The recent heavy rains from the Mexican hurricanes have replaced the monsoon rains that had been missing AND then some. Yep, it’s Arizona and we have had a drought. I knew that Redington Pass would be flowing well and didn’t want to miss the opportunity. Monday would be a day with no threat of more rain and a consequent flashflood.
I made the time, but DF couldn’t do the same. I decided to invite friends who were available for a Monday excursion. I found two.
We left somewhat early. One picked up the other and arrived at DF’s place to meet up and get into my 4×4.
They look at my wraparound and fivefinger shoes attire. She remarks with a curious glance, on how “minimalist” my hiking attire is. These are two friends that DF and I have spent extensive time with nude, but their concept is driving there and then stripping down. Mine is of course…different.
Elaine hadn’t been out hiking in a few years. Buck had yet been to the nude area of the canyon at Redington. It has been many years since he visited and that was before the lower area had been inundated by the textile clad. This begins conversation about nudity laws, free range naturism, and anecdotal stories of the ilk. The discussion lasts all the way out to the pass. She is learning more about a zealot’s attitude about getting around naked and today will become a time of many eye-opening lessons. He on the other hand has been around this for a while.
DF and I had been there a few weeks earlier and it had been barren, with little water. It had been disappointing. Today, as we begin to drive into the area, I am impressed by the green coloring of the hills and mountains. On a Monday, I am also surprised that there are a few cars already there when we arrive. There is no one with these cars, so I immediately stuff my wrap into my bag, just in case I need it, when I return to the parking area. For now, it is the last thing that I care about.
I lead them to the newer trail and down into the canyon. I show them the forest service metal warning sign about hazards there, with the “clothing optional” and “nudity ahead” messages scratched and painted into it. She begins to relax and understand, especially when a short time later, we are greeted by a nude hiker on the trail.
We can hear the water on the rock surfaces, far below us. Upon reaching the bluff that looks down on the first pool, we see that there is obviously lots of water flowing. Two nicely done all over tanned individuals are down there. Elaine had not seen water like this in Arizona, or free-range nudity other than free-beach areas. She’ll explain later in the day that this hike has been like a rebirth for her.
There is obviously more water than I have seen here in quite a while.
Down on the canyon bedrock, my two companions begin to undress, too, as I go to test the waters. I step in and drop down to my neck. There is swimming in a slow moving area. The water is wonderful. It is from a tropical storm and I suppose that, plus traveling for a time through the desert sun to get there, it has been heated more. There is just a pleasant nip that refreshes me. The air is 80F to mid-90’sF during our stay. The usual amber tint is in the water from the resins of the mountains. I have to assure Elaine that this is usual, natural and harmless.
While they get wet, I explore for a viable way to get over the rocks and current and on back into the canyon. I question one of the two gentlemen. He tells me that he had gone further using a rock that is not far from us. He points it out. The difficulty has discouraged others. I have seen only three others, myself.
I know these rocks, but this water makes the ballgame quite different. If I can make it through just one point, it will be accessible. I go back and pry my friends away from their pleasure, with the taunt that better is just ahead. This is only the first swimming hole. They follow and I figure the route, leading them through. There is one way. I discover a few footprints and evidence of human occupation. Not many have come this way during the usually busy weekend. It is slow passage, but with some careful and minor canyoneering, balancing on rocks, it is not particularly hazardous.
My companions are realizing the advantages of climbing through the rock and water barefoot all over. Both had come wearing tough sandals.
We come across a favorite spot, the one with the jaccuzzi bowl and its perfect shelf to lie on. This spot has been documented before on this site with photos. My cohorts are both smiling broadly at this point. I look up and am stunned to see that the familiar pile of debris of large logs, maybe forty feet up, are missing. There is one large log which was a tree’s trunk below this and a huge burl. I can’t imagine people moving these things. The flooding must have risen up that high again with the recent rains. I begin to drop my backpack and make this a resting spot. There is some shade.
I slowly place my bare feet into the water, making sure that I am stepping on a rock slab, not a slippery one, and not anything sharp, or surprisingly deep. It is deeper by far that my recollection, wall to wall. There is a pull coming from upstream from the current. I creep through, feeling for unknown footing and balancing through the push of it. I reach a large rock that is not fully submerged and grab on. On its other side, is a mass of foamy brine and jumping waters that would definitely push me around. Using the rock for strength of push and an anchor, I slowly slip around the boulder. I am able to get to the other side of the stream where there is slightly less current. With the vortex effect in some places, I am able to stay there without getting pushed back downstream, or slammed into the other rock faces. There, under the water, is the perch that DF and I enjoy so much. It is nearly calm there in comparison and once again it nestles my naked body. This time however, it is more submerged. As I lay there, my feet are floating up in front of me. Elaine has followed me in after a few pointers from my experience.
The jaccuzzi is the next. I have to try. Clinging to the rock with my hands and stepping blind and carefully, I inch my body through the water, knowing that a change in pressure might sweep me into an uncontrollable situation. With these surfaces, it could hurt. I find that it is easier than my concerns, but I am now at the mouth of the jaccuzzi with its whirlpool. I figure that I will be able to stand in the bowl to my right, but the force just to the left is very powerful and I still don’t know where that force begins. Holding on tight, I raise my foot up and down into the bowl. It is deep and empty, but for a few rocks swirling under the water. I am straddling it nearly to my crotch. There is little resistance in the position and I am able to climb it. The roar is thunderous as the water slaps into the rock. I test for the area that would sweep me away, or off of my feet. There is tremendous force, which is dangerous, if not careful. I lean back, feeling the jaccuzzi effect and find myself shouting with glee, again and again. It is such a wondrous environment.
Elaine is then encouraged to join me. She creeps through the trail that she has watched me blaze. She is very adept. I have to grab her hand to pull her into the tub, but in she comes. She has actually worn her shoes and is concerned that they might be pulled off and lost. I am surprised how well that they stayed on, considering. Attempting to give her more room, my behind is suddenly pulled around and I am almost swept away. I get a light bang on my face, but luck and quick unconscious reaction keep me safe.
Being barefoot all over in this environment always has been a treat. The jumping, the climbing, the very uneven fields of granite all make for a particular playground. The body moves and reacts, well before the brain. Most movement is automatic and this day is very demonstrative of that. There are many more, shall I say acrobatic movements required. I watch myself happen. Sometimes as I step forward, I fall forward and grab onto rock in the next move. It seems as though it is planned out, but not by me the conscious mind. I am only the observer enjoying the ride. Any other movement could have been damaging, in some cases. I haven’t been in situations like this in many years. The barefooting, hiking, nudity, massage and stretch, watchful mindfulness that I have been practicing, seems to have prepared me to allow this more fluid and elastic state, that I once knew. I can see that I haven’t completely lost it, I am feeling and acting much younger, again. I howl!
We shift in the bowl until Elaine can move into position to enjoy the jet massage and I can move on. She lays back and just like me, she begins to shout and beam. I look around and up to see Buck taking photos with his cellphone. I make it back to “the perch” and float blissfully.
Buck finally is seen making his way toward our fun. I encourage him and give a few pointers. He makes his way, crawls into the jaccuzzi and sure enough, here comes a scream and the grin. I climb out. After he requests pictures, I take a few. Then, I can’t get enough and climb back in the waters. Eventually, I become a tad tired and climb out.
Part II is coming in a few days.