Mountains, Lions, and Research (Oh my)

I’m trying to go through years worth of crap in order to move and I keep coming across old photos that give me pause, wondering where the time goes. I will spare you the personal photos (set to the Green Day song “Good Riddance”) and stick to the ones that restarted my writing journey. It began with a longing — for mountains, feeling I was misplaced in New York, my father’s illness, my mother struggling to keep him alive, my oldest brother going through a divorce. My family felt like it was slowly crumbling at a distance. And while doctors and nurses save lives, art saves the soul.

Now, I always loved the Superstition Mountains, a spectacular pile of volcanic rubble 40 miles east of Phoenix. I sat in my kitchen, scanning websites for photos of them when a book idea came to me. Then I spent two long years writing badly, trying to make up for lost time in which I swore off writing. (Oh, writing, I can’t quit you.) I was unsure of what I was trying to say, unsure of my voice, plagued with self-doubt. Little did I know, we all begin here. It’s part of the deal. A way to weed out those that don’t have the stomach for it. Because, let’s face it, it can bring you to your knees until you smell the piss in the carpet. Well, I don’t really have piss in my carpet. Hell, I have hardwood floors. But you get my drift.

At first, I needed to do quite a bit of research for my book; it involves a hundred year old legend, gold mines, and prospectors. I already knew how to write authentically about cowboys, but prospectors were a whole different ball game, as well as, places in the Superstition Mountains, covering 160,000 acres of government owned wilderness.

My older brother Dan was going through a bit of a rough patch and told me he would be my guide in the mountains. He was hired immediately for various reasons. But mostly because he owns a gun and would not be afraid to use it. Of course, when I asked him what if he didn’t have time to pull his Colt 40 on a leaping mountain lion, he just said he could run faster than me. Not the most reassuring answer…

Together, we did a lot of hiking, a lot of talking, something neither of us were used to, as we’re busy with our own families. I’ll write about it someday. There is a lot to tell, because let’s face it — how often do you have a chance to spend time with your adult brother?

In the meantime, here are some photos of our journey.

The Superstitions © SSHicks
The Superstitions
© 2009 SSHicks

I took this off a dirt road to Rogers Canyon trailhead. It was a spectacular morning. Dan and I rose at 6:30 am to begin the day…and I’m not a morning person like him. We drove 1.5 hours to get to the trailhead, hiked 9 miles, and only encountered 1 person. Someone from the Forest Service that said he had already seen two rattlesnakes and to be careful. Yeah.

Windows of sky © SSHicks
Windows of sky
© 2009 SSHicks
Road to Rogers Canyon © SSHicks
Road to Rogers Canyon
© 2009 SSHicks

This was the road to Rogers Canyon. It was a BEAST to find, but somehow we managed. It wasn’t like we could ask anyone directions.

Four Peaks © SSHicks
Four Peaks
© 2010 SSHicks

Four Peaks is visible from Phoenix, but I took this off the side of the road on our way to Tortilla Flat. That’s Canyon Lake.

Hike to Weavers Needle © SSHicks
Hike to Weavers Needle © 2009 SSHicks

This is a view of Florence Junction in the distance. I love the jagged peaks off to the right.

Dan in the Supes © SSHicks
Dan in the Supes © 2009 SSHicks

My guide.

Mountain Lion Kill ©sshicks
A Deer: Mountain Lion Kill
© 2009 sshicks

Dan is an avid hiker, camper and hunter. While I don’t have the stomach for hunting (or guns), Dan can sense animals like no one I know. He found this carcass well off the beaten path by following “drag” marks. I thought he was crazy… To me, they just looked like a small skid in the dirt. Sure enough, he was right. He had a whole theory of how it went down… Maybe that’s his book because he kept trying to turn mine into a Louis L’amour novel.

Weavers Needle ©sshicks
Weavers Needle
© 2010 sshicks

Well, this should look familiar, as it is the banner of my site. Although it looks quite phallic and could invite a bad joke about have a pinnacle in your pants or are you just happy to see me… But it is central to my story. Weavers Needle is named after Pauline Weaver, a hunter and tracker from long ago.

Dan at Angel Springs Ruins ©sshicks
Dan at Angel Springs Ruins
© 2009 sshicks

Here’s Dan at Rogers Canyon Cliff Dwellings. They were built 600 years ago by the Salado people. You can’t tell, but here he’s telling me to “take the goddamn picture already” because I was having technological difficulties with my dying camera. He’s impatient with civilization (too many phonies) and sometimes fares better on ranches and wilderness.

Cliff Dwellings  ©sshicks
Cliff Dwellings
© 2009 sshicks
View from the Cliff Dwellings/Rogers Canyon ©sshicks
View from the Cliff Dwellings/Rogers Canyon
© 2009 sshicks
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