Montana Outdoors

March 16, 2007

My old Apache brother

Filed under: Arizona, Nature, Outdoors, Writing — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 10:48 am

It was cloudy and cold that day in November as I slowly climbed the rocky and cactus strewn slope leading to the narrow crest of a ridge, still baked from the past summer’s sun, high in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. The rough boulder-filled canyon to the east spread out far below and then began its climb toward the next ridge which ran parallel to mine, a mile in the distance. All the cares and concerns of routine life in the city were already becoming far, far away.

The normally fierce Arizona sun had no power now, having given it up to the spirits of winter, and was hiding in shame behind a solid wall of white clouds which covered the sky. The occasional Saguaro, tall and lonely, cast no shadow today, but stood in stark solitude, silhouetted against the solid white expanse overhead.

Not far to the west could be seen a large scattering of dark clouds sweeping across the Sonoron desert, bringing rain to my ridge from the Pacific, two hundred miles away. It would be a good time to seek cover from the impending storm.

Atop my ridge was a crest of rim rock. It had a dark and forbidding look as it towered over the slope, but I knew somewhere up there I could find shelter as the storm passed overhead. My boots made crunching noises on the decomposed granite beneath my feet as I climbed. The sound didn’t matter. The desert mule deer which were my quarry would already have taken their storm positions among the rocks in the heads of the small ravines which also lead up to the ridge. They could wait.

A few hundred yards ahead and still above me was the peak of the ridge. The towering walls of rock at the peak were my destination. From there if I nestled against the rock I would enjoy a view of two canyons and the ridge crest trailing off to the north while I waited out the fury of the storm.

When I reached the peak I found to my pleasant surprise a cave of rather ample dimensions which the wind over many millenniums had carved into the base of the rock, situated such that it was invisible from the canyons below. I ducked down, went inside and placed my rifle on a shelf of rock at the back of the cave with my pack beside it. The rain was just beginning to fall, but today my poncho could remain in the pack.

On the floor of the cave, precisely in the center, was a small pile of charcoal, the remains of fires which had burned in the far distant past, and on the walls and ceiling were faded traces of smoke from those ancient fires.

At my feet lay an arrow head, a rather coarse hunting point which had been fashioned from the native rock. I immediately knew it was Apache. I picked it up and as I held it in my hand I suddenly felt at one with the spirit of its maker who had also sat there so many years before, a hunter just as I was, looking out at the beauty of the desert through the opening of the cave, waiting out the storm.

My old Apache brother.

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