SELECTION OF REVIEWS:
"paints a revealing picture of some of the people, places and wildlife
that make up the desert state..... By the end he had me engrossed, and
I didn't want the journey to end". Andrew Terrill. TGO.
SELECTION FROM CROSSING
When I set off early the next morning I had
just a pint of water left.
Above me rose 6,612foot Buckhorn Mountain. In theory the trail went
over the summit. In reality the trail had ceased to exist except for
small, infuriating, overgrown traces that quickly disappeared. The
climb was a desperately hot sweaty scrabble up steep, loose ground and
through sharp spiny undergrowth that scratched my legs and tore at my
clothes. It took one and a half hours and a great deal of water loss. I
reached the summit sweat-soaked and very thirsty. Trickles of blood ran
down my arms and legs. My mood was one of aggravation and worry. I
cursed the bush and the mountain. Damn the thorns. Damn the rocks.
Bloody awkward things. What the hell was I doing here anyway? And where
was I going to find any water on this godforsaken mountain?
Suddenly the negative feelings were swept
away in a rush of
wings. A magnificent bald eagle, its white head shining in the
sunlight, drifted over the ridge just fifty feet away and landed on a
dead tree. I felt transformed. As I thrashed my way uphill I'd
forgotten why I was here and what I was doing. I just wanted the climb
to be over. The eagle took me out of myself, out o my self-pity and
anger, and I once again saw the magic of the world around me. Why worry
about being a bit thirsty? Why care about aching limbs, the sweat and
blood running down my legs, the many miles to water? To be here high on
a mountain ridge watching a glorious eagle soar past was what it was
all about. The effort, the pain required to get here heightened the
experience. I looked around. Tremendous views spread out on every side.
I had that on-top-ofthe-world feeling common to mountaineers, whether
they hike up a trail or climb steep ice cliffs. A burst of adrenaline
and elation stripped away my worries.
From the summit the remnants of the trail
were easier to follow
as it ran along Buckhorn Ridge toward the impressive, steep, rocky east
face of Four Peaks Mountain. Although the ridge is mostly above six
thousand feet the four great rock pyramids of the mountain still looked
massive as they rose to 7,657 feet on Brown's Peak, the northernmost
and highest summit. The mountain, protected in the Four Peaks
Wilderness Area, lies at the southern end of the Mazatzal Mountains,
which I would traverse over the next five days. This wilderness is
supposed to have the densest population of black bears in Arizona,
though I saw no signs of them.
Four Peaks Mountain dominated the view,
drawing me on along the
ridge toward its huge buttresses and deep gullies. To the south the
Superstitions were smaller now, slowly fading away in distance and
time, already part of my past. To the west, the organized, straight
lines on the edge of Phoenix could be seen, far below and far
away-rigid, regimented, another world.