Winter was knocking on the door in late October. I knew that my opportunities to camp on the Rim before the snow flies were diminishing. Over the past few weeks as I have been exploring the Mogollon Rim area, one particular spot called to my soul. An outcropping of stones that jutted outward over the forest. There were a few sweet camping spots here, but they were always occupied, like prime real estate.
I leave the house at 4:30 a.m. hoping that with a combination of an early arrival and the cold temperatures that I might be able to secure one of these sacred spots.
The morning sun is still hidden behind clouds as I turn the bend and see the stones at 7:30 a.m.
No one else is here.
I excitedly park the truck and immediately work on setting up camp. Within minutes another car pulls up and a couple gets out. They ask if they can just get some pictures of the area. I don’t mind, and continue pitching the tent and setting up the camp stove and hammock. They are gone within a few minutes.
It’s another one of those times on earth of twenty fours full of near perfect light and clouds. A time lapse fanatics dream. I can feel Mother Nature laboring to birth our first snowfall, and perhaps it will be here by morning. I have extra blankets and whiskey for warmth.
I rock back and forth in the hammock, napping for a spell, then open a book, then back to napping. Being cut off from the world out here stretches out time like a baker rolling dough with a wooden pin.
Birds become used to my presence, and sing in the ponderosa pines above me. The elk shuffle in the oak brush just beyond my gaze, but their bugling call reverberates along the Rim in haunting fashion. I precariously walk along the stones edge, peering down into the abyss of Nature.
A quick but stunning sunset lights my spirit within, but then the cold of the night dampers that good feeling. I flip the switch on my lantern and prepare for the cold night ahead of me.
The pains and aches of normal life back home all but disappear when I am out here. I wake with no real back pain, just normal stiffness. It is too cold to make coffee, so I just dress in additional layers and ready myself for the sunrise. Only one layer of socks though so I can feel the energy of the earth in the bare stones that I walk across as I go out to the Mogollons edge.
The past few weeks have all culminated into this moment right here. The universe is trying to tell me something, and I promise I am trying to listen, but I’m stubborn. Luckily, Mother Nature is patient with me so far, but I think I’m starting to get the message.
…or at least a piece of it.