Yesterday I rambled about my trek up to Juniper Basin where I camped in the Rincon Mountains of Saguaro National Park. Today, I give you the rest of the story.
It was a cold night in my little tent with ice on the drinking water, and as you know, winter nights are long. Maybe I’m getting too old for this. It’s a place I can never forget if only because I didn’t sleep much, having brought the lighter of my two sleeping bags and spent most of the night wishing I’d brought the heavy, bulky one.
I camped high above the desert at about six thousand feet, among pinion pines, junipers and live oaks, without a single call of bird—the quietest place I have ever camped.
Starting up the trail at sunrise, I was soon warm and ready for the summit of Tanque Verde Peak, walking with less than half of the thirty-five pounds I had carried the day before; I left all the camping gear at my campsite to which I would return before dark.
There had been just a trickle of water in the dry wash near my camp. It carried the melt from a snowstorm two weeks ago, and allowed me to fill my canteens after filtering out any giardia.
Soon I began to see my destination—Tanque Verde Peak at seven thousand feet. It stands there now to guide me, and I become impatient. But as Merwin says, “What is hard to see is the mortal hurry.” So I slow down and enjoy the last few miles of a long arduous climb, a cold night, and the anticipation of visual reward at the top.
Many times I have driven past arid mountain ranges like this one, looking at them as backdrops to life as I knew it. Now I am on the top of a forested mountain island, surrounded by a sea of desert. But when the valley finally fills with sediment carried down from this mountain, then a requiem should be sung for this now grand peak, just as it should be sung for the now buried mountains under the Sonora Desert.