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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Season in the Desert

Updates from the road.

Tues 10.16.2012

After ten days of climbing and hiking and caping in North Devils Canyon, with anchors replaced and trails pruned and redefined and projects for the future dancing like windblown ropes in our heads, we headed down to the Salt River Basin, just beyond Mesa, AZ, to take our spot as site hosts at the Coon Bluff Recreation area.

The site overlooks the Salt River from a high sandy bluff lined with palo verde and mesquite, acacia and sage.  Prarie dogs and skunks, black widow spiders and scorpions, squirrels and ferrets, wild ponies, free-range cows, osprey and bald eagles all call the area their home, along with a healthy population of cactus wrens and doves, and a handful of water snakes and rattlers.

The local crew is a younger group trying to hold together an aging system with smaller and smaller pools of resources.  We meet Rocco and Ben and Chad, the field guys, who are swapping picnic tables in anticipation of the influx of campers we will receive after the other, more popular campgrounds of the Tonto National Forest are closed for the season.  I help carry a pinic table or two and we exchange some basic background and info about the locale.

Soon after, Kelly, our TNF contact shows, and we fill out paperwork, chat about the changes in the Tonto and AZ in general and where we will camp.  I'm suprprised and a little disappointed to learn that, although we had sent in paperwork three weeks before, our background checks still haven't been run.  This means another three days of delay before we can start our duties prepping for campers, campers who have already begu to arrive. 

It also means I could have stayed in the Canyon another two days and climbed.  I think of the sweet, steep pocketed face we had top roped and contemplated bolting, on the Shaman Wall, and the long, shaded lines of the Stormwatch, where Cindy has never climbed and a half-dozen routes are just waiting for bolts.

But funds are now too tight to take the hundred-plus mile drive for two more days of climbing, and I know, too, that the momentum of a week and a half of recall and climbing is long gone.  The drive would be no more than an exercise in frustration and futility.

Acceptance of the things we can't change is the path to calm.  I take deep breathes and enjoy the views of Red Mountain and the steep walls and cliffs around Saguaro Lake, the wrens catching bugs in acrobatic flight in the purple dusk, the distant chorus of coyotes, as the first star shines through the darkness, and night comes to the desert.

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