We are exploring a riverbed leading to a lake in the great forest above the Mongollon Rim. Part I is here:
We are exploring a riverbed leading to a lake in the great forest above the Mongollon Rim. Part I is here:
We have a casual start Saturday morning. There is no hurry. It takes about two hours of interstate and freeways to get to Highway 87 and wide-open spaces. On the other side of Phoenix, we pass along the highway sadly. Because of unprecedented drought, a fire has devastated mile upon mile of lush Sonoran desert. Two hundred year old saguaros are burnt and slowly dying among scorched dark hues of black and brown. The coating is like earth under a leaky car on the completely barren landscape.
Tall cottonwood trees, formally a riparian habitat, are black sticks on one side of the highway bridge, while it is still abundantly green on the other, accenting the contrast.
Having escaped the somber tone of the once great, the highway brings us into the dominion of the bushy pinion pine forest.
Soon, the town of Payson marks the beginning of the tall pines. We stop in a parking lot behind a real-estate office and cover our bodies for drive-through ice cream. After pumping gas, we head into the wilds, the great pine forest of the White Mountains. We are heading to a section of the Arizona Trail to camp. Tomorrow, we will leave that trail to explore a dry river to a lake reservoir.
The previous week, we explored the south end of the Tucson Mountains. It is a promising new playground, a short drive from home.
This time, we’ll explore some of what we were looking down upon from that trail and in the distance on that day.
To get to the trailhead, we must drive through a huge residential development of manufactured homes which have their own golf course. This brings us to a developed and popular spot with a paved parking lot and horse facilities.
We start out where the thick line of homes abruptly ends at desert’s edge. The trail looks down upon this suburban sprawl, as it masses along the foothills of the mountain range. There are potentials for loop trails. We choose the right fork heading south. From the aerial pictures, the trail appears to eventually pass through some interesting geology.
We traditionally take the first nude hike of the year on New Year’s Day, but this year DF has to work. She has New Year’s Eve off. It’s only a date on a calendar. We’ll just have to be early.
Since my move, my new location is in a different proximity to nature. I can no longer just walk out my door and roam for miles in the Tortolita hills. It is time to get acquainted with my local trails.
The closest trails and potential for naked hiking is in the Tucson Mountains. It is a smaller range, not very tall, relatively. There are significant stands of saguaro and I’ve heard that the spring rains can bring wonderment. I am generally unfamiliar with the hiking of them.
Today we will reconnoiter the Tucson Mountain Park, which is a series of trails in the southern end of the range. Because of the local interstate, I surmise that it will only take about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the trailheads that I have researched on the maps and google satellite photos. If this pans out, in my sense of it, that is nude solitude just down the street.
The weather may be too cold, but close to nice for bare skin on desert dwellers. There will be partly cloudy skies, which could make for a chill. We know all too well that the warmth from the direct sun can make all of the difference to a nude body.
We don’t know yet, what the winds will be like where we are going. It is open country, but hills can increase the velocity like Bernoulli’s tube. Even a slight breeze can make a huge difference in comfort.
Today, a sweat shirt and a thick camouflage kilt should be enough and be quick to get in and out of. DF has full pants and an under-layer of black silk.
This is winter in North America. Sometimes, you just can’t comfortably, or even safely nude hike, but you can scout out an area, to see if it will be a viable nude trek at a later date.
During a cold period, maybe, the sun will pop out for a brief time, or the wind will stop. Perhaps one can become more acclimated and enjoy a brisk hike. People can adapt in varying circumstance. We don’t just hibernate naturally. We can prepare. There is a time and a place.
Winter is a good time to plan for the coming warm weather, nude hiking and camping. There are those cold times, when just sitting at a computer and that pile of old maps in a cozy warm house, can be a time of daydreaming and research. With imagination, memories of the sense of it all, nude in an Eden, can surface. There is that hope that humans during the millennia have shared for the end of the shorter dark days of winter. Before the weather gets comfortable again, new territory can be explored. It is better to know where you are first hand, to walk the trail and to imagine what the vegetation will be like in the Spring. Being there, so as to get a feel for an area and note the amount of traffic, can only effectively be done in person.
There are small clues which may be used, such as remoteness, notes found on the internet, personal experience in similar situations. Still, we have been surprised on more than one occasion, either having to cover up more often during encounters with others, or being astounded by the freedom.
Here, in the Arizona Sonoran Desert, we often have days when the temperature rises. However, when nude, it often sits, make or break, in a comfortable balance with just the direction and velocity of the breeze and the cover of a cloud. A day may have a wonderful feel, but only for a few, too short, hours. Any opportunity needs to be exploited, because we don’t know when the next opening for a warm experience will appear. This year, with La Nina in the mix, we are in an extreme drought. But this also means more days of blue sky and less cold temperatures in the dead of our comparatively mild winter.
This Monday promises to be beautiful. DF has the time off. We decide to make use of the opportunity. We need to keep our hike in a lower elevation, to take best advantage of the inherent warmth of the desert. Even my old home in Tortolita, a mere 500 feet higher than Tucson, it can be four or five degrees cooler. We choose the Saguaro National Monument on the west side of the Tucson Mountains, hoping for the best.
We are in the Prescott Area of Arizona, on top of the hill that Ken and Amie call home. We will take hike today, but after a morning walk in the maze that is etched into the natural vegetation on that hill.
This morning, in their warmth, the bright orange sun’s beams blind me. We are up on the hill. So the early rising is at eye level over the distant hills. A hand used like the brim of a hat is ineffective in this kind of glare. Even so, this light is wondrous. The shadows are more definitive. There is a golden hue all about. It is augmenting the various shades of green on this lush shrub hill.
I’m tempted by the soil and rock trail that Ken has placed on his property, which is now glowing golden orange and rose. I slip off my flip flop shoes and walk on, completely naturally bare. I feel especially alive. It meanders and I get generally lost among the scents of morning and of moist dew. I’m sensing that particular energy that excites life at this time of day and the dawn before it.
When I finally find my way back, my feet have been massaged. They are a bit raw from all of the pedestrian activity and from the few spots along the way with a collection of errant sharp rocks. The carpet of laid sod, a thick verdant grass next to the house, is moist, cool and soothing. I feel wonderful and ready. I grab what I need and hop into the back seat, which has DF waiting in it. We are more than ready for a carnude. Continue reading
After our Monday morning hike, we take off alone in the afternoon:
We have headed back to the house on the hill, a retreat for lunch. Ken goes for his appointment. Amie wants to stay around her home. DF and I head for Mingus Mountain to a trail that Ken has made.
There is more traffic here today, than our previous visit, which was when we enjoyed a nude group hike. Cars cruise by as we prep park on the side of the road. Some slide just enjoying the curves of the mountain passage, like a grand prix.
Parked and secure, we cross the road quickly in sarong and sundress.
It isn’t long before we are safely disrobed walking in the forest. We hear the occasional sound of the traffic on the curve behind us. Soon, the only sounds that we hear will be natural, the grace for our ears.
We’re in Dewey Arizona visiting friends at their home. For the first part click on the link here: https://thefreerangenaturist.org/2020/12/13/visiting-around-dewey-prescott/
Monday: I wake up to big yellow flowers amongst the bushes just outside the tent’s mesh. Birds are splashing in their artificial bath.
Climbing out into the morning warmth, hummingbird’s tiny bodies are buzzing as they zip around us. Again, quite noticeably, that soft green grass is so wonderful on bare feet.
While we walk in the shadows, the golden morning light beams around the corner of the house. Radiant heat warms all over the body with its contrast, as we step into it. Muscles begin to loosen up. I stretch and greet it all, accepting my blessings.
There is little prep. We just grab a few things, a snack and bottles of water, a kilt that I don’t intend use. DF and I climb in the back seat onto towels and we go…somewhere. We have again, put ourselves into the hands of Ken and Amie.
Looking out the windows, we see ourselves traveling into the golden brown wheat-like hills. A mountain of rock is ahead of us. We drive through the surreal spectacle of the Granite Dells and turn off at Watson Lake, which is a park.
There are but a few people around, a jogger and a walker in the parking lot. We put on wraps and sundresses looking for a spot to take some quick scenic photos. Ken and Amie have been collecting nude photos in parks and monuments. It is an experience akin to the many web photos of proud bare buttocks attached to travelers, as they raise one finger in the air above an out stretched arm, in what appears to be a triumph. The monuments generally have higher traffic volume, but with covid-19, they are either closed, all or partly. There is an opportunity for the photographic challenge. Continue reading
In the Spring of 2019, I had finished fixing up my strawbale home in the Tortolita Hills to sell. Unique homes sometimes have to wait for the unique buyer. So, as the story goes:
My house is on the market. When it is shown the realtor insists that I disappear. She’s afraid I’ll somehow blow her deal. I’m given a two hour notice and expected to wander for an hour, or more. Today, right now, it’s one of those times when I have to stay away for a while. It is overcast and not particularly warm, but the equinox is coming and there should be some Spring flowers to see in the Tortolitas. I’m feeling some stress, so this seems like a good time for a hike. The exertion should calm me. The usual practice of being in mindfulness will bring me back in the moment. Nature should heal me with her magic.
We are started very late due to circumstances beyond our control. It is a beautiful day, maybe a tad hot, but being naked in an air-conditioned car eradicates such concerns.
We have driven the two hours down the Interstate highway to Wilcox, a small central hub of a town alone in a vast expanse between Tucson and New Mexico. It has thrived amongst some irrigated farmland in the valley between mountain ranges, the cattle ranchers and as a stop on the highway. Here, on the two lane highway to the south, it is open grass and rangeland, all dry from the extended drought.
We are heading for the Chiricahua National Monument, which is a collection of hoodoos much like Bryce in Utah. Not as colorful, not as prolific, but there are not over two million visitors each year. I have found what is described as the least populated trail and it all sounds fascinating as it leads to a natural bridge.