Sunday, October 18, 2015

WEEKS 13 and 14—Still Plan to Hike the Arizona Trail in Spring 2016 (Oct. 5-17, 2015)

Still My Goal: Hike The Arizona Trail.  It is an 800+ mile recreation trail from Mexico to Utah that connects mountain ranges, canyons, deserts, forests, wilderness areas, historic sites, trail systems, points of interest, communities, and people.   (From:

  I am both overwhelmed and excited all at the same time
about this upcoming adventure.

It is difficult to stick to a training schedule, at least for me, when I am on the go and between places.  I guess I don’t have enough discipline to get my butt out of the van and hike or something.  I end up sitting too much.  So, as a result, I don’t have a training update and will just let you know what I’ve been doing these past two weeks.  Lots of photos.

First of all, I have finished a set of 10 sketches, out of which followers to this blog and my Facebook page are voting on the 8 they like best.  These 8 will be packaged in a set of notecards and sold for $25, money which will be used to help me outfit for the 820-mile hike across Arizona.  Trust me, it will take a few dollars to pull this one off.  You may use the donate button at top right of this blog, or at the bottom of this post.  See more details at the bottom of this post.  Click on image to see the sketches better.

notecard_package1 copy

These might not be the final 8 voted for by my followers, but here are 8 of the ten sketches.

Previous Training Update post.

Having time to kill while waiting for Quartzsite to cool down and my October pay date to arrive, I headed out to a spot south of Rye, AZ where I have camped before.  Found a few prehistoric Indian artifacts there before… and it’s a convenient location, not far off the highway.  Still at a higher altitude, so cooler than Quartzsite.


I have training as an archaeologist.  I know there are laws against disturbing archaeological sites, but in all my hiking in this area in years past and this year, I have never seen a sign identifying this as an archaeological site. 

But I do know the law:

Archeological resources, both sites and collections, are protected by law on federal and state lands. Understanding these laws is an important part of what you can do to help protect archeological resources. While federal law is consistently applied across the nation, state and local law differs from place to place. We strongly recommend that you contact your State Historic Preservation Officer and State Archeologist (sorry, you'll have to cut and paste this URL into your browser: to find out about laws concerning archeology for your area.


OK, I saw no signs that I was going onto Federal or State lands.  I found a few more artifacts, and some small pieces of chert and jasper. 


Pottery sherds, a button, some bullet shells…


… and some lithic fragments which might be waste flakes from the production of projectile points (arrowheads).


This road leads to a trailhead up in those mountains.  I decided to explore…  10/10, before heading in to town for water, to drop garbage, to swim, and to take a shower.   I decided to go to the end of the road I am boondocking on. It goes to a Trailhead.  I guess I went in about four miles. Road was very good to a point, but don't think you would want to be at the Trailhead when it rained hard... there were some deep ruts about 1/2 up.  But, there are many many places to pull off and boondock, even for Class A, and Class Cs to camp along the way. Great view looking to the north.


Old dead Century Plants with old seed pods/dried blooms from the past.  Looking northward.  I've never seen so many Century Plants all in one place. Funny, last weekend, the Forest Ranger asked if one I saw near Paulden, AZ was still standing. It was about 20' tall. I was confused by the question, as most that I have seen were still standing, but in this area I think the ground gets really saturated, and winds very strong, and it knocks them over.


On the way up I saw 3 Black Angus (one a bull), and on the way down saw a few more... he must be the Daddy of these two. The red one here is a cow, a young cow, with horns. Off to the right of the picture is another young red cow without horns. There were a few more head nearby.


This is a Pack Rat's nest.


I liked the pattern of bottom of this fallen Century Plant.

Back to the highway.


There are five sherds in this photo, in situ, can you see them all??? Could be more.

I pulled off the road short of where I was the past two days... to check out another spot. OK, what is the first think you do when you set up camp? Rake all the rocks away so you have a smooth surface for the tent or rug or for walking. We do that now and Indians did the same thing back then. Walking around I had come to circular bare spots that had no rocks, but then look out to the edge of the smooth area... rocks and bits of other things, including pottery sherds and interesting rocks. I walked around a bit hoping to find a point.

About the time my feet were getting sunburned, I spotted this... it is the broken tip of a projectile point (arrowhead). Whoopy.


The tip end of a very fine, very small bird point, about 1/2” long.

AND THEN, I found these…


I have no excuse.... I knew the law, even though this is the first time I saw these signs.  I knew it was too good to be true.  So I put all the “artifacts” back in the general area, even though they will have lost some provenience.  Darn.

Once I realized it was a recognized archaeological site, I began to notice other things.


At first there seems to be no rhyme or reason to these rocks, but after awhile, the eye of a trained archaeologist can see they were moved around by man, making them all “Artifacts.”  On left, These rocks from a circle and the center is pretty deep, with what appears to be a path gong out one side… right below my van.  It could have been a sweat lodge???? (see my van in the distance)

In the center of each of these circles or bare spots was a flat stone, probably for sitting on???  Very interesting, and strangely, gave me the willies – to think I might be standing in what was once someone’s home.


So, once I resolved the only things I could take away with me, were photos, I took a lot of photos.  Some kind of scat on left.  On the right, a shallow dip.   The only animal I know that digs a dish to capture rain water is the Desert Tortoise. There were two dips here.  There know when it is going to rain, and they will sit and wait for the water.  It might be the only water they get in a whole year.  I just learned the Sonoran Desert Tortoise is no longer going to be listed as an Endangered Species (that decision being made the year I donated my tortoise shells to Indians to be used for ceremonial purposes.  Darn, again.


This was nearby and could be a Desert Tortoise burrow.


I thought it was glass, but it was a crystal. I am keeping it AND the photos.

I returned to Payson for a couple nights and then back up higher, farther north to the Coconino Forest to work on my southwest sketches. 

On the way to Coconino National Forest, I made a side trip to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.  I hiked the Gowan Trail down from the south end, went through the tunnel and back out the north end, maybe about 1.5 miles, and a very big rock scrambling challenge.  I didn’t get photos of the hardest parts inside the tunnel, my hands were too busy.  See the rest of the story.


Heading down the Gowan Trail and into the tunnel.

After seeing the Tonto Natural Bridge, I stayed in the forest a few days until weather turned and it got overcast then left as I was not getting any solar charge. Arriving back into Pine, AZ very early,  I notice rain falling off in the east. I don't need a bunch of trees overhead right now. I need sun which was just coming up and trying to shine on me.


The sunrise was very nice though, thru the rain.


The sun and clouds just kept dancing about and I almost wrecked the van taking these photos on the fly as I drove down the highway.


Stopped at East Verde Picnic Area... warning signs of bear... and no overnight parking.


Very nice fishing spot.


Lots of rocks down here... did I say I like rocks?


This giant towered over the creek bed.  Pillars of rock have been placed along the edge of the parking lot to keep people from driving down to the water’s edge.

On the other side of the road was a parking area/trailhead.


I found a woman with this rig. She said she was not kayaking there but up at the Rim Lakes and that I should go there.  I will kayak the Rim Lakes another time, since I will be spending a lot of time here in the future.


Got back to Wal-Mart in Payson before this storm hit. We got a fair amount of rain yesterday, and a little last night.


Near the Casino in Payson, last week, I had driven through a neighborhood, and looked up to see this trampoline completely off the ground and swirling in a dust devil, and coming straight toward my van.  The “devil” finally let it go and it dropped upside down, and then tilted over on the edge you see bent down in the last photo.  So, I drove back past where that flying trampoline was and took these shots. It had landed on this side of the white truck.  They moved it back out of the way. 

I thought about stopping to tell them what happened but didn't see anyone around. I sure would have enjoyed seeing their reaction. I see they still don't have it anchored down.

This week, I will be back in Quartzsite and can establish a new training program, using the local Q-Mountain and the exercise classes at the QIA and Community Center, plus any and all dances that are happening.  And also field trips and hiking with the Rock Club and Metal Detecting Club.  No more sitting around polishing rocks.  Must be very active this winter.

Never a dull day in SwankieVille.  Laughing out loud

Again, here are 8 of the 10 sketches I just finished.  The final notecard set may include these 8, or 2 of the others – see below, in place of two of these.   You can vote on your favorite 8 by listing their  numbers in the comments below.  Click on photo to enlarge so you can see the numbers better.

notecard_package1 copy

The other two:

04_desert_iquana copy07_rattlesnake copy

Included free will be this card, which you can place in your vehicle window if you want other mobile dwellers to be able to spot you.


I will have them packaged and ready to mail out by Thanksgiving.  You can reserve your set of note cards now by sending a PayPal donation of $25 to  Note Cards will be sent out before Dec. 1, 2015, or delivered to you in Quartzsite AZ if you will be there this winter.  Only these advance sale cards will have my original signature.  Card sets will be available online afterward this advance sale but will have a printed signature.

Swankie Southwest Arts – Notecard Set

Thank you for doing your usual Amazon shopping using my affiliate link.

Help me a little if you can by donating to my equipment fund for the hike.  I promise to pay it forward.  There is a PayPal donation button in the top right corner, but I realize people using phone may not see that so I am repeating the button below.

Contribute to Equipment for the Trail Hike or for the Note Cards:


Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.