Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Arizona Trail journal, December 22, 2006

Greetings from Kentucky Camp. I am sitting on a futon in one of the side rooms in the main ranch house. Wind whips down the central hallway through a transom above the door. In other rooms are interpretive signs and artifacts from the failed gold mining venture here.

I'm pumped because I finally got a rock station on my radio, 92.9 "The Mountain," out of Tucson. Its been almost a week since I started and I'm about 85 miles along. Not bad for a first week with a monster pack on.
I didn't write yesterday because I was so tired after I set up camp. I felt dragged out all day. I didn't sleep well for two nights in a row and the toll of backpacking exertion wore me out. In lieu of a zero day, I took it easy up and over a saddle on the flanks of Mt. Wrightson. Afternoon was down a side canyon with dramatic cliffs and views looking east and south -- rolling yellow desert, waves of earth, a maze of boulders and shallow channels to drain the mountain's precipitation.
I set up camp in a rise above Tunnel Springs and put my bed facing east to the Whetstone and Mustang Mountains. I'd picked the spot for good sunrise potential. The looming knob of Wrightson would be sure to catch the first rays. I wasn't disappointed. Sunrise was pink clouds and cool breezes.
Last night, the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, I stayed warm with a cedar fire. Awesome smells. I picked one big log and worked on it blazing small sticks underneath it.
[POSTSCRIPT: The following is entirely made up. I was in a weird mood when I wrote this entry.]

I hope winter will transit me gently into spring. May it be prosperous and healthy for my loved ones and I. To guarantee this I did a little pagan bloodletting ritual. I cut the tip of my left earlobe off and chewed on it 12 times -- once for each month -- and another 90 times for each day of the season. By this time, the earlobe was a stringy mess, so I threw it to the fire with a chant:
What? What?
Bring it on Winter
Death and cold
Who? Who?
The weak and old
I then applied a bandage to my ear and whooped, whooped, whooped to the stars.
[I read this portion of the entry at an open mic reading in May and I could see the audience craning to examine my ears. Four or five people sat back in their seats when I told them this was made up.]
Today is cold and overcast. I had my best night's sleep ever last night. I wore my fleece long johns, turtleneck and panda hooded sweatshirt. I've also tinkered with the size of my pillow (a stuff sack with extra clothes and tarp)and think I've got the rigfht size. I awoke refreshed and pumped out about 9 miles to get here by 2 p.m. The radio says a weather system should blow through and it should be sunny through Christmas with highs in the 60s and lows in the 20s and 30s.
I'm running out of trail. After Hwy. 83 I've got an approximately 30 mile Sonoran desert hike to Colossal Cave and the next sky island range, the Rincons. I'm debating whether or not to do a road walk and avoid the scratches. I may also follow the tentative route outlined in the guidebook.
"Into the great wide open,
Under them skies of blue
Into the great wide open,
A rebel without a clue." -- Tom Petty
Two nights ago I camped on a small saddle off the road to the Walker Basin Trailhead. I didn't sleep well, but at nearly 7,000 feet elevation the stars were out in abundance. I saw countless shooting stars (meteor showers) [postscipt: Geminids], including a couple that left dramatic trails of fairy dust.
Awoke to hoarfrost all over my sleeping bag -- neat designs, geometric, fractal tendrils.
Well, my time here at Kentucky Camp is done. The camp host is getting nervous. Off into the gray, scrub, and scuttling clouds.

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