Time to get down in the dirt, as some like to say. Camping in January in the Sonoran desert. Most creatures are still deep within their burrows waiting for warmer temperatures to arrive, and the ones that stay topside during these cooler times are the ones you hope to see.
The skies are full of high cumulus clouds, floating in a blue sea. It’s my most favorite type of day in the desert, perfect to pitch a tent at Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
I arrive to the Visitor’s center to get checked in, and find out that tours for the actual cave are closed for singles at this time, another effect of the pandemic. I make a mental note to come back later to see Colossal cave itself, but this weekend I’ll spending my time hiking, biking, and just surviving in the wilderness. I leave the visitor’s center and travel down the unmaintained road to my camping area.
The area is completely empty of other campers, creating an eerie aura of loneliness. I shake it off and focus on setting up my camp. The tent goes up quickly, but with a fire ban in effect I can’t enjoy sitting in a camp chair listening to the soothing sounds of a crackling fire. I head on out to the trails that weave through the park.
Sounds of birds that have migrated here from colder climates fill the air with their songs. Epic vistas and mountain ranges dot the landscape. I search for Coati’s that call this area home, as well as looking for bobcats up in the Saguaro’s. I find neither this time around.
The air becomes more electric as the day goes on. I can feel that something wicked this way comes, in the form of a storm of sorts. I have no cell service though so I can’t check the forecast. Just like the old timers, I have to go with my gut and intuition.
Time can become your enemy, filling ones head with maddening thoughts. I protect myself with my masks, and try to create artwork in the stillness of my solo life.
Combined with a sip of whiskey, I settle back into my tent as evening rolls on in. I flip through the pages of my book as the sunset lights up the sky. The time lapses that I’m creating could be some of the best ones yet, although I have that optimism about each one that I shoot.
Movement is caught out of the corner of my eye. I put the book down and quietly peer out my tent and see a creature bumbling past the tent. A Coatimundi! It is much larger than I thought it would be, almost as big as a bear cub, but with a bushy, long tail and curious eyes as it makes its way through my camp and then disappears back into the desert.
Spotting wildlife always relaxes me, and I settle back down into my tent, pull up the zipper on my sleeping bag and snuggle in tightly, as I think snow may be here in the morning.