I’d heard the watch go off this morning at seven. Who cares…
…It is still early this morning. I’m startled by the weighty step of somebody big, just outside of the tent. We focus to identify the sound of whoever is tussling the leaves. He’s walking on two legs around our tent. I try to be as quiet as I can to not let the intruder know that I am awake and alert. I slide my hand toward my pistol. Whaoh there! It’s only a turkey.
We try not to giggle too loud, fascinated by the nonchalant behaviors of a wild creature. I whisper, “Sure sounds like somebody is out there.”
I recall last night, just before sundown, there was a big black turkey and a pal digging through the leaves. There are lots of those bugs that we saw yesterday, the black ones with white polka dots, who are mating.
We stretch and unzip the tent. I’m feeling gratitude to be here. The smells, the fresh air that falls from high on the mountain, the divine peace and solitude that comes from the thick coating of silence is out there beyond the passageway. I must reverently crawl on my knees to reenter this monumental church. I stand, take a deep breath and stretch some more.
Through my sleepy eyes, in a delightfully simple state of mind, I see a squirrel with big ears that curl up and then in like a bobcat. Black tips, it eyes me back. It probably can sense who the more alert one of the two us is. We begin the chores, me breaking camp and DF digging through the truck putting breakfast together. She has collected a wild mint to enhance a morning tea.
As the sun filters through the foliage, it warms us, until naked becomes perfect. A hiker family catches us in our abandon. DF is behind the truck. I use the door and turn my back to them. Butts aren’t actually illegal to see. My exposure doesn’t really concern me, and apparently they have little concern, too. We’re excited to return to Miller Canyon on the other side of these mountains.
Crossing the great divide and up Miller Canyon:
“Ya know, I don’t remember this road being so bad on the way in?”
As we lumber down the bouncy dirt conveyance, a deer crosses the road.
It is a short drive back the way that we came through Montezuma Pass. Once back on the highway, we have our eyes peeled out for our favorite Sierra Vista Italian restaurant.
We walk in, after attempting to get our trail look hidden. DF has slipped into a very short lofty sundress and flip flops, nothing else. I’ve slipped around a camouflaged kilt and the grey shirt that I slept in the last two nights. We feel a little out of place, but oh well, it’s covid and things are slow. We try to wash up in the elegant restroom.
It’s a patient wait alone on their front porch. I’m surprised how entertained I am by the wind playing with the dress of someone who I’ve been naked with for two straight days.
The pizza is made with genuine old school Italian ingredients, imported from the homeland. It’s a ham and olive pesquitto? There has been a tasty, ancient process to some organic meat, so good, that even a pescatarian can’t feel guilty about eating it.
We leave with two pieces each for camp tonight. We’ll have veggy trail soup to go with them. I’m always looking for lighter weight in my backpack, so I dehydrated some various vegetables. Some are kind of rubbery when they re-hydrate. These, I ground down to nearly a powder and will add re-hydrated spaghetti sauce to the mix.
Our arrival to the Miller Canyon trailhead is at noon, plenty of good time for the journey of the day. Getting out of the truck in the nearly full parking area, we hear water through the trees. The sound of water is like good news. DF puts on a pair of shorts under that super light, yet comfortable dress. I find my kilt again. It seems that everybody goes to the creeks from the nearby city.
Our bags are already packed. With the short time that it takes us to leave, makes me more comfortable. Leaving a car with backpacks, obviously leaving it for the night, makes it a target for any thieves who notice. Our planned Saturday on the western slopes of the Huachucas was a cooler day over here. Now Sunday, the predicted temperatures are up. Monday will be warmer, too. Also, Sunday afternoon will slowly empty out the weekend visitors. Monday will see much less traffic in this busier location. As naturists, we like warm places with fewer encounters with others.
As we truck through the first leg, it is evident just how popular this place has become. Fortunately, nearly everyone we see is heading in the opposite direction. We smile and wish them well. The trail rounds the old orchard that DF lived at when she was in her twenties.
Our route continues as a wide trail, that once was traveled by mining vehicles. It has a park-like atmosphere with so many people.
Soon, after we reach the sign for the fork that leads over to Hunter Canyon, things begin to change. It gets quieter, and fewer faces pass us.
People are leaving and we begin to feel like all of this is left for us. The uphill becomes steeper. We have been here before and expect it. We also know that there will be a campsite next to a stream, somewhere up ahead. We pass the ruins of the old.
A steep formidable and memorable cliff shows itself through the trees, which are becoming taller. The shade is thicker. Tall ponderosa pines makes for a sense of majesty with the steep hillsides reaching so very high above us covered with thick growth.
I think of the laborers that built these roads in these mountains long ago. The earth and rock and sweat that defined so many days of their lives. They did it to get rich, or to just get by from the mineral wealth that they supposed. We come to what we call Hatchet Rock. Through the decades, DF has taken numerous photos of friends, pretending to create the crack in a huge boulder along the trail. We each pose, once again.
It seems like we haven’t traveled as far as we feel. Things go slower with back packs on.
We haven’t seen anyone for a while, when we bump into a young shy guy. We ask about traffic up the trail and camping spots. He stutters that he has only gone just a little further up the trail. I’m considering stripping off, but we may not be very far to our intended site. Trudging on, we’re finding no place to camp and then the water stops! We give each other a look, “Did we go too far?”
Going on, I look down through the trees and the stream has started up again.
There have been no camping spots and we are looking at some small precarious spots to pitch the tent. I set a prayer for a good site and within a few minutes, there it is.
I realize that we’ve been here before with DF’s brother. I have certainty, when I walk back into the brush and find the way upstream, there sits a familiar and lovely, waterfall.
The sun is glistening through the water highlighting red rock, which looks like leather on a pair of oxblood shoes.
It’s all beautiful, we are free of our packs and of course the binding enclosure of our clothing.
Still Time for an Adventure:
Feeling refreshed and invigorated by our freedom, we decide to take a walk further up the trail. We have no more reason to do this than just to do it. We just will take a walk in the woods. All we need is a camera and a pair of shoes. We decide to leave our stuff behind, and just take off.
It feels light and liberating being so unencumbered in this wondrous place, when we come to a sign and a fork. One way is the current trail up the canyon to Bathtub springs. The other is the old way that DF knows. It may lead to the old mine equipment, it may end soon, that is to be found out. We can take the new trail as planned, tomorrow.
This place burnt down several years ago. Then, heavy rains washed away the old creek, flooding and ripping places in the canyon to impassable shreds. Burnt forests don’t hold topsoil well. Now there is a new trail and remnants of the old. We follow the switchback and they raise us higher and higher. The views pop out of the new shrubbery that has come back since the fires. It feel so liberating, to just go, to explore, to not have any concern about encounters. We own our lives, our being and our bodies. The new trees, bushes and the webbing of berry briars encircle the trail. It’s making a green tunnel.
Then we break out into a magnificent vista and then back in.
There, on the side of the trail lies a mammoth piece of metal and a photo opt. DF climbs into the monster’s mouth to be framed by the moon-like hole in its mandala middle. She soon discovers that the rusty old metal is extremely slippery and she has to struggle to brace herself.
We wander 45 minutes up and 45 back, way up the hillside, fueled by our enthusiasm and curiosity.
Back at camp, we are not far off of the trail, but we decide to continue to live in abandon. The tent is being difficult with the tarp. Each of us has hands full, as one holds a post in place while the other stretches and threads cord to stake down. Two young guys come trekking by, smirking at the naked people.
There is a whole déjà vu quality to this place, as we discover familiarity popping out of the file drawers deep in the closets of our minds.
DF sets up the kitchen and dining area on one huge comfortable old rock.
We eat a delicious diner, the pizza, the soup of bruschetta sauce and hot tea.
Satisfied, I lean backwards to stretch my back.
I lay there, eyes to the sky, seeing everything upside down at dusk. It looks like a lakeside in the sky. I just lay there, feeling lucky.
Sitting up, we watch butterflies swarm below from the rock. It feels like a blessing. Wind blows through the trees above, but it’s gentle down here.
The two guys come back and I greet them with, “Had enough?”
They reply, “Well, the sun is going down.” We need water and find our way down to the creek to filter while we sit on big round river rocks, like toads on a stool. Clear waters are like looking through a window to a whole other world. Critters flourish and interact, aquatic life grows and colored sky reflects on the surface, tinting it all.
We are down at dusk, in bed by 8:30.
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