I had the chance to go hiking south of Flagstaff this weekend. If you don’t live in Phoenix year round, it’s hard to appreciate getting tired of constant sun and heat. While some climates get snowed in, we get ‘baked’ in. It was pure delight to drive with open car windows, pull a couple sweaters out of the back of the closet and truly see the Milky Way at night. Lowell Observatory sits atop a small hill in downtown Flagstaff – so streetlights are kept to a minimum. Five miles outside the city, where we stayed, you can really see the stars.
My friend Mike took me to see some petroglyphs he’s a fan of. We didn’t find the petroglyphs, but we had a great hike climbing up and down boulders, through the brush and side-stepping cactus. Surprisingly cat’s claw is not prickery, but Arizona sage will reach out and attach itself to you. It’s a hike I wouldn’t attempt without strong hiking boots, thick jeans and long sleeves. The hardier the hike, the more peaceful solitude you find. My friend Mike grew up in Utah, where he learned to harvest pine nuts from the small pine cones on pinion (little pine) trees. I tasted a fresh pine nut, and after seeing how much work it is to harvest these, I know why they are an expensive delicacy.
Along the hike I found a flower, and later a prickly pear cactus growing out of vertical rocks with nothing else around them. I share them as a metaphor for surviving against all odds, or as hardy souls who refuse to quit when others do. The day ended with a glass of wine on the deck and a chill in the air. Now it’s back to the writing!