Hiking in the Oven

It was hot today; well over 100F with little cloud cover.  I spend a lot of time outside under the Arizona sun, but today was a bit much even for me.  The heat saps your energy.  Your heart feels like it’s racing.  Your throat is parched again two breaths after a drink.  Every movement becomes slow and methodical.  Trails you normally sprint up seem like Everest.  Saja felt it too.  She didn’t want to move.  She dropped behind, sat in the shade of a Palo Verde, and refused to move.  I had to make her drink and rub water into her fur to cool her down.  All of this on a two hour hike.  Very unusual.  Normally, we can go all day.  Maybe it was the sun; maybe the valley walls were magnifying the heat; maybe we were dehydrated before we started.  Whatever the case, it goes to show that the Arizona desert is an inhospitable place; unrelenting and harsh even for those of us accustomed to its ways.

Nature shows no favorites and accepts no tribute.  She is hard, implacable, and unyielding, and you must understand her ways, prepare yourself, and read the signs that she gives you, or be ready to meet her terrible demands.  She does reward you though when an unseen coyote jumps up from beneath your feet, when the valley explodes with blooming cactus and ocotillo, when the setting sun lays fire to the valley floor, or when the pungent smell of rich dark earth or towering pines chase the last vestiges of asphalt and exhaust from your lungs.

Enjoy your cars and air conditioned living rooms.  For me, I’d rather be viewing God’s majestic canvas.  It’s out there in the dust, the swamps, and the forests, filled with incredible creatures and awesome sights all waiting to be discovered over the next rise.  Scorching heat gives way to a cool evening breeze; sweat and dirt yield to mountain pools; aching muscles melt under a canopy of a billion stars; and, as long as my legs shall carry me, I’ll be out there.

© 2009, The Desert Dog Journal. All rights reserved.

Filed Under: ArizonaDogs on the TrailEssaysOdds & Ends

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About the Author: Tucson, AZ Realtor & Investor. My true passions however are hiking and whisky (although generally not at the same time). If you have a question about any of these just drop me a line!

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