We have backpacked into Arivaipa Canyon with two friends. See Here:
Aka Paradise: Pt. I
At this point, we begin our second day, an exploration further into the ten or twelve mile paradise.
Naked into the wilderness:
Sleep works out well. I’m happy with the new ultra-light housing from Six-Moons designs. Opening the flaps, the sunlight coloring the amazing cliffs is astounding, thus the exclamation in thought, “Am I still dreaming?”
The morning air is not yet warm in the shade. It is even more brisk after a morning’s winds.
Soon, sunlight reaches us, we shuck off our warm sleeping thermals and bask wonderfully nude in the glory of it all. I stretch out my arms and take a deep breath. I make my decision right then, that I’ll make a point to remain naked, not wasting a minute of this perfect day.
After breakfast, we have another casual start on our hiking. We leave all of our equipment at our base camp and wander off to explore. This time, without the packs, it feels much lighter.
My first thought is to find out just how far we are from that big campground that was so elusive at the end of yesterday. It takes a half of an hour to get there, more than we were feeling to walk last night. It is as beautiful a place as I remember. The trees are tall in the grove. There are logs to sit on and more of the magnificent views of canyon walls and sky.
Those other six backpackers have been here, plus an extra tent, housing another couple.
A light Gust of AirI wouldn’t expect any other people down here.
Soon, we are into parts that are new to us all. The terrain isn’t that much more passable, but here are a few more of the wide spots where shallow water sheets across hard packed gravel. As my feet skim in just inches of water, it looks as if I’m walking on it.
Out of the blue, from the recesses of the past, the Jerry Riopelle song lyrics “Walkin’ on water, and I’d like to stay in this state of mind” pop in. I can’t seem to remember the rest, but no matter, “Nah nah wa-ah ah oh” is enough to get me by. It feeds my mood, as the push through slog transfers to the free splash of shallower steps.
Probably not a World famous tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx5g3u8UUUs
Each meander in the stream creates a faster current filled with larger exposed underwater rock. It is a sort of rapids. Here, we must cut across out of the stream, along the denuded dry areas. Then, back into the cool, giving reprieve. After the ankle stressing hard hot surfaces of exposed round river rock, the water is refreshing.
I learn to read the flow. Usually it is smooth and firm, or rough and rapid. The boulders create a washout and an ensuing sandy surface that gets into shoes. Every so often during the day, we must sit down and pull off our shoes and pull down our socks, allowing the gritty sand to wash out in the current. Otherwise, heels can get ground raw.
There is a structure where currents hit that surprises me. At one point I step upon what looks to be a firm sandbar, only to find myself calf deep in a quicksand and hustling to retreat.
Invasive species like the gritty green desert broom have been taking root. Many species must be pushed delicately aside to pass. The bushes, often head high, have become very thick, enclosing the trails.
A Native ReedMy naked body has learned to distinguish the more abrasive branches and those that would latch on and rip the skin. Most scratches to my arms, legs and body are no more harmful than fingernails scratching an itch.
One learns quickly how to recognize a mesquite needle, a hackberry, or the hook of a thorned acacia and to delicately interact with them.
I watch my cohorts in the brush, getting caught in their loose clothing that hides the awareness that skin innately gives. He asks me how I can want to get through this naked and unprotected. I explain that the awareness in the nature of a body protects in amazing ways. I interact better.
Butterfly season is here.
Numerous fluttering beings are seen.
Many stop before us and spread their beautiful wings, as if to tell us something inviting. They flock around us. Groups are startled by our presence and surround our bare skin in a moment. The tiny breezes from butterfly wings are wondrous.
Everywhere, there is the constant treat of the ever changing cliff walls.
Mature Saguaros Made to Look MiniatureTheir textures and colors change minute to minute, the layers uncovered by millennia of erosion and continuing.
They can be smooth and they can be sharp. Sometimes there is a likeness to crystalline shaped particles, only in a massive scale. We look very small next to the rising heights.
Debris from flooding is hanging high in the trees above us on strong branches, not on something flimsy, which bent down to catch it as it flowed past. There was massive water here.
Log in a TreeWe spend a great deal of time looking for a trail. Many of the usual paths journey into a pile of debris from the floods. There are several dead ends. Others are difficult to see. Because of the changing terrain and flora, new routes …