Silver City, NM.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Another clear crisp morning, another early walk with Max. After breakfast and a quick wash-up, I gathered water, snacks, sweater, and dog to head out for the Gila National Monument. It’s only 44 miles from Silver City, so I was thinking no more than an hour’s drive… Wrong! It’s a two hour drive due to the fact we were on another mountain switchback road.
I won’t bore you with the details of yet one more beautiful-but-slow drive through another southwestern mountain pass. It was beautiful, though. ’Nuff said.
We DID drive over the Continental Divide twice today – just about 6 miles outside Silver City…
After driving for two hours, I learned that Max could NOT go on the trail to the cliff dwellings. There are free kennels at the entrance to the trailhead, but as they say, “You get what you pay for…” and I wasn’t willing to leave him in a wire cage for an hour and a half while I hiked up and back.
So, we headed back down the road, stopping at Little Scorpion Campground to take in a small cliff dwelling ruin, and some ancient petroglyphs – on advice of Nell, the ranger on duty at the trailhead.
I’m always moved by these ancient marks. Rufus and I saw Newspaper Rock in southern Utah many years ago, and were both moved to tears. That particular rock is covered with hundreds of marks from handprints to paintings of horse and other animals, hunting scenes, etc. I don’t imagine that the people who left these marks had any sense of the impact they would have on people hundreds of years later. However, the urge to “leave a mark” is strong – maybe more so with artists, maybe not.
For myself, I know that I sometimes look at the paintings I’ve made (and I still have many surrounding me at home) and hope that they will “live on” after I am gone – to provide someone with solace, or joy, or a deeper sense of something greater than the day-to-day existence we all experience.
I create because I must. But these ancients? Why did they leave their mark? To say, “I was here.”? Or to leave some other (deeper) message?? Or just to make a mark because they could? We’ll never know that answer…
The nicest part of this little walk was that there was not another person on the trail or at either the petroglyphs or the ruins of the dwelling.
On the way up to Gila Monument, we stopped at Copperas Creek Vista Point to take in the view…
Tonight, so far from my home, family, and friends, I feel a sense of melancholy in the residual emotions of this interaction with those anonymous ancients. Many weeks ago – before I had even gone halfway as far as I am today – I expressed the feeling that I have been out here forever. That there is no home, there is only this – here and now.
Tonight, I feel that even stronger. I feel as if I have always been on the road, that I have no home but the one I make each night wherever we stop. Yet, a part of me feels that connection to my friends, my family, and my home on an island way back there off the rocky coast of Maine.
Does it really exist? Or is it just a dream – a figment of imagination? And if it’s a dream, can I go back to it? Can I fall into that trance state that takes us to such magical places as we could never visit in our waking hours?
I’m grateful for my young companion. Without him, this self-imposed exile might have turned sour long ago. He lifts my spirits with his sweet nature, his beautiful, gentle spirit, and his ever-willing desire to do whatever I ask, and to go wherever I say. But mostly, his physical presence is a great comfort.