Being Present in the Wild Kingdom

Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Lately, I’ve been leaving my camera at home on local hikes.  Honestly, I haven’t been inspired enough to bring it along.  Same trail, same view.  On the contrary, hiking without the camera allows me to be present, in the moment, and fully aware of my surroundings. Maybe that’s why this week I’ve stumbled across my own version of the wild kingdom.

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Something told me to take the Blue Trail today and bypass the Green until the cove. My knee and hip have been hurting (yes, I’m old) and I wanted to avoid steep climbs. Good thing, because the trail was occupied by a family of Javelinas ~ Two adults, a mama, and two babies! Amazed, I stopped and watched them until they disappeared over the ridge.

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After reaching the cove,  I decided to soak my feet in the river and rest a bit. The cove has a BLM camp site with a picnic table and restroom ~ It’s a great spot to sit and re-charge. Looking up at the cliff above, I spotted a few Desert Bighorn Sheep checking me out.  This is the second time this week I’ve run into Bighorn Sheep ~ apparently they like hiking in the cooler weather, too!

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Tired, I headed back to the trailhead via the Blue then Yellow Trail. The Yellow Trail runs through a wash with high rock walls on both sides. As I stopped in the shade for a quick drink and rest, my eyes focused on a little Chuckwalla blending into a little niche in the wall.

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Hiking this week, fully present of my surroundings, I was fortunate to catch sight of quite a few wild creatures. Two weeks ago, I shared space with a bobcat in the cactus garden at the state park. Of course, in each circumstance I was without camera.

And maybe that’s why I was gifted a peek into their world….it was a reminder to stop being so preoccupied and to awaken and just be present.

It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses ~ Charles de Lint

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Note: All photos are from MS Word online clip art.

 

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Urge for Going

“She’s got the urge for going, So I guess she’ll have to go…”  – Joni Mitchell

I heard this beautiful melody on the radio recently, and although inspired by wintertime, I found it quite relevant to my migratory nature and love of wandering. Here’s a link if you’d like to listen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvSvTRhAJxg

Thanks to the Adventure group I joined, I discovered a wonderful new place to get “going.”  Cattail Cove State Park is located between Havasu and Parker, Arizona, and offers some nice hiking trails.

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Whyte’s Retreat Trail

The one and half mile Whyte’s Retreat trail follows the Colorado River shoreline winding in and out of coves and ending at the BLM campsite of the same name. Gorgeous!

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Wayne’s Way with the state park in the distance

The more strenuous Wayne’s Way and Ted’s trail lead up and down through desert hills and shallow gorges. A section of Ted’s trail runs through a wash with bluffs on both sides and includes a few dry “waterfalls” to scale.

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Grow where you are planted

I’m always surprised what can grow in areas where climates and conditions are harsh. So wherever you are today, adapt, grow and bloom where you are planted.

Sandra

Arch Rock Loop Trail @ SARA Park

“I dressed and went for a walk – determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer.”-   Raymond Carver, This Morning

After spending Saturday afternoon reading Claire Miller’s, “Mile 445: Hitched in Her Hiking Boots,” I got an itch Sunday morning to don my boots and stretch my legs on the Arch Rock Loop Trail in SARA Park.

With temperatures in the 40’s and winds light, conditions were perfect for the uphill climb to the arch. I had one worry, the path to the arch is what I call a goat trail – a narrow, arduous footpath fit more for a mountain goat, not a sometimes wobbly grandma.

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From this trail, you descend down into the wash (not shown) and  back up the Arch Trail

Determined to see the arch, I cautiously moved each foot forward, placing each shoe in a previous hikers imprint.  As I walked, all I could think about was having to go back down. The thought of descending the trail through loose rocks and rubble caused a little concern.

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Checking out the arch

With the arch all to myself, I rested for a while appreciating nature and it’s wonders. I wasn’t interested in tackling the trail back yet, so I headed off on a side path and enjoyed the solitude of walking the desert terrain.

By the time I decided to double back, the winds kicked up making the descent quite frightening. I was so thankful for someone else’s foot prints guiding the way down and keeping me from sliding. Following one strong wind gust, I finally threw my pride to the side and shimmied down on my bottom.

After taking in what nature had to offer, all I can say is one time on the Arch Trail is enough for this grandma.

Serendipity

Serendipity (n.) – luck that takes the form of finding pleasant things that are not looked for.

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I was on my way out of the house a few days ago, when I happened to see this beauty nibbling my Lantana bush.  What makes this event so serendipitous is that the butterfly waited for me to run back into the house and grab my camera, waiting for its close up.

This weekend, I returned to the Hualapai Mountains to take advantage of the trail system and cooler weather.  This morning, I decided to hike down to the Silver Bell Mine. The path was not clearly marked and I  found myself off trail a few times, ready to give up.

I was debating on turning back, when  I was pleasantly “directed” to a little chipmunk sitting dead-on the path. Could this be another example of serendipity?  I continued my hike and stumbled across a small herd of elk – two cows and a bull with very large antlers. My morning was full of surprises.

I never made it to the mine, the elk blocked the path so I returned to the cabin. They’re beautiful creatures, but I’ll admire them from a distance, thank you. If they approach me, I’m out of there!

Sometimes what you’re looking for, comes when you’re not looking at all.” – unknown.

Tillamook, Yachats, and the Oregon Coast

We said our goodbyes and left Sandy bound for the coast and a little town called Tillamook.  A cheese fan, I had my hopes on touring the plant and sampling the goods, but I’m not a fan of big crowds, so we ordered up ice cream (Huckleberry, of course) and moved on to the Tillamook Air Museum.

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The museum is small and really not worth the entrance fee, but we enjoyed seeing the old planes and WWII posters.  After touring the air museum, we continued on Highway 101 along the Oregon coast to Yachats and an overnight stay at the Fireside Motel.

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The Fireside is an older hotel with great rooms, plenty of amenities, and million-dollar views.  After sampling fresh fish at a local restaurant, the hub and I sat on the balcony and watched the sun set.  We retired to the room afterward to a toasty fire and the sounds of the crashing waves. Heaven!

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The Oregon Coast trail passes in front of the hotel.  I’m an early riser, so I set off on the trail passing huckleberries and blackberries until reaching an outlet to the beach. I spotted green sea anemone’s clustered in tide pools and got creeped-out by the clacking of the mussels and other shell-fish.  It’s an odd sound.

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I hurried back to the hotel with only 30 minutes to pack.  Next, we’re off to Medford for one last hug from the daughter and granddaughter before heading home tomorrow.  The hub decided he’d drive straight through since we have no interest in stopping in California’s heartland. I’ve seen enough agriculture to last a life time.

I’m sorry to see this trip end, Oregon is a beautiful state with plenty to do, but I look forward to planning my next excursion. Where to go next–any suggestions? Happy trails!

Sandra

 

Joshua Tree National Park, California

The husband and I decided to hit the road this Veteran’s Day weekend for a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park.  Although we’re native Californians, we’ve never visited this park even though it’s close to home.   After several trips to Arizona and Utah, I’ve developed a favoritism for the orangey-red sandstone of the four corners over the bare deserts of home.  After spending a lovely day outdoors today, I happily discovered that Joshua Tree is not your ordinary understated California desert.

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We entered west on Highway 62 through the town of Yucca Valley.  After passing the ranger station, the landscape surprisingly transformed from blasé to spectacular.  Joshua trees began to dot the landscape and massive boulders and rock piles erupted from the ground.  I’m reminded of Utah, drapped in earth tones.

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Our first stop is the picnic area just before Hidden Valley for a couple of submarine sandwiches and a much appreciated cherry coke. There are no concessions within the park, so bring your own food and drinks.  After hitting the pit-style restrooms we stopped to admire the regular folk courageously ascending the rock pile summit.  Joshua Tree is a very popular place for rock climbers and mountaineers.

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Our next stop is Hidden Valley and the one mile nature trail.  Joshua Tree has many hiking trails for all levels from the easy under one mile nature trail to the strenuous back country 16-mile Boy Scout trail.  Due to health conditions and old age, the husband and I usually opt for the nature trails.

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For a stunning view of the desert valley and the San Andreas Fault line, take a detour to Keys View and climb the paved pathway to the top.  Looking down into the valley is spectacular, even with So Cal’s bad air quality.  I can only imagine the view on a clear day, it’s a drive worth taking.

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Joshua Tree overlaps two deserts, the Mohave in the west and the Colorado in the east.  After stopping for a few photos of Skull rock, we decided to drive the entire park to the Cottonwood entrance.  With a half tank of gas and twilight approaching we set out across the sparser section of the park en route to the westside and a cactus patch of Cholla.

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The Cholla Cactus Garden offers a quarter-mile trail through large patches of interesting Cholla Cactus.  Nicknamed the Teddy Bear, this beautiful, bristly succulent is anything but cuddly.  It’s recommended to wear long sleeves, as the husband was impaled by a wind born spine.

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There are 794,000 acres to explore within Joshua Tree National Park.  With hiking, climbing, birding, backpacking, camping, there’s a lot to do in Joshua Tree.  Unfortunately, the sun was setting and we weren’t camping so it was time to head home.  We were unable to see everything within the park, so a return trip is in the future of this impressed-with-the-California-desert, regular old grandmother.