Swagazine Six: SWAGALLERY. Artwork by Island Girl.

Rocky Ridge Trail
[Rocky Ridge Trail, Lion Springs Canyon]
Lion Springs Canyon
It was a hike in the back country with another female friend and my dog "Sky".

The more commonly named trail is Rocky Ridge Trail which leads to Painted Rock camp. It started out as a challenge to confront a massive longhorn/Brahma mama cow with sharp horns and a nasty temper and her girl friends. They bred these cows with massive bulk and horns for self protection from the mountain lions and black bears that predominate in this canyon area. With a light pack and plenty of water (four bottles) that Sky carried, we huffed it at 9:30 A.M. on a seven mile hike towards the Painted Rock camp.

The trail was a single-file trail maintained by pack horse, so we had to step over horse and cow paddies till we passed the range area. At the two mile marker we were into the forest area and the trail widened to two feet. In some places where it crossed the stream it took some time to pick up the trail again -- the grazed and cropped grasses left no sign of clear trails anywhere for about five to ten yards. As the stream narrowed and the trail continued winding in the canyon, we couldn't help feeling the spooky nature of all this quiet.

Sky spooked some quail out of the bushes a few yards ahead of us and the thunderous air sound of the wings lifting these birds made us jump in such a fright that we had to stop walking to breathe for oxygen from the laughter. Two miles later we came to the dreaded two-and-a-half mile stretch of switchbacks into the raw power of the wild country. Experiencing this wilderness in its spring time mood and seeing its fruitfulness made us glad for the gifts of the bounty that filled this well-endowed canyon. It made us appreciate this time of season. Plenty for all as we noticed plump rabbits heaving and bounding off the trail shrubbery as we were but a few yards of approaching them.

Quietly we hiked until the crossing of a very large racerback made Debi leap with such a fright. She insisted that Sky lead as she followed, making noise and hitting her stick on rocks to notify rattlers of our approach, and anything else that might have had a notion to startle us.

There was a subtle challenge that made us go beyond the surface, to experience this wilderness in depth and complexity, a beauty that wasn't apparent at first glance. A flow of wind blew the meadows on our feet at an elevation of forty-six hundred feet on the rolling grass-covered potreros. There were flowers I had not known: golden day bloomers, cream puffs, tipsy tidy, red maidens, potreros of color after color, then mixing with lupines and Indian paintbrush flames and the more scarce owls clover, blazing with its bright fuchsia and fanned by the gentle blowing winds.

Ahh, the odor of air so heavy with the breath of these flowers. I cried inside for the land, this wilderness; I wanted to possess the rocks and the clouds for my wilderness -- for my spirit, for me to live, for my breath, for these colors in my body -- and then to die, peaceful, solitude, love, death then for myself. This is life as I know it to be for me; this is how I show my god that I adore what was made; it was made for me and only for me, a gift to see this beauty. The life that lives there is so precious. I cried, so happy there right at that moment. Nothing, nothing else mattered right then.

The night before in a dream, I was flying. I recognized nothing; I did not know the flower names, the land was unfamiliar, and I was comfortable while flying over this landscape of mounds of rock and sandstone formations. That day I knew that this was the area I flew over, I knew the names of the flowers, a young girl named them all for me, whispered softly the delicate petals descriptions for me to paint; the owls face in the clover, clean edges of the tidy tips, miners golden flowers. These worlds came from the colors that I had seen.

I don't speak of these beautiful things naturally, I can only paint them, but that day my blood was filled with the spirit. The spirit of places that I have been and places I have yet to travel... and I will always be somewhat frightened. Because I fear that I may have been there, more than once before. I see these places in my paintings before I have even traveled to them and this fills me with the color high that my spirit wants to possess.

Fear is filling into some of the places from where I am totally drained. I don't think I feel certain things anymore. Things that are making other people scared of me, things that make me stay away from other people. I don't want to need other people anymore; it drains me and I want to keep these colors all to myself.

Unbelievable, breathtaking, scary, hairy; air full of spirits, lions, black bears, six- and eight-pointer white tail deer, rabbits, lizards, horned toads. I could go on and on, and on. It was wonderful.

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