Exit Aravaipa

Dazed and confused. Lost. Scared. The rain starts to fall, lightly at first but I knew what would be coming. I take in a deep breath, then exhale slowly.

Everything looks strangely new, as if I was going down a different path than what I had previously taken. The morning was filled with optimism and color, but now everything was starkly black and white. The river that felt cool to my skin earlier was now a treacherous torrent in which I kept slipping and falling.

The water rises with each step I take, becoming waist deep. The rain falls harder now, making it near impossible to see more than a few feet in front of me. I decide to leave the river and get on somewhat higher ground, giving me a greater chance of survival if a flash flood comes my way.

The tall brown grasses entangle my feet, increasing my anxiety as I get trapped underfoot. Easy prey for a number of predators that call this place home. Shivering, I start to run, but trip and fall. An intense pain shoots up my left flank and back, crippling me. I have no idea how far I’ve come, let alone how much further I need to go. The battery on my phone just died, and I feel I’m following suit. The rains fall even harder now.

Prickly cacti and thorn bushes rip at my skin, leaving long gashes on my arms and legs. The blood mixes in with the rain and washes away into the black. I see a fence line and in the far distance a homestead on a large farm property. I realize that I have somehow overshot the exit to Aravaipa Canyon.

Forced to trespass, I squeeze through the barbed wire fence, hoping that the property owners don’t come outside with a shotgun. I see no one though. I climb another fence, pass the homestead, and then find the dirt canyon road. I breathe a sigh of relief, then starting walking back up the canyon. After a couple of miles, I finally see the trailhead parking lot.

Knowing that I am finally safe, my body lets me know that it is hurting. Intense pain radiating from my left side, making mere walking and breathing almost impossible. I hobble to my truck, barely able to pull myself up into the driver’s seat.

My casita is only down the road a spell, and I try to fein optimism that once I get food and drink all will be fine.

I come to a bridge crossing and see a rockslide at the other end from the monsoon that fell upon the area. I try to move some of the rocks by hand, but my pain doesn’t agree. I slowly put the truck into four wheel drive and finally make it over the slide.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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