The Carving of A Confluence

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April 22, 2019, Cameron, AZ-

I set out from Flagstaff, around 9: 30 this morning, heading to the western edge of this once sleepy sheep-ranching community, which is now tapping into the growing number of people who want to visit the Dineh (Navajo) people, see their starkly beautiful land and learn of their culture.

Here, at the foot of Gray Mountain, on the way to Grand Canyon National Park, lie two overlooks which capture that stark beauty and share an area regarded by the Dineh people as their point of emergence from the underground, following a long ago calamity, and thus a sacred site.

It is the last segment of the Little Colorado River, approaching and reaching its confluence with the Colorado River, after a 338 mile journey, from the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, through the Painted Desert and Coconino Plateau.

A two-hour exploration of the twin overlooks offered these scenes.  Whilst some will say, “Well, what is so special about black and brown stone?” , the geological story told by the three main layers of limestone (top), granite (middle) and shale (bottom) is, like that of the Grand Canyon itself, a classic account of wind and water working together, with a fair amount of help from volcanic and seismic activity.

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In the far background, please note Navajo Mountain (Naatsis’aan), an igneous rock peak, the rises 10,387 feet, towering over Lake Powell, and like the lake, straddling the line between Arizona and Utah.

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The layers of sedimentary deposit are quite visible, as one scans the rock, from top to bottom.

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The water, whilst uniformly scant, looked clearer from the first overlook than from its western counterpart.

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You may not that there is considerably more silt being washed into the river, as it moves closer to the confluence.

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Looking closely, it might seem as if the granite canyon fascia resembles petrified warriors.

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The algae working this limestone bench seems to show everything from a man with outstretched arms (foreground) to pictographs.

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On the right hand side, below, the tall shafts of sandstone appear to be standing guard over the shallows of the Little Colorado.

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In all the bareness, sage, a medicinal staple of the Dineh and Hopi, alike, grows in abundance. Desert bottlebrush is its accompanist.

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The relatively wet winter has produced an effusion of greenery in the Gorge.

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This struggling, but intrepid, river and its gorge, lead to the most spectacular sight on the North American continent.  In the next post, I will focus on the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, at its east end, and the Desert Tower that overlooks the beginning of its Inner Gorge.

 

Mother Miguel Mountain

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January 3, 2017, Chula Vista-   Whenever I look out the window, from my son’s apartment, the curious sight of Mount San Miguel, in the Otay Range, looms to the southeast. I took advantage of Aram’s being back to work, got up before dawn, and headed over to Mount San Miguel Park, on Chula Vista’s east side.  There was a short wait, of about twenty minutes, as the city park opens at 6 A.M., with decent light about 6:30.

My choice of trails led up Mother Miguel Mountain, to a military commemorative, called Rock House.  Two explanations are in order:  “Mother Miguel” is a mash-up of Madre Grande, which some early settlers from the eastern U.S. took to pronouncing “Mother Grundy”, and San Miguel, the name given to the area by earlier Spanish ranchers;  Rock House is the name given to a rock arrangement which houses two, rather tattered, flags-our national flag and the banner honouring Prisoners-of-War and those Missing-in-Action.  The latter is to be flown, or displayed at meetings of veterans’ service organizations, until the day comes when all such persons, or their identified remains, are honourably interred or cremated on U.S. soil.

My leisurely up and back lasted about three hours, over a round trip of 6.2 miles.  The photos, taken with my phone camera, are not as clear as those taken with the digital, but you will get the idea.20170103_0651391

Here is the trailhead for Mother Miguel, from the east end of Mt. San Miguel Park.20170103_0701591

Above, is a view of the destination, for which I used a series of 22 non-taxing switchbacks.

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Occasional limestone boulder piles provide a place to sit and contemplate, along the way.

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Others just dominate their area,  as does this castle-like outcropping.

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Once atop the modest-sized peak, Mexico looms, to the south, with the San Ysidro district of San Diego, in the foreground.

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Here is Rock House, with its resident banners.

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A second stone arrangement, intended as a circle for contemplation, is found just south of the Rock House.  Sweetwater Reservoir is seen in the distance.

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A third, circular, stone arrangement is a bit more to the south, still, and seems to invite a holistic view of the repatriation process.

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Off to the east is Mount San Miguel, whose owners SAY they don’t want hikers going to its summit, but do nothing to prevent those few intrepid people,usually military members doing personal training, who make the steep hike up its western slope.

Speaking of which, there were about six others on Mother Miguel Trail, while I was there.  One, a young lady, passed by, as I was taking in the rock arrangements, and went to the southernmost point on the summit.  After she had returned from her moments of solitude, and headed on down the mountain, I went to that point, and found a commemorative bench.

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There is, indeed, nothing that replaces a sense of home.  I hope that she felt comforted, and reassured, by this message.

The way down had me thinking, somehow, of just how vital the two youngest generations are, and will continue to be, to the well-being of our nation, and of our planet, as a host of problems, heretofore unfaced, will present themselves, over the next decade or so.  I guess the energy of the young runners and hikers, along with the industrial views of the area to the west and north of the park, set this thought in motion.  Like all previous such times of challenge, humanity will prevail, by working together.  There is no other choice.

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The rocks remain, and patiently look upon us.

 

Prescott Circle Trail: Lingering Snowpack

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February 15, 2016, Prescott-  I spent yesterday afternoon not being a nuisance to anyone, and finishing my walkabout of Segment 6, on the Prescott Circle Trail.  Long segments, such as this, can be broken into two manageable hikes.  Today, I started at the trailhead that lies across a narrow, but busy, highway from Goldwater Lake.  There was plenty of parking in the dirt lot, so by 1 PM, I was bound for the point at which I stopped on my last visit to this route.

The first part of the trail was dry, which was fine by me, as it was also the closest thing the trail offered to being steep.  Mud, and snowpack, came a bit later, and were a constant, for the length of the trail.  There are seven “fingers” of Government Canyon that impact this section of trail, but not as much up and down, as in the eastern part of the canyon.

Two hours after I started, the segment’s end came, at the three-way junction of Prescott Circle, Boy Scout Trail and Turley Trail.  Boy Scout leads to Walker Road, near Lynx Lake.  Turley, whose trailhead is a mile east of my house, brings one back towards downtown.

With my car back near Goldwater Lake, I tooled around the back country of Government Canyon, for about an hour, then headed in reverse.

Here are a few scenes from this workout, which resulted in 10 miles, altogether.

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Western end of Segment 6, Prescott Circle Trail

Above, are two views of Goldwater Lake, which has upper(left) and lower (right) halves.

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Snow appeared frequently, along the north side of the canyon, as one might expect.

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Snowfield, on east side of “finger” Number 3, Government Canyon.

I reached my turn-around point (left), and felt the urge to look around.  So, I did an extra loop, including this limestone outcropping, on Seven-Mile Gulch Trail.  This became a two-mile loop.

The return hike was not strenuous, and I made it back to the west-facing section of trail, in time for a glorious sunset.

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Sunset near Goldwater Lake, Prescott, February 14, 2016.

So it is that I have completed half of the Prescott Circle Trail.  In truth, though, with trails, one is never “done”.  The stunning scenery is here for anyone who needs a lift.