Nacapule

While we were in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico in November of 2016 one of my hiking adventures took me to Nacapule Canyon. I had a borrowed car, and I drove myself out there one morning from our hotel.Sign

Nacapule is a park, and there was some kind of entrance fee. I use pesos while in Mexico, so by buying money at  the real exchange rate versus the tourist rate, and paying cash, things are really cheap by our standards in this area. Not like Cabo or Cancun.

Anyway, off I went, up a rocky canyon. The trail is vague to non-existent in places. The views are spectacular. Mostly rock and bigger rock.Nacapule Sign

This sign is pretty ominous, don’t you think? I saw it near the beginning, and I showed it to my wife later, just to scare her. It is really in regard to the zip lines that criss-cross the canyon near the trail head, but they are kind of appropriate to the whole experience. When I came out later, there was a busload of teen age people enjoying the zip line experience.

After some time working up through an at this time dry stream bed, I came to this. That is about twelve or fifteen feet of smooth rock. Hee hee. Good times.

Nacapule ladder

Above that, the trail is really a series of rock ledges. I really can’t even describe the amazing beauty of this place. I only saw a small part of it. Being alone, and seeing no other people around, discretion became the better part of valor, or however that saying goes, and I did not venture as far or  as wide as I really wanted to.

Nacapule

My car is parked out there in the flat area past the notch. Also, let me say, if a thunderstorm came while you were in here, you might well be screwed.Nacapule Cliff

I really, really want to go to this place again some day, but it is unlikely that will ever happen. So let me add my voice to the resounding cacophony we have all heard all of our lives, and likely ignored, or pushed to the side because it interferes with our “lives”: Make the most of every day, and every opportunity. You may never pass this way again. It is true. Curses, it is true.

Viva Nacapule!

 

 

Tetakawi

In early November of 2016 we had the privilege of visiting a place in Mexico called San Carlos, in the state of Sonora. We stayed at the San Carlos Beach Club on The Sea of Cortez. I cannot even begin to describe the beauty of this area, or the peaceful detachment from “the world” that we enjoyed while there. I will describe one of the hikes that I took while there. Of course, I was up with the sun everyday, and got in a few miles first thing, savoring the smell of the desert at sunrise.

Beach Club

This is the view from our room. We enjoyed seeing Orcas and Porpoises right out side of our window, especially at night. Pelicans are pretty interesting to watch as well. I kayaked around that point with friends one day, in 2′ seas, which was a little scary.marines

These guys were at our hotel one afternoon, which frightened my wife a little. To get to San Carlos, you can drive from Arizona, which I wouldn’t recommend right now. But we met people who do it. We flew to Hermosillo, and a friend picked us up and drove us the 90 miles to San Carlos. We took a cab back when we departed, which was interesting. If you have never driven in Mexico, you are in for a treat.

Near our hotel was Tetakawi. There are  a couple of paths you can take here. I chose the “front”, and set off to see the saddle between the two rock summits. Scaling those is more of a climbing effort, and not recommended for amateurs or by your self.Tetakawi Trail Head

The trail is rock, big rocks, dirt, litter,  and cacti. I love the desert, so the smells and the views were just amazing to me. This was just a couple of hours up and back, as I remember.Tetakawi View

Our hotel is over there near the beach, and I am parked on that road to the right. Amazing.

I had a  borrowed car and drove myself while on this trip, which is something I have never done in Mexico. San Carlos is pretty quiet, not much traffic, so no big deal really.

We enjoyed local food and music most nights. The sunset from the Soggy Peso is one of the local highlights. On US Election eve, we went to J.J.’s Tacos. He makes the best tacos de camarones on earth. The beer is very cold. Heaven. JJ also sells crap, really tacky tourista items, that he seems to think are funny. He is also a very warm and welcoming host. I wish I could go there everyday. As the evening went on, we all noticed that we were clandestinely checking our phones for the US election results. Even though we all had pledged not to.JJs

We eventually went back to our friends home, above the bay, and enjoyed a cigar, a beer, the night sounds of the ocean, and watched the results on a television internet feed from Tuscon.

I hold this hike, and this trip altogether, as one of the best weeks of my life. Ever. I would give anything to be at J.J.’s right now. Or hiking Tetakawi.

Leota South

Saturday I set out on the Knobstone Escarpment trail for the first time since January. It was a really beautiful blue sky day, although below freezing by a little when I set out.

I started at the Leota Trailhead, heading south toward my goal of mile 20.5 +/- where I had turned back in January. The map makes this section look pretty difficult. The beginning was exactly that. Leave the parking lot, walk down a steep hill to a road. Walk down the road to a hole in the guard rail. Walk down a steep hill to a creek. Now walk right back up another hill.

Once on top of this ridge, the trail seems to follow it for about one and one half miles. Then you go down hill slowly to a beautiful stream. The crossing is a little tricky, but this is a great spot. Then up a steep hill via a narrow switchback. Again seemingly flat to slightly down hill, into another beautiful stream bed. Then I just followed this stream to my goal. 4.75 miles, 2 hours. Nice.

Sign Saturday

Here I took a seat and had a snack. Along came a hiking man. Interesting. He started at Deem Lake the day before. After my snack, I started my return. In no real hurry, I enjoyed my surroundings, the birds, deer, a turkey that scared the poop out of me, and the geology. Then I saw two more peeps, poking through the rocks by the stream. Once back past mile 22, I started up what had seemed like a gradual slope coming down. Up that hill, down the switchbacks, across the stream, and up the next “gradual” slope. I encountered a fourth hiker here, equaling my total of persons seen on the trail from the start, in one day.

Around now I started to realize that for most of the outbound leg I had been slowly descending, in terms of general elevation. So the return leg was an overall ascension  of the same trail. With the 9th pit of misery yet to cross before I was done. I was moving really slow by this time. My knees started to hurt, and the last 1.5 miles were true agony. A casual observer, watching me scale the valley up to the guardrail, up the road, across it, and up the really steep stairs/roots of the last 100 yards, would have wondered why that fat old man was even out here trying this.

This fat, old man was wondering the same thing.

Leota

Leota El

Stories from a Boy in Iowa

If you follow me here, you already know that I published a Kindle E Book a few months ago. It was a real thrill to see two people beside my self and my wife purchase this little gem for $1.09. I actually got a deposit from Amazon last month for the 4 copies sold in December. Kind of fun.

But today I noticed that someone purchased a copy last week. Thank you so much. It is truly an honor and a little thrill for me when that happens.

Writing here is something that I originally told myself I was doing just for me, and I didn’t care if anyone else read it. It is safe to say that that is total BS. If no one reads this, then I don’t care if I do it. That is the truth.

So thank you, whoever you are, for buying my little book. And thank all of you that do read me. I promise there will be more great adventures to come!

 

Stories From a Boy in Iowa. No e-reader is complete with out it.

Indian Chief

Originally published last November I think. Since my life has been so mundane lately, I am offering reruns for your amusement.

I went to Blackhurst Elementary School. In the 4th grade we studied the American Indian culture. They are called Native Americans now. We had a tepee in our classroom, and all kinds of other props.  We did arm wrestling and leg wrestling and all kinds of stuff Indians allegedly did. We had an election to see who would be chief. There was a tie between myself and a kid named Mark. We had to Indian leg wrestle to determine who would be chief. No one ever beat me at that.

When I lay down on the floor Mark laid the same way. It doesn’t work that way. So I turned around so it would work, but I would use my left leg. He beat me. I was not chief.

He had a Dad and big brothers.

We built a fort out in the woods behind the school. It had a hatch you jumped through to get in. We pretended to kill Nazis around there, and we would go in there and look at naked girl magazines that someone stole from their Dad or something.

One time when that Mark kid jumped through the hatch, into the fort, he hit his chin on the wood. He almost bit his lower lip off. We all went to his house later to look at him through the picture window. He had a row of stitches where his teeth came through his lower lip.

After we moved to the little white house, I had an accident on my bike.

A girl down the street got a new bicycle, and she was out with her Dad trying it out. It was really big for her. I went riding by on my bike, and I was taunting her about something. She swerved and ran into me. I flew off of my bike and hit my head on the curb. It knocked me out. I think everyone else ran away, like kids do when something bad happens.

I woke up in some bushes in the neighbor’s yard. My Mom took me to the hospital. I had a big spot on my forehead, and one on the back of my hand where the skin was all torn open. The doctor said I had a concussion, and then sent me home.

The spot on my hand left a scar that lasted for many years. It is gone now. I don’t know why I didn’t have a scar on my head.

Someone gave me a slingshot for a birthday or some other occasion. It was a Wrist Rocket. The absolute best, most high tech slingshot of the day. I was out in the front yard with it.  A big kid, a teen ager, was walking by. I was shooting a rock at a bird or a phone pole or something. It went right into that kids back, between his shoulder blades. I just stood there. I didn’t run. I don’t know if I claimed it to be an accident. I don’t know if I said anything. He walked back and punched me right in the throat. Then he went on his way. I laid on the ground and cried.

We all had Sears fiberglass bows, and the 3 or 4 arrows they came with. Once we found a pizza box. We took turns shooting an arrow straight up. It would go really high, almost out of sight. Another kid would hold the pizza box out in front of him and try to make the arrow pass through it when it came back down.

That was fun.

 

Waiting for a bus

In the mid-eighties I had a friend named Paul. Paul was really into waterfowl hunting, especially the Canada Goose, and he introduced me to the sport.

Pauly played drums for a bar band around the Grand Rapids area. Bars closed at 2:00 AM then in Michigan. So one night after he played, we went to his house and loaded up our gear and the boat and headed for Portage Lake near Cimax Michigan.

The Michigan DNR had decided to open a nuisance goose season right before Labor Day. Michigan has a lot of lakes, cottages, and boats. It is something people do there. And Labor Day is a big end of the season Holiday weekend.

We arrived at the boat launch before dawn and motored out to a marshy area on one side of the lake, anticipating a lot of boat traffic that day. We got all set up, put out our decoys, and began to wait. The sun got higher and higher. The temperature got hotter and hotter. More and more boats came out onto the lake. But no geese came around.

By mid-day it was easily 85 degrees, so we stripped down to our underwear, and put camo paint all over ourselves. Remember, we have been up all night. And we really didn’t bring much food or water. But we waited anyway.

After noon a couple in a canoe came into the area. We could hear the female saying “Oh look at all of the geese” as they paddled right into our decoys. Then the light came on, and they stopped paddling. ” How ya’ doing”? Pauly says. The lady finally sees us, standing behind our camo net in our camo boat. In our underwear. Covered with camo paint. Holding shotguns.

“You’re not hunting are you”, says canoe lady.

“No ma’am, we are waiting for a bus”, says Pauly.

They paddled away briskly. We never saw any geese all of that day, until we were strapping the boat on the trailer at dusk. Then a big flight came in and landed right where we had been set up all day. Waiting for a bus.

I think it’s almost morning.

After some time, several years, my Mom married that boyfriend with the blue and white Mercury. He didn’t have that car anymore, or the fuzzy cat with the red eyes. We moved to Michigan, which is where they got married. They bought a house next to a school, and we started a new life. I went to 7th grade at Jackson Park Junior High School.

Ron jumped right into Michigan life. At that time, there was a new thing where the DNR had planted all of these salmon in the rivers. Now they went to Lake Michigan in the summer, and in the fall they returned up the rivers to spawn. The sport of the day was to get a big fat deep sea fishing rod and some giant treble hooks and go down and snag these fish.

We went downtown to the Sixth Street damn to watch this spectacle. As we leaned on a railing watching, the people would stand in the river in waders and cast their line out. Then they retrieved it very fast, with a strong jerk, to try and snag the fish. Spawning salmon don’t feed I guess, so you have to just embed a hook into them to catch them.

As we watched, a man near our side of the river stepped into a big hole along the river wall and fell. It was common to put a belt around your waist, in theory so that water would not fill your waders if you fell. This poor guy had done just that, and in doing so had trapped a large amount of air in his waders with himself. Trapped air floats in water, right? So down the river he went, upside down, legs in the air, man under water. He eventually came to a shallow spot and righted himself. Pretty funny for the rest of us. I’m guessing not so much for him.

We decided we needed to try this amazing new sport. So we bought rods and big hooks, and headed off to the Muskegon River. We neglected to buy waders, or at least I didn’t get any. How cold is the Muskegon River in October? Shoulder to shoulder, cast and jerk. I never caught one fish. But I saw a drunk guy go stumbling over the rocky bottom with his line all tangled, cursing like my Grandpa. That was funny too.

Ron also decided that we should join the legion of Michigan deer hunters. I wasn’t old enough yet to hunt, but I wanted to go along. We had a little pop up camper. Ron bought a rifle. We got our rubber insulated boots and giant socks. Clothing technology wasn’t then what it is now. It was like the more you wore the warmer you would be. But you actually got all sweaty and froze your ass off. We went out to sight in the rifle, by the side of a country road. Two things happened. One, resting the rifle on top of the Buick LeSabre, Ron shot the box of ammo in half. No idea why there wasn’t an explosion. Two, he put his eye to close to the scope and got a nasty cut from it when he fired the rifle. If you have ever made that mistake, its not really funny. But hey, we were just learning.

November 14th arrived, and off we went to the woods near Big Rapids. We set up our camp, gathered wood, all that stuff. I went out with my 20 gauge single shot to get a squirrel or something. Not sure. Later, I was standing under a tree near camp looking up at a squirrel’s nest in a tree. Ron decided that it would be funny to shoot his Winchester .32 Special over my head, into that nest. While I tried to dig for China in the forest floor, he laughed his ass off. Sheesh.

We sat around the fire after we ate, and eventually went to bed. We kept lighting the lantern and the stove to get warm in our little camper. It was really cold. Ron’s watch had stopped or something. It’s the early 70’s. No cell phone. No digital clock in the car. We pretended to sleep for hours and hours, occasionally discussing what time it must be. I am not sure how we  were going to know when to get up. You see, part of this ritual is stumbling through the woods way before dawn to get to your spot so the deer won’t know you are there. Because deer are stupid? And can’t hear? And don’t live in the same woods all year?

Eventually we decide, by looking out of the camper door, that the false dawn is arriving. So we are going to go into town to eat breakfast before we go to the woods. It has been a long night. We get in the car and drive to town, which happens to be toward the fuzzy light in the sky. We arrive at the Big Boy on M37 at exactly 10:30 PM. The false dawn was the lights of town. We had been in bed for about 2 hours. The food was good though.