There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label Cacti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cacti. Show all posts

06 July 2017

Puerta Blanca

The trail head signs are overshadowed by a larger warning :

"Illegals and drug smugglers may be crossing in this area. DO NOT attempt to approach them, immediately call the police!"

The morning fog is thick as I make my way along the White Door in the southern bowels of the Sonoran desert.

A lone coyote howls.
Here in the misty mountains of Organ Pipe I don the comfort of the gas mask, strapping  it on tightly before caressing the hollow bones of the Saguaro.
The hollow emptiness here is not conducive to even the bravest of smugglers, lest it be of the human kind or the other.
All souls just disappear into the mist.

12 March 2017

Saguaro bones along the Palo Verde trail

Scattered Saguaro cacti bones are strewn along the Palo Verde trail.
The wanderer slowly steps over the sacred remains of the two hundred year old desert soldier. He carefully makes his way along, laughing at the warning signs to watch for illegals that may be trying to cross the washes in search of a better life.
Out here, you either die alone or survive alone. Any other approach will fail you in the Organ Pipe. He heeds to the call of a wise owl hidden in the brush, licks his canteen dry of the last remaining drops of water, and becomes one with the bones of Saguaro.
He has transformed this transcendental existence. 

24 January 2017

Organ Pipe Cactus

It was just an ordinary brown highway sign along Interstate 8.


I had passed through the town of Gila Bend countless times on my way to Yuma, but today my travels took this exit instead, and next thing I knew I was four miles from the Mexican border, deep in the Sonoran Desert.
It's funny how things here in Arizona are reversed from what I'm used to. Summers are miserable and most people spend the majority of time indoors.

Camping season is November - March.

On a weekend in January, I set up my tent, make a fire, and relax in the wonder and splendor of this desolate place.
I see new cacti, hike desert trails to mountain peaks and sunset vistas. I kick a cholla into my ankle and scream in pain as blood soaks my sock.

I sip whiskey in my tent as night comes and a light rain falls.

It sounds like the sweet taste of a tangerine.

22 January 2017

The Superstitions

"Rainstorms and high winds are predicted all weekend...."

The Superstitions mountains at the East end of the Phoenix valley have long given prominence to my hiking soul. The day (the first of many to come) of exploring them finally came. I head east, find the Peralta exit, and drive along the dirt road to the trail head.
Our recent rains and colder weather have literally turned the dry desert into a green oasis. The low hanging clouds cascading over the mountain tops create the aura of an old western movie, complete with villains and heroes.

Dry creek beds are overflowing, and before long my little car comes to a river I dare not cross.

Calling 911 is not in the plans for today.

I put the car in reverse, and glance in the rear view mirror. I large, fast moving black shape rushes across the road and into the brush.

It's the biggest Javelina I've seen so far, and one that I don't want to mess with.

I park on higher ground, and survey my surroundings. I'm not at the trail head yet, but I walk down to the river, following the path of the ugly beast that almost hit my car.

He's a few hundred yards upstream, drinking from the riverbank. I turn back and walk along the road for 1/2 a mile until I reach the Peralta trail head. I can hear the Javelina rustling in the brush for a bit, then nothing but silence as I leave the river and hike towards the Superstitions.
The trail splits at the mountain base, I choose to go left. winding along the mountains and in between cacti and chollas. Each and every step shows me something new, surprising and wonderful.
The calling of birds hunting is the only sound that breaks the desert silence. Seems as though most folks go right on the trail...

I will return to take that route, no doubt, but for today, going left on the Peralta was the direction Richard Parker was to follow.

15 April 2016

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum

In 1917, Colonel William Boyce Thompson served as co-leader on a Red Cross mercy mission to Russia. It was on this trip that he learned the valuable importance of plants as a source for man's food, clothing and shelter.

On that trip he decided to use his great wealth to improve the use of plant resources. The Boyce Arboretum is one of his legacies.
Founded in 1920, it is Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. I've now been in Arizona a little over a month, and this was my second trip to this special place.
I hike the upper trail, watching for rattlesnakes, yet none cross my path, only strange and interesting lizards. The blooming of the desert Spring cacti flowers is in full onslaught, the bee's are busily buzzing from plant to plant.

I watch the pollination dance with mystic wonder.
With each step, the desert grows on me fondly.
It feels like the the beginnings of love, or perhaps even something much greater....