Montana Outdoors

January 8, 2014

Arizona sunset

Filed under: Arizona, Sunsets — Tags: , , — montucky @ 7:31 pm

Arizona sunset ~ 1973

While going through some old slides I came across this one shot in 1973.

May 19, 2010

Tulips with teeth

Filed under: Arizona, Nature, Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 8:01 pm

Tulip PricklypearTulip Pricklypear (cactus), Opuntia phaeacantha Engelm

Tulip Pricklypear

Tulip Pricklypear

These were found near Page, Arizona. If my identification is correct, I think they are very well named.

March 27, 2007

Secrets of the Ancient Pine

Filed under: Arizona, Nature, Outdoors, Reflections, Writing — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 9:59 pm

Far above a canyon, high upon a ridge in the highlands of Arizona, stand the solitary bones of an ancient pine, respectfully buried there on a day hundreds of years past by Mother Nature Herself in a lonely grave gently dug in a blue expanse of sky and tenderly wrapped in a thin shroud woven from a soft breeze.

Her name, “Bristlecone”, was penned for her by a modern man four thousand years after she was born in a small depression filled with dust on the ridge-top and her epitaph can still be seen, engraved in lichens on her memorial stone of granite now lying at her feet.

For thousands of years she watched the struggles and the sorrow and the progress and the joy of men. She saw the Hohokam in the distance far to the south as they formed their canals in the stone and the sand of the desert, bringing forth lush green as a welcome contrast to the brown of the valley and she alone knows the mystery of their fate.

She observed the arrival and spread of the Anasazi across the plateaus of Arizona and on east from there, admired the intricate patterns of black and white on their pots and vessels and marveled at their dwellings made of stones. And she watched them disappear as the Hohokam, but will not tell her tale of that secret time.

The dwellings of the Hopi, high in the cliffs above the canyons were under her gaze as she watched the joy of children at play in those precarious perches of safety and shelter from harm.

And there were tears that fell at her feet when she saw the red blood of white men and the red blood of red men intermingle and soak slowly into the dust of her canyon below.

I asked her for the secrets of those days long ago and there was never a reply, but on a day yet to come, when my epitaph is on a granite stone I will ride to Bristlecone on the desert wind and share her tales of man and men and shed with her my own tears of sorrow and of joy.

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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