The monsoon has been different, coming out of a drought, odd weather patterns and lastly some late spinoff from a couple of Mexican hurricanes. The desert is now back to green, especially the last couple of weeks, so we have decided to see what these rains have created for us up in my Tortolita hills.
We take off in the truck Saturday morning through the neighborhood, sitting on our clothing, a sundress for DF and a bath wrap for me.
We drive as far as we now can and park in front of a new gate.
We begin our walk, me with wrap in hand and DF with the dress hanging on her waist, just in case. It is a relatively short trip to the wash that we have decided to explore, just a couple of football fields uphill. We will be less likely to see others up the wash except a possibility of local neighbors.
It is looking very beautiful.
This is a story to pay homage to the desert flowers of the monsoon season. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but DF is a trail name. It stands for Desert Flower. She deserves some homage, too.
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In the vicinity of the intersection of road and wash, we find footprints in the sand, but we’re unable to tell how old they are. The rains make their changes. After we discover a couple of them heading back out, they disappear shortly. The place is likely all ours. We throw our dab of clothing into the daypack.
The invasive tall bundles of grass that make it difficult to see snakes have been mashed down by the previous rains and flooding. The debris is high, telling us that the water level was up as high as our necks recently. There is amazing force when it floods. There is a large boulder about the size of a dining room table that made its way first to the middle of the road and then across in a second flood.
Many of the rocky areas have been filled with freshly deposited sand. It is making it easier to walk. It is stiffer, dry on top. We don’t squish in. Because of the pristine look of it and the fun swirls through it from water meandering, we keep to traveling on the many rock formations that are a part of the trek.
It just seems a shame to mess it up.
After walking through sand, it catches on to the soles, or treads of shoes. This makes for slippery feet when they meet the surface of the generally smooth rock again. It is sort of like walking on tiny marbles, so we travel from rock to rock. I counted that we left only five steps in the sand, until we were far into the hike. It is fun and healthy to rock hop here. There is climbing around where mostly it is just large granite formations and bedrock.
We reach one of our favorite spots and decide to rest.
It’s not that we are at any extravagant pace. We are on a long stroll. One goal is to document all of those monsoon seasonal flowers. There is a whole different blooming in this fifth season. Many don’t come around in the spring. The desert is certainly in bloom and it is green and beautiful.
I am in a fast, and after not eating for a week, but a gallon of apple juice, I am reluctant to push it. Besides, if we don’t move slowly and savor it, we might miss something good. Our pace is slow, but filled with a sense of a Mama Pacha blessing with every step. Everything is healthy and in the crest of life.
The rains have everything washed clean, with water ponding abundantly. We can smell the water in the sand. It is like the smell of a beach, but we’re hundreds of miles from an ocean.
I sit back into a familiar smooth cool granite recliner chair. After a while, DF joins me. We just check into awareness. Everything is good. There are multiple types of birds calling out with their messages and no other sound. The silence is often defining. All I do is sit and observe, shutting out definition, label or reference and only soaking in the wonder of it all, just as it is.
We decide to continue with as little as possible. We put everything but shoes, socks, the camera and a bottle of water each into the light daypack. DF wrestles a heavy rock down from above and wraps the straps around it as an anchor. We are concerned that a critter might carry it off while we are gone. There are no tall trees to hang it from like a forest. We also figure that because of the abundance of water ponding and foliage elsewhere, the locals will not be congregating at this popular water hole like usual.
The time is becoming mid-day and there is heat. We figure that it is of little likelihood that someone would come up behind us. Who would be starting a hike when the temperature is in the 90F’s with some light humidity. We however, are comfortably strolling nude this afternoon.
There is a billowing thunder head cloud forming in the southwest.
It is off of the top of a ridge, as I look over my shoulder. This means that a monsoon pattern is brewing and maybe there will be rain later. This won’t threaten us, but we figure it as a positive, keeping others away to leave us alone. I’m not concerned for rain. It would probably be welcome, as it hits my body on a day like this. If it were to chill, then we only need to keep moving to stay comfortable.
We walk on, gathering pictures of the many types of flowers. There are hillside fields of lavender colors, or yellow.
There are patches of color and there are many small but stout plants with diminutive blooms of every shape and color common to this season. The saguaros are all fat and happy, having soaked up and stored the rains.
Soon, a stand-alone experience builds itself up.
We reach the fence which is used to block out the state land rental cattle. It has been repaired, since the last trip here. It is taunt now and crawling under bare is more threatening than it actually is dangerous. The usual cattle destroyed area, the tramped mud holes, the piles of manure have all been washed away. They haven’t returned since the big rains. The area, the wider sandy wash, the vegetation is still wonderful. We walk on.
In the sand we have been noticing the tracks. Javelina, roadrunner and bunnies are evident. Then, there is one very large print. It is about the size of the top of my foot, without my toes.
There is obviously now, a huge mountain lion up there. I check the tracks and they are fresh. With camera in hand, I now keep my observance on the surrounding hills. The cats are illusive, but seen briefly crossing roads, leaping, or walking away. Somewhat further up the canyon, I catch a whiff in the air. It is definitely a wild cat.
I scan the area’s hills as I try to sense which way the wind is coming from. Although naked, we both have trouble with that in this calm. Wind direction seems to be changing. Up in the southeastern sky a huge dark cloud covers the sky. We can’t see where it is, or make out its direction because of the hillside between us. It had to be one of those things that accumulates atop Mt. Lemmon and then falls off onto Oro Valley and sometimes our Tortolitas. We take note and continue to wherever we feel like turning back.
It isn’t long after, that we begin to hear thunder rumbling from someplace. DF is concerned about getting caught in a lightning storm and we err with caution. It is now a fair distance to the truck and we couldn’t be sure to know what is happening behind the surrounding hills. We decide to return, as we reach a place which requires more climbing.
The canyon narrows into a rocky chasm here. As I stand there looking up, I see a group of turtle doves up in the rocks in the sun. They are always hiding under bushes looking for food and protection, but today, there they are.
I am reluctant to leave. There seems to be another miracle around each corner, but it is time.
Barefoot All Over:
On the way back, we feel a few warm drops on our bodies. It’s just a few, enough to count.
When we arrive where the rocks are fewer and it is more beach-like sandy, DF decides to get barefoot all over. She had spotted a good stretch on the way upstream. She does this well balanced maneuver as she stands and pulls off her fivefinger shoes and toe socks. She is on one leg, like a flamingo.
I volunteer to take her bottle, shoes, etc. so that she can experience this as a state of being unencumbered. She loves the complete nakedness. She even takes the hair clips out and gives them to me, letting herself become completely natural.
She goes on, smiling. Behind me I hear her say, “I can’t believe that people think that this is crazy or weird.” She is totally involved with each step, reeking of the joy in her senses of complete nakedness. At one point, a beaming toothy grin on her face widens with big eyes as she stands in a sandy mush. She is moving her feet up and down. A strange “muck, muck” sound is emanating from them.
“Can you hear that?,” and then continues with all of the abandon of a young kid’s joy.
We enjoy a few more drops of rain briefly and some clouds to cool things down a bit. We pass through the cattle fence once more.
A few hundred paces from our stash, I see very fresh cat prints, but looking more closely, they are smaller than before and probably a bobcat. I begin to think how a bobcat would take to our bag. We discover when we return, that that is not a problem.
We rest, DF replaces her shoes and it suddenly strikes me, why had I not gotten barefoot, too? It seemed a hassle with the fivefinger shoes and socks, but for such a lengthy walk, it would have been worth it…yea, well. I mention this to DF and she replies, “Yea, I was wondering why you didn’t take your shoes off, too.”
I joke, “Wanna go back?”
Rock Hounds Visit a New Neighbor:
We get watered, put on shoes, but leave the clothing in the daypack with our two now empty bottles.
We find some turquoise chrysocolla in a rain cleaned rock.
We decide to look through a cache of it that we know along the road. We look, but someone has carted it off and one would have to dig to get more. DF does find a small piece.
We stop off at a small meadow that she has been interested in. The energy is special here, with some nice views. She accumulates a couple of pieces of nice quartz. One is a piece of pink quartz and one a white quartz with golden pyrite veins.
We return to the truck, still quite freely naked and comfortable. We just haven’t cared about intruders into our personal world. Most likely, that wouldn’t happen anyway at this time of hot day with the threat of monsoon rains.
There is a new house in the neighborhood under construction at the base of the hill. We decide to visit. Still nude, we grab a quick cover-up to carry in case anyone happens by. We tour, speculating what each room will be for. Every so often, I catch myself in the window reflections and remember that I am visiting this house nude, and very comfortably.
Sampling a Bounty:
We drive home, again sitting on our clothes. The day is beautiful. We have been tasting hackberries all day.
Some were bitter, some less so. We wanted to discern which tasted as they did by deepness of color, size, etc.
I had a couple of days earlier, tried the particular berries of a hackberry plant. It is near our the jeep trail by my place. After dropping off everything, but still wearing shoes and feeling a bit sticky before a shower, we go out there to show DF. This littler bush does have a sweeter taste. We haven’t nailed down which make a better berry. They are all different.
Since we are here and it feels right, we decide to take a walk further out back. We wander up a familiar wash to see the changes. We just feel good and free in an exceptional place.
A rain never came and the clouds dissipated, until a wonderful sunset was given.
The lone last San Pedro bloom is going off tonight. The rains have brought new energy to this part of the world and naturism rocks!
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That’s a big cat!
I’ve only seen one in the wild. It was right next to a boy scout camp. Talked to the local rangers about it and they were very familiar with her. She posed no risk to the kids.
I tend to travel more slowly when there are a lot of flowers about. too.