FOILING SEVEN MILE CANYON

July 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

mud ridges, water

 

An old stock trail descends into the slender head of Seven Mile canyon and after summer rains, deep gullies cut the path so that one has to jump from one rocky ridge to the next.  Cave-ins are common.

Previous travels into Seven mile have been thwarted by encounters with wildlife as well as my own fear.  As I walked in the sandy wash after slipping and sliding down the rubble, I recalled earlier excursions into Seven Mile.

Years ago on a late spring hike, a friend and I enjoyed flitting song birds and butterflies, and heard honking geese flying south , but were unable to view their V in the blue sliver of sky above.  Our time was curtailed due to deer fly bites behind the knees.

Later that same year with the same friend and a friend of his who was frightened to be walking and exploring without a map, although there was only one way to go and come back, I glimpsed a bobcat run through a copse of cottonwoods – too big and slinky to be a rabbit, too small and tailless to be a coyote or lion, just the right size to raise my hackles.

I only traveled a short distance on my next hike in.  After finding a freshly killed rabbit – all that remained were its feet and tufts of fur, I had the distinct feeling of being watched by some creature padding around nearby.  I couldn’t shake the sense of unease so turned around and hiked out.

I was the first person to traverse the washed out trail and slosh through the still running stream trenching the sand on my most recent trek into Seven Mile, just after an intense storm.  I passed by the point of previous rabbit carnage without the sense of being watched, but the pungent odor of damp and death followed me.

I walked on.

The dense brush and thicket that made walking difficult outside the sandy wash in prior journeys had been winnowed and picked clean by a flash flood.  All that remained standing were large cottonwoods and the flexible purple aster, scarlet gilia, and yellow star thistle that had bounced back subsequent to the rush of water.  Willows and poke grass still genuflected toward the receding force that had flowed through.  What doesn’t bend, breaks. 

I had never traveled much past the confluence with Courthouse wash and that day ended much the same.  The wash was running knee deep with soft mud on either side of the stream and I was not prepared for such an adventure.

Seven Mile has been my nemesis and my tutor.  My return hike through the flattened vegetation was a tough go.  With every step I was bayonetted by all the bowing brush and was reminded that like any other idea, belief, or expression daring to move in the opposite or some other unparalleled direction of the masses, you’re going to get poked.

Pricked, scratched, and lacerated, I walk on.


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