We are exploring a riverbed leading to a lake in the great forest above the Mongollon Rim. Part I is here:
There is a flat rock. We sit peacefully.
The rock is in layers of ancient sediment, pushed up in all directions.
I see sediment depositing similarly on the current banks of the stream. The reservoir fills up and occasionally the Town of Payson takes a sip of it, lowering the levels in increments. There are lines of erosion everywhere. Water has been lapping out its mark amongst the ancient deposits.
I’ve read that the water can be within a quarter mile of our entry back at the Arizona Trail, or it can be miles downstream, as the lake recedes. Here, those deposits are quite high.
After a sandwich lunch, we hear voices. I then see a man down around the bend from where the family is playing. It is working out that we have finished and it is time to leave.
I stand slowly, intentionally showing him my backside, as I slip a sarong around my waist. The sight of my backside is not illegal and I don’t acknowledge that I see him. He might hopefully be thoughtful and understand that he is invading my sense of privacy. He is given several messages this way. One is that there may be nudity ahead. If he has his family in tow, he may want to decide whether to take them further than they are. Another, is that he may think that he has disrupted our solitude. And another, is that people do like naturism, it is harmless, and our exposure to the sun has nothing to do with him, nor his troupe.
As we begin our walk on back upstream, I look back.
There is distance, but I see that he has a string of four children, not all his own. He has been keeping them back out of sight. We’re done with our rock and the water and the mud. I look ahead to the next bend and leaving the kids to their fun in the muck.
As soon as we are back out of sight, we roll up our coverings and put them to better use as cushions for our camera and water bottle shoulder straps. The whole of this place is once again, just ours.
There is a tributary drainage, thick with the low grassy growth like a lawn and some rock formations. Some look almost hut-like, as if for some mythical creatures.
There looks to be lush growth up in the little canyon. I turn to DF and she approves, “sure.”
We find a path over rock forms into a mossy shady enchantment.
Water is ponded by the previous night’s rains. The exploration takes only a few minutes. We take a few photos, and some deep breaths to imbibe the pine and refreshing humidity.
As we walk upstream, DF jumps and swats at the back of her leg. She is apparently stung by a bee! We can’t understand why the critter would attack her. Perhaps she stepped near it. They sometimes are found on the ground. Even so, it has been very aggressive. There must be some killer bee still bred into it. One had been flitting around here earlier.
She is in pain, and the stinger must be stuck. It swells quickly with a red spot. I get out the tweezers and search her inner thigh. We hope that it doesn’t get irritated by the locomotion of stretch and rubbing of legs. She grabs some dry silt, adds water and applies a compress, as we pause.
The brown ooze drips down her leg. “Don’t take a picture of that!” Well, I admit that it could be a misleading photo.
She makes a comment about being naked opened her up to the attack. I counter that the thing would be stuck up her skirt, otherwise. The encounter is extremely unusual and unexpected.
Knowing that we will soon be ending our hike, I begin placing my attention on the multitudes of geologic variety at my feet. I compulsively pick a few oddities and place them into the bag that our sandwiches had been stored. I am pleased with the new additions in my rock gardening.
The stair step climb out to the canyon to our camp at the top of the ridge takes about twenty minutes. It is a tiring cap to a lovely walk.
I enjoy the workout, stopping to take my turn, tapping on the hollow drum of the dead tree’s trunk.
Another bee is tasting a lavender ball of a thistle. It is draped in a fuzzy coat of several colors. This is the first bee that I’ve seen dressed like this.
Next time, sometime, perhaps we will head up stream from the cairns for miles. I’ll utilize a time for that during rains, when the stream is flowing.
There is one more installment of this trip. We are to visit a battlefield and search for a view of the main breadth of the lake, then a trip along the edge of the Mogollon Rim. I’ll add it in a few more days
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Disturbing that we are always running away for the textiles but it is what it is. The sting from hell out of nowhere is sometimes the price we pay for being nude. However clothing offers no guarantee that it wouldn’t happen anyway.