When we left off last time…
…We had taken a New Years hike in a very crowded area, split from the trail, and discovered a wonderful natural interlude. The old wrangler had mentioned that there was a waterfall that would be fun, when there were rains.
It rained! It rained well. We had had drought for months and then three weeks of monsoon deluge in July. Then, only one sprinkle until we received a proper rain in December. We just woke up to more wet blessing on Wednesday morning. Thus, here in Arizona, that suggests…no, demands an “!”.
With this moister in mind and that we both had a Thursday off together, it seemed like a fun thing to investigate the waterfall, which might be during the opportune time of catching it with a water flow. There was a drawback, however. The temperatures would be a high of 60F. In that area, the chill of the mountain air drops off, flowing down through the canyons and that was where we were headed. It could be warm enough, maybe not.
We awoke to a staghorn cholla viewed out the bedroom window moving to the wind. There was obviously chill factor out there. In the distance the mountain top was covered in white powder. There would be snow melt adding to the water flow, but nude hiking could be uncomfortable. We would have to just see what we could get. I hadn’t set out to hike clothed in years, but with no alternative and a fun waterfall, I decided to bite the bullet for once.
I also wanted to try some gear out in these conditions. I had just received a “runner’s” day pack as a gift a few days before. The dry bag that I have rigged up for SUL (Super Ultra-Light) use is tight for space, it sweats on my back some. Another negative feature is that I put the weight of my bottles on my shoulders with cumbersome straps, crisscrossing every which way. This bag weighs ¾ of a pound, instead of ¼ pound, but the extra weight could be a trade-off to breathability and comfort in the straps and against my back, a bit more room and compartments. It also has two pouches for my water bottles, so the entire weight rests on my belt across the breadth of the rolled foam pad , which is attached horizontally to my pack belt. All of the weight is rested on my hips, in this new configuration.
I stepped outside the door onto the granite slab, which was in the warm sun, testing my clothing. I planned to wear a pair of thermal underwear, a long sleeve, slightly over sized T-shirt, for a first layer. I placed a hoody, sweat jacket over that. Rolled up in my bag were a pair of wind pants and wind jacket, just in case. All of this, but the sweat jacket, are very light weight.
We figured that we were arriving mid-week, but when we got the parking lot, it was nearly full. It looked almost like crazy New Year’s Day. Oh well, we probably would have cold to deal with anyway. We took off at a quick pace. We usually stroll and imbibe, but we wanted to get to more solitude and movement warms the body. The long johns were comfortable, I could drop the crotch for a better sense of freedom and the long T covered the poor fashion sense of that.
We walked through the mesquite bosque, often covered with cold shade, and then hit a biting cold wind flowing through the wash. It is a fairly level, well maintained trail and wide. We were able to hold hands, walking parallel with each other. When we came to the stairs out of the wash I could feel aerobic sense and breathing harder. This walk fast was a good sustained exercise.
The first goal was a bench on top of the plain at one mile. Anticipating wind up there, we were surprised to find calm. The prediction had been 5 to 9 miles per hour. The earlier winds had died down. I was getting hot in the sweat jacket, so the first layer toward freedom came off. I mentioned nude, but we decided to be cautious and wait to see how things go. Besides we were just a relatively short distance off the more crowded loop trail. The fast paced first mile had felt good. We continued quickly to the next bench and the turn into the wilderness area.
Off the Main Trail:
At the junction, I decided to keep the clothing on. We could see the falls in shadow due to the sun’s midwinter lower angle. The area and closer to the mountains in the canyons could be carrying frigid winds.
DF had one obligation this day, a phone call with her doctor at 1:30 about some blood tests. We had to be in cell phone range at that time. We moved down the now familiar trail.
The fork to the waterfall came soon enough. We had come to no chilling winds, but were still concerned about the canyon ahead, which is a permanently winter shaded canyon by the canyon walls.
Someone had trimmed back the thick foliage. The trail was pleasant as we began to get glimpses of the falls.
From a distance it was obvious that there was no massive flow there, but in an Arizonan drought, even a trickle would be fun.
Arriving at a small sand beach, it was obvious that no water had flowed.
Still there was an enchanting quality to the experience and the nag of wanting to explore further.
Piles of large boulders with thick vegetation between were obstructing our way, but we knew that in the photos that we took last time, there was a man standing above where we were.
We began to look for places to climb, go around and crawl through the collection of obstructions.
I noticed that the baggy stretchy thermal long johns gave well and didn’t restrict my movement like other clothing as I made my way.
We ultimately came to a rock face. If we braved the slippery slope, nearly a cliff for 30 feet up, we would be at another level spot and could possibly make it to what may be a granite bowl of a pond.
The climb would be tedious, dangerous enough to raise hairs and we had only 15 minutes to get to a higher spot for cell phone reception. We decided to relax on this and be sure to make the appointment. The new goal would be to find a nice flat rock with cell service, in the sun.
Two boulders in the sun were soon delivered to us at the side of the trail. I stripped off my baggage and kept going. It felt great. DF pulled her shirt over her head and we began to dig into the bag with our lunch in it. Just at that moment, the phone rang, consuming DF.
I nibbled, laid back across my rock and felt redeemed, but soon I was drawn to get up and savor this opportunity. There was no breeze, the sun was a near perfect bake, I could feel it in seemingly every pore. After being cooped up in even light clothing, nude movement was emancipation. Pleasant is the most definitive descriptive sense that I can convey. I took off at a stroll up the trail.
The sun disappeared here and there. As shadows engulfed me, the contrast was invigorating and sensual. The shadowed canyon near the falls was not chilly at all, but also pleasant. I enjoyed it so much more than the first time dressed. I was feeling my body as so much more wholly alive.
I returned, anxious to turn DF onto this charming discovery.
After her phone conversation, she stripped the pants off and we had our lunch. She mentioned how hungry that she was, “Past my lunchtime.”
As I made a fist full of red table grapes my desert, she laid back to sun.
I got up to take a few pictures of her relaxing.
When my shadow passed over her body, it was soon evident that I was becoming a pest.
I playfully took that role, teasing, being very careful not to take it too far.
After DF took a few more moments to relax and consider her doctor’s report on her health, it wasn’t hard to convince her to repeat my previous stroll with me.
It washed away her concerned contemplation when we stood looking out, sun on our backs and I placed my arm affectionately around her shoulders. We slowly kissed and embraced with our bodies warmed and cooled by being next to each other and next to the universe of sensuality surrounding us. We found ourselves very quiet and grateful for our unexpected nude interlude.
We had to get back, the envelope of warm afternoon sun would be dissipating.
I announced that I wouldn’t be dressing for the return, until I met the bench.
DF concurred. Me in backpack, she just nude a bundle of cloth in hand, we took our time to enjoy the experience of this place and its thin winding trail.
At the bench at the main trail, we sat and reluctantly placed coverings on ourselves.
I opted to wear only the long johns, thinking that a fistful of easily packable boxers might be an even better way to go on these more crowded trails.
Wouldn’t cha know, as soon as we were ready to proceed, we heard the voices of other hikers coming down the trail.
Sometimes, you take what you can get, but something wonderful happens.