Monday, March 31, 2014

The Spires of Arizona

During the second week of spring break I led a HOC backpacking trip with Annie to the Superstition Wilderness of Arizona. During this weeklong trip we hiked a loop trail, 35 miles in total. We traversed steep hillsides covered in cactuses and angry bushes. No sooner had we become accustomed to skirting prickly pears that the next crest would reveal fields of swishing dessert grasses. As the ecosystem seemed to shape-shift around us, so did the rock. We gradually descended into a basin that towered in orange, striated pillars and faces that undulated in curves carved out by the seasonal flooding in November.
About halfway through our loop hike, I glanced up at one of these towering faces, perhaps ten stories tall, that suddenly revealed a series of shadows that strikingly resembled a human face. My stomach flipped as I almost lost my footing, caught off guard by the eerie face. I suddenly thought of the tribes of individuals who had inhabited these basins over the past tens of thousands of years. I felt a refreshed sense of astonishment at these individual's fortitude. In this moment, the mountain I peered at reminded me of both the immensity of time and the human experiences in this basin that preceded my visit. What do mountains do? They hold a history that is often hidden, but sometimes jumps right out at you.

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