The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 29: Up to the Peregrine’s House


June 29, 2020-

Each day, as I walk downtown, Granite Mountain rises above the northwest horizon. I have hiked to the summit,twice. The first time was in April, 2011, with Aram. The second time was after I returned from Europe, in September, 2014. As it happened, the photos from that second climb were lost, when in a relapse into my mental fog of 2011-13, I put the SIM card into its slot in the computer, without using the guide sleeve. That took care of most of the photos from the latter part of my European visit (Metz, France to Berga, Germany and Frankfurt, Part II) plus Granite Mountain, Part II.

So, as it had been six years, anyway, and ,there is a two-day cooling off, before the July Oven heats up, I took a hike up Granite Mountain-not all the way to the summit, but to the closing-off point, past which peregrine falcons are in the last part of their nesting season.

I wanted to make this trip more about Granite Basin and Blair Pass, the approaches to the peak, anyway, so this was especially worthwhile.

Here are some of the scenes of those areas, and the lower part of the mountain.

The serene trailhead of Metate Point
This is the boulder called Metate.
The trail opens wide, headed towards Granite Basin.
This dam helps form Granite Basin Lake.
So often, boulders can appear to be rogues from the Great Beyond. Here is one such image.
Once in the heart of Granite Basin, boulder flows abound.
There are several golden staircases, along the Basin path, and on the north slope of the mountain.
These are some penstemon flowers, which are seen only on occasion, along Metate Trail.
Prescott has lots of corvids. These look like they got petrified, way back when.
Here is another Watch Lizard of the Basin.
Now, we are approaching the Basin’s boundary, and Blair Pass.
A view of the summit, where the pergrine falcons are still rearing their young.
Remnants of the 2013 Doce Fire are seen ahead.
The sky is bluer than it’s been in several years.
From this bench, also called Metate Point, is a clear view of Little Granite Mountain and the Santa Maria Mountains, in the far distance.
This is a northward view, towards Williamson Valley and the Cornell Range.
After apprising a young lady, who appeared more interested in running, about the course of the the trail to the summit, I determined to only walk until I heard the first little peregrine chick peeps. That took me most of the way up this ridge.
Here is a second “Golden Staircase”.
I took one final look at the Cornell Mountains, from this viewpoint near the first nests I encountered, then headed back.

All told, I met five people along the trail, including the runner. It was thus a bit more active than six years ago, when the only soul I met was a young lady, who appeared out of nowhere, took my picture and disappeared just as quickly. I encounter souls like that, every so often, but not today.

This was a perfect day, in an area where perfection can come as easily as a brief walk to a bouldered area for a picnic as from a hard march to the summit. I stopped upon hearing the first faint peeps, then headed happily down.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 10: Signals for the Weeks Ahead


June 10, 2020-

I spent about two hours, this afternoon, with an online group,”Earth Rising’, in the last session of a class, entitled Gaia Calling. Gaia is an ancient Greek name for Earth. The concept of our planet, and all heavenly bodies, as a living entity, goes back to the earliest antiquity and has credence in modern science-particularly in the realms of seismology, geology and hydrology. This class focused on our relationships with both Earth as a whole and with the area in which each of us lives. My Home Base, as many know, is in the basin of three mountain ranges: Sierra Prieta (west), Bradshaw (south) and Mingus (east). It is also the watershed of the Verde River and its western tributaries.

I have been getting spiritual messages, through this group’s interactions, as well as through meditations guided by an Australian Cosmic Advisor, Elizabeth Peru. Guided meditations are similar, in that the meditant is asked to breathe deeply, whilst focusing on a specific area of the body, then expand downward, into the earth, upward into the heavens and outward, to connect with the spirits of others.

These meditations have brought messages, fairly consistently. They have, in earlier iterations, led me to travel where and when I have and to rearrange my homebound life, in the same way. I was guided, most recently, to offer the memorial hike in honour of my late uncle. That it ended up occurring on Penny’s and my thirty-eighth wedding anniversary was an added confirmation from the Universe- a sign from God.

I have signals for the 1 1/2 months ahead, after today’s session. The rest of June is to be focused on faith-based activities, on at least one community festival and a hike on Granite Mountain, my first since late summer, 2014.

The first week of July is to be focused on community events, followed by a week of faith-based observances. I then get a message to make a journey of advocacy, to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and its environs. The area is under pressure for development of natural gas resources. My journey would last four or five days, and is contingent on both the health status of the people in the area and on whether the park itself is open. The last week, or so, of July is open-ended, but the indications are for a mix of community and faith-based activities.

These forecasts, as Elizabeth calls them, can, like weather forecasts, be changed-but so far, I have found them quite spot on. It’s when I have indulged my own whims, as in 2013, that I have found self off-track.

One Good Loop Deserves Another


April 7, 2019-

A week or so ago, one of Arizona’s premier hiking columnists, Mare Czinar, wrote of a new trail, branching in elliptical fashion off the Prescott Circle Trail, which I have hiked and chronicled, in the past three years.

A group called “The Over-The-Hill Gang”, loosely named for a Western movie set of characters, has taken it upon themselves to build this, and other new trails, as well as maintain older trails in the area.  I value their efforts.

The West Loop Trail begins at a large, new parking area:  White Rock.  Prior to this, those who wanted to hike in the region west of Thumb Butte had to leave their cars parked just off the road, or into the brush.  White Rock is a decent compromise, between “no footprint” activists and those who object to cars clogging the side of the well-traveled recreational road.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The West Trail’s initial segment is .5 mile in length.  It features several granite and limestone boulder formations, so despite its brevity and flatness, this small sector is worthy of keeping one’s eyes open.  I reassured a tired little guy, doing the home stretch with his parents, that he was almost done.  It was nice to see that kept him going, instead of having Mom or Dad carry him.

The boulder fields are off-trail, thus making for a quick, easy start.


As with any large number of rocks, the imagination can show a given boulder to have a human or animal likeness.  I see the boulder in the background as George Washington.


Poking out from between two boulders is a charred tree limb, with the likeness of an angry snake.


These sandstone boulders are laid out, almost looking like segments of a large worm.  It was about here, that I turned left, onto the Javelina Trail, a part of Prescott Circle.


I took a brief rest at this spot, writing in my hiking journal, as to the ambiance of the place. I had the trail to myself, much of the time, with the preponderance of other users being bicyclists, whose presence is most always fleeting.  I step to the side for them, as downhill and flatland find cyclists going at a fast clip and uphill involves their huffing and puffing.


Here, I see another giant watchman, in the center of this scene.


This clump of boulders is another fine spot for sitting and meditating.


“Little Italy” is a side trail, which I will investigate on another hike.


This abandoned corral was part of a small ranch in the area, prior to the National Forest being established.  The rancher moved away, before the Forest took over.


All that is left of his home is this chimney.  It seems to have been used as an outdoor oven.


The reason for his choice of home is simple:  Here is the South Fork of Willow Creek.


From the creek, the path becomes Firewater Trail.  A brief climb takes us past this stern eagle-like formation.


Back on the flat trail, a dead alligator juniper resembles a welcoming totem pole.


At the junction of Firewater Trail and the homestretch of West Trail, a clever OTHG member placed this trail marker.


Surrounding peaks make their presence known, along the West Trail.  To the southeast, is Thumb Butte.


To the north is majestic Granite Mountain.


Working around a family who had come to this panoramic viewpoint for photos, I got this shot of the San Francisco Peaks.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After taking a photo of the three family members together, I headed down the last half mile.  Just before the parking lot, I came upon this little “critter”.


My left knee and cardiopulmonary system thank me for this afternoon- and I extend that thanks to the Over-The-Hill-Gang and the U.S. Forest Service.  It’s good to feel like old times.

Return to Wolverton Mountain


October 10, 2017, Prescott- 

I revised my Fall Break plans, a bit, so as to attend a gathering of Slow Food-Prescott, this evening.  it’s been a while since I’ve connected with that group, and missing two other meetings that I attend on a regular basis is an act of triage, so to speak.  So, Wednesday and Thursday will find me afield.

Getting back to the subject of the title, Prescott’s Wolverton Mountain lies about a mile south of Copper Basin Road, on the west side of town.  I passed by it, a year ago, whilst hiking the main part of Prescott Circle Trail, intending to come back and hike the spur trail, on an odd afternoon.

Sunday provided that odd afternoon.  I was just about done with the post-monsoon weed pulling, in my back yard, so it was high time to get back into the woods.  Up Copper Basin I went, and found the expanded parking area at Aspen Creek Trailhead.  The trail towards White Spar is across the road, taking the hiker to the junction with Wolverton Mountain Trail, 3/4 of a mile southward.

There is a smidgen of Fall foliage to be enjoyed, near a small rock outcropping and cave that lie along a tributary of Aspen Creek.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Around a few corners and slight inclines, I located the spur trail leading to the south summit of Wolverton, after taking short bushwack to its trail-less north counterpart.  The north summit offers a fine view of Granite Mountain, always an inspiration.


You can see that Wolverton has been ravaged by bark beetles, in recent years.  Still, there was a stand of Fall colours, nearby.


The south summit proved a bit less impressive, but any mountain is worth exploring, at least once.  There is what appears to be a defunct watch station and water tank, carefully fenced-off.


It was a pleasant return to the trail, anyway, and the presence of a few late bloomers added to the sense of allure.




There are a few more local peaks, still on my radar- Hyde Peak and Pine Mountain being the most notable, and a return to Harquahala Peak, in La Paz County, beckons sometime this winter.

In the meantime, a two-day jaunt eastward will bring some treasures into view, followed by three weekends devoted to honouring the Creator and His Messengers.





May 5, 2017Prescott-

I  am freshly returned from a visitation for one of Prescott’s genuine champions.The concept of waking, a seemingly odd term for remembering a departed soul, prior to burial or often, in these days, cremation, is perhaps in hopes that death is not a real thing.

I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but the life of Jayme Salazar (he pronounced his name alternately in English and in Spanish), came back before those listening to the eulogies.His childhood and adolescent antics, presented by his older sister, were reassuring to all, that a full life proceeded from that awkward time.  A lifelong friend of his recounted the man’s intense work ethic, combined with a genuine love of people, which established his Taco Don’s Restaurant as one of the city’s premier lunch venues, and a true gathering place.

He came came here from California, by way of Las Vegas, as so many of us have come here from farther afield.  Jayme found that the mountains, lakes, dells and grasslands of the area, but above all, the earthiness of the people, were a capturing force.  That he gave his life here, in the shadow of Granite Mountain, was the ultimate giving back.

Some six years ago, I saw my beloved wife go homeward, to the Light, in a more prolonged way, but not dissimilar period of service to the children and general citizenry of a western suburb of Phoenix.  Any home in which we ever lived together was open to countless people.  Any school in which she ever worked was the center of our married life, with work and love likewise moving in tandem.

So, I understood, fully, standing in the anteroom of the funeral home, this evening, that priceless spirit, that brings casual customers and acquaintances of a loving soul to a sense that here moved a lifelong friend; here lived a steadfast pillar.

To each one to whom I’ve bid farewell, these many years, let me close with the voice of Enya.

Jayme, Penny, Norm, Dad, Brian, Colonel Mortimer, Uncle George, Aunt Adeline, Margaret, Mike C. and so many standing beside you, in the Legions of Light, thank you, for having lit my way and for lighting the night.



January 1, 2017, Chula Vista- Seems people were so fed up with the year just past, that my retrospective montage was received like a lead balloon.  No matter- the clouds have cleared, from the torrential rains of the past two days (most welcome, here in southern California, and the neighbouring states of Arizona, Nevada and Baja California Norte).  My hope is that the clouds hanging over our nation, and over many parts of the world, will dissipate, as well.

I have a few, short-term, goals for this year:

January- This week, for the most part, will find me in the San Diego area, largely here in CV, with an Orange County outing, to Crystal Cove, on Thursday, before I head to Phoenix, and a dental check-up on Friday.  Training in Psychological First Aid, on Saturday, will let me bone up on those skills.  Who knows, as to just how many occasions such will be necessary?  Next Sunday,  my penultimate trek along Black Canyon Trail will bring me to the Emery Henderson Trailhead, in New River.  The last hike on that trail will follow, later in the month, (probably on the 21st. ) Over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, Aram is likely to visit, so the three days will be open-ended, to his preferences.  Other weekends will be divided between Baha’i studies and the trail.

February-  Son heads out to South Korea, the second week of this month, so I will spend 2-3 days in southern California once again, to see him off.  It’ll mean 1-2 ,years of Skype and a once-a-year visit.  I’ve been in those shoes, several times.  President’s Day weekend will likely find me in the McDowell Mountains, northeast of Phoenix.  A service project will also be done, during the Baha’i days of giving and service to others, known as Ayyam-i-Ha (Feb. 25-28).

March- This being a month that features a Nineteen-Day Fast, with Spring Break coming towards the end of said Fast, my plans are open-ended.  The inclination is to head over to  southern New Mexico and western Texas, to pay a couple visits to friends in the area, and take some relatively moderate hikes, the likes of which have worked out nicely, over the past few Fasts.  The Baha’i New Year (March 20, this year) will be followed up by a journey to Native American Baha’i Institute, to re-charge spiritually.

April- This is the month of the twelve-day Baha’i festival known as Ridvan,  commemorating the days when Baha’u’llah declared His mission, in 1863.  My energies will be thus directed. A few jaunts along trails in the Sedona and Payson areas will also be on the agenda.

May- Decision time, as to keep my current position, or move to a different school, will be at hand.  A long-postponed revisit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and neighbouring Superior, is the only existing item on the hiking agenda, for this month.

June-The first month of summer will keep me in the Southwest.  A week in SoCal will focus on Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Visits to Navajo and Hopi are also on the agenda.

July- My now customary week in Carson City and Reno will move to the first seven days of this month.  Then it will be northwest, to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. From there, finances and circumstances will dictate my direction- either a week’s visit to Korea, or down the road, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

August-Back to whatever work assignment awaits, and whichever forays into nature are allowed by the Monsoon rains.

September-The Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth will be celebrated next month, so this foot soldier will be ready to do whatever the Commemoration Committee needs done.  Otherwise, Labor Day will take me up Granite Mountain, and the end of the month will mean a weekend in Flagstaff’s Inner Basin.

October- The aforementioned Commemoration will take place on  October 22.  Hope Fest will also happen this month, so there will be much work, in service.  Fall Break is a cypher, at this point:  Tucson and vicinity will get first dibs.

November- Thanksgiving, this year, will be observed at Desert Rose Baha’i School, between Phoenix and Tucson.

December-  Christmas week will find me in Massachusetts, with family whom I feel have been somewhat neglected, over these past several years.  Several fences need mending.  That will include a train trip to Philadelphia, right before New Year’s, and on down to Tampa Bay, for the first week of 2018.

Books?  “The Brothers Karamazov” slog continues.  “The Standing Stones Speak”, by Natasha Hoffman, “The Century Trilogy”, of Ken Follett, “The Alchemist”, by Paolo Coelho and a pair of books on rebuilding communities take top priority.  Speaking of which, my long put-off book of poetry and short prose will be put together, starting with choosing the better of the poems I wrote, over the past year, and adding verse as it comes to mind.  No specific promises, as to date of publication, but it will be sometime this year.

So, off we go- Trump’s wild ride,  widespread exercises in patience with one another, and continued healing (on both a personal and a collective level) will define this next chapter in the life of this beautiful humanity.


Portraits from A Year Gone By


December 31, 2016, Chula Vista- I am taking the readership on a brief journey back, with one photo from each month, that sums up the month, for me.  So, let’s begin.



Pharaoh’s Face, with a barrel cactus keeping watch, south of the Agua Fria River, Black Canyon City




Sunset, over Goldwater Lake



Small pond, Banning Creek, northwest of Goldwater Lake



Quartz Mountain, north of Copper Basin



Granite Mountain, Prescott



Cathedral Gorge, Pioche, NV



Lake Redwine, Newnan, GA



Kayla Mueller, who was killed in Syria.  This is not my photo, but symbolizes the month of August, as I took no photos of my own, and the sacrifices of some Americans, in the fight against terrorism became front and center.



View of Santa Maria Mountains, from Juniper Mesa



Monarch butterflies, in Agua Fria watershed



Agua Fria Fort, off Little Pan Trail, Table Mesa region



White Christmas 2016, Prescott

So went the Year That The Common Man roared and I continued to explore.



Prescott Circle Trail, Segment 1, Part 1: In Granite Basin


May 19, 2016, Prescott- This is a different sort of Throwback Thursday.  Last Sunday’s hike took place, in between two social gatherings.  It’s important, somehow, that I complete Prescott Circle Trail, before summer starts.  So, May 15’s sumptuous afternoon found me hiking from Iron Springs Road to just above Granite Basin Road, a distance of 3 miles each way.

I began by crossing the first fairly busy roadway, Iron Springs Road, then down a mildly steep path, across Willow Creek’s relatively benign gorge, and along an easy trail to the overlook for Granite Basin, one of the most majestic places in Yavapai County.


South trailhead, Prescott Circle Trail, Segment 1, near Iron Springs Road


Granite Mountain, peaking over the south ridge of Granite Basin

Granite Mountain lords it over this area, as it does, by extension, over the cities of Prescott, to the south, and Chino Valley, to the north.


Thumb Butte, to the south, isn’t about to be ignored.


As always in the Southwest, boulders are a huge presence in Granite Basin.


This resembles an ancient philosopher king, from some city-state in the Mediterranean region.


Granite Mountain comes into clearer focus, at the edge of the Basin.


The Basin itself has been the source of hours of pleasurable exploration for me, in the past few years.


The sweep of Granite Basin, leading to the great mountain.


The summit of Granite Mountain, through the afternoon haze.


An old friend, “Mini Sphinx”, about a mile along Willow Trail, my diversion for the early evening, before hiking back to Iron Springs.

Lastly, here are a couple of  flower-gems, so that the little beings are not overlooked.


Fireweed flowers punctuate the sandy brushland.


Desert Dandelion are found, closer to the Basin rim.

This area has been an old comfort to me, both when I first came here, in April, 2011, and at various points along the Grief Road.  That it is the near ending of a 55-mile circle around my adopted home base seems most appropriate.  In a few days, I will complete Segment One, from Willow Trail to Williamson Valley Road.  Summer looks to be soothing, followed by a return to a secure work environment.

Prescott Circle, Segment 3: Copper Basin to Thumb Butte Road


April 9, 2016, Prescott- My companions today were about a dozen bicyclists, a few lone hikers, three herds of deer and birds-lots of them.  A wild turkey, or two, could be heard gobbling in the woods above Manzanita Creek- about a mile from Copper Basin Road.

With my Saturday afternoon appointment canceled, due to illness, and with a break in the storms, the trail called-loudly.  Who am I to turn down Mother Nature?

Choosing to use paved Thumb Butte Road, and one of its turnouts, as a safe place for my car, I opted to start the hike at the end point, and do the entire 10-mile round trip in an afternoon.  The jaunt took 4 1/2 hours.


Miller Creek, near Thumb Butte Road

There are several creeks, coming off the Sierra Prieta, in this section of trail. Miller Creek is the northernmost, followed, north to south, by Butte, Aspen and Manzanita- which has the nicest little canyon in the area.

As I made my way up Porter Mountain’s northeast peak, also called Williams Peak, it was telling, just how severe the Indian Fire of 2002 was to this area, itself so close to the Granite Basin, which was later to be ravaged by 2013’s Dolce Fire.  These collective memories, compounded by the dire tragedy of Yarnell Hill (which followed Dolce by two weeks), make us here in Prescott that much more grateful for this morning’s rain- and that which is expected to follow, this coming week.


Cloud, reaching up from base cirrus.

As if offering confirmation of my thoughts, a cirrus finger reached up from its base cloud, towards other clouds above.


Granite Mountain, from Williams Peak

Williams Peak offers a fine vantage point for the majesty of Granite Mountain.

A pair of Arizona Woodpeckers hung around, while I was admiring the scenery, so I obliged them with a portrait.


“Stormtrooper” Rock, Butte Creek Valley

As I headed into the Butte Creek watershed, I was watched by a Storm Trooper.


Butte Creek Road, atop Williams Peak, Porter Mountain

The trail follows Butte Creek Road, along the flat ridge of Williams Peak, until one reaches the area known as “Hilltop”, where three trails converge.


Thumb Butte, from Williams Peak

A clearing on Butte Creek Road afforded the best view of Thumb Butte, from the west.  It is two miles northeastward, from here.


Butte Creek

Crossing Butte Creek, one heads into slightly more heavily forested, and somewhat more rugged, terrain.


South Ridge, Williams Peak


Manzanita Creek Canyon, near Dugan Camp, Copper Basin

Manzanita Creek Canyon is on my list of “picnic hike” spots, during the second half of June.  Dugan Camp, about a half mile southwest, is still an active resting place for trailer campers.


Apparent ruin of miner’s cabin, south of Manzanita Creek

This area has been popular with campers and miners alike, especially during the heyday of Copper Basin, in the early 20th Century.


Heart-shaped granite, near Copper Basin Road

There was another confirmation, waiting for me, close to the turnaround point, near Copper Basin Road.


Stump, from 2002 Indian Fire

This stump stands as a silent sentinel, to warn humans of the lasting effects of careless camping and shooting.

Finally, in the spirit of Asian artists who leave a flaw in each of their works, here is a scene of one of the three herds of deer, who crossed my path on the hike back to Thumb Butte Road.


Deer, the best wild animals for selfie poses.