Black Canyon National Recreation Trail: Part 1, Big Bug sector


Black Canyon National Recreation Trail is one of several such trails, for multiple non-motorized use, set aside by the Bureau of Land Management.  It runs about 85 miles, south to north, from Lake Pleasant Road, in north Phoenix, to an area north of Mayer, AZ.

I plan to explore the trail, a sector at a time, during the course of this year.  Careful following of a recent map led me to the south trailhead of Big Bug sector, west of the small community of Spring Valley, twenty-five miles southeast of Prescott.  The sector is 2.5 miles, one way, from Antelope Creek Road to Highway 69.

This sector is an easy hike, going through range land and some mild desert badlands, before crossing through an underpass at Hwy 69, and continuing on north, for a few miles.  I include all sectors in this series of hikes.  Some will be rather barren; others will bring out the grandeur of the Bradshaw Mountains, whose base the Trail navigates.

Here is Big Bug sector.  All trails start at the parking area, these days.  This one is about two miles west of Spring Valley, on Antelope Creek Road.  It’s a rather busy road, popular with ATV enthusiasts and those headed up into the Bradshaws.


The Black Canyon Trail, though, is sparsely used, at least on this end.  I only saw three other hikers, with their dogs.


I did have other company, though, on the rangeland.


Once past the herds, though, one could see forever.



The BLM restricts cattle to a point south of this gate.


When vegetation is sparse, one’s attention is caught by features such as lichen- which here is yellow.


Some rocks have a glossy cover.


Others are heart-shaped, letting me know I am being remembered in the Spirit World.


Up here, the village of Spring Valley is put into better perspective.


Big Bug Creek meanders in and out of the area, over five miles, east to west.  The creek bed has been dry since October.


I feel comforted by cairns.  Besides providing direction, they hearken back to roots which I sometimes overlook, in my day-to-day progress.  This one was carefully placed, resembling a saucy cat.


Where the water is not far underground, the chaparral and other bushes keep a green eminence.



Early wildflowers have started to grace the land.


Underpass tunnels always cast an eerie glow.


This one took me under Highway 69, to the beginning of the Old Sycamore sector, which I will more properly investigate, soon.

An early dinner, at LeffT’s, one of my favourite spots in the Dewey-Humboldt area, also proferred some wisdom to me.  “Old Men Rule” shared this:  “The older I get, the better I was.”  Of course, this was right next to a sign offering Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.  That’d be quite a taste test, were I still the imbibing sort.

Hope this week turns out a sight better for all up north and east- not to mention the Deep South, which doesn’t seem either deep, or south, right around now.

Please share to show my pupils how far a photo can go (even if you don’t want it to!)


This is traveling at least as far as Arizona, kids. I hope that, from here, it will head to other countries.

Not about everything

Sharing this, because it seems an interesting lesson.

I am teaching E-safety to my pupils at the moment and wanted to try a little experiment. Please share this photo and see how far it gets, I want to show my students how easily photos etc can go viral, even when you may not want them to. Share it and see how far it goes!


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Cave Creek 101


I made my first visit to the wilderness, northwest of Scottsdale, AZ, known as Cave Creek Regional Park, on Saturday.  Actually, the park is the southern tip of a region which will be featured frequently in my posts this year.  I began my exploration of the Cave Creek area by hiking Go John Trail, a loop which takes in the eastern two-thirds of the park.

No one seems to know the origin of the name “GoJohn”, but my guess is that it had something to do with the gold miners who thronged in this area, during the 1870’s.  At any rate, GoJohn Trail goes from the Cave Creek Nature Center’s picnic grounds, north as far as the boundary with a parcel of State Trust Land, then loops around to the east, goes  around  GoJohn Mountain ( a mild ascent) and down through a canyon, cut by a branch of Cave Creek, and southward, back to the parking lot.

Here are some views of the trail.











Once at the junction with Overton Trail, which straddles the west side of the park, GoJohn heads north to the State Trust Land, which will lead any hiker with a permit to Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, a distance of 4.3 miles.












From a ridge on the northeast end of GoJohn, one spots Elephant Mountain, the centerpiece of Spur Cross Ranch.




The granite and basalt of Cave Creek Regional Park are most prominent on the east side of GoJohn.










The riparian character of the area is most pronounced, as the GoJohn heads back southward.




Heart rocks greet me everywhere, and this trail is no exception.




The trail turns into a Pink Carpet, of sorts, as the homestretch begins.




GoJohn meets up with two eastward-bound trails, the Quartz and the Jasper, along its last mile.




Lastly, the sunsets in the area do not disappoint.



Much more remains to be seen, in the area drained by Cave Creek.

Big Bug Canyon


The past two hiking excursions have been to the Big Bug Canyon area, between Mayer and Spring Valley, AZ.  It is drained and informed by Big Bug Wash, which flows out of the Bradshaw Mountains, southeast of Prescott.  I have been in search of the most ill-defined section of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, which starts in north Phoenix and goes to Big Bug Canyon- a distance of some 85 miles.  This section is the trail from the crags on the north side of Big Bug Canyon to Dripping Snake Spring.  I focused, the past two hikes, on  Big Bug Wash and on the ridge which is cut by Old Sycamore Road, north of the wash.

I may well have found the elusive, and seldom-used, trail sector.  Here is the creekbed of Big Bug Wash, just below the remnants of Granite Dells Trading Post.







At the end of this segment of wash, lies Big Bug Dam, now little more than a retaining wall.







This was the scene last Tuesday, at what had been Granite Dells Trading Post.




This afternoon, I set out in search of the actual trailhead.  Walking along the north rim of Big Bug Canyon was one ploy.






The rim road goes as far as this ranch, whose owner may or may not let hikers on the premises.





This road has lots of heart-shaped rocks, including  this little pink granite.



Here is the apparent trail, between Old Sycamore Road and the tunnel under Highway 69.




Here is the tunnel.



On the south side of the tunnel, the climb down to, and past, the meandering Big Bug Wash awaits, for another day.





On the other side of the canyon, the ridges to the north are yet another beckoning site.




Next up:  A day in Cave Creek.

Liebster Award


I have just been nominated for this award by Duffel Bag and A Dream.  I am now expected to answer ten questions, devised by Khai, and nominate ten other bloggers.  I will somehow come up with ten questions for them.

If nominated, please:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the nominee before you.  (That list is below the nominations.)
3. You must nominate 10 of your favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers and notify them of their nomination.
4. You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

Now, here go my answers.

10. What is your biggest blogging challenge?
  It’s finding a balance between what I urgently want to put out there and what seems to appeal to my readers.
9. If you could be gifted at any one form of writing to the exclusion of all others, what would it be and why?
Travel writing, because I am always off somewhere.
8. How do you feel about media used in blogs? Are blog entries for words only, or for pictures, videos, etc too?
Blogs are for mixed media, at least if we want to maintain the interest of our readers.
7. By what axiom do you live your life?
Live and let live.  It is for social institutions to judge, and for individuals to show mercy.
6. What is your favorite idiom, and why?
Fear the fork.  I always have to guard against overeating.
5. How is a raven like a writing desk?
It sees all.
4. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Cat stretch, and say “Live this day, love this day.”
3. What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
Thank the Universe, and my wife in the spirit realm, for another fine day.
2. Do you nap?
Yes, most days after lunch, or after work.
1. Why are you the coolest blogger out there?
I am open-minded, like to share my life and I don’t hold grudges.
My nominees are:
365 till….
It’s A Mad World
Ampbreia’s space
10. What do you really want to write about, but haven’t yet?
9. Do you prefer a desert to a swamp?
8.  Have you ever blurted out a spoiler?
7.  What are your watchwords?
6.  Are Heaven and Hell actual places?
5.  What would you do with a $ 1,000.00 bill, found on the street?
4. What’s  your favourite seasonal dish?  Why?
3.  Does your birthstone inform your wardrobe?
2.  Which genre of music colours your day?
1.  Is there such a thing as craziness?  Be specific.

The Hoot Owl Came To Call


I woke this morning, around 5:15, to get ready for work, and heard an owl hooting away, on my roof.  It left shortly thereafter, but was in the neighbourhood for about another 20 minutes.  I wondered about the occasion.

See, time was that an owl would show up and the next thing I knew, someone would be dead- of a sudden.  I get the feeling that’s not so, this time, as the day has passed and no one I know is any worse off than they were yesterday, and the weather is okay, most places- unlike last week.

2014 is turning out better than it first seemed it would.  Greeting the morning with “Live this day, love this day” helps, as of course does saying “Allah’u’Abha” (“God is the Most Glorious”) 95 times.  The whole snafu of last week, online, seems like a fading memory.  I take the reminder with me, that everyone’s feelings are important, 24/7- and if someone contacts me, it’s important to let him/her know that they have my undivided attention- or if I’m up to my ass in alligators, I will get back to them once the swamp is at a safe level.  This won’t bring back the lost friendship, but it will keep the list from growing.

That brings up the whole matter of my self-concept.  There are no saints in this world, and while I feel good about myself, I am no exception to that rule.  The last person I regarded as pure and saintly died nearly three years ago.  She stuck with this bucket of bolts for nearly thirty years, and God has surely found a fine place for her.

I am listening to a series of motivational tapes. “The Eleven Forgotten Laws”.  I listen to each tape three times, then go on to the next.  The most recent one with which I spent time is “The Law of  Supply”.  It confirms what I have felt for a long time:  “There is enough of everything we need.  The difficulty lies in the scarcity mentality.”  The key word here is “need”, and the operative for anyone is “Make an effort to get what you need, and be consistent about it.”  Fretting and cringing only make matters worse, though they are understandable.  They just don’t get anyone anywhere.

Well, that’s enough for today.  I am grateful for anyone and everyone who has stuck with me, even if you’ve been silent.  Anyone who has left, may as well know that I think no less of them, and love them no less.  Again, I’m far from saintly, but I am trying to take a lesson from every time I stumble.

Snippets from A Strangely Powerful Week


In the past thirteen days, or so, I  have felt alternately centered and cast adrift, welcomed and shunned, honoured and shamed.  I did not know what to make of 2014, for much of the time.  I felt it imperative to leave one of my social media sites for a while, though I have to admit that it is hard to not have contact with the many in my life who have been part of my life for almost five years, and to be cut off with several in my inner circle of friends and family, who are incommunicado with me, but for Facebook.  It was a defense against personal attack, which triggered my departure; that, and a feeling that I let down someone who had been dear to my heart, for nearly three years.

The rest of my life, though, has actually shown more power, since New Year’s Day.  I have been to several well-attended gatherings, have hiked twenty-three miles, on seven different routes and maintained progress on personal growth goals, both spiritual and mental.  Four social, service-oriented activities in four days have found me quietly supporting some intense and well-organized cultural, educational and paramedical efforts.

I woke this morning to a new mantra running through my head- “Live this day, love this day”.  For a Monday, this is especially auspicious, and I know that this year, no matter the challenges and upsets which lie ahead, will also feature successes and adventures.  Light and shadow, ascents and descents- all will balance, over 11 1/2 months, and beyond.

Light and Shadow


In the world of January, 2014, the Polar Vortex has been dislodged, has stunned eastern North America with extreme cold, in turn sending “Nor’easter” storm patterns to western Europe.  Diagonally, across the globe, much of Australia has had triple-digit Fahrenheit heat, where there would normally be heavy rain.

Personal behaviour, and its underlying sense of well-being, have taken a nose dive, over the past twenty years or so.  This is nothing new, but the pace of various types of offensive and callous activity has picked up, of late.  Social networks are getting manifestly less social.  Interpersonal clashes have become more intense, and occur more readily.

Political and economic affairs are conducted with less caution, and with more attention to expediency, as neurotic means to power.  Those entrusted with such matters look mainly towards discrediting their perceived opponents, and each “side” is aided and abetted by those in the media who are of like mind.

The above is the world of shadow.

Let us take a look at an emerging, parallel realm.  Here, there is a sense of calm.  Even in a time of climatic unrest, those faced with the extreme cold or heat know that it is temporary.  Their minds sense a bounty from the intense cold- that persistent insect pests, impervious to the deadly poisons that are supposed to curb them, are dying off in the polar frigidity.  Likewise, the aridity in the southern hemisphere is doing away with deadly mosquitoes and other pathogen hosts.

In the world of light,  people are facing conflict in a civil, constructive manner.  This is possible when one looks upon those around oneself as fellow human beings, as creatures endowed with virtues, as fellow travelers.  Matters politic and economic are faced collectively.  Matters familial are resolved through consultation between equal partners.

The world of light is not a dream world, contrary to the contentious retorts of those who have invested their emotional energy in keeping the status quo of division and oneupmanship.  It is a world that is slowly and steadily being built, as the world of shadow gradually collapses of its own weight.  Those who think they thrive on hate and distrust are finding that the satisfaction derived from their activities is diminishing, day by day.  Some of them are looking towards the rising tide and overcoming their inner barriers.  Others, needing more convincing that the “tried and true” is imperative of preservation, up their game and cause more destruction, actin more depraved.  This only hastens the collapse of the very system they claim to be defending.

“Soon,” Bahá’u’lláh’s own words proclaim it, “will the present day Order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth and is the Knower of things unseen.” “By Myself,” He solemnly asserts, “the day is approaching 162 when We will have rolled up the world and all that is therein, and spread out a new Order in its stead. He, verily, is powerful over all things.” “The world’s equilibrium,” He explains, “hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this Most Great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System, the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.” “The signs of impending convulsions and chaos,” He warns the peoples of the world, “can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing Order appeareth to be lamentably defective.”

This is not the “New World Order” proclaimed by the political leaders of the West, some twenty-five years ago.  No one nation, no one leader, will call all the shots.  No tyrant, whether political or sectarian, will rule the peoples of the world.  Baha’u’llah further says “This is the Day that shall not be followed by night, nor shall it be bounded by any praise, would that ye might understand!”  We see many dystopian visions of the future, in books and on film.  These reflect our worst fears, thus accounting for their relative popularity.  What will actually transpire, with or without our help, will be precisely what Jesus the Christ promised, that for which He gave His earthly life, and for which every Spiritual Teacher has suffered, in some unique way:  “Thy Kingdom come, on Earth, as it is in Heaven”.

So, the choice falls to each individual on the planet- Preserve the shadow, or spread the Light.


The Vision of The Ancient Sonorans


Once upon a time, those who lived in the Sonoran Desert, between 200 BC- 1400 AD, were called Hohokam.  This term, like so many that were used to refer to the ancient Americans, was derogatory.  It is now being gradually cast aside, and in its place, the far more accurate term “Ancient Sonorans” is being used, along with the rather unwieldy “Ancient Sonoran Desert People”.

Last Sunday, I spent about 90 minutes or so walking about Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, on the north side of Coolidge, AZ.  These Ancient Sonoran ruins represent a village and community gathering place, the latter called Casa Grande (“Great House”) by Father Eusebio Kino, when he first saw the place in 1694.   President Benjamin Harrison extended Federal protection to this area in 1892, and President Woodrow Wilson set it aside as a national monument, in 1918.   Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of Boston Common, built a ramada to protect Casa Grande ruin, in 1932.

Here are some views of the Great House and its surroundings.























The Ancient Sonorans were the ancestors of today’s Akimel O’odham (“Pima”), Tohono O’odham (“Papago”), Hopi and Zuni peoples.  These nations consider this area, and other preserved ruin sites, as sacred.  If visiting, please approach the sites in that frame of mind.

Friendship, Redux


I have logged off of Facebook, until February 1.  (This post will be published on that site, though I won’t be there to respond to any comments that are posted.  Other posts I put on WordPress, for the rest of January, will not be shared on Facebook.)

Now, as to why.  Well, there are two reasons, both stemming from the same, seemingly innocuous incident.  A longtime friend asked for my input on something.  As I was pre-occupied with something that seemed to me to be terribly earthshaking at the time, I made an offhand reply.  To make a long story short, my response was not what this friend wanted, and thus ended a previously good friendship.   Baha’u’llah teaches, “The foundation of all relationships is trust.”  As this person no longer felt that I was trustworthy, the relationship was done.  This, in turn, led to my feeling that, for the time being, there really was no point to my staying on that social media site, and I am on hiatus.  The only reason I have not deactivated my account on Facebook is that there are 524 other friends and relatives, whom I also care about deeply- and with whom I want eventually to reconnect.  Thus, I will go back on February 1.

Now, for the second reason I am on hiatus.  Baha’u’llah also teaches us, “O EMIGRANTS!  The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me, defile it not with detraction.  If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own self better than he knoweth others.” – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, from the Persian.   I know my own heart.  I know that, at no time did  I ever wish ill towards this person.  At no time did I ever regard my friend’s problems or issues in a lighthearted or offhand manner.  It’s not whom I am.

Each one of us approaches life differently.  So, it stands to reason that a better way to understand someone is to ask what is his/her perspective, rather than to tell him/her what their thoughts, feelings, motives are.   I’ve had people tell me, “You’re abasing yourself online.  Stop it!”  From others, “You’re a horrible person, and no friend at all!”   Everyone’s idea, or concept, of a friend is different.  I can only say how I see it.  Others are entitled to their views.  To me, though:

  1.  A friend listens.
  2. A friend defers attention, when there is something pressing that intervenes.
  3. A friend does not let assumptions get in the way of friendship.
  4. A friend does not let pain, whether his or the other’s, destroy a friendship.
  5. A friend forgives, while expecting the injuring one to overcome that which led him/her to do the hurt.
  6. A friend picks up where the friendship left off.
  7. A friend says “No”, where “Yes” would be easier, but not beneficial.
  8. A friend calls those he loves to a higher level of discourse.
  9. A friend is forever.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Those who read this, you remain in my heart, and yes, if I hear that you are in distress, I will do all I can to help.  This is not because I am better, or “more noble”, but because we are both human.