Today, north and south reach their respective Mid-Year Solstices and either bask in the slowly fading long days or eagerly await the slowly approaching time of the Sun arcing towards its apogee. I will be among the former group.
In a gathering, this morning, it was noted that an old, and fading, tree is at the center of our world. It is the Tree of ‘Ism. Its branches include materialism, socialism, communism, nationalism, capitalism, racism-and the largest, but most decrepit of all, elitism. Each has had the twin effects of attracting human beings, with a once bright, shining allure and of dividing those same people from one another.
This tree has sustained humanity’s physical aspects, even while casting a shadow over another tree that has grown up alongside it. That is the Sacred Tree-the true Tree of Life, which has had its trials, facing down blights and molds, which have emanated from the Tree of ‘Ism. These blights and molds have included contentiousness, egoism, lust, greed, covetousness and recklessness. They have produced wars, genocide, economic depression, sectarian strife, divorce, rape, child abuse/neglect and human trafficking.its
The Sacred Tree, in its turn, has sent life-giving spores to its seemingly more powerful neighbour. These have included inspiration, scientific knowledge, faith, co-operation, diversity of life and awareness of natural resources. Those that the Sacred Tree have kept for itself have led mankind to a higher level, even if many have not recognized the Source. Those who haven’t, have instead been focused on the glitter and sparkle, of the Tree of ‘Ism-even when the Sacred Tree’s own Messengers have found Themselves attached, in one way or another, to a branch or even a cross, fashioned from the Tree of ‘Ism, as a means of punishment or sacrifice, devised by the beguiled, at the instigation of the elite.
This state of affairs is coming to an end, as the Tree of ‘Ism, rotted at its tap root, prepares to collapse. No one of its branches is any longer capable if sustaining the burdens placed upon them. Little shoots have migrated from that old tree, and are growing in the shade of the Tree of Life. These are the future Trees of Responsibility, and will for at least a Millennium offer prosperity and success, based in the solid ground of unity.
The planet is preparing itself, for their emergence.
Of all things that get done in life, none exceed in value the homage paid to those who have gone before. As giving, to those in need, results in getting more of what oneself could use, so does paying respects, to those who have transitioned, bring more honour to the one paying the respects.
I was able to stay in a fine little cabin, a duplex, which I shared with a family of three, who kept to themselves. Jacob Lake Lodge has been built into a resort, of modest size, staying free from any ostentatiousness. It has a small, but quality, restaurant, where pandemic-based spacing is in effect, and of course, masks helped give a sense of health security, for both patrons and staff-when we weren’t eating or drinking, of course.
After hiking a “warm-up” trail, in search of the actual Jacob Lake, I found only an RV Park, and so returned to the resort, in time for check-out. Then, it was off to the Canyon!
There is a plan being considered, that will result in a sizable amount of trees being cut, in Kaibab National Forest, along the road to North Rim. There is a huge amount of slash and burned-out trunks, left from previous fires and intense storms. To me, it would make the most sense to clear that mess, and probably would put a fair number of people to meaningful work, this month and next. As the trees under consideration are “old growth” forest, it is especially heart-rending to consider the unnecessary damage to the ecosystems.
After arriving at North Kaibab Trailhead, where the Elantra would rest, while I hiked, it took a short bit of checking the route, to make sure I din’t end up going down the North Kaibab Trail, itself. Ken Patrick Trail, a bit to the north of the steep big kahuna, would take me to Uncle Jim Trail. With the help of a thru-hiker doing the Arizona Trail, I was on my way, in short order. You can see from the sign, below, that Ken Patrick was dedicated to service with the National Parks.
About 500 feet along the trail, a large ponderosa pine had fallen across the path, so I went up and around the mess. Three other trees would lie across the trail, at different points.
The first set of overlooks lies about 1/4 mile along the Ken Patrick Trail. This view mirrored what I saw last October, from the Bright Angel Point trail.
Nature leaves her little jokes, even at the expense of damaged trees.
Sooner than I expected, it was time to take a hard right.
The first segment of Uncle Jim Trail is four tenths of a mile. It is also the area with the most up and down inclines, and the only place where there are switchbacks, albeit mild ones. Two downed trees greeted us hikers, along this stretch, as well.
At 7/10 of a mile, along the western leg of Uncle Jim Trail’s 2.1-mile loop, I came to a series of fabulous canyon views.
Finding a heart-shaped rock, I placed it carefully against a small set of wood shavings.
This natural eroded bowl could serve as an amphitheater.
I came upon an unofficial overlook, east of the main viewpoint, and appreciated the two “guardians”, looking back towards the rim.
Looking out from this vantage, at Uncle Jim Point, I have a tripod to help me focus.
Heading out from this vantage point, I spotted a burnt ponderosa, which could serve as a memory pole, of sorts.
I spent a few minutes sitting on the landing of a restroom building, writing in my journal. As I did, a fierce gust of wind came up and blew my sunglasses off the landing. I looke for the shades, for about ten minutes, but to no avail. If that is my offering to the forces of nature, so be it. I have a feeling that the wind took them all the way to the rim, and over.
Hearing happy voices, I followed the tral to the main viewpoint. There were four women, a couple and me, taking one another’s photographs. Thus, a pyramid could be envisioned: Four at the base, two in the middle and one on top.
Here I am, courtesy of the “better half” of the couple.
With Uncle Jim Point in the background, I fulfilled a promise to myself and to his family.
With that, the two parties and I leapfrogged one another, on the way back, as each took rest breaks. We all missed the junction sign, going back on the Ken Patrick Trail by osmosis. I last saw the four women taking an extended photo shoot at the first overlook. The couple, it turns out, are from Santa Monica, and were enjoying their first venture out of town, since January.
So, my heart’s desire was fulfilled and I headed out of the Canyon, with a brief stop at North Country Market, for a well-earned salted caramel latte and a long, but smooth, drive to Flagstaff.
The young girl had less willpower than she had thought. Faced with a sumptuous, fully-laden buffet, she took two grapes for herself. This awakened the buffet’s master, who killed two of the young girl’s faerie guides and nearly captured her. In turn, the faeries’ master, a faun, angrily banished the young girl from his enchanted cave. I got the initial impression, whilst watching Pan’s Labyrinth, last night, that the faun was no more enamoured of the child-or of children in general, than was the girl’s step father, a severe and arrogant captain in Francisco Franco’s Army.
It was 1944, and while the Fascists had largely brought Spain under their control, there were pockets of active partisan resistance. There was little tolerance for romantic notions or for childhood fancies. The girl was tolerated by both of the principal male figures, as mentioned above, and her mother, the captain’s new wife, was merely a means to an end for her husband, who wanted a male heir above all else.
I thought of just how much progress has been made, with regard to gender relations, since that time. Like any other area of life, the most progress towards equanimity has been made since the mid-1970’s, when women stopped gratuitously accepting acts of chivalry. The truer, deeper courtesy that came out of the Women’s Rights movement of 1970-76 has only served to help men become more authentic gentlemen, rather than simply aping the courtesies of the past. Honouring a woman’s dignity meant that she could open her own doors-and even open a door for a man.
The little girl, Ofelia, was as skillful as she was willful, managing to fool a monstrous frog, who had stolen a key belonging to the faun. She also got a dagger from a cabinet in the buffet master’s chamber, and procured mandrake root, which she nourished in order for her pregnant, ailing mother to recover. She never appeared to wallow in self-pity.
The captain and his men made a mess of things, leading to his wife’s death and, eventually, to their own slaughter. This, by dint of their stubborn adherence to Franco’s doctrine of “cleansing Spain”. The faun, also doctrinaire, inadvertently caused Ofelia to be caught by the captain, through his insistence that she let her infant brother be bled.
Everyone serves the Creator, directly or indirectly. As it happened, Ofelia’s refusal to shed her innocent brother’s blood, preferring to sacrifice herself instead, met with approval from her Eternal Father, who welcomed her into Paradise, with a throne of her own, to his left. The chastened faun recognized her goodness in the end, and bowed in service.
The calamities set in motion by the pure child, eating two grapes, leave lots of room for thought: Who is more at fault, a child taking a small bit of food from another being, or the chastiser, full of his own importance?
Punxsutawney Phil “said” it’ll be an early Spring. Phil is the latest of a line of groundhogs, all named Phil, who have been enticed out of their lairs, for these past 114 years, in western Pennsylvania. Before that, Germans reportedly lured hedgehogs out of their dens, on February 2. In each case, if the animal saw its shadow, there would be six more weeks of Winter. If it didn’t see its shadow, Spring was close at hand.
Here in AZ, a rattlesnake, Agua Fria Freddie, saw its shadow, so Spring is close at hand. Had it been cloudy, we would be expecting six more weeks of BRRRR. Not really- we rarely see snow, and only a bit more frequently experience cold weather, in the winter months. Last year’s late February “Snowmageddon” was an anomaly.
Good fun aside, the continent is expecting a One Day Big Chill, this week and a few storms are predicted for later this month. February, Valentine’s Day aside, is a month that, along with August, many folks love to hate. Let’s be fair, though. The Mini-Month has its share of surprises, and this past week’s relatively mild weather was no exception. Valentine’s Day, even without a significant other, is a day for affirming love-of various kinds. Presidents’ Day brings a break that does not entail pre-determined community obligations and, for some, a new car. Leap Day is one of those anomalies that brings a birthday which implies aging only every four years.
So, our animal friends have “prognosticated” a month that would seem to satisfy just about everyone. We are not easily fooled, though, and will make the most of what actually comes to pass.
When I was a child, “Indian Summer” was the name given to that part of Autumn which featured warm days and cool nights. It was usually done by Halloween. This year, October was a mixed bag. Some days were mildly warm; others were a bit nippy. There was no “Augtober”, at least around here.
November has usually been a guarantor of frost. So far this month, we’ve had what usually comes earlier. It’s been a delayed “Indian Summer” and is likely to continue as such, until after Veteran’s Day. No harm, no foul, though. A major wedding is coming up, in my circle of friends, and besides, I have a distance trail that I’d like to complete by Thanksgiving.
Thus, today being a non-work day, I found and hiked a small, remote segment of Limekiln Trail, between a graded dirt road named for one Bill Grey and the point where I left off last time, at the base of a quartz-laden hill. This would be a 3-miler, including the rough section of terrain between the road and Sheepshead Canyon’s southern tip. A local man told me he didn’t think my Hyundai would handle Bill Grey Road, but it is flat and graded. I had no problems reaching the trailhead.
Here is where I found Limekiln’s spur trail.
This is what the bulk of the trail featured, as a backdrop.
I crossed one wash and two mild inclines-nothing too difficult, on this rather bright day.
The next segment will be 4 miles, each way, from Bill Grey Road to a point along Highway 89-A near Deer Pass Ranch, at Sedona’s southern edge. That will feature a transition from desert scrub to the promontories that signal one is in Red Rock country.
It can wait until the air is just a tad cooler. For now, I’ll just enjoy my brisket sandwich and potato salad at Colt Cafe.
Today begins yet another cusp, of another revolution around the Sun. This coming year is significant, in that it is the last year of my seventh decade. People warned me that 68 would be the year that health challenges would surface. They haven’t. Maybe because of my personal regimen, and open-mindedness to the suggestions of friends and family, the overall state of my physical frame has actually been better this year, than last.
When a cusp begins, the month before my birthday, I start to think of goals, and changes I might make. One change is the way I sit, and for how long. Someone has suggested using 135 degrees as good posture, when having to sit at length. A thirty minute limit to any one sitting session has also been suggested-which works everywhere except in a theater or on a long road trip, or flight. In those cases, every 1-2 hours works better.
Another change is to think even more out of the box than I have been. This, of course, will give my critics fits, as they already roll their eyes at unconventional things I do and say, but no matter. I will need to be even more flexible, with regard to my schedule and commitments, over the next several months, than has been the case in the past several years.
Now, let’s get to the lobsters. In his work on “Twelve Rules for Life”, the psychologist Jordan Peterson begins by describing the behaviour of lobsters. The crusty crustaceans have a hierarchy. There are ten levels, with the alpha lobster having a high level of serotonin, which leads the animal to maintain an erect, well-balanced posture and the low creature in the hierarchy having low serotonin, but a high level of octopamine, which leads it to splay its limbs and slump around- in other words, to be a low-achieving lobster slacker.
The implications for us human animals is fairly clear. Seratonin is huge, for those of us who want to feel strong and be taken seriously. If it affects posture, then let’s have more of what the singer John Mayer calls “a serotonin overflow”. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81yl_76s7jA.
I would prefer not to depend, though, on a romance, or a respite from daily life, to provide me with the juice that affords me with respect from self and others. Towards that end, as with other health-related matters, let food be my medicine, as has been said by wise men, from Hippocrates (and probably the ancients who preceded him) to ‘Abdu’l-Baha. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/foods-that-could-boost-your-serotonin. More attention to posture is also in the offing.
I will have more to say about Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules”, over the next several days.
Being a sucker for distance trails which can be hiked easily in segments, I’ve managed to complete the Prescott Circle and Black Canyon National Recreation Trails, over the past five years. Limekiln Trail, which stretches from Deadhorse Ranch State Park, here in Cottonwood to Red Rock State Park, in Sedona is the latest undertaking.
It is a fifteen-miler, one way. So, this morning, I headed out on a whim, and parked at the Middle Lagoon, of Deadhorse. Up past the actual Lime Kiln, a defunct lime quarry, I bid a good day to a couple who were inspecting it from a distance and headed towards my goal of what I thought would be the 6.5 mile post. (I ended up at the 4.5 mark, before heading back, due to sunset and park closure concerns, but no matter).
Here is a view of the kiln.
The first 1/2 mile or so, is the only real climb, on this segment of the trail. I spy a rock face, looking me over, from the rim of Rattlesnake Wash Ravine.
This granite outcropping resembles a dinosaur rib cage.
Heart-shaped objects would be abundant, today.
Here are a couple of views, from the north side of Rattlesnake Wash Ravine.
Yes, central Arizona has its fall foliage. These ocotillo are putting on their mini-show.
Yuccas also send their wishes skyward.
Limekiln is a very well-marked trail, especially with other Forest Service trails, intersecting, towards the 2-mile mark.
Around the 4.5 mile mark, Highway 89-A is visible in the distance, and long ago volcanic activity is evident.
I took a rest break, snacking on beef jerky and baklava, whilst sitting next to this welcoming lichen.
Igneous rocks, of course, also extend their welcome.
Carefully-maintained cairns keep the visitor on the right path.
Lastly, more ocotillos bade me farewell.
The rest of Limekiln will be hiked in two segments, sometime during the next five weeks: Mile 9, alongside Highway 89-A to the bench where the heart-shaped lichen is found (Mile 4.5) and Red Rock State Park (Mile 15) to Hwy 89-A.
In the summer of 1981, I was coping with what turned out to be a short-term derailment in my private life. What worked for me was a week’s sojourn in southeast Utah, with visits and hikes in Capitol Reef National Monument and Natural Bridges National Monument. I came upon the latter, serendipitously, going in with a skepticism as to how it would measure up to more well-known places, such as Arches and Canyonlands.
The rangers on duty at the time were among the most enthusiastic workers I’ve seen, cheerfully stating that I would find the Monument equal to Capitol Reef, certainly, and as challenging a series of hikes as any at Arches.
On that trip, I camped overnight and hiked a nine-mile loop that took in all three bridges. This time, still tired from Goosenecks, I opted for one hike to Sipapu Bridge, and checked out the other two, Kachina and Owachomo, from short-trail overlooks, saving their trails for another visit.
Let’s get back to the difference between a natural bridge and an arch. The only difference, between bridges and OTHER types of arches, is that bridges are created by a body of water actively eroding the rock. Other arches are created by wind erosion, as well as flash flooding.
So, here goes-a flash flood of photos. First, from the Canyon View overlook, which gives an introduction to the type of sandstone from which the arches, which became the bridges, were carved.
Note that some of the same sky islands that are found at Goosenecks, and elsewhere in this area, are found here.
A first view of Sipapu Arch is found at an overlook, 1/4 mile from the trailhead.
Now, it was down the trail, with the help of some rails and log ladders.
Lichen is also ever at work, turning rock back into soil.
After three log ladders and several stretches of railing, I was close to Sipapu Arch. Sipapu is a Hopi word, meaning “place of emergence”. I can imagine how it would have felt, to have this structure towering overhead, when climbing out of a subterranean refuge. For the record, the Hopi regard their actual Sipapu as being near Indian Gardens, in the Grand Canyon.
From long ago, and a galaxy far away, comes Jobba the Hutt, keeping an eye on things.
After absorbing the energy of being under the bridge, it was back up the ladder to further exploration.
An interlude, between Sipapu and the Kachina Bridge overlook, is a view of Horse Collar ruin. There appear to be two groups who built kivas here: A circular kiva was built by people of the Ancient Puebloan culture, related to the Hopi, Zuni and Keresan nations of today. A square kiva was built by people of the Kayenta culture, associated with Hovenweep ruins, which are about 40 miles from Natural Bridges. More on Hovenweep, in the next post.
The overlook for Kachina Bridge shows it to be the widest of the three. First, though, note the sandstone twins.
White Creek, which cuts the bridges, is still very active here.
Owachomo Bridge, visible below, is the narrowest of the three, being nine feet thick at its strongest point.
Natural Bridges is adjacent to Bears Ears National Monument, a place whose existence is somewhat controversial. The butte for which the Monument is named is visible from the turnoff to the Visitors Center for Natural Bridges. The butte is sacred to Dineh and Ute people.
In truth, I wanted lunch, more than anything else, so heading to this small tourist town was a priority, over two more hikes. Those give me an excuse to come back to Natural Bridges, though, which is a pretty good thing.
Leaving the pleasant Utah border town of Kanab, after a good night’s rest and getting myself a neck pillow (replacing the one left behind in Pennsylvania, last summer), it seemed like a good time to stop a few places in the basin of Glen Canyon. The area is now best known for the resorts and water-based recreation of Lake Powell.
Just shy of the Arizona state line, lies the former polygamist community of Big Water, UT. It is now an industrial zone and a research center for the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM has an interesting Visitor’s Center there, with much research on the fossil remains found in the cliffs shown below.
Ceratopsians, and their close relatives, are a major focus of the paleontology that has been done here. There is a well-illustrated display, which explains quite clearly the various members of this group of dinosaurs. As is commonly known, what is now the Great Basin was once a large inland sea, separating large peninsulas of present-day North America. Ceratopsians, Mosasaurs and Icthyosaurs, along with giant crocodiles and sea turtles, were abundant here.
Note that there are three types of Ceratopsians, distinguished by the length and breadth of their snouts, as well as the complexity of their cranial armor.
Centrosaurs had narrow, short faces and simple armor. Chasmosaurs had broad, long faces, with elaborate armor.
After examining the details of the paleontology being done at Big Water, I headed a few short miles to Wahweap, a resort area long Lake Powell’s western shore. The lake views are refreshing, but strangely, Wahweap’s restaurant is closed for the season.
A good zoom view of Navajo Mountain, some thirty miles northeast, is available from Wahweap.
Feeling somewhat famished, I stopped in Page, the town which grew as a result of the building of Glen Canyon Dam, and enjoyed a hearty meal of barbecued pulled chicken, with potato salad, at this fine and popular restaurant.
Rarely does the Lone Ranger share space with a Hopi kachina, but that is what one might expect in Page, a welcoming resort town that makes the most of Lake Powell. Page, Wahweap and about six other marinas reap the benefit of Glen Canyon Dam’s having “tamed” the Colorado River. There are plenty of people who depend on the Dam and Lake Powell, for their livelihoods. There are many others who think, as did the late Edward Abbey, that Glen Canyon was perfectly fine, both ecologically and economically, without any tampering. I think that, had there not been a dam, Page might have become like Moab or Durango, and grown as a haven for the many who enjoy the still formidable canyon.
I stood in the small drive, next to a fence, and observed a mother donkey carefully watching over her seemingly forlorn baby. One of the girls on the farm made a move to check on the little one, whereupon the foal got up on all fours and dashed off to a further spot in the meadow.
Stops in certain areas have become part of my itinerary, over the past several years. There are people I enjoy seeing, or to whom I feel drawn, and whether I visit them or not, depends on their circumstances on the ground. Two young women, whom I love like daughters, were obviously busy and nearly overwhelmed by life, this time around, and so I gave visiting them a pass. Others, like a waitress at Bedford Diner, in southwest Pennsylvania, are always good for an hour or so of bantering. So, my breakfast yesterday featured some of the finest breakfast sausage anywhere, great hotcakes and the wisdom and humour of K.
After the Baha’i Holy Day commemoration, to which I alluded in the last post, my route towards the Midwest took me through the backstreets of Homestead and McKeesport, then to I-70, Wheeling and Zanesville, where dinner at a Bob Evans to which I am also drawn, when in that area, was served by similarly engaging young ladies. Zanesville has made some positive strides, in terms of civic pride, in the two years since I last visited.
I crossed Ohio without further ado, choosing Lewisburg, just shy of the Indiana line, as my rest stop for the night. Despite some rough characters also taking the evening air at the motel, I had no trouble.
This noon, I was one of the first people to take lunch at Fricker’s, just off the highway in Richmond. It is party place, similar to the Dave & Buster’s chain. Mothers with their young children were enjoying the arcade. Old duffers, with ball caps and white beards, were sitting at the bar, dispensing grandfatherly advice to the young servers and bantering with the forty-something bartender. I took a bistro seat, and got prompt, attentive service from J., a shy but caring teen. I could easily find my way back here.
By the time I left, Fricker’s lot was full. On a whim, I stayed on U.S. 35, to Muncie, another Indiana city about which I had often thought. Walking about downtown, I saw several references to “Chief Munsee”, who was a Munsee-speaking Lenape and whose real name was Tetepachsit. In the early Nineteenth Century, there was a brief flurry of witch-hunting activity, which resulted in his trial, being found guilty and execution.
There is a statue of a Plains Indian, at the southern entry into Muncie. He is not Chief Tetepachsit, whose forebears hailed from the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania. Several assimilated Lenape moved west with European settlers, some settling in Ohio and others, including Tetepachsit’s family, landing in the White River Valley, of which present-day Muncie (named for the Munsee people) is a part. I could not find a parking spot near the statue, so it is not part of this blog. More solid buildings, downtown, like this telecommunications office, were walkable from a spot near a coffee house, The Caffeinery.
First Baptist Church presents a fortress-like image.
This building houses the Downtown Housing Development Program.
I saw flashes of artistic revival, on my brief walk around downtown. This engaging ceramics studio and shop, had a well-attended class in session, at the time of my visit. Anyone is free to come in and paint their own ceramic piece. I selected a lovely, sale-ready plate as a gift for my evening’s hosts.
A bright mural, which has been restored, following vandalism, graces the side of another downtown. It is a response to the Orlando nightclub shootings, and thus is a manifestation of an inclusive mindset. A man and his 12-year-old daughter were taking this in, just prior to my visit. It is a testament to the quietude of the area, that I would come across them twice more, taking care to reassure the father that I was NOT following them around.
I headed towards my place of rest: Mishawaka, encountering a slog along their development’s main street, due to the other access road’s having buckled from the heat. After dinner, we took a stroll around their neighbourhood. Narcissuses are a point of pride here, as are these Tropicana roses.
My Plant Snap identifies these as Hosta Tardiana. Anyone think differently?
I had lovely visits with my hosts in Mishawaka and the next day, here at a farm in Goshen, where the donkey shown above was among the new denizens. There will, no doubt, be a far different environment waiting for me at the next stop, Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighbourhood. It’s all great, though, and part of a quite fascinating world.