Bear Canyon


The story of this trip was the trees. The highlight was a magnificent alligator juniper where the water springs out of the creek bed and then ponds.

Alligator Juniper have a distinctive bark. It generally looks much like an alligator bag. Fires and other challenges damage “Gators.” Often there is a dead grey section which is not covered by the bark. The tree lives on. Branches grow out, die and new arrive.

There are plenty of Gators in the forest when we arrive at camp. It is interspersed with scrub oak and other vegetation that grow happy at 4 to six thousand feet elevation. These trunks are somewhat the same, but upstream, where moister is more abundant more often during the year, or a perennial stream and other species naturally intermix, they all take off with growth. There, we find trees with the character of time, abundance and scars of disruption and survival.


This giant takes us slack jawed in amazement.

There is bark in two sides, but between that, two sides had been burnt and lay grey like its bare body, exposed by the opening of its coat. I walk around the big trunk and I can see the ground under. This is a tree hollowed out by fire. It stands erect on two broad legs.

Looking up above, we see the multitudes of branches.  Numerous of these are of sufficient diameter to be mature trees, each, if by themselves. This is mammoth. We take numerous photos, but can’t get the entire tree in the frame, or do it justice.

Gators grow past the border to southern Mexico and then clear up into northern Arizona. The ones in Baja Arizona tend to grow tall.  In marked contrast, along the Mongolon Rim and Prescott area, the ones that we have observed have tended to be wider at the base and of shorter stature, more like the shape of a very large bush. This is just our observation, but it has been consistent, so far.

An Alligator Juniper can be 500 years old, but their tree rings can be produced more than once each year. They often have multiple trunks. Estimating their age can be an elusive task. This one is very old, with tales to tell. I suspect that reverence for it preserved it from a cut during the years of pioneers.

When we came across this one, we were stunned by it.  It has the aura of the great grandmother of the forest.

This story begins with a casual pace through Sonoita, Arizona, a grassy high desert resembling parts of California with occasional grape orchards. It is considered wine and cattle country. The winding two lane highway is listed on the maps as scenic. They are.

These rolling hills are getting populated by people who are looking to get away from people. Wide open spaces stretch out far enough to spread the taller mountains out for the vision of big skies.

We find that there are more and more ranchette homes dotting the landscape during each trip. We pass a sign listing 570 acres for sale. We remember what it used to be like and dread the future.

We pass Patagonia Lake and I slip on a pair of sandals to get out on the lonesome road and switch the front wheel lockers into a four wheel drive high. It is graded, but I can appreciate the added stability on the slippery road and its wash board curves.

There is a breeze. There is always a breeze out here, I think. It bends the miles and miles of tall grasses luffing like waves of grain. On a smaller scale, I feel it doing the same to my body hair and following the curves.

It is a good time for a break. DF joins me to imbibe the vista and smell clear air. The view across the border continues beyond man’s artificial boundary into a great distance. This is a similar place a similar breeze, a high desert ecological community, a region.

We continue down a series of landmarks, to the steel bar cattle guard that stretches across the road that we saw on Google Maps. It should be 5.5 miles more. I press the plastic button, setting the odometer. There has been nobody out here on this Wednesday afternoon, but two border patrol trucks are across from our turnoff.

We take an inventory of the potential sites that we observed from space and settle on a spot .2 miles from the trailhead. It has a nice canopy of various trees. None are of any mentionable size or distinction, but it feels cozy and it give us shade and space for a fire tonight.


There is a curious trail leading into the riparian forest from camp. It is found out to be just tread marks from past campers looking for a spot closer to the creek, which lies out there a few hundred feet. None the less, there will be no problems of obstructions hidden under leaves and a quieter walk without the crunch of those stiff dry leaves. Besides, it goes somewhere and it will also lead us back to camp.

The creek is dry. Hundreds of river rocks of various colors catch our eyes. A few large rocks and spiny bushes keep us nudes treading down the middle of the course. The rocks are round and unstable footing.

We don’t wander far. This is just a stroll.

While DF heats up dinner and reads, I cross the road and explore the knoll on the other side.

There is a lot of geology here. I find several fun rocks. I consider taking them, or leaving them for the next hiker. This is only a group of cattle paths where no one ever goes. I freely pick and choose amongst the stones scattered about in the brown grass and flowers.

I spend a good half of an hour carrying a collection back to camp, two or three at a time. They will help decorate my yard.

After dinner, we return to this knoll to get an elevated look over the tree tops and watch the sunset. We feel the heat from the day. It is now cooling. There is no radiation on the skin, burning from the sun. The intensity of the flow of the air changes and the world in all of its senses is calm.

“It is a tequila sunrise colored sunset”

 “I can taste the O.J.”

I hug DF and quip, “There’s a huge bat in my drink.”

“It won’t drink much…”

“…You’d never be able to finish a drink that size anyway.”

At camp, DF has spread the fallen brown leaves away from the fire. There is a circle of bare soil around the fire pit. I had arranged the pit out of local rocks left in a mess from a previous campfire. A quick breeze has moved some of the leaves. DF speaks about it in alliteration,” “Leaves leave dancing design on the dirt.”

I sit and read and write. Leaves fall on my page. I flex my lips, blow up my cheeks and puff the feathery debris off of my scribbled notes.

We sit in the peace of a quiet night:

Here come two Border Patrol trucks powering through the night. They are loud. They are not stealthful out here. It must be a game of flushing people out, like startled birds.

I flash my flashlight at them as they pass. They don’t notice it, as they hurl past. We hear them stop at the trailhead for a while and then, in time, return to the main road.

I’m away from the “To Do List,” the essence of getting away. I can focus on myself without a cluttered mind. Turning 70, I have decided to get away to this place and do something young.   I seek a simple something that reminds me that I’m not “old” just because I’m no longer in my 60’s. The numbers are insignificant. I might go through this each day, but every marker of a decade, it’s a similar actuality and I create a reminder. I have learned that belief has an ultimate power in life. I read of an 85 year old runner, a Tarahumara in Copper Canyon. He runs to town 25 miles in the back country. Nobody ever told him that he couldn’t. I’m taking a nude hike tomorrow. I’m going to breathe deep, smell life, feel the blood pump through my body and get grateful.

We eventually lay in our dome tent. The cover is off, only a net to keep the critters out. We look up at big bright stars of the dark sky through the trees. There is that wonderful silence. I listen. I only hear some ringing and random thoughts, as I watch. Then, they are gone, because I am listening to the silence around me.


More of this trip and some Arizona tree lore, in a few days, when we get back from the hot springs.

I am on the forum of often, if you would like to converse.

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4 thoughts on “Bear Canyon

  1. Pingback: Bear Canyon | EcoNudes

  2. Pingback: Bear Canyon – The Shaven Circumcised Nudist Life

  3. Pingback: Bear Canyon | The Free Range Naturist - Starwide

  4. Gerald

    Trees can make lots of interesting shapes. That is a very interesting and majestic one that you open this post with. A very interesting little trip you are taking into Nature’s beauty.


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