We are at Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains. We have a wonderful campsite and have hiked to the pass on the previous day. The story of that is in two parts is here:
We have a short sunrise wander, just before the morning begins to warm. The tent is already heating up, but we slide back into bed.
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Rising again, I groan and stretch, as I climb slowly out of the tent.
During the night, the weather shifted and periodic winds had popped up over and again. They kept waking me with the rattling of this new tent. I heard the old branch above us creak, and had to wonder in the dark of the night, if I should have looked a little closer when we chose this site. Then, there were more of those crawly tiny ants.
A few steps and we hear the sound of maybe three crows. Their caws echo from the impressive rock face rising above us. This place is so alive.
Later, while DF sits in a chair, watching the orange cliff and the ambiance, she sees a small javalina as it wanders up to the fence in the tall grass and brush, not twenty feet away. We get still. I reach for my camera. It bolts off before I turn around. I never see it.
After breakfast, we gather the tent up, and get ready for the two hour trip to Mt. Lemmon for more camping with DF’s women’s group. We are to be there by early afternoon. I have to roll up and gather the bedding, etc. I must keep the door zipped for critters while I work.
The tent is heating up. It gets extremely hot like a sauna quickly. It is as if I am getting my Sunday morning Sweat. As I labor, I tell myself that this is usually something that I look forward to. I’m very glad to be naked in the heat.
A step outside evaporates my bodily fluids, cools me and refreshes, as well as relieves me. I’m grateful not to be stuck in wet clothes, trapping the heat and soaking in what detoxes out in perspiration. I scrape my body with a harsh towel for further cleansing.
Our plan is to find the illusive waterfall that we have continuously heard and then explore deeper into the shady creek bed, downstream.
We had been down there the evening before and had seen some fun mushrooms. We’ll document those with cameras this time.
We enter, carefully walking down the slippery slope on stairs left from the rain’s erosion. Exposed roots have been infilled with piled up leaves.
We don’t intend to go particularly far, so we only take cameras and our toe shoes. It feels very good to venture forth nude and free in the warm morning air. This will be a pleasant walk.
There are trails through this small mesquite and scrub oak forest.
The canopy makes this much cooler than where we were camped and exposed in the sun.
The first thing that we find is that one of the two creeks has lost its flow. It has been a few days since the rains.
We explore, the water bottles are intact, so we know that no illegal visitors have come this way, avoiding the Border Patrol road blocks.
We try every which way to discover where the waterfall sound is echoing from. It is somewhere behind a pile of very large boulders. Each try in another direction leaves us at a dead end. We eventually give up. This place is just too pleasant to try too hard at anything.
We go on a quest for the multiple types of mushrooms that we had seen earlier and to collect the photos.
Along the way, we find other fun treasures. There are prints in the sand. We see tracks of a small javalina and a catlike somebody not far behind.
There is the impression of the tennis shoes of a small human, or two. We’re surprised by this. No one is near. Perhaps tracks can be left in the sand and loam for days, with moister making them looking still fresh.
We find a couple of big colas of yucca plants in lone decoration. There is a stark contrast amplified by the shear mass and size of these displays.
In a more diminutive fashion, closer to the floor of this riparian channel, dainty blues, purples and orange/red flowers pop up here and there.
The two creeks merge. We hear a gentle sound of a trickle, as one flows over an eight inch waterfall.
We find a wonderful flat boulder, which would be great to lay on to gather sun. The sun shines through the canopy of trees, beaming down on it. It is covered with a spiritual rock arrangement, a design. Someone has been busy making monuments, or alters.
The creek continues to guide us. DF catches an image of every fascinating mushroom that she encounters. We live in a dry desert, yet these fungi associated with rainforest still flourish in diversity and abundance exploiting rare conditions.
The canopy is thick here. Every so often the trees part and I see the colorful rock cliffs.
I see a well-used trail with a gentle slope leading up to the meadow of tall grass above. This exploration finds me in an old campsite. An abandoned hat on a stump takes the role of a gigantic mushroom.
A pair of women’s large slippers are left next to a tree, as if a gift for the next passerby who may need them. Two plants are landscaped with rock rings around their base. She must have been here for a while. They are very healthy and bushy and filled with blooms with two butterflies flitting about.
It is a wall-less, roofless living room. I notice that another trail leads directly to that sunlit boulder with the design on top.
All of the decorations we have been finding, which are incongruent with the local natural ambiance, begin to explain themselves with this discovery. I suspect that the water bottles were left by the heart of this good Samaritan for illegal immigrants, not a part of some smuggler’s scam. At one place, she had scratched a couple of small petroglyph-like markings in the lichen of a rock. She seems a bit fidgety, trying to make order in her world. There has been much prayer.
I think about the small foot prints that I had found in the sand. Perhaps they go together. Perhaps the adult is entertaining the child by setting up house in the forest. I try to leave my campsites as I find them, natural. This person invites others to move in, making a place for them.
I regroup with DF, down below.
After I show her my discovery, we wander back to where the stream pops out of the boulders, still hiding its source. We wash off the trail dust and the stick of the humidity. Here in the shade, fresh water all over our bodies has its refreshing cooling effect.
We sit on another huge boulder, which is covered with blueish green lichens.
Its rounded indented top is like a big plate for sitting.
Here’s the collection of diversity of fungi, if you like:
It’s all pretty darn good.
It stays pretty darn good all the way to the next campsite with our friends up on Mt. Lemmon. There we find great food, handcrafted music and cool weather.