Friday, December 30, 2005

Tucson Mountain Park - Gates Pass

I am perched on a boulder overlooking Gates Pass Road, part of the valley and Old Tucson Studios. The sun is warm on my back and I wonder why I don't do this more often. Why doesn't everyone do this more often? The cars drive by below. What could they be doing that is more important than this?

I have been boulder climbing up and down this mountain side. I'm not used to it so I take it steady and slow. I keep trying to look ahead and map out a route - there is no trail, no easy way. It's more effective to find one foot hold at a time and just keep moving. On my way down I realize just how pointless it is to think. My body knows how to do this better than my brain. Navigating the boulder field is as much work of the arms as it is of the legs. Every muscle in the body has to contract and release at the right time in order to maintain balance, shift the weight at the perfect moment. I couldn't orchestrate that with my brain even if I had a clue how. It would be like trying to breathe, trying to will my lungs to expand, the bronchi to open. I am surprised by the grace of my own body, the way it knows how to lower itself down the face of a boulder, how it stretches and flexes in this unusual way that somehow seems more natural than walking upright, in a straight line, on concrete. I can see a few well-traveled trails from here. I'm trying to choose one. The side of this mountain is warming up and the hush is giving way to the ruckus of cactus wrens, cardinals and sparrows. I think about what a stunning sunset will happen here tonight and I wish I could bring Andrew so that we could sit on this boulder together and kiss when the sun sinks under the foothills. I start down the mountain again and I hear loud western music coming from Old Tucson. I decide to hike to the shack over that way. I have all day. As I continue on I hear the gunshots from a high noon showdown. A cowboy is fallen. There's a kleenex tied to a branch. I blow my nose with somebody's long forgotten trail marker. As I walk on I find a water bottle, an orange construction light, two crosses made from fuzzy tube cleaner; one green, one blue. I think about getting killed by an arrow. I come to a fence, it ends. I come to the shack. It's very delapidated but it looks like the chimney was built to work. There is manure on the trail and sure enough, there are riders. I hear their voices. I get out of there as fast as I can because I don't want to be a part of their tourist experience and I doubt they want to see a hiker right here in their expensive, mediocre, disneyesque old west. The sun has risen high in the sky and I need to get back to the car where I can eat a granola bar.

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