The eastern side of the Santa Rita Mtns of Southern Arizona are beautifully crenulated, offering diverse well-watered canyons with Douglas and Subalpine Fir forests transitioning through mixed forests to grasslands connected all the way to the Great Plains.
Good habitat, lots of wildlife, including Jaguars, regular in the area again for a decade. I've seen a double handful of bobcats and it's incredible how tame they can seem, allowing you to look at them from very close. I have been lucky enough to see a cougar in the wild as well, having to remind myself that mama said don't chase lions into the bush.
But to see El Tigre, as wild and untamed as a polar bear, would top all wildlife sightings for me. So I walk in the area often, hoping to just see a sign of scat, or a kill site.
I was back in the area again to walk a trail I haven't walked since the 1980s. The trailhead has moved back 2 miles. That portion of the trail is now an extremely eroded road. However, in the 1980s I drove a standard four door passenger car to the trailhead right next to the Wilderness boundary.
Signs of that road are just barely visible, and the trail has been extensively reworked just to keep it attached to the side of the mountain. Really gives me hope on areas being reclaimed.
Jaguars are coming back into the area, and if that isn't a sign of areas being reclaimed, what is? In a prior post I mentioned my love of this area even though it held scars. It's nice to see how life can heal old wounds.
Lots to contemplate on a walk where you won't see anyone all day. For my after lunch nap one of my last thoughts before dropping was how I found it quite easy to fall asleep even though I was deep in the lair of El Tigre. So many of my fears have been recalibrated from my time outside.
Question of the day:
Time outside can help you readjust your relationship to your fears. Snorkeling in the ocean helped me adapt to my fear of sharks and jellyfish. Sleeping on the ground in Yosemite Valley got me used to having a bear sniff my face to wake me up in the middle of the night. It's happened one more time in Yosemite, and once in the wilds of Arizona. I've also had a coyote sniff my face in the middle of the night, and I was more worried about that than the bears.
What are you now much less fearful about because of spending time outside? Could you be less afraid of your own potential? Bears? Class 3 with Exposure? Being alone?
We shall overcome.
Once again, you evoke pleasant memories...Is this road in the Santa Ritas the one that leads by Onyx Cave? That was my usual destination when in that neck of the woods - never saw a Jaguar caving, although their coloration would certainly make it difficult.
As a child, i was desperately fearful of heights. Rock climbing has changed that.
Yepper, one of the innumerable Cave Creek Canyons. Above the Wilderness boundary the trail is in classic good shape. The Florida Fire aftereffects are fascinating evidence of more recovery.
Bears and coyotes can sniff someone else, I will keep the tent, but I'm much more appreciative/ better prepared/ less fearful of the outdoors in general having been in many different environments by myself or with limited other people. I look at my kids, who are just now trying to get over the fear of all flying bugs when we are camping, and know that being constantly sheltered indoors or manicured lawns can have major downsides and limit a lot of the joys in life.