21 August 2007

Mt. Graham Arizona... Ya ya


So I broke my camping hiatus and with the help of some friends got out into the wilds this past weekend. Jane, Amy, Joy and our 5 dogs breached the un-ending silence of the Pineleo Mountain range near Mt. Graham and experienced northern Maine in August in Arizona. It was cold, it was rainy, it was sunshiny and it was blissful. As I look back on my Midwestern roots, I have to shake myself from time to time to realize the drama around me in this state. 2 hrs from Tucson and I'm in Northern Maine. Incredible.

As for camping with ladies, I'm impressed. Guys, there are still single nature women out there. The whole gang pitched in and knew their stuff. No one slacked. It was pretty much flawless industry. I was able to get away a bit to do some solo zen one on one by myself.

This mountain range is sacred to the Apache. Every time I go there, I see lots of Native Americans. On a trip with Kyle, we accidentally ran into an Apache ceremony. Some of the members had the black hooded head dresses on. We were so embarrassed. You just don't suddenly interrupt a private Apache ceremony. Being white men doesn't help, even if I was wearing an Indian "Black Elk" t-shirt.

It's obvious why the Pineleo mountain range is sacred to the Indians; it's an absolute eden unchallenged for hundreds of miles around. Waterfalls, moss, trout, berries, aspen trees... I try not to tell too many people about it but here I am blogging! (You'll never find it...)

So, here's the story: Jane and I go to the end of the one road that goes 30 miles up the mountain and 9000 ft up from the desert floor to an alpine lake called Riggs lake. There is no sound except wind in the grass and... a ghostly howl from across the valley. At first we aren't sure it's a human. Might be a rooster. No go, it's a human male. Every 2 or 3 minutes this howl comes across the lake. I think it must be campers playing a game. We get in the car and head back down the mountain to go home. 5 miles down the mountain we encounter a pickup truck pulled to the side of the road with it's stereo blasting an Indian ceremony soundtrack with drums and singing. The Indian, a late 30's male, is standing there watching us go by as we wave. He doesn't wave back. We round the curve and are about 100ft past him when he lets out a loud "Yiiiiiiiiippp, yooou!, yooou!" battle sounding cry. It was really loud like he was calling to someone a long ways away. Maybe it was a relay, maybe it was a warning... I don't know.

It's always been obvious to me that the Apaches own that mountain. I'm not sure what they were doing or what it meant. It's just fucking cool!

I took some photos: Tom's Flickr Account

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