Down From The Mountain

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The entire desert environment is harsh and no place for fools (like me) to wander alone.

As is often said, there’s no fool like an old fool. An arduous climb, and harder descent lead me on to the next quest, the same day. I did not find the petroglyphs and ended up stuck in an arroyo for a couple of hours while I jacked the van, again and again, shovelled and stacked rocks until I finally found the high ground. Fool! You may tell me how clever I am to get myself out of my fix, as darkness fell but, this old backwoods man often recites the mantra “superior pilots use their superior knowledge to avoid situations requiring their superior skill.” All’s well that ends.

The path zig-zags ever upward. Each step is a conscious placement of your boots. The rocks are loose and grabbing a bush for support is a definite NOT! Nearly all vegetation is covered in vicious thorns.
The changing views are spectacular and draw you ever upward.
Homeland Insecurity sneaky-cam chained to a tree. James told me drug mules come over the mountain passes..yep, way up there. There are electronic sensors strategically placed and the soon the helicopters are on site.
Fresnal Canyon. It looks lovely, but there is no gentle strolling here.
It was stunning
A Godshead?
A view eastward toward Tonopah and Sells. The water towers are the giveaway. I find it impossible for this alien to to judge height and distance here.
In the distance beyond the cactus, San Miguel and then Mexico. There is an ominous incessant thunder far overhead as fighter jets practise. You can never see them.
I took this photo when my old injuries stopped complaining and started screaming. I reasoned that I was entirely alone and had forgotten to bring my cell phone. One slip, one sprain or broken bone could have been drastic. Going down was even more arduous. I would later learn that the cave I sought was at the  base of the cleft, in the tan spot. I was only ten minutes from the Creator’s Cave where legend has it he emerged to create the world and distribute the people of different colours. I did not feel quite ready to go meet my maker.
So…I sat a while and chatted with a cactus. He was even more prickly than I am.
Someone went to a lot of work to build these walls. An old camp on the mountain? How old?
Everything commands/demands respect.
Even in January the shade felt good. I can’t imagine clambering here on a summer day.
A ground squirrel sunning himself atop a huge boulder ponders the passage of the apparition I must have been.
I order my used Minolta 400mm reflex lense from Japan. It is fantastic for these sort of shots. The photo was taken hand-held at a distance of about sixty feet.
Ahhh! An underground stream emerges briefly to fall into this pool. Everything gathers there, wasps, flies, moths and all sorts of creatures that make tracks. The sound of that trickling water was sweet music indeed. Then the water disappears underground again.
This character was as tall as I am but was definitely not leaning out for a hug.
Dumb ass! I knew better and told myself so during the two hours of shovelling, jacking and packing rocks while darkness began to fall. The van is not a back country vehicle.
Night fell. Ominous but beautiful.
And so I spent the night.
Pre-dawn. Night creatures provided a wonderful symphony.
Don’t fence me in. Part of the coral where I spent the night.
Water is everything. Note the moisture flowing down the cliff face. What is its source?
Up the arroyo (or, wash). These are the super highways of the desert, where the going is easiest and ambush most likely.
Creak, clatter and squeak. The traditional windmill is a green source of retrieving the essence of life. This one was still pumping but the rest of the system needed attention.
Photographer in the well. I imagined falling in. What a place to die in the desert!
An offering in the desert.
Arroyo beans. Each seed contains the future.
Antcano!

After spending a night at an abandoned cowboy’s corner in the desert I finally made my way back to pavement and the small native town of Sells. I emerged from the grocery store to discover coolant again weeping form the van. Oh Golly! Uh huh.

A Caracara, desert hunter and scavenger, watches my departure.
I’ll be back.

After an eighty mile quest for an auto parts store, whereupon checking the length of a new hose, I discovered that my young Yuma mechanic had not properly tightened a hose clamp. Exhausted beyond words I drove around Nogales arranging Mexican travel insurance, finding a friendly ATM for cash to turn into Pesos and finally a place to park for the night. I am writing this in MacDonalds in Walmart. The van is parked, it seems, a mile across the parking lot in the far corner. An antithesis from Baboquivari, but damn, they do have good wifi! I’ve discovered this during yet another sleepless night in the van.

When I walked back to my urban camp I thought my weary eyes were deceiving me. There were creatures snuffling all around it. To my utter delight, the creatures turned out to be Javelinas, a type of peccary and not a feral pig. I was stunned but managed to grab some cell phone footage of these Wal Mart wanderers. By the way, about my Ajo Bird in the last blog. A reader commented to suggest the bird was a curve-billed Thrasher. By guidebook to birds of this region confirmed that. So, at 03:30 from the Nogales Arizona Wal Mart parking lot, this blog’s for you.

In a pig’s eye!
Walmart marauders. You thought I was kidding? So did I at first.

A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” …Victor Borge

Author: Fred Bailey

Fred is a slightly-past middle age sailor /, writer / photographer with plenty of eclectic hands-on skills and experiences. Some would describe him as the old hippy who doesn't know the war is over. He is certainly reluctant to grow up and readily admits to being the eternal dreamer. He has written several books including two novels, 'The Keeper' and 'Storm Ecstasy,' as well as 'The Water Rushing By', 'Sins Of The Fathers', 'The Magic Stick', as well as an extensive inventory of poetry, essays, short stories, anecdotes and photographs. His first passion is the ocean, sailboats, voyaging and all those people who are similarly drawn to the sea. He lived aboard and extensively cruised the BC Coast on 'Seafire' the boat he refitted to go voyaging, to explore new horizons both inner and outer. This blog was about that journey and the preparations for it. Circumstances prevailed which forced the sale of his beloved vessel. Now on a different tack, the voyage continues. If you follow this blog your interest may provide some of the energy that helps fuel the journey. Namaste Contact me at svpaxboat@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “Down From The Mountain”

  1. I’m so far behind in Reader … your trip has been fascinating. The cacti are amazingly large. I heard about the 6.6 earthquake in Mexico today … bet you are tuckered out from all this climbing, and sightseeing. Love the little squirrel you’ve captured with the special lens – “what no peanuts?” he says to you.

  2. Linda: I doubt he’d know a peanut or what to do with one if it fell on his head.
    I don’t know his official name or what he eats but I’m proud of that photo.
    More blogs to come.
    Best, Fred

  3. Thanks for the javalina shots Fred! Those are always a treat to see – even being urban scavengers. Have a great trip!

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