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ďReturn to serenityĒ
I arrive at the bottom of the mountain in a small parking lot designated for hikers. There are a few main trails, and the ones less traveled. As a younger me I made my own trail and verily only recall the beginning. A small, but immovable boulder marks the departure of the problems of everyday life, and the arrival of serenity. With all the necessary supplies, and provisions I set out up the trail. The climb will take me to a small inlet that leads to a cliff on the western most range of the Superstition Mountains.


The mountain looms like an impenetrable fortress begging to be conquered. A small lizard scurries to the safety of a nearby hole, as a walk by. The sun is in the middle of the eastern sky, and the air is warming, in a few hours it will be too hot even for the reptiles. I pass into the shadow of the first peak, the air cools, and a short breeze from the desert warms me. The incline is getting steep, and a few loose rocks cause me to stumble a little. A climb I made many times in my youth is beginning to take its toll on my now older muscles.


The straps of the pack dig deep in my shoulders, as I boost myself onto the next ledge for footing. I take a peek back to survey the trail, and Iím pleased to see the ground Iíve covered. A small sense of accomplishment beams through a smile, but the climb is not over yet, and I have much ground to cover in limited time. I look up and steady my legs, grab the next hold, and continue on my way.


The ground levels enough to warrant a break, and I lower my pack under the shade of a large bush. A bottle of water is a welcome sight, and the water is still cool even in the growing heat of the day. A quiet rattle makes me freeze in mid gulp, and I almost choke as water is coughed up. I turn my head ever so slowly to meet the cold stare of a Western Diamondback rattlesnake, which also happens to be seeking the shade of this lone shrub. The serpents tongue flicks the air in an attempt to taste the intruder. Instead of fear he senses a sort of elation. I was hoping to see some wildlife, but never expected to be this close. As slow as I can, my pack is unzipped, and I remove my drawing pad along with a short mechanical pencil. The snake recoils slowly and lays its head on its body in a pose that will make an ominous sketch to say the least. A short but detailed outline is put on paper, and I know I donít want to stay too long. I replace my pad, and water in slow deliberate movements in order to not arouse the snakeís rattler again. Remaining calm I lift myself under my pack, making sure not to be too quick about things, I step back toward the trail, and say my final good-byeís to my most venomous new friend.
The hot wind feels as though it burns my skin, and I feel the desert sun on the back of my neck. I rise over a peak and realize my journey is almost complete. Another ridge or two and I will be at the cliff of Iron Flats. Itís the hottest time of the day and the sweat from my brow trickles onto my lips, and the salty liquid cools me as a gentle breeze stirs the fresh air. My clothes are sticky, and smell of melting sweat. I hoist myself over the final rocks that reveal a secret spot I havenít seen in what seems like ages.
The view from the top of the Superstition Mountains is clear on this mid summer day. As I look off into the distance all I see is the calm of an untouched part of the world. A hawk floats languidly in the sky in search of the next meal, and breaks the silence of moment with a cry, before it perches on a far off tree. The sky is blue and clear only the reflection of a cloud looms in the distance. A dark brown is the only contrast, and the foreboding mountain is but a vast stepping stone under my feet. Shaped by time the rocks are coarse and dry under my hands, and I sit on a flat rock near the edge of the cliff on the western portion of the mountain.


The sun is at in the middle of the western sky when I reach the top, and I set up a small camp under a Palo Verde tree. Reflection of life leads me to early evening, and as I gaze at the pink overtaking the sky it showers me with a hue that rivals imagination. From my back pack I pull my instrument of creation, a maroon sketch pad and my trusty pencil set. The mountains in the distance begin to swallow the sun, as if devouring the very life force of the earth. I begin to draw. The distant scene, the desolate unforgiving sands, the few creatures and plants that call this place their home, all remind me of natureís natural selection, and a little of my own life. The light fades, and the sky is once again transformed into myriad of colors that are unable to be captured on a brush, or in a few pencil strokes. The very wind tells a tale of timeless existence in its subtle reminder that the desert cools considerably at night.


As I retire into my meager encampment and initiate the sparks for a small fire to keep the coyotes away, I notice a tarantula creeping along a knee high rock in front of me. A little startled I decide to leave this one alone and just hope he doesnít decide to kick me out of his spot. With a small fire to keep me company, and howl in the distance, the moonlight reminds me once again why I need this place if even in my dreams. Itís not the nostalgia I yearn; itís the freedom that is accompanied by exhilaration I desire. Man has few abilities more precious than that of reflection, and contemplation. Once in a while I just have to take a step out of normalcy, and return to serenity.


------
"Every man dies; not every man really lives."
-Braveheart-



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by trifiction





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