Sometimes, Word Pictures Work Best

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March 29, 2021- Usually, when I go off on a trail, my camera is with me and photos follow. Today, knowing that the terrain would be the same as that of my most recent hike on Limekiln Trail and that the features will also be visible from the next, and final, segment of that system, I went with eyes only.

There was a slight rise from the trailhead to a vantage point, from which I could see my car and another bowl-shaped ravine, just to its north. From there, a pinon and juniper scrub forest hosted the next 1/4 mile of the route, which headed down into a dry ravine and a creek bed smaller and not as alluring as Dry Creek-at least in terms of coloured stone varieties.

As I walked up and out of the ravine, a young couple walking ahead of me were a bit suspicious, so I took an alternate route, on a trail of volcanic soil, which ended up leading me around to the same road which I had followed in the previous segment. The couple were also nearby, but went about their exploration of the pinon forest, while I stopped at my last little nook and enjoyed gluten-free crackers (rather tasty, with garlic parmesan) and cool water. Though I can digest wheat and other grains, gluten-free products are a nice addition.

As this was the stopping place from last week, turnaround was in order. The cool breeze and bright sunshine made everything seem a whole lot easier today, and I could smell the juniper leaves a lot more fully than I could, even a few weeks ago. Spring will be a nicer hiking season.

The Road to 65, Mile 23: A Very Full Solstice, Part 1

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December 21, 2014, El Morro, NM- I don’t think I’ve made such a big deal about the December Solstice before.    Penny and I would have chai and watch the moon rise, with a group of Phoenix- area or Prescott- area Wiccans, but since her passing, it took me until this year to include the occasion in my life, in a meaningful way.  (I use the term December Solstice, because the longest day is a great celebration for the indigenous people across the Southern Hemisphere, and I tire of seeing them left out of the celebratory messages.)

Today started with a marvelous shower and gradual wakening, by 7:30 AM, in my comfortable cabin, “Deer Cabin”.  I was informed that breakfast would be served from 9-12, so there was plenty of time for me to take a few winter photos and pray for many people and situations.  I posted a few of these on FB, but here are some scenes of the El Morro Lodge and Ancient Way Cafe.

First, here is the interior of Deer Cabin.

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Here’s the exterior.SAM_3257

Ancient Way Cafe was founded by a spiritual mentor who is known as Red Wulf.  He paid us a visit at breakfast, but stressed “I’m not here”, as he is officially on sabbatical, until April, 2015.  Several other local characters also gathered for breakfast.  I selected “Donald’s Breakfast”, a hearty farmer’s breakfast ,which is fitting, since Donald is a self-sufficient organic farmer.  He was present this morning, at the table next to mine, along with several members of Red Wulf’s spiritual circle, Wave Riders of the Ancient Way.  They’ve been here since the 1970’s, as have many counterculture groups, around the Southwest.

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SAM_3261Hanging chilis are a symbol of welcome in New Mexico, and I certainly felt welcome.  The Wave Riders did not wish to be photographed.  Many of them were quite exhausted from having attended an event at a gallery across the highway, until 2 AM. Our cook was one of them but fortunately he was rested enough to do a good job.

I checked out at 10:30, and headed up the road to El Morro National Monument.  The place is distinctive in three aspects:  Geologically, archaeologically and graphically. I will show photos of the geological aspect first. El Morro, Spanish for “The Headland”, is made of largely striated sandstone.  Wind, water and lichen are breaking the sandstone down.  Many, like the NPS film’s narrator, the actor, Edward James Olmos, bemoan this process.  The National Park Service is trying to shore up the ruins, as we’ll see.  The big picture, though, is that nature was here first, and will fulfill her mission, one way or another.  Notice that there are pinon pines, and one-seed junipers, mixed throughout the park.  A smattering of Ponderosa pines have grown on top of El Morro Mesa.  The trees also break down the rock, by sending out roots.

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SAM_3279SAM_3285SAM_3286SAM_3290 So, you can see the majesty of the sandstone massif,  plus the effects of  wind, water, lichen and tree roots, on the great structure.  In the next post, “Mile 23.5”, I will address the human legacy of El Morro.