The Christmas Star

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December 21, 2020-

Today being the start of winter, north of the Equator, we look to the days getting longer-a minute at a time. The entire planet also has the bonus of seeing Jupiter and Saturn, still discernable as separate planets, but close enough to one another to complement one another’s light, from this Earthly naked eye’s vantage point. Legend has it that the three Magi regarded the convergence of the two planets, in the night sky of 2020 years ago, as sign of great portent, thus giving rise to the term “Christmas Star”.

I will take anything that lifts people’s spirits, and besides, there are no mistakes in God’s Plan, which includes the orbits of planets around stars. It is no concidence that we honour Jesus the Christ’s arrival in this world, right around the time of Solstice and that the convergence of these two planetary giants in the evening sky should happen right about now, as well. Christmas is rightfully a celebration of Light, as was Hanukkah, earlier this month, and Diwali, in mid-November.

I spent the afternoon of Solstice outside, visiting Prescott’s unsung treasure. Covered in quartz crystal, and thus named Quartz Mountain, the peak of modest height is reachable from either of two trailheads-Aspen Creek, on the north and White Spar, on the south. I took Copper Basin Road to Aspen Creek trailhead, and hiked the three miles each way.

Quartz Mountain, from the Wolverton Trail

I had been here once before. On that Sunday afternoon, four years ago, a family of four was gathering pieces of quartz. I was told by a Forest Service ranger, after the fact, that this was illegal. Since it occurred to me to not remove quartz, myself, well enough was left alone, that day and today. It was enough for me to be in this inspiring setting, during a bright and mild Solstice afternoon.

There was a fair amount of company, in the area today. On the way to the trailhead, I stopped as a family of five deer crossed the highway, single file. The last animal hesitated, then crossed after apparently getting my message that it was safe. On the trail itself were five bicyclists and six hikers, though none were at Quartz Mountain at the same time as me.

So, there was solitude, enveloped by fellowship, as so often has been my experience on these trails.

West face of Quartz Mountain summit
West face of Quartz Mountain summit

I got back to the car, just as it was starting to get dark. After dinner at the Raven Cafe, I went back to Home Base, in time to catch the two points of light that made up the Christmas Star. Sorry, my camera does not take detailed photos of distant orbs.

Prescott Circle Trail, Segment 4: White Spar to Copper Basin, Part 2

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April 6, 2016, Prescott-  While we were living in Phoenix, in 2002, news came of a horrific wildfire, that was bearing down on Prescott:  The Indian Fire.  It could easily have swept through Thumb Butte and down Copper Basin, slamming full force into downtown Prescott.  That didn’t happen, thanks to the Forest Service, and the fates of Nature.  As it was, though, the Indian Fire seared a large area between White Spar and Copper Basin, leaving several square miles of sticks in its wake.

On Sunday afternoon, I walked in some of the same areas affected by the Indian Fire. Wolverton Mountain rises above the trail, though no family named Clowers lives there. Quartz Mountain is reached by a side trail, about 1/2 mile south of Wolverton.  Both peaks were singed in 2002.

I began at the Copper Basin end of the segment, starting out on the Aspen Creek Trail.  The creek comes down, from the western base of Wolverton Mountain, and flows down towards Granite Creek and downtown Prescott.  The creek is barely flowing, and indeed, the ground in this area is badly in need of a soaking.

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Trailhead, Aspen Creek Trail

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Gray granite, Aspen Creek Trail

I came soon enough to the upper reach of Aspen Creek Canyon.

As the sun was getting a bit lower, I came to the junction with Wolverton Mountain Trail and Quartz Mountain side trail.  Walking along the Wolverton, I had several fine views of the high ridge of the Sierra Prieta Range, of which these peaks are an eastern offshoot.

A glimpse of Wolverton Mountain’s practical use was visible from the trail, though the summit itself will be the focus of a future hike.

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Summit of Wolverton Mountain, from trail.

Shortly after passing Wolverton’s eastern edge, I came to Quartz Mountain Trail.  This unique promontory will be the topic of the next post.