Posts Tagged With: fall colors

Arizona Fall Colors Pt.1

2021-11-08

After an hour and forty-five minutes of naked highway cruising, we’re off of the pavement leaving some huge irrigation farms behind. I stop in the middle of the road in a long straight stretch and turn off the engine. I climb out naked head to toe into the silent plains to turn the wheel locks into a four wheel drive high setting for stability. The dusty red dirt is pleasing on my feet. A sense of freedom comes over me, as I gaze out across flat miles in every direction. I would certainly be alerted to any intrusion to this space, by a dust cloud in the distance.

There are twenty-five miles of this dirt road still ahead.  We’re off again. I look in my rearview mirror. A great plume of terracotta dust trails behind us, as we cruise through a plain of tall golden grasses in open range and a up a few grassy hills. The graded road turns into two tracks at a turn off created by the Forest Service.  As we pass, the pompous grass grows into the road as high as our faces. As dry as this grass is, after a couple of months without rain, we both wonder out loud about the risk of brush fire from a hot exhaust pipe. There is one way in and one way out.

“Pompous” Grass

We find the alligator juniper, juniper and scrub oak along the dry creek. It is shading RV trailer campers.

Through a gate, hard packed dirt turns into mostly bare rock. After bouncing along on the river rock, dodging the big ones, I shift into four wheel low for a steep descent into the stream bed to drive upstream.

We notice a few familiar landmarks, a hill, a bump, or a campsite. The vegetation gets thicker and taller. Eventually, we park in a shady spot off of the road, grateful that no one has claimed this camping destination on this Monday. We have all of this to ourselves. Getting out freely nude and stretching with arms high, DF comments on the scent of those low pines and evergreens all around us.

All around, there are small patches of color amongst the evergreen trees, manzanita and low bushes. It is early November. Here in Arizona, at this elevation, the leaves begin to change and drop away in transition.  Bundles of small leaves, fluorescent yellows and oranges are on well-spaced bushes. Occasionally, a colorful butterfly will flutter away from one, as if the leaves themselves are turning into the dainty travelers.

Avatar Flower

I have heard of this event and waited two years to get here. We have three days here, mid-week. There will probably be few other visitors to this remote canyon in a little known mountain range. I got a report last week that the colorful show was returning and it should be at its peak. The temperatures have been unusually high and sunny in Tucson this year. At this altitude, we are expecting to enjoy highs of mid- 70F’s. Our Fall leaf viewing won’t be bundled up in the usual warm clothing; it will be perfect naked weather.

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