Last entry first.
June 18, Monday: North Mountain Park, inner basin. Crushing heat, 109 at 4 o’clock when I shoulder the backpack with fresh cool water from the fountain at the Visitors Center and head west on the dusty trail. Official high hit 112. Only reason I’m out here is to shoot photos of the saguaro fruit seen yesterday near sunset when it was five degrees less hot and I had Nebra’s company. I give myself a short leash. No more than 30 minutes. About a mile roundtrip. Though four other vehicles bake in the parking lot, I see no one along the basin trails. Who but a fool would venture out here? Ah, there they are. I see three hikers in the distance trudging up the paved trail to North Mountain summit. It is a bleak landscape already battered by heat, and summer hasn’t even arrived. Bleak and dry. A sign warns of “extreme” fire danger. A recent article in the Republic portrays Arizona’s forests as possibly vanishing to fire in another generation.
The bleakness numbs the mind for there is nothing much of visual interest out here. The little creosote leaves have traded green luster for gold, and the once dazzling ironwood trees with their pinkish flowers stand bedecked by drab brown seed pods. I find a few saguaros with red fruit just beginning to burst from once white flowers, and stop to fire away a few shots with my Canon. I stir up a jackrabbit as I approach. Can’t get back to the car soon enough. I may come out there again this summer but it will take something special like a night walk under a full moon.