Montana Wolf

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Migration, Con't.

It was a quick dip into Black Meadow Landing to pick up my kayak. I'd canceled my winter reservation a few months prior when points further south beckoned. I made the rounds from camper to camper to visit friends; shared laughs, dog swims and a yummy steak dinner with Johanna. (Yep, as in Boise-Johanna, where I spent my 60th b-day upon my return from Alaska) adventurer Johanna, who kisses everyone on the lips. Deal with it! 

I eventually made my way up the hill to the cliffside stone circle I'd constructed 3 years hence; where I had stood daily at dawn and said hello to the day. This is where I placed some of dad's ashes. The Iowa farmer had an Arizona kick-ass view overlooking Lake Havasu.  I sat on a small boulder and we talked the afternoon away. Mostly, he talked, I listened.

It was only a couple hour's drive south to Palm Canyon, north of Yuma. I'd wanted to go in there for years to explore and photograph. Now I had another intention: to write about it. This was the seven-mile stutter bump stretch that sent my recipe cards flying like snow flakes across the inside of La Perla. It also wiggled one cupboard door right off the hinges. Worth every dusty washboard to be back in the Sonoran Desert, in the company of stately, mind-blowing saguaros. I parked at the mouth of the canyon overlooking the valley below, positioned for the sunset to come. The palms were dramatic, tucked in a narrow canyon crevasse amidst steep cliffs. I went off trail to explore and quickly re-learned the ferocious flesh-grab and tear of cats claw acacia. Long cuts and streaks of blood criss-crossed my legs, nothing that a little peroxide didn't handle. I sat in my chair back at camp, ate my favorite quick dinner of popcorn and cheese and waited. Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the spectacular colors to come as the sun bade farewell to the day.

The following two nights I parked on my old friend Frank's land that borders the Sonoran National Monument west of Tucson. Frank and I had started the Salida Audubon Society back in the early 80's. We'd climbed Kit Carson and Challenger Peaks (2 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks) in the '90's. Nothing compared, however, to one memorable Thanksgiving backpack to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with friends. When---exhausted, blistered and totally spent, Frank and the guys pulled a cooked turkey and all the trimmings out of their packs. Even cranberries!

Panther Peak
I had the first night to myself, immersed in the lush forest of saguaros in the magnificent shadow of Panther Peak. Coyotes yipped and howled through the darkness; javelina brushed by La Perla and up the arroyo. The next morn I was awash in birdsong~~thrashers, cactus wrens, doves, gila woodpeckers, mockingbirds. Too much to resist, I pulled my fire pit from the back of truck and commenced to light a morning fire. It was flame, espresso and a sit with the desert spirits.

Frank made it out later that day and we commenced to catch up on a friendship too long ignored. He commented that care his land and the straw bale house he's building were the most important things he'd ever done. A big statement, given the children's books and photographs he'd contributed to the world. It was December 12th, Our Lady of Guadalupe's birthday. I had this sense that all of this beauty and special feeling was a direct blessing from her. Indeed, if I couldn't be in Mexico on this celebratory day, being here was as perfect as it got.

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