We are camped next to the Verde River, about a mile’s walk from the Verde Hot Springs. Today, we have a parking pass for a spot on Fossil Creek, which is up the hill on our way home. We plan to explore the entire Fossil Creek area as best that we can and then take our spot and enjoy the blue green waters. Yesterday’s foray downstream at Matzatzal was beautiful, so we expect more wonderment.
It is morning. There is a clarity in the air. The morning dew has crystallized every surface. The white catches the sunlight and refracts color like diamonds glow. The temperature is good, no bodily covering required.
Today, we have a parking pass for Tonto Shelf in Fossil Creek. The plan is to explore each parking lot and its corresponding area individually, before we settle into where our pass regulates us. Maybe next time, when we sign up online, we’ll know which is most appealing and provides the best solitude as naturist.
But for the neighbors, which we don’t really know, we are free and fascinated with this place in the Verde River valley. When we returned the day before, a boxy fluorescent green car with odd windows was parked next to a tent, which was color coordinated with the same fluorescent green accents. When I pulled up to our tent, I realized that I would have to reposition the truck for privacy. Since we don’t know these neighbors and there are state laws being enforced with signage in concern of nudity, we have to not be “reckless” with our exposure.
Upon our return yesterday, I walked around the rear of the truck’s tailgate next to DF. I saw the woman, who sat in a folding chair, with her head turned like an owl, looking our way. I complain to DF about “the voyeur.” The intruder was curious, or nosy, take it as you may.
The owl’s head went back to a human position. I think that she heard my comment.
I have realized this morning, that if those neighbors see us, they will have to be looking pretty hard through a wall of brush and tree branches. They are more voyeurs than we are reckless, so as “a reasonable person may be offended” as the law states. We then take a more relaxed attitude, as we move around camp and load up.
We have to move the tent to take it down; the tarp had created an ant farm effect under it. Several species of ants are inhabiting the campground. One species has made home at our doorstep. We shake out the tent and then tarp. I pack most everything away like a grand puzzle in the back of the SUV. We will drive to Fossil Creek, explore at our leisure and head out from there for home.
I’ve had another slow start for the day. The illness has still been giving me fevered sweats in the night. I was up and down several times. There is still recovery to do, before I will be able to make that bouncing drive up the winding mountain road. The headache and nausea will have to lessen. It feels like a hangover. I think of the many party drunks that may have shared a similar experience here on a Sunday morning throughout the many years.
I sit in my folding chair and watch the puffy and spiraling clouds, as they continue to inspire imagination. I spend a time watching the parade of Dr. Suess caricatures fall in an out, as I sit and eat yogurt. The white maple sweet goo has huge black berries and an almond apple mixture mixed in. I relax, healing with the shade of trees, hoping and praying that I feel well.
DF comes behind me and with loving hands administers cranial sacral and transpersonal energy to my aching head. Her magical fingers accomplish their intended effect like the touch of an angel.
There is no surprise that the road is no better than the day before. We bounce our way up that really bad pile of rocks, until we can get on a real road.
The time comes for a panorama photo to show the foundations of the town built for the Childs Power Plant workers. We have had this shot planned and on a “to do” list.
Without regard for clothing anywhere, free ranging, our morning has felt liberated. We anticipate no use for it now. It feels good for DF to casually climb out of the truck into the morning breeze and gaze across the valley. She then, without concern, walks out further into the grassy desert to snap her photos and enjoy her vista.
We also expect that the parking lots and Fossil Creek will be mostly empty. When I last checked the internet, the place was empty today. We anticipate a day like a Sunday morning downtown in the shopping district.
Up the road a ways, we drape cloth over us as a Forest Service guy with a dower look waves back at us. He didn’t look happy at all, all business, like a sour cop. I have placed my hand and arm in front of me waving, filling up the window, to hide the view of us. I figure that this should be the only authority for many miles, which is another good sign.
At the intersection of Fossil Creek Road, we are totally off guard when coming across a smiling rotund female Forest Ranger with a clipboard. This is fine, except that we are completely nude. We shuffle to discretely cover, as she watches from a maybe 50 feet away. I stop the truck cold, avoiding a confusing moment. DF thinking that we are being too obvious asks, “Why are you stopped?”
“There’s a stop sign” I inform, as I look both ways. This once so remote intersection, has a three way stop and a permanent steel ramada. We had driven through here at night, not seeing an entire intersection and gate. We had been expecting to be in the middle of nowhere, but “somewhere” has sprung up. We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves with nudity.
I dutifully make my right turn toward the checkpoint. The Ranger appears exuberant. She greets us with as strong a welcoming as she can. If I was standing outside, she’d probably hug us.
We gather the paperwork that is supposed to be on the dash for inspection. She has the files printed on a roster and asks us our names. I give the wrong one and DF corrects me. We have a light glitch. One must wait thirty days before signing up for parking again. We simply used my information and card for the first day and hers for this one. We wrote the info on the back of the other, because one printed and the latter didn’t. We figured that it would be read from the dashboard through a window, not by a ranger leaning into the passenger window.
We begin to ask lots of questions, she sees our correct parking reservation names and returns it through the window to get it out of the way and focus on our questions. She is pleased to get a chance to talk up her passion for the place. She tells us that things are slow. It is obvious that some conversation is welcome. She tells us that she had sent her cohort down the hill to clean the toilets at the hot spring’s campsite, which explains his gruff demeanor.
She then tells us about our spot to park at Tonto Bench in great detail and where to go. She explains that it is a slow day and we have the “best spot for seclusion” and “I see that you are all ready for that,” as she looks down into the cab at our dress. It is as though she has us pegged and we’re okay.
As she continues, we hear, “Tell you what I’m going to do, since you have a slow day. You can stop at any place that you wish.” We’re stunned, she places a “TB” on our sheet of paper and we have free range to explore any place along the waterway.
When we had left Tucson, there was apparently only one other car registered for the day. The other lots were empty on the way up, but when we drive to the last parking lot, it is nearly full! It is a trailhead to a waterfall about a mile or more upstream. Where did these people come from? This isn’t a spot for comfortably bare, us.
We try the next one and realize that it has cars, too. There are however, two young women getting out of a sedan. We soon find them hiking up the road toward the last parking lot. Apparently, it is used as an unofficial overflow for more waterfall walkers. It may be that this area is deserted.
From the parking lot, I have a sarong wrapped around my waist and DF is in her trusty light spaghetti strap sundress. We begin to explore. There is a lovely calm about what we find.
The water is that enchanting turquoise like the Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon.
I see a rope across the water to grab on.
The trail goes both ways, meandering through the thick riparian foliage and rock face.
Reeds grow thick along the stream. Water flows calm and then speeds off over short falls.
It is a gem in nature….
It is not long before we encounter a pair of young men in wet suits at a waterfall. “Are you gonna jump?”
“Sure, it’s 25 feet down and about 25 feet deep down there.”
“Can I take your picture?”
“Sure” and that quickly, before I know it, he is running off a cliff attempting to walk on air.
The water is gorgeous. The tourmaline has it blue green, like Havasupai. I keep thinking emeralds and old-time glass coca cola bottles. Here, it rushes between the chasm, turning white as it falls, then to a most pleasant turquoise.
This isn’t the route for us. It is a playground, not a place of nude peace and healing. The chills and headache are doing what they can to dampen my spirit. I’m getting tired and dizzy, again. We decide to look at the solitude suggested at Tonto Bench.
We find that it is as she described, a large swimmin’ hole with trees. By swimming across the pool, there is a small beach with some shade.
Anyone stopping to explore the site has a full view of the spectacular swimming hole. It is a risky position stay in nude. The ranger did say that she would be by later. She also had asked us questions to fill her charts, like the number of people camped at the hot springs? First time? She was fishing like a detective. She doesn’t just sit at that checkpoint all day.
So, we climb down and wander the banks of Fossil creek.
Downstream, there is a dead end on the trail.
I do consider that this would be a good place to just travel downstream by swimming or tubing. Perhaps all that would be needed would be a dry bag. That may be a touring option on a later trip. There is plenty of space in-between the frequented sites where others don’t go. The paths don’t go the full length of the creek. It is just finding a way to access these raw spots. Perhaps the conveyance could be the water.
We try the other direction and there is a pleasant spot with dry green grass and some shade. There is a nice boulder in the water, which is big enough to sit two bodies. The emerald water passes here quietly. Peace and solitude. I lay out a cushioned blanket and get on my back to stretch the road out of my system.
My illness has returned. I’m getting chills just from the air like a fever. Getting into the chilly water would be a great shock.
DF sets out to enjoy herself. She gets in the water; she communes with it and the spirit of the place.
She climbs upon that boulder, and encourages me, but the throbbing head and chills are getting the best of me.
As I lie there, I find her joining me, on the blanket and getting comfortable. She takes a small stroll, clicking pictures. One of us is having fun. She does look quite charming contrasting with the waters, reeds and trees.
This is a place to go to rest in peace. It has an air of the idyllic. This could be the best place on the planet for me, at this moment.
Identifying my misery and realizing that I must get well enough to drive, I get another DF Wonder Treatment. There is a thing about being in a place like this on a day like this. It lulls. Being nude in such a situation brings an augmented sense of nature, a spiritual sense, a divine sensuality.
It all works enough for me to get up the hill, but I’m moving pretty slow and I’m dizzy. There is something giving me a hand up.
When we arrive, the parking lot is still clear. I’m certain that we could have used the main pond, but you never know.
I mentally prepare myself, so that we can begin the winding 26 miles of washboard back to the interstate.
The bumpy vibrating 26 miles just seem to go on forever. New rattles are appearing. The sunset orange sky is creating a brown blanket on the saguaro desert floor.
Then, suddenly back on the asphalt of the smooth quiet highway, after the long loud bumpy dirt road, the contrast can only be described as surreal.
Be sure to click any image to enlarge it as you desire.
© The owners of TheFreeRangeNaturist.org as of the year 2015 declare. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to TheFreeRangeNaturist.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.