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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Arizona Nocturne

Arizona Nocturne

In the rapids of life, the good and the bad are so thoroughly intermingled that it is virtually impossible to have one without the other. No matter how hard you try to navigate through the staccato of consequences, no matter how hard you deploy the paddle of your will, your canoe will be mostly left to the mercy of fiercely turbulent elements. As we are tacking left and right through our destiny, sometimes the wisest thing is to relax and just enjoy the ride. Because no matter how well you design your trip, there will always be mischievous elves planting dynamite sticks in the folds of your plan. And sometimes those dynamite sticks are exactly what brings you the good stuff.

This Thanksgiving I was hiking in South Arizona with a friend of mine and for the first day we planned the conquering of the Wasson peak, one of those sharp saguaro infested heaps of dirt overlooking the Tucson area. Due to a slight delay at Tombstone, we arrived at the site late in the afternoon. We had barely enough time to climb to the peak so we quickly hopped onto the trail and started crunching the miles as we did not want to risk coming back in the darkness and stepping on a tail of some disgruntled rattlesnake.

However, after about an hour of walking we strayed from our path a bit and got lost in an arroyo which seemed to lead in the right direction, but ended up at a stern rock face which was clearly not passable, unless you were a lizard or had suction cups for fingers. To make matters worse, on our way back to where we lost the trail we tried to utilize a seeming short cut which turned out to be an access road to some abandoned mine so all this backtracking and wandering cost us a good hour of our limited time. Wondering whether we should call it off or not, we recalculated how much time we have left before sunset and decided we'd resume going up the trail until the point that would still allow for safe return (which was about 4.45pm). We wanted to get as high as possible, so we put the pedal to the metal and darted off like a pair of hungry wolves that just intercepted a scent of marinated lamb chops. When we reached our point of safe return, steaming profusely, we were only about 20 minutes from the summit which was well within sight and tantalizingly beckoning in our general direction. We couldn't quit and start our descent now, so after a short pow-wow we kept pushing forth for a bit longer - damned be the consequences.

When we reached the top, some 15 minutes later, we were spent and panting, but the helter-skelter climb was worth it. The views of the surrounding ranges were dazzling and the sense of accomplishment nearly intoxicating. The time shift caused by the unfortunate digression may have jumbled our time table but it also enabled us to see the mountains in the precious light of the setting sun which bathed their every fold and cranny in a surreal reddish glare.

And that was not all. Since we had no chance of reaching the parking lot during the daylight, we were about to experience an adventure hike in night conditions - an endeavor we would not have attempted if we actually had a choice. And that was also the last basket of perks which the forced departure from our schedule laid at our weary senses: the silhouettes of cactuses barely visible against the fading sky, the low keyed humming of the attentive desert and last but not least the faint lick of light leaking across the western horizon.

All of that because we lost our way.

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