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Friday, February 8, 2013
Curve Of The Earth Views From The Summit of Mount Wrightson
Come join us! We are snug, at 5000 feet above the ever-rising sea level, in a small but site-spacious Forest Service campground in Madera Canyon. Mount Wrightson towers overhead, snow capped, some 5000 additional feet higher and thirty degrees colder. It is our annual pilgrimage/duty to summit the Old Man, to honor his Mountain Spirit, and the kindred souls that thrive within us.
For a mere five dollars per night, we have a clean restroom, fresh water, and legs-reach proximity to the diverse flora and fauna that makes this sky island in the middle of the the Sonoran Desert special. There are more birds around here than you can remember... and bear, mountain lion, bobcat, wild turkey, Coati Mundi. There are ever-green live oaks... with a full branch-head of leaves... defying winter, and towering ponderosa, various species of juniper and cedar, sundry bushes and cacti... all watered by a perineal and bouldered brook... and yes, if you will indulge my tendency to over-alleterate, it "babbles!" Heard it with my own two ears.
The sprinkles on our ice cream is that Maikel and Susan are Airstream camped up the hill. So we have funny and fun-loving hiking, biking and gourmet beer/picnic buddies close at hand. Life is Good (smile, burp)
Granted, five thousand feet is high for winter camping, even in southern Arizona. But our weather has been absolutely perfect for the past five days... perfect. That's what can happen if you are willing to risk long pants and light jacket in exchange for possibilities... the chance to have an ideal camping experience in a place you would not normally consider. Snowbirds need to be more adventurous; temperatures in the 60's are not fatal! That said, weather is in the process of changing as I peck out this post. Who knows, maybe we'll wake up to snow this weekend. Wouldn't that be nice?
Beyond flora and fauna, another reason we return to Madera Canyon is that it's ripe with trails. One in particular leads to the summit of Mount Wrightson. It's a challenging 5.5 mile trek... rocky, snowy, icy... but worthy of all the post-tramatic toll it takes on my creaking body. We laid a plan to get a crack-of-dawn start, but surrendered to reality, thanks to the previous night's fine Lagunita's IPA's. We ended up fumbling out the door around 9:30 (yawn), squinting into an over-bright sun. Yet another trail, paved with good intentions.
There is no such thing as a "bad day" when one is on the road... living their dream... and drawing a deep breath of fresh, pine scented air. Now let's get our backsides up to the summit of 9,453 foot Mount Wrightson for one of the top ten views I've ever taken in.
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