To Georgia and Back Series: Part 2
Cibola Part I is here: https://thefreerangenaturist.org/2022/11/27/cibola-new-mexico-pt-i/
The clouds are moving fast, through a turquoise palette this pleasant morning. I am watching a large white dragon fly across the sky. I pull out a camera, but my effort is not quick enough. By the time I’m ready, it has become a simple fat horny toad and then disappears.
We had been awakened early to the sound of the neighbor’s generator and a pounding hammer, before the first light of day. I barely slept by pulling covers over my head and ears. When I next poked my head out, I was surprised and pleased to find those neighbors gone.
Last night, I commented on the smell of their pot, but it is still here. Apparently, it is the mountains. As I sniff around, the pine and wild plants place that aroma on the wind. It’s curiously everywhere.
With their disappearance, we are slightly more capable of casual nudity, but across the road, there is still a view of a trailer, as I sit at the provided cement picnic table.
We take off up the road walking to find the illusive trailhead. Up the road a piece, there is not an official trailhead, but a definite road off of this maintained one. It is a spur and a very rough one. It would require a 4×4, quad, or mountain bike, to traverse just the first 100 feet. This will be our hike today.
It is a Thursday and those fellow campers are still parked in their campers and RV’s around our spot. In this remote area, I’d expect fewer people here. There are two around the bend, one is behind a large bush-like tree. There is that mammoth truck. Across the road back in there, I see a trailer and awning. Even as we walk up the road there is a camper in the lone turnoff.
After returning to camp, another big rig pulls in. There is now no campsite nudity. We’re in kilt and sundress, itching to get into the hills, but it is time for breakfast.
While DF is prepping the meal, I check on the cement bunker of a toilet. It has thick concrete walls and a steel door. In a natural disaster, this is where to run and hide. It will be the last thing standing. The inside is clean and feels empty and only functional, but I quickly discover a charm in here. The construction leaves a shower stall’s sound effect. It all echoes and resonates. With the sound trapped inside these walls, I breathe a long OM, then, “Om Gum.” Then for some compulsive reason, like, “It’s New Mexico,” the silliness of “Oh Fair New Mexico” the state song, is belted out. The echo of my best deep opera voice thunders back at me.
I figure this will give DF a smirk, but those thick walls keep my secret! I continue to snap photos in the morning light.
As we sit in our folding chairs eating breakfast out of bowls and imbibing nature, a rather rotund guy in a camo painted four person quad pulls up after his visit to the restrooms. We have to wonder what he wants. I double check my kilt, “nope.”
He has decided to greet us. The population mystery is solved when he tells us that it is deer hunting season. He has a couple of bows on his rig. He is hunting for information and clues as to where the deer are. Well, they certainly aren’t around here. It becomes evident that they are not anywhere for miles. There are multiple loud trucks and quads cruising by. Too many for us and so then, too many for the wildlife.
They are out in groups, probably in teams working with the same game permit. A truck with four soldier looking guys in camo uniforms drives by. They look like military. Their four arms rise in unison to wave.
Three, or four other military style rigs cruise by, each with three of four hunters. They are all friendly and waving. They seem to be just cruising up and down the dirt road, looking to shoot some animal without standing up.
Eventually, I see that we are surrounded by hunters. These people wouldn’t be here except for that common interest. Subtract that and the normal is quite quiet in these hills and this camping area. I had it figured correct, just the wrong day.
We leave walking, just before noon. This is a rest day with a hike and there is no hurry. The temp is in the 70F’s. We call it great! I just take a kilt to get away by the other camps and DF a sundress. We take off briskly, but soon must stop to gather flowers in our lenses.
Before the turnoff, I roll my kilt up and place it under the shoulder strap of my water bottle. I have no concerns walking nude down the road. The kilt will easily drop and wrap around my waist again, besides I can hear anyone of these hunters coming at a distance. I feel for DF, who can’t change garb quickly.
We find a caterpillar crossing the road. I think to help it to safety, with all of the trucks rushing through and the dust. Maybe it is watching with 100 sensors, catching vibrations in the road.
This is a pleasant walk through the forest.
We get off of the road, go up a berm and down into a muddy rut at the entrance to the 4×4 trail. At a hundred yards in, DF stops to pull off her coverings. We are relieved that this will be the last of the clothing for a while.
Sometimes, we just go with no concern for time, or direction. We follow the plan that is no plan. We’ll follow our noses.
The rains present us with an abundance of plant life.
Blooms, mostly small flowers that wriggle in the wind, are found along the trail. They are hard to photograph. Their color is very luminous, but their jiggle creates a blur.
There are signs indicating that there has been a fire here, but it is recovering well.
I spot a huge stump, or outhouse, or something, up ahead. It has us guessing, until we are right upon it. It is a kind of barrel. DF looks over the top and grabs her nose.
A mature tree grows out of a long gone pine tree’s stump.
I find a small trail forking off to the right and leading up the hill. There’s a sign up there, telling me something. I have to explore out of curiosity, but there are no markings found.
The mystery trail leads further, until I’m standing at an old mine shaft. It has a chain-link fence around it for safety.
From where I am I can see no bottom. A foot slip around the edge could be a disaster.
We begin to piece together clues. The local rubble is associated with copper, colorful rock and some bits of criscola. Its turquoise coloration stands out in the orange background. We find a pair of concrete anchors for an elevator, nearby.
Deciding to walk straight uphill from here to get back on track, we see several building pads. It must have been an exploration; otherwise there would be a barren open pit mine instead of forest around us.
Our plan is to gain elevation to see the mountains in the distance. We would like to get on top and look out across the flatlands to the town of Corona, which is likely nearby.
Up top, the other side presents us with a view, but it is of more of these hills in the Mountain Aire section of the Cibola National Forest.
On the other side of the valley, there are strips of trees in a zig zag. They were spared in the bizarre patterns of flame during that fire years ago. The rest is green and grassy looking.
We try for another higher knoll, for the grander vista, but there is only more hillside. We debate continuing, but in the end, keep on trudging.
Up here to the south and the west, there is a huge New Mexico expanse with a thin population.
The vista continues to grow and entertain as we climb. The highway that we arrived on can now be seen far to the south.
Getting higher, there is a lone tree in the distance on a high ridge. Maybe up there we can see out east to Corona. The terrain is a gentle slope and the brush is still thin from fire and cattle grazing. At a whim, we decide to go to the tree.
One thing leads to another in increments. Curiosity brings a new goal. There is a curious rock formation and we find ourselves sitting on it after another stretch.
Then, another ridge, and we find a beautiful dead tree.
Its white carcass contrasts with dark shadowy charcoal markings.
Finally, the view of Corona has lost meaning and we instead feast on the other directions. We rest amongst the grass and flowers, as they are blown by a gentle breeze.
We are alone, naked and free, up here.
Wandering back, we’re guided by one familiar ridge, or landmark tree to the next.
We stumble upon other mining excavations from prospectors. I think of the only wealth found was this wonderful place and the quality of the breath of fresh air.
It is often a rough walk, with broken sharp rocks, dead trees and blackened logs. We are vigilant, looking down for mines and cow paddies, or prickly burrs.
In amongst this we find small treasures, a plant, flower, a stone, or small natural gift to admire.
Like the hills themselves, we are warmed in our bare exposure to the sun and penetrated by the gentle breeze, as it drifts across.
One mushroom on high and in the sun, lives by itself.
At 4pm I am sitting here at the picnic table writing. A group of medium sized birds flock in. We listen to rumble and flutter of feathers on wind, as their flight takes them to the nearby trees. It is like a murmuration, them in mass, with blue sky and a crescent moon behind them.
Early to bed, early to rise.
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