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Up and Down Saguaro Twins (Arizona)
I just wanted a few pictures for my December
days in December
), honest. I wasn't looking for a story to write, but it just
happened. I didn't know that jeep will throw up oil everywhere, and that i'd be
calling AAA from a mountaintop. The pictures turned out ok, but not quite as the
images in my head. Next time.
While sitting at the stop-lights on Shea
Rd (read "Shay"), i noticed about 10 motorcycles behind me. They had
3 cars in front of them, in both turning lanes. "I guess they'll be delayed
a little." Noooooooooooope. After completing the left turn, they came through
one by one -- left and right, on the curb-side and between the cars. About 4 crotch-rockets,
one tall dirt-bike, one crotch-rocket with a passenger, and one Harley. They all
wizzed by as i was cued behind 2 cars in each of the lanes. There was a lot of
testosterone in the air, i could feel it. Soon after that i was cruising at 80mph,
watching for cops.. is that dust behind me? Hmmm, is there dust on the road? Where's
that dust coming from? It looked like i was stirring dust behind me. Not quite
as in 35mph on a dirt road, but definitely noticeable. How come none of the cars
in front cause the dust? I haven't been in dirt in a while.
I found Bush Hwy, and then my parking
spot. "Holy shnikes... Jeep's smokin" There was smoke coming from the
hood as i stopped. The whole bottom of jeep was covered with oil. The whole rear,
including the glass, was sprayed with oil. It was oil, not dust that i was stirring
along the way. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Phone was out of coverage area. Options -- well,
there's just one thing to do. Hike now. Worry later. Actually, it was all masterminded
in seconds, with hiking being the goal of the day. I'll hike up the 1,000+ft --
this is close to the city, the signal should be ok as long as i am above everything.
If not, then i will have a problem.
The flat land soon ended, and i headed
up FRIENDLY Peak (named so in December, by me). Only once i tried going straight
up FRIENDLY on the east face -- it wasn't motivational seeing just the steep slope
ahead of me. The scenery was behind me. The west face is more gradual slope and
the changing scenery is right in front of me.
When i passed UP BACK, i was already
on the west face. For some reason it felt like hiking Everest, tough. I kept thinking
of July 2000, hiking uphill in 120F. Gotta do it this year. Yeahhhhhh. Meanwhile
this felt like walking uphill in 120F. I must be getting soft. Better add a big
rock to my backpack next time. :-)
I knew BALCONY was a fake summit. What
i forgot was that STEP 2 was a fake summit too. It's like the finish line gets
moved when you reach it. A couple of rock hugging and animal sounds later, I was
at the top of FRIENDLY. The time wasn't right for pictures, I will have to wait.
Up to OUTLOOK Peak, take pictures and back to FRIENDLY for pictures? Not enough
time, one or the other. I stayed at FRIENDLY and an hour went by. It was close
to 4pm. I took the pictures i liked, and headed for OUTLOOK Peak. Looks like i
have time. It's not called OUTLOOK for nothing. The best spot for pictures of
Saguaro Lake. 1,000ft above everything -- and it felt even higher. Vultures circled
in the sky above my head... oh, if i had a big lens, 400mm or at least 300mm.
With my 28-105mm they will look like little birds.
Back at FRIENDLY, the sun was already
behind HIDDEN Peak. The daylight was almost gone. I called AAA again -- the first
time at 3pm they didn't like me booking an 8pm tow-truck. "We don't set appointments,
sir." Telling them i was 2hours from my car on a mountaintop which is the
only place for reception didn't change their mind. So i called now at 7:20pm.
I told them i need 1hour to get to the car. I thought to myself "more like
2hours", but hoped to do it in 1h 30min. Walking down was just normal business,
except for the vegetation. March must have been wet, there was a lot of grass,
even little flowers everywhere. The first time ever I have seen it green here.
And then the rock under my right foot moved and i landed on my hand. A little
burn, but only tiny spots of skin disturbed. Flashlight? Not yet. At one point
i brushed something with thorns. The normal burn -- i only saw the damage at home.
Three 2 inch bloody scratches, bunch of little ones -- good as new by next weekend
(but for the time being it looks like i've been fighting with a cat). After 50
controlled slips my headlight went into action. Since i am on a schedule.
At the bottom of FRIENDLY, i checked
my GPS. Since i never ever find my car here at night, i wanted to return the way
i came -- for once! I would not have guessed to go the right way. Apparently i
came down too much the front (east) face. Now i followed the GPS, and it told
me to go exactly in opposite way than i wanted to. I navigated to intercept ROCK,
a cool rock with a little platform. I found it ok. From there i tried following
the same path as in the morning. Actually i tried going at times by visual clues...
which turned out to be false. GPS was right!
I was at Jeep at 8:20pm. No AAA yet.
Good. I had time to eat before Charles with AAA showed up. His shiny new F-650
tow truck was ready for business. While chaining the right side, Charles found
the 3-ft ditch by falling into it. Oooops. He landed on his feet though. I watched
my Jeep going up through the viewfinder of my camera -- the world is full of picture
opportunities. Going back to Phoenix, we passed a cop parked in the ditch -- just
his orange side-lights were on. He was targeting traffic in our direction -- hmmm,
i would probably be speeding through this area. I walked home at 10pm. I wonder
what my today's pictures will look like.
Trust your instinct. The following day it felt like i had a piece of cactus
stuck in my right index finger. I poked with a needle, no luck. Nurse tried with
a needle, put tar bandaid on it, told me to soak it in salt water -- nothing.
I couldn't tell if the cactus came out already and if the tiny dark spot was just
dried blood. Finally before bed i poked with a needle again -- yes. Tiny cactus
piece, about the size of a needle tip finally came out. I wonder if the vacuum
pump from the Sawyer
would have got it. It creates vacuum and makes the skin rise
in a bubble -- i never had a use for it in the past, and now i can't find it.
It wasn't the engine oil leaking as i thought. A worn-out retainer in the
rear transfer case caused an in-out motion of something to burst the seal, and
the spraying started. Just a little setback that can happen after 153,000 happy