall grasses tipped with brushes titillate our waists and legs.
This place reaches out to us, to our senses.
We come to ponded water. This is a spring. The grass is green. I mention that when we were here the last time, DF had commented about it as, “This is where fairies live.” It had many of those qualities. Much of that is still here for us, today.
We continue, a blue jay screeches, the local woodpecker is more gentle than the ones in my neighborhood. The tapping is soft and slower. Larger boulders begin to appear. We notice a hill to the north that I had taken pictures of before, when it was very very green. We exchange, “I remember this, “ anecdotes. The old tree which is loaded with burl reminds us of the past. I’m sure the twisted old man is a landmark to many who have passed through here.
Eventually, as the hill begins to climb steeper, we come to the point where everything is new territory; there are no more references to claim. It isn’t long at all, when we come to a stile in a barbed wire fence.
The sign reads Saguaro National Park.
DF discovers a sign-in sheet in a metal folder. We introduce ourselves as DF and Jbee and record our time.
As we finish at this rest stop, we hear someone approaching. A man and a woman pass as we stand at the registration book and give them breadth on the thin trail. He acts as if he doesn’t see us, until we greet him. She is friendly and smiles. He describes the coming trail as, “…uphill all the way.”
We begin our climb.
The rock formations are fascinating.
It is like a combination of the De Anza Resort area and our recent trek up into the Santa Rita Mountains, with its manzanita, alligator juniper, and scrub oak, mixed with agave and yucca.
There are stair steps all of the way. Most are carved out naturally, so there is no consistency.
Most surfaces that our feet encounter are made of bedrock granite.
Occasionally there is shade, but still little breeze.
Our bodies are adjusting well in their natural efficient state.
Eventually, we come across a nice flat rock with a beautiful vista.
We decide that it is a good place for a break.
As soon as we begin to strip our gear and relax, we hear a hiker coming along the trail. The guy in the lead doesn’t seem to know what to do in our presence. We greet him to ease him into knowing that we are just fine, but he doesn’t seem to know what to do with his eyes as he answers my question about the trail ahead of us. His girlfriend arrives a few moments later. We all converse. He promises that, “There is shade every so often.” She wants us to know that there are, “Great rock features all along the way.”
They explain that there will be no stands of pine until the 4.4 mile mark where this hits another trail.
The fires have changed what is there.
When they leave, we sit and enjoy some grapes in a very calm and quiet atmosphere.
We ask each other about our reactions during this encounter. We are feeling no sense of being exposed. We are too focused in our curiosity of the other people to be concerned about any personal insecurities. We are committed to this plan of action, and its attitude. There is no going back on it; we are after all naked without handy clothing. It has been comfortable so far, to meet people as we naturally are.
The subject soon drifts to my recognizing that I need to change my rig. The fully loaded newsboy satchel is pulling on my shoulder and bends the balance of my body in an unhealthy way. My other day hiking rig places all of the weight on my hips and is nicely balanced, but I am more covered and there is perspiration moister on my back. I’ll keep looking to improve my systems. Losing the extra pounds of water would render this satchel comfortable, if I have water source to use a water filter on. There is however, no water for miles on this set of mountains. The circumstance often requires a specialized rig for the specific conditions. DF’s day rig might use some modifications. When she shifts the weight, we laugh, “Is she officially nude?”
I’ll post the continuation, finishing this story, in a couple of days. We are about to be surprised, bumping into a synchronistic phenomena.