Spring will officially arrive on Monday March 20 at 10:29 a.m. UTC. Translated into Pacific time zone, that means we’ll welcome La Primavera tonight at 3:29 AM. Well, I am not planning to do any hikes at that hour, except perhaps in my dreams. So I headed out to the mountain right after noon today.
The first thing that struck me when I got up to a respectable height from which to observe the desert was how green everything was this year. “Scottsdale must have had a lot of rain this winter,” I surmised as I continued the climb.
By the way, you can see in the above panorama picture the famed Four Peaks Mountain which graces all Arizona license plates. It does exist. It is not just an artist’s creation. 🙂
DISCOVERING “STANDING STONES”
Then, for the first time in over three decades, these natural standing stones caught my eye. They were huge! Can you see me in this shot? I placed myself there to give you an idea of the enormous size of these boulders.
Perhaps it was last night’s dinner discussion Elizabeth and I had that led to the discovery of these Standing Stones. Both of us have been reading all the “Outlander” series books by Diane Gabaldon for a long time now. And last night we decided NOT to go to Scotland as we had been contemplating for our late spring to Europe. So maybe our Spirit guides applauded that decision by providing a set of natural Standing Stones within a few miles of our Scottsdale home.
Nearly two years ago, I even recorded the music DRUID DANCE – based on “In Hall of Mountain King” in which I used a video clip from the first Outlander movie.
Anyway, back to March 19, 2017 and my today’s Pinnacle Peak hike. On my way up, I made a mental note about these Standing Stones and vowed to try to find a trail that my lead to them on my return trip.
Take a good look at this first shot. Can you see me? I placed myself there to give you an idea how big these megaliths are.
A GOOD SAMARITAN DEED
As it turned out, I had climbed the Pinnacle Peak trail summit four times today. Twice for me, and twice for a stranger.
At Owl’s Nest, the rest point at the south end of the trail, which offers a good view of both Scottsdale and Phoenix “Valley of the Sun,” I met a group of people resting on a stone fence. A middle-aged man, two women and four teenagers. Obviously out-of-towners, judging by the whiteness/redness of their skin and their need to soak in more of the sun’s rays.
“You are smart to cover yourself like that,” the man, who looked like the British actor Colin Firth (Best Actor Oscar for “King’s Speech”, 2011), remarked looking at my hiking outfit.
I was covered head to toe. The only part of my body that was exposed to the sun were the tips of my fingers (I wore my biking half-gloves).
“Well, I live here,” I replied. “And we Arizonans have learned to respect the damage our sun can do, especially at noontime.”
The man just grunted in approval. Or lament that he had not done the same? Maybe he just muttered “smartypants” to himself?
Tuscan Sun Festival
On my way back to the trail summit from the south side, I passed the same group of people. They were all hugging the shade under a large rock which protruded from the mountain wall.
One of the two women, the heavier one, seem to be suffering from heat exhaustion. She was sitting on a rock panting heavily. The teenagers, probably her grandchildren, were standing around her looking worried.
“Colin Firth” just gave a disapproving look. “Smartypants II” he may have muttered.
As I reached the summit for a second time, I remembered seeing an alcove where other Good Samaritan hikers had brought jugs of water. They were ostensibly intended for the Pinnacle Peak park staff watering the new saplings.
“But in this case, a human needs it more,” I muttered to myself as I headed down toward that alcove.
I picked up a jug of water and started climbing back up toward the summit. And then down the other side of the mountain to where this group of tourists was resting under a big rock.
When they saw me again, for the third time in less than 20 minutes, their eyes widened in surprise.
“This water is intended for the plants,” I explained, setting the jug on the ground under the lady who was suffering from heat exhaustion. “So I would not drink it. But it will help you cool down if you pour it over your head.”
Everybody was now talking at the same time, expressing their gratitude. The lady who was in trouble said she was feeling quite good now. “My heart rate is almost back to normal,” she said pointing to her watch.
“Nonetheless,” I said and smiled. “You can still enjoy a desert shower.”
More expressions of gratitude. Even “Colin Firth” got off his perch (he was sitting on a rock, also in a shade), and gave me four-knucked high five with his left hand.
“Well done, man,” he said.
I noticed a wedding ring on his left hand as a responded in kind with my left. So who knows, maybe it was Colin Firth. Or his twin. I did not hang around to socialize.
“You’re welcome,” I said responding in kind with my left hand, as I continued climbing back up toward the summit, passing it the fourth time in a single hike today.
VISIT TO “STANDING STONES”
I was really excited to explore the desert and see if I can find a way to reach the newly discovered Standing Stones of Pinnacle Peak. Alas, my first effort failed. I did have good hiking shoes. But not good enough for a steep downward slope and the gravelly ground which felt like a slippery ski slope despite the 90F weather.
“I’ll have to come back with my Tom’s Thumb shoes,” I said to myself.
Tom’s Thumb is another slippery trail on the east side of Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountains. After having a few close calls slipping and sliding on my regular hiking boots, I bought a pair of baseball shoes with cleats specifically for that trail. They worked like a charm.
But before giving up entirely on my Spring Equinox Standing Stone adventure, I decided to explore another trail I noticed on my way back up. Bingo! It led me right to the Standing Stones.
Here’s a picture I took of them standing right under and also looking to the Pinnacle Peak on the right.
And now here’s a view of Pinnacle Peak from INSIDE the Standing Stones.
I then pulled out my flute and played Amazing Grace and El Condor Pasa standing in the shade of the giant megaliths. And I brought back a “kulla,” a sacred stone (quartz) I actually used to prop up my camera for this shot.
Don’t worry. Nothing untoward happened. I was not pulled back by a time machine into the 18th century, like the Claire Randall character in the Outlander series. Or else you would not be reading these lines.
Anyway, so now I have another new destination, a sort of my own private sacred place at the Pinnacle Peak park. Well, maybe not 100% private. Maybe I’ll bring Elizabeth with me next time. If she is brave enough to join me. Lest she be pulled back into the 18th century. 🙂