Pt.1 can be found here:
The Next Leg:
The next leg of the trail isn’t steep. It runs along the edge of the mountainside and is fairly level. Before noon arrives the vegetation changes. We are on the northern slope, now. We are soon involved in what we call tall pine alley and new growth pine alley.
The walk is more casual.
Occasionally, there is a tree across the trail that we must climb over or under.
A flower glowing brightly is in contrast to the greens, browns and granite coloring.
While the rock has been white grey on the south side, there are many variations of pastels over here. Purple, pink, orange and red are fun variations.
The views on this side of the mountain are as grand as the other side. We stop to turn to gaze out to the east in awe.
Below, the floor is coated with grasses. Here we are in green pines.
As we rest, we recognize the mountain ranges one by one, as we look on further and further.
We have seen no wildlife, only a plethora of scat. The silence has been broken only by a crow and an unusual bird call, unfamiliar to us. We detect a distant skunk as a breeze passes by. The wind is more frequent now. Before us we see a strong wind coming down a small valley ahead of us.
As the momentum hastens, we listen and watch the tall pines dance with each other as this turbulence passes.
We are delighted to find a babbling tiny stream of water flowing down one of the chasms.
There is lots of smooth bare rock to sit and lie on.
We listen to the stream flow, as it finds its way. It happens to be lunch time and we will break and enjoy this little blessing.
We soon get fully undressed, that is that our shoes come off of our tired feet. The rough rock surfaces and avoiding slips have given a grand workout in our shoes. It is refreshing to feel air on them and then climb on the rock in a true earth contact.
Below here is a small pond.
We decide to soak our feet while eating. DF is first, she grimaces in surprise when her foot becomes submerged.
She didn’t expect the water to be “frigid” she says. Still it is therapeutic to soak in the cool water.
We explore, we take pictures of our surroundings and of ourselves. We sit quietly, and not so quiet. We close our eyes, and we open them and observe. It is just right.
We see that the usual host of critters populates the pond, the water bugs and tadpoles. Somehow, they have gotten to each sky island puddle for hundreds of miles in any direction. Several species of butterfly flitter about. We let the changes in the shade chase us around as the sun passes. We have spent an hour at this spot by the time that we leave.
It will have an impact on the distance that we cover ultimately, but we enjoy a less goal oriented journey.
We cross through several “alleys.” We stop to enjoy the occasional flowering. We both find a scent in the air of something that smells like anise.
We find the next landmark on the map, another creek. This one is dry. A couple of tall cairns mark the trail as we climb carefully over a fallen tree.
Continuing on, we find an overgrown “hackberry alley.” The barbs are unpleasant for bare skin, no matter how careful we are.
Realizing that we have used up an extra hour at play, that we must get back to the truck and then drive a couple of hours through an area best not done at dark, that we wish to eat before leaving, we decide to stop here. We would rather explore the canyon that we came through in the dark night. Maybe we will find a pleasant little nude walk there.
We stand and watch the vistas before us, again, identifying the many mountain ranges. We can see mountains on the New Mexico border, and that far into Mexico across the international border. The amber grasses stretch between them. Hills which are filled with green trees are below us, then they meet that grassy golden plain.
DF beats her chest Tarzan style, I follow suit. Then I sing out “The Call of the Wild.” All is pleasant and fun.
When we get back to the Arizona Trail confluence, we realize that our timing is good. The winds have been fairly consistent and could chill us in time. So far, they have been wonderful refreshment. Our timing is perfect on the south slope to get warm sun with the winds.
We stand several times to rest, but also to catch the breeze. We can hear and see the winds moving like invisible snaking torrents. They approach us and then drift away. When they have passed, we again have the blessed silence.
We hear wind again. It grasps our nude bodies in many different ways. Sometimes the caress is light, sometimes dramatic.
As we hear one wind, its sound intensity crescendos on our bodies and then passes on. It is varied and sensual. The awareness that it gifts us makes us feel highly alive at the moment. There is an excitement. Then the sound of no sound returns us to calm.
It is amazing and sad that at least 95% of humanity has never experienced this basic and profound fundamental way of relating to the natural earth. They are trapped in the insulation of the clothing obsession.
The slope downhill is dangerous.
Steep and slippery, each step must be carefully judged to be sure that it is solid. I focus on stepping with legs high and using toes and the balls of my feet to make a better purchase.
There is something inside of us that is tired and wants to drag our feet, which is a good way to stub a toe on a rock.
We had taken to this experience as an experiment with every intention to encounter others as nude hikers in a brave and open spirit. Wouldn’t you know? We have seen not one other soul this whole day. This mountain is all ours. I had chosen it years ago, as a place where I thought that we could be free and unencumbered. Yep, wouldn’t ya know, that that is what we’re getting today?
We find a row of rocks, like a step in the middle of the trail. DF places a shirt on it and we sit to rest and take it all in.
Under an alligator juniper, she removes her shoes and picks dry grass out of her socks.
We snack. There is no concern for another hiker whatsoever. We are relaxed. Life is good.
Continuing, DF finds a bright green praying mantis hanging from a bush aside the trail. There is no headless husband. We grapple with taking macro pictures of a subject which moves in the wind among other branches.
As we approach the truck, in the last landslide of an old washed out road, the huge moon comes up, making everything a part of the sense of its wonder.
Getting into the better part of an awful road, we come across two walkers. As we lumber past at just a couple of miles per hour avoiding sharp rocks gouging the sidewalls of the tires, the two women stand just a couple of feet off of the road, looking down into the cab. We don’t cover up. We exchange greetings and smiles. This brief passing is the extent for our accomplishment for our intention and experiment for the day. It is no big deal. We sarcastically do high fives and laugh at this. Much to do about nothing.
Any thoughts of disappointment about a lack of encounters to enrich our experiment today, have been quickly diminished. Our attitudes have given us a different experience throughout. We started out to live as God intended, denying the obstructions of foolish men. Even without the man made obstructions to our natural being, in determination, we have left behind our conventional worries and our fears. We have gained our freedom, both within in peace and in our outwardly actions. We have had a truly naturist experience unencumbered. We have relished the actuality of the life-ness of our natural being. The world is as it is, a gift to be fully experienced.
After an hour driving at two to five miles per hour, we come to a familiar spot, flat and under a tree.
We take a walk back into a small moonscape of a canyon as the sun slides behind a taller mountain. It sits right down on the crest. It is a perfect beacon atop the triangle peak.
The little canyon has an infestation of very large grass hoppers. Some are four and five inches long. They are colorful.
We see the large red beans that we saw the time before.
We have only seen them here, today.
We heat up some veggie soup. DF’s cell phone has returned reception. Her daughter in Puerto Rico has found a cell phone that works after Hurricane Maria tumbled the island. After two weeks of no communication, we now know that they are okay.
Maybe the better part of an hour is spent driving in dirt and stones to Patagonia and another hour to Tucson. We arrive exhausted.