Five Little Pools

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April 19, 2021, Sedona- A prime hiking buddy and I set out, fairly early, for a trail here that passes what are called Seven Sacred Pools. The area was frequented, in bygone times, by people indigenous to northern and north central Arizona. The area now called Sedona and Oak Creek Village was known, even then, as a place with healing waters and a spiritual air about it. The people we know as Sinagua settled around the region, and their settlements in this area are known to the Hopi, who are among their descendants, as Palatkwapi-“Place of Red Rocks”.

Soldier Pass Trail is one of those for which parking is limited. A and I found a spot near a city tennis court, and walked along the side of the road, for about 1.3 miles. On the way back, we noticed several people taking a parallel trail through the woods, so that would be a likely route for subsequent visits. Today, though, we saw amazing views from the roadside.

View towards Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, from Soldier Pass Road. The people who have settled in this lush canyon have settled well.
Zoomed images of the iconic rock formations, accessible from Oak Creek Village
The lushness of the forest canyons, that were carved by Oak Creek’s tributaries, are a wonder unto themselves.
We came to the trailhead for Soldier Pass Trail, finding it of moderate difficulty.
Above, is Sphinx Rock, which remained watching over us.
Devil’s Kitchen is a sinkhole that sits just under Sphinx Rock.
This shows the position of the two great features.
Zoomed view of the southern end of Coffee Pot Rock.
My selfie with Coffee Pot Rock
Light glints off Sphinx Rock
We came to the Seven Sacred Pools, finding five of them with a small amount of water in each. Three are visible from this vantage point.
Looking carefully, note the remnants of a cairn building contest, of some time ago.
This is a section of Brins Ridge, to the east of Soldier Pass and separate from Brins Mesa.

Thus, my first visit to the Seven Sacred Pools introduced me to five of them, with the hope that there will be monsoon rains this year, and perhaps a view of the storied gushing stream, with small cascades heading where the cairns are now.

The Butterfly’s Heart

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March 22, 2021, Sedona- After an unexpected, but necessary flurry of activity, both online and around Prescott, I set out around Noon, and came up to the southwest corner of this ever-delightful town, to complete another segment of Limekiln Trail, which I have been walking in segments, these past five months.

Today’s route took me from Deer Pass, where I had left off last time, to Dry Creek, a distance of 5 miles, roundtrip. The route primarily follows Forest Service and ranch roads, with Dry Creek Road (FR 9845),leading up the creek’s small, but captivating, ravine. Here, I saw a lone jogger, a few tents in strategic places, and a pair of Shelties, poised and ready to protect their person.

I saw rolling grassland, long white irrigation tubes, people in jeeps and trucks struggling to navigate the rocky canyon road, and a beckoning wall of red rock-off to the northeast. I saw lots of heart-shaped rocks-and a butterfly rock, embedding an inner heart.

It was an inauspicious start, at Deer Pass Trailhead.
It looks like someone from Wickenburg lost their hat.
After a half mile walk along a ranch road, the descent into Dry Creek Ravine began.
A small field of volcanic rock and silt lay at the bottom of the hill.
After passing a few tents and wishing Godspeed to some slow-moving vehicles, I reached Dry Creek.
It was, well, dry. The creekbed is alluring, though, in and of itself.
I walked a bit further up the hill, to my stopping point for the day, from which Red Rock Loop Road is 2.3 miles further, and thus a good parking spot for the next segment, which will bring me back to this spot.
Delights can be small, as well as large, around here, This butterfly-shaped rock reveals its oblong heart.

Secret Cove

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March 16, 2021- My hiking buddy and I got up onto the rocks above one of Watson Lake’s most beautiful sections. As she is not quite up to clambering around the more difficult rock sections as yet, we turned back. Another time will suffice; Secret Cove is not going anywhere.

There are a myriad trails through the Glacial Age’s gift to Prescott: Granite Dells. The hoodoos and small granite mounds that dominate the northeast corner of this town have been a draw for residents and visitors alike, since the mid-Nineteenth Century. The dells form an arc, rising on the north side of Watson Lake and swinging west, to its fellow reservoir, Willow Lake (that sector being called Willow Dells), the area is a hodgepodge of City Park and private residences that have, for the most part, been built in a manner that respects the wilderness.

We walked mostly along a converted rail bed, known here as Peavine Trail. Its wide, flat mien allows bicyclists, equestrians and disabled people equal space, with hikers free to go off on any one of a dozen trails, mostly leading to overlooks of the lake.

Below, is an old photo of Secret Cove, from a hike I took there in November, 2011. The tranquility of the place doesn’t change, and even being shy of the cove itself, we felt a deep serenity.

There will be several visits to this hidden gem, in the near future-especially as the weather gets mild again.

Two Birds on a Winter Morning

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February 16, 2021-

As I was doing my devotions, this morning,

two of the ravens

who live in our neighbourhood

were perched atop a telephone pole.

They repeatedly touched beaks

and snuggled for about three minutes,

then touched beaks a few more times,

and snuggled for another few minutes.

This was the sweetest thing

between animals,

that I’ve seen in some time.

It just goes to show,

there’s no lack of love

in the world.

One Spirit

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January 30, 2021-

I have an independent mind, the expression of which has left several people around here, and elsewhere, who I fairly trusted, responding with “LOL”, or with sullen silence. The thing that I find funny is that several of them pride themselves on being people of faith. The belief that there is One God, Who created all life, is as central to their pronounced faith, as it is to mine.

So, it is incredulous to me that people can even distinguish between human beings, as to who deserves to live. It befuddles me, that there are at least two classes of people, and this distinction is a point of pride, a cornerstone of belief.

There is, by my reckoning, One Creator, One Spirit, One Universe, One Planet Earth and One Human Race. I have differences of opinion with many, AND that does not diminish their humanity-as far as I am concerned. For saying this, however, I have lost several friends, at least one extended family member and a few members of my own Faith, for not adhering to an orthodoxy that claims to be fighting for freedom-but is rooted in fear.

Let’s look at a few matters, more closely:

  1. Human Rights- I hear the First National Youth Poet Laureate say that the mind of a child is paramount. This same person also says that medical professionals should be allowed to put unborn children to death. What happens to the mind of a child who is not even allowed to be born? I hear some of the same people who espouse abortion, as a routine practice, voice opposition to the Death Penalty, even for the most heinous of murders.
  2. Nationalism- I see and hear people of various backgrounds, some with medical degrees and some with law degrees, saying that America should be a White, Christian nation-exclusively. What, exactly, is a White Nation? The continent of Europe, alone, is home to seventy different ethnicities. Jesus loved people of all the known nations of His time-and loves everyone, the world over, now. The first Christians, outside of a smattering of Jews in the Holy Land and a handful of Greeks, were Ethiopians, South Asians and Turkic people in Central Asia. The majority of Christians today are People of Colour.
  3. Wealth- Yesterday, a wealthy investor took to social media to furiously denounce those who have actively engaged in buying inexpensive stocks, offered by companies which produce goods and services in which they have a common interest. His basic point was that there was a move to destroy our economic system. That this participation will actually strengthen the nation’s economy, in the long run, is willfully ignored by those who favour keeping things as they historically have been. There is no club. There is no exclusive society that deserves preference over all other human beings. The very use of the prefix “non-“, with reference to people outside one’s own circle, is odious and needs to be discarded. The selectivity which is promoted by so many leaders of groups may be temporarily necessary, in terms of how each of us structures our time, our attention and our energy-but for it to be a permanent psychological, emotional and legal barrier to seeing the humanity in everyone and the sentience of all beings, is treacherous to those whose rights are debarred- and to one’s own humanity. The concept of any human being superior to the next, even by dint of the preponderance of one’s demonstrated character, is in the long run, an abomination. We are each here to grow, to learn and to become one. There is, in the entire Universe, one Creator and one Spirit animating all life. All distinction is a matter of mental construct. All prejudice and hatred are little more than byproducts of unfaced fear.

Walk Forward; Love All Life

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January 20, 2021- In the end, there were no Cabal Trials-and most likely, there is no Cabal, at least not the widespread, nefarious and nearly impregnable network. In the end, the 45th President of the United States took his ball, his fig leaf and whatever memorabilia he chose to bring with him, made two fairly benign speeches and left what his successor described as a “generous” letter, before taking what is likely his final ride on Air Force One, going to his rest haven in Florida.

The transition was well-guarded and peaceful. There was a gentle Inaugural Address from the 46th President, not rambling and with only a few stumbles in pronunciation. I doubt I’ve have done any better. It was essentially what the nation and the world needed to hear. There were heartfelt, well-delivered prayers. A widely popular Country & Western singer offered “Amazing Grace”. An equally popular Pop singer served up “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”. A gifted singer, who once opted for the outrageous in her performances, gave a stellar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. The youngest prominent American poet in decades, gave a heartfelt recitation, as our first National Poet Laureate.

What does not change is the need to examine major issues facing the country from all legitimate angles. The environment is not immune from human influence. Some aspects of climate change are cyclical and would be catastrophic, regardless of the levels of pollution and wanton degradation. There is, however, much that we can, and should, do to safeguard our planet-and by extension, our solar system. Personal attention to conservation begins, as the late John McCain once said, at home. Recycling, in an era of concern for its cost, is tricky, but still must be consistently endeavoured. Water is an essential part of any community development, and requires careful usage, particularly in areas beset by drought. Air quality is likewise a key concern.

Our dietary health is essential. Despite claims from large corporations involved in genetic modification of foods, and their pop culture shills on television and social media outlets, human beings are not meant to subsist on a diet of monocultural crops, nor are such commodities helpful in soil conservation. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, consumed with or without a modest amount of meat, and preferably grown organically, represent the best regimen for disease-free living.

No human being capable of thought and reason deserves to be deprived of the right to make decisions which affect life and well-being. Women inherently have the right to decide what happens with their bodies. The issue can, and does, get messy when it comes to matters of sexuality and procreation. Education is the only path to informed choice, when it comes to abortion and the practice of circumcision (genital mutillation).

Each of the above issues has become fuzzy, due to the influence of deep-pocketed economic interests. Large corporations, such as Monsanto, and financially-driven nonprofits, such as Planned Parenthood, have exercised their influence, in promoting practices that are not necessarily carried out with the interests of individual human beings, including pre-born children, in mind. So, it falls to a widely-based coalition of citizens to build and carry out education programs that can counteract the propaganda of monetized interests.

The current administration has already shown concern for the environment. Its positions on the other two issues are less clear, thus pointing to the need for truly extending its path forward towards consideration for holistic health and the promotion of strong, healthy parents, children and families.

The Joy of Underestimation

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January 3, 2021, Mayer,AZ- There are two kinds of stupid: The one is, sadly, unfixable. The other is the kind that the person exhibiting it can fix, and definitely should. Today, I set out to hike a new loop segment of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail. There are three measurements given for this loop: 8.3 miles, 13.2 miles and 15 miles. As I learned, to my eternal chagrin, the last measurement is correct.

Before showing you, dear readers, the delights of this segment, (There are many), let me share my take-aways from today’s adventure: 1. Make sure your phone is COMPLETELY charged, before leaving the car. Yes, I let people know, via Facebook, as to what I was doing, from the crest of one of Copper Mountain’s many satellite ridges. Sarcastically, I referred to the experience as “camping”. More on that in the next post. 2. Make sure there are fresh batteries in your auxiliary flashlight. Just because it worked well, on the most recent night hike, does not mean that is true in perpetuity. 3. Print off a PAPER copy of the trail map. Having AllTrails.com does not amount to much, when the phone dies, as it did when I needed it, towards the end of my hike. 4. Of course, if possible, hike with a buddy. That means ADVANCE PLANNING, which I do-but my tendency is to go it alone, and not want to bother other people. Postitive results, though, also came out of this: 1. Recognizing that any winter hikes need to either be started in the MORNING, or put off until they can be started in the a.m. Fitting in a long hike (more than 5 miles round trip) does not work, when begun only after a regular Zoom call is finished. Trust me, scenery at night, even in winter, is beautiful, especially under clear skies and with the Moon to help light one’s way. Still and all: It’s cold, people who know your whereabouts get worried and as, a local resident of this town observed, not all wild animals are either friendly or shy. He was referring to javelinas- not bears or mountain lions. I have seen and heard bears and mountain lions, on shorter hikes, but they’ve kept their distance-and I report those sightings on my phone, rather quickly.

So, there is the foolishness of complacency, rent asunder by the fact that every hike is different. Now, for the good news: Copper Mountain Loop, done properly, affords some exquisite geological wonders. It is a treasure trove of volcanic debris.

Here are five examples, and Mickey Mouse puts in an appeareance.

View of scattered igneous towers, southwest corner of Copper Mountain Loop
Igneous bench, top of southwest ridge
Igneous tower, top of southwest ridge
Igneous bench and tower, southwest ridge
Igneous benches, northwest ridge
Copper-infused slate-slabs and figurine-shaped rocks, northeast ridge.
Prickly Pear Mickey

As the light that provided these scenes faded, and I lost-then re-found the trail (Thanks to the Moon and my spirit guides, including Penny, I had enough sense to plod on, rather than try and tough it out at one spot. Smidgens of sense are better than none-but for the next hikes, things will change.

Animal Visions

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December 5, 2020-

As has been the case quite often, of late, I had a vivid dream last night-this one of my being a personal guest of the President of Brazil, at his country villa. I was actually speaking Portuguese, intermittently, with the leader speaking English, in his turn. It was a cordial, and rather casual, visit- with the two of us having an earnest discussion about Amazonia-and me pointing out that there is evidence of a grand ancient civilization in the river basin.

As often happens in dream sequences, the matter went unresolved, with the president excusing himself to go to bed and me being escorted to the guest bedroom. The next dream scene had me being greeted by a full-grown alpaca, which was a house pet-in a different house (and probably a different country). The beast looked out the window and saw a bunch of kangaroos gamboling outside. Alpaca went to the door and looked at me to let him out. I opened the door, and he nudged me to go outside with him. Then I woke up.

I cannot readily imagine either scenario; neither can I rule eother one out. It’s as likely that something I ate may have sparked the unusual, as it was that the books I’ve been reading about ancient peoples of the Americas planted thought threads in my mind. I can’t speak to the animal vision, but perhaps the fact that I’ve been close to animals, most of my life had something to do with it.

I do know that certain spiritual attributes are tied to particular animals, the stereotypes being such as an owl embodying wisdom, a coyote or a fox depicting stealth or treachery or a large feline exhibiting courage and ferocity. For some reason, I have always felt close to the bear, though exactly what lies behind that is unknown to me.

Perhaps each of us does have a true connection with a given animal, in which case, awareness of our true attributes is a good place to begin, in the search for understanding that connection.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 20: The Two Trees

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June 20, 2020-

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.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 6: The Cabin, The Pyramid and The Homage Walk

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June 6, 2020, North Rim of Grand Canyon-

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.

Cabin 10, where I stayed at Jacob Lake Inn.

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.

The limestone columns remind me of horse heads.
Here is a cross section of the Inner Basin.

Nature leaves her little jokes, even at the expense of damaged trees.

A guidepost, perhaps?

Sooner than I expected, it was time to take a hard right.

The trail junction.

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.

This drop-off looks milder than it is.
Who’s watching whom?

Finding a heart-shaped rock, I placed it carefully against a small set of wood shavings.

A little altar

This natural eroded bowl could serve as an amphitheater.

Looking at this “amphitheater”, I also saw a back country hiker looking over its edge.

I came upon an unofficial overlook, east of the main viewpoint, and appreciated the two “guardians”, looking back towards the rim.

Sandstone heads have this mesa to themselves.

Looking out from this vantage, at Uncle Jim Point, I have a tripod to help me focus.

Here’s a view towards the Inner Basin.

Heading out from this vantage point, I spotted a burnt ponderosa, which could serve as a memory pole, of sorts.

A woodpecker’s home and a place to mark memories.

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.

Uncle Jim Point juts out into the Inner Canyon.

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.