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14: Friends & Tracks

Updated: Feb 27



Dear Friend,


It’s so good to be in sunshine as I write this to you on Friday, the day before April Fool’s Day. This is a busy time of year for so many creatures, I hope that you are finding a good balance between your busy-ness and whatever brings you restfulness. On this leg of the trip we’ve been super lucky to see SO many wildflowers! They grow in such a variety of colors and shapes, on stems or bushes, in bunches or all alone, each one beautiful and amazing!



We are just south of Wikiup, Arizona, on Highway 93 in a campground called, Burro Creek. The highway bridge over Burro Creek spans what looks like a miniature Grand Canyon. Vertical walls on both sides of a slowly flowing river are layered with colors and textures of sediment, accented by green shrubs and vibrant, flowering cactus. It is astounding that any plant could hold on to such a sheer cliff face. Saguaro and mesquite, creosote and paloverde grow along the top of the canyon, their silhouettes against the sunset… it is truly breathtaking.



After a really big rain (and snow) storm three weeks ago, Burro Creek (river) rose 20’ higher than it is right now, putting it at flood stage. Now, the river has subsided and the plant life on its banks are bent and broken, drooping limbs and stems holding fragments of other broken life – so much change in such a short amount of time. But each day brings more new buds and blooms to the river’s edge. Nature is so resilient!



It isn’t an easy stroll down to the water from our campsite. The trail has been washed away in most places so it’s a fun, rocky, up-and-over hike across the old, puddled, river bed, where the river rocks are rounded and smooth, even the lava rocks and shards of shale are gentle looking. But it is rare to find stable footing so it’s good to keep in mind that gravity usually wins. And the best part is, the BLM land around this campground is home to many creatures, including mountain goats, heron, raven, vultures, hawks, pica, rattle snakes, Gila monsters, scorpions, lizards, wild burros, raccoons, and a whole lot more. And since it’s spring, there are babies, too.

 




Each morning, Frank and I watch with binoculars and camera, as a couple of herons take care of their babies high on the cliff across from our campsite. Each parent brings fish from the river to the baby or to the other parent and gather sticks to reinforce their three nests. Herons are graceful in flight and they are strong in patience while hunting on the ground. They will stand, still as a statue, for over 30 minutes, waiting for prey to forget about their place on the food chain. These heron have a huge wing span, their colors are gray and black with yellow beaks and light-colored tummy feathers, which they preen between flights. They rest in between hunting or gathering spells, but constantly have to keep ravens and vultures at bay. The heron babies are pretty big, about three-quarters of the size of their parent at this point. But the parents still preen and feed them. It has been incredibly sweet to be able to observe this family throughout our visit. As you might know, herons and egrets are very important to me; as I watched these great birds, I couldn't help but think of the Mundle, his patience, especially! (Get to know the Mundle for yourself, in my story, Beyond the Weakened Thread).

 






I love to go to the water’s edge in the morning to watch the herons and to look for tracks. I’ve seen raccoon, heron, pica, a dog of some sort, raven… and though Burros can’t get in to the campground, we’ve seen their tracks nearby and we’ve heard them baying throughout our stay. We hope to see them before we leave this area.

 



Tracks of all kinds have always interested me. When I see foot prints, bark scratches, tail swishes or body scuffs, etc. out in nature, I feel the presence of the creature that left them. It isn’t exactly like having a visit, but it is very precious to me.

Several weeks back, when we were in Hawthorne, NV, we stopped in to Pepper’s, a walk-up diner owned by Chris Hegg. He’s the cryptologist that you might recognize from The History Channel’s Ancient Aliens and Lost Gold of the Aztecs. We had the opportunity to spend some time with Chris. He had lots of stories about petroglyphs and his childhood. He grew up in a mining town, and quickly learned the ropes from the old guys, gold and silver miners with lots of experience and grit. Chris went on to become an expert in cryptology and is a very good story-teller and a wonderful host, we enjoyed our visit with him!



I showed Chris some photos of drawings that we’d found high-up on a rocky hill near our Ironwood campsite in Marana, AZ. He explained that the rocky hill was an ancient lakeside landmark. What is the valley now, was at one point, a huge body of water. He identified the drawings as calendar markings often found in places where there might have been migrating animals or fish. People would leave markings and signs like this for others to read. Chris said that he uses his knowledge of these kinds of markings to follow deer or to know when fish are running. Some of the markings are thousands and thousands of years old and the animals are still doing their thing the same way. I’m not a hunter or a fisherperson but it was good to learn a little bit about these signs, what they might mean, and where to look for them. Chris said that he covers a lot of this information in his book, Ancient Universal Language of Man: Deciphering Petroglyphs. (Which, by the way, sells out really quick in Hawthorne, NV, so, shameless plug: he recommends buying it on Amazon).

 


We’ve been very fortunate on our trek, our visits with really interesting people, our discovery of tracks, wildflowers and ancient writings, what a colorful world! We’re grateful to be out in it!

[In case you might wish to visit Burro Creek Campground, it’s nice to know that there are two, flushing-toilet bathrooms (with a light for nighttime), cold running water, trash cans, cell service for T-Mobile, Cingular, Sprint - but not for AT&T or Verizon. There’s a camp hostess (sometimes). It costs $7 per night with our America the Beautiful Senior Pass. (The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass).]

 


And, as always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers and for checking in to share our journey, dear Friend. If you would like to Contact Me to let me know how you are doing, I’d love to hear from you!


Gently Be,

Leslie


Ps: I’m grateful to Frank Bevans for letting me share his photos with you in this letter! If you’d like to see more of Frank’s work, please visit: fbphoto.com





Pps: The Newsletter is out! If you wish to check out Dorland Mountain Arts’ 2023 Spring edition, please visit: DORLAND MOUNTAIN ARTS

 

 

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