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Sky Islands

Consuming the Final Frontier

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018: 2018 Trips, Nature, Regions, Road Trips, Sky Islands, Wildfire.

Space vs. Earth

Some advocates of space exploration and colonization are also concerned about the damage caused by humans here on earth. Some of them believe we can give the earth a break by moving our civilization elsewhere. Others believe it’s too late to fix the earth’s problems, but now that we know better, we can move to another planet that’s in better shape, and start over, avoiding the mistakes of our ancestors.

Still other space nuts don’t care – they just want to hang out with all the cool aliens they’ve seen in Star Wars movies. Terrestrial life is passé – they’ve been there/done that on TV nature shows.

People who lack passion for either space or the earth may say “Why can’t we have both?” The answer is easy for the few of us who know where our resources come from. It takes big, energy-guzzling machines made on earth to study or explore space, and machines are non-renewable – every machine humans make comes out of a hole in the ground that used to be wildlife habitat. Space isn’t harmed by studying the earth, but the earth suffers when you study space.

Meanwhile, while living their lives as consumers, in cities far away from the ecological impacts of their consumer lifestyles, each generation of humans unknowingly destroys more of the earth. So-called “renewable energy” is a lie – solar and wind power equipment comes from nonrenewable mines, destroying nonrenewable habitat, and is manufactured and transported using fossil fuels. Wind farms and solar plants destroy habitat and harm and displace wildlife. Even if climate change were somehow stopped, or even reversed, the endless demand for consumer resources results in relentless industrial sprawl and conversion of wildlife habitat to toxic wasteland.

The next generation has no idea of what the earth was like for previous generations. If they experience rural environments at all, they view these now-degraded places as “nature,” just as city dwellers view their pocket parks full of imported vegetation as “nature.” In their ignorance of ecology, it looks fine to them – it has pretty flowers, and places to let their pets run off-leash – why should they worry about the loss of a few square miles halfway across the globe?

Sky Island on Fire

Returning home from a distant city, I decided on a whim to take a back road. The back road took me past a mountain range I’d flown over many times and had always been curious about. I knew there was a road to the top of it, where an astronomical observatory was maintained. In my homeward momentum, I drove past the turnoff, but a few miles farther, without making a conscious decision, I pulled over and checked my map. How far would it be? There were no services up there at all, but I had plenty of gas, a water bottle that was almost full, and a partial bag of trail mix.

This is the penultimate Southwestern “sky island” – an isolated mountain range that rises 7,000′ above the surrounding desert, allowing you to travel from the arid scrublands of Sonora to the alpine forests of the Canadian Rockies in just a dozen miles. It shelters species that have been isolated from their kin in other mountains since the last Ice Age, so that for those of us who love the earth, it’s a true frontier, a place with hidden wonders waiting to be discovered. But unlike most of these ranges, it has a paved road that goes nearly to the top.

A road that passes a Federal prison, at the northern foot of the mountains. A road that turned out to be perhaps the most dangerous paved road I’ve ever traveled. Narrow, and with more hairpins than any other I’ve seen. And you know those white lines they paint along the edge of the pavement? On this road, in many, many places, if you happen to cross that white line on the edge, your vehicle either disappears into a seemingly bottomless hole, or it falls hundreds of vertical feet down the side of the mountain. No shoulder and no guard rail, and in some places even that white line is crumbling.

The road’s so dangerous because this is one of the steepest mountain ranges I’ve ever been in. Even at the top, there are no large meadows or internal valleys. The paved road ends at 9,000′ elevation and turns to steep, twisting, washboarded dirt, and I followed it to its end. The entire mountain consists of precipitous slopes, with just a handful of small patches of grass on less steep slopes that are generously termed “flats.”

When I crested the first ridge it was all I could do to keep my truck on the road, because the views from this mountain range are mind-boggling in all directions. I could see the outline of the state prison way down there at the southern foot of the mountains, mirroring the federal prison on the north. But I was also surprised to enter a fresh burn area. At first I figured it to be a couple years old, but then I came to stands of slender fir, their blackened, drooping branches still holding charred needles. Later I passed slopes that were mostly clear except for big trunks white as bone, killed by a much older fire. The whole top of the mountain had burned in patches, at different times, and now, in springtime, the slopes were blanketed by virulently green ferns.

It was the day after Memorial Day. That’s one reason why I’d come up here – I figured all the vacationers would be gone by now. I had the mountain mostly to myself. I got to the small reservoir near the end of the dirt road, and the only people in the large campground there were a young couple taking a romantic stroll. Even the Forest Service information center was closed, but I did meet three kids playing blissfully in the forest outside the compound of staff housing. A tiny minority of children in our “advanced” society still get to experience a degraded form of what all our ancestors once enjoyed.

On the slopes above the road loomed rock outcrops and pinnacles, and throughout the shadowy forest rose the primeval shapes of lichen-encrusted boulders. Ribbons of water tumbled down from the peaks. Birds were everywhere, wildflowers were rampant. This magical range, isolated in the desert, is known to host the densest population of black bears in North America.

On the slopes that had been fully incinerated by the recent fire, it was easy to see why it happened: all the trees were spindly and had grown close together, a sign of generations of fire suppression by “experts” who were as ignorant of ecology as our city-dwelling consumers. This whole beautiful, damaged mountain range with deep-space telescopes on top, and mirrored prisons and a burning riverbed at its feet, was like a textbook case study of the cascading failures of Anglo-European society and its institutions.

Science vs. Nature

I only spent a few hours up there, so I’m by no means an expert. But I’ll try to summarize the story as it’s recorded by Forest Service ecologists and local historians.

For generations, white Americans stocked unsustainable herds of cattle on these slopes, overgrazing the forage and destabilizing the soil. They logged the old-growth timber while suppressing fires, encouraging dense stands of smaller-diameter trees. To get to the forage and timber, the road was built, and scientists – astrophysicists like media darling Neil deGrasse Tyson – began to covet that peak high in the desert sky as a site for the “world’s most advanced telescope,” to look deep into time and space to the beginnings of the universe itself. While Native Americans hold peaks sacred, white people see them as jumping-off points for their ambition to “conquer the cosmos.”

But environmentalists – that dying breed of obsolete earth-lovers – pointed out that the peak sheltered an endangered subspecies of squirrel, and a battle between scientists began. It became evident that astrophysicists are not conservationists. Different kinds of scientists have different values.

To most science buffs, this is inconceivable. At a time when science is under siege by right-wing fundamentalists and climate-change-deniers, scientists should close ranks! Science is science, and all science is good (except maybe those guys who work for Monsanto, and the oil companies, and pharma, plastics, the arms industry, those scientists who get paid lots of money to do nasty stuff that we don’t want to think of when we’re Marching for Science). Earth and space can live together in harmony – right?

Unsurprisingly, the astrophysicists – who by the nature of their empire-expanding work always have money and power on their side – won. A compromise was reached, because one thing you can never stop is “development” – i.e. replacing natural habitat with roads and buildings – and the astronomical observatory rose on the peak, with a few provisions to protect the squirrels.

It was then that the first fire hit, in 2004. Firefighters, being humans themselves, were naturally keen to protect the observatory, but not so much the habitat of the squirrels.

And last year, the second fire hit, spreading all over the mountaintop, decimating the squirrels. They are now expected to die out completely.

Consuming the Final Frontier

Squirrels are cute, and they’re also famous for burying nuts in the ground, to eat later. A little critical thinking might suggest that some of those nuts might germinate and grow into trees that would produce even more nuts. Like, the trees and the squirrels are working together in some kind of partnership. One will not survive without the other. That’s ecology – holistic thinking. Not so common in astrophysics, which like most science is reductive and mechanistic, treating nature as a machine which can be understood and controlled by breaking it down into its component parts.

The conifer forests at the top of these mountains, and the squirrels that are going extinct there, evolved together, along with thousands of other species – more than our science can ever identify and understand. But billionaires and popular media say we have to go to outer space to discover something new.

Meanwhile the sky islands – a unique frontier, one of a kind, that few people have ever experienced – are dying. The Forest Service, which as part of the federal government is one of our most conservative institutions, says that these high-elevation enclaves in the desert will be completely gone by the end of this century, due to climate change. Entire, incredibly rich and vibrant communities of sophisticated beings with their own priceless knowledge and wisdom, wiped off the face of the earth by our greed and ignorance.

Since conservative predictions are routinely being exceeded by reality, it’s likely that the magical sky islands will be gone in only a few decades. The scorched forests you see in my photos will not regenerate, nor will their squirrels return. It’s probably best not to take your kids out into nature. It will only depress them in the long run, and make them angry at the society that consumed their final frontier.


Lesson in Snow Hiking

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022: 2022 Trips, Arcadia, Hikes, Pinalenos, Regions, Road Trips, Sky Islands, Southeast Arizona.

I’m on a little road trip to this Arizona mountain range, for better access to trails that are just too far for a day’s drive. But it’s winter, we’ve had our first couple of regional snowstorms, and as usual I was targeting high-elevation trails. The crest of this range lies above 9,000′, topping out over 10,700′. I expected at least a foot of snow on the crest, but with little previous opportunity to test my winter boots and gaiters, I wasn’t sure how the snow would affect my hikes.

On the evening before my first hike, driving into the town that lies at the foot of the north wall of the mountains, I could see that the snowline was well below 7,000′ – on the shaded north side of the range. One of the hikes I was most interested in approached 10,000′ on that north slope.

The hike I really wanted to start with is on the south side, an hour’s drive from town. But in the morning, unforseen difficulties delayed me more than an hour, so I ended up stuck with a closer north slope hike, where I could expect the most snow.

That morning, I reconsidered my options on the north side. I couldn’t find any online trip reports for my first choice – the only info I could find was a reliable source saying the trail was long abandoned and likely impassable. Without snow, I’d be interested in trying it anyway – it climbed a canyon which was reported to be spectacular, very rocky with many waterfalls. But I couldn’t see myself routefinding, bushwhacking, and fighting my way past hundreds of obstacles in deep snow.

Of the remaining options, I ended up aiming for the “National Recreation Trail”, the most famous trail in the range, which starts in the northside canyon, just outside of town, where a terrifying, vertiginous paved road climbs all the way to the crest. The trail starts at a campground just below 6,700′ and switchbacks to a 9,400′ saddle, where it drops steeply towards one of the mountaintop campgrounds which are inaccessible in winter. Depending on my progress in the snow, I planned to turn off at the saddle and take a spur trail nearly a mile farther, to a 10,000′ peak bristling with communications towers and a fire lookout. I normally despise man-made structures on peaks, but at this point it seemed my best opportunity to reach that elevation, for one of the most spectacular views in the range.

On the way up the road, a couple of little Japanese sedans raced past me – the road is closed for winter at the crest, but is plowed to the 7,500′ level where there’s a cluster of vacation cabins. At 6,000′ I encountered solid patches of ice in shady stretches of road, and despite switching into 4WD, found my extreme all-terrain tires had almost no traction on this road with hairpin curves and 700′ dropoffs with no shoulders and no guard rails.

Before the recent era of mega-wildfires, this trail was likely popular and regularly used, despite its over 3,000′ of accumulated elevation gain. But a short distance from the lower trailhead, it dips into a narrow canyon which was washed out and filled with debris after a fire 18 years ago. Very few people made it past that obstacle until a few months ago when the trail was rebuilt by convict labor, and with the absence of a local hiking culture, I figured I would be one of the first up it in almost 20 years.

A few inches of snow covered the campground, which remained in shade, well below freezing. There was a Subaru already parked in what I assumed was the trailhead parking area, and walking back through the campground, I had to avoid vehicle tracks which were solid ice. There was no trailhead marker for this famous trail – I had to search and guess where it casually began, at the back of a group campsite – and as I stopped there to put on my gaiters, a young woman appeared with an off-leash dog, returning down the trail.

Their tracks ended after only a quarter mile, at the previously blocked creek crossing. I wondered if she’d driven all the way up that perilous road just to walk her dog for a few minutes in the snow?

Even before the crossing, I’d encountered snow up to 8 inches deep, and I was still below 7,000′. My chances of reaching 10,000′ didn’t look good. Past the creek I began climbing the switchbacks, where the only tracks were from deer.

I kept hoping for stretches of trail that got enough sunlight to melt the snow, and I did find occasional bare patches that enticed me to keep going. But they were few and far between, and I climbed about a mile and a half through snow that averaged six inches deep before I reached sunny slopes.

This area had been badly burned, and the ground consisted mostly of small boulders. The trail was a shallow trough that collected deeper snow than the surrounding ground, but the surrounding ground was too dense with obstacles to make it worthwhile to go off trail to avoid the snow. So I kept trudging, the snow getting gradually deeper the higher I climbed.

More than halfway up to the crest, the trail crosses out of the first canyon, makes another half dozen switchbacks, and finally begins a long traverse to the saddle at the crest. Up there the geology changes and you encounter spectacular rock formations, and get your first view of the peak with the towers. But virtually all that traverse is shaded north slope where the snow was now at least a foot deep. I’d always wondered what it would be like to walk a long distance in snow that deep. If I’d known what it was like, I wouldn’t have tried it!

I did reach the saddle – it took me more than four hours to go four miles. Now I know – it takes me more than twice as long to climb in snow.

At the saddle, I found the trail to the peak. It was really steep, and the snow was drifted up to 16″ deep. I followed it about 200 yards, to where it crossed a knife-edge ridge and began a short descent before the final climb. I could see that the rest of it was in shade and the snow would just get deeper, but at least I got a view across the crest to the highest peaks.

One consolation I had on the way up was the assumption that the descent would be easier and go much faster. This turned out to be true – I could go much farther without stopping to catch my breath – but I had to be careful too. Like most trails in the Southwest, this was lined with rocks, and every dozen yards or so I stepped on a rock hidden beneath the snow. The sharp ones threw me off balance, and when I stepped on a tilted one, one foot immediately slid out from under me.

The sun was going down when I crossed back into the first canyon, and could see how much farther I had to descend to the creek crossing and the campground. At this point it was obvious that this trail had been built primarily on slopes where the deepest snow would collect. I had really put my snow hiking ability to the test today, and would be likely to reserve hikes like this for snow-free conditions.

But with the end in sight, I started paying more attention to the habitat. These Arizona ranges host very different plant life from our New Mexico mountains, and I always look forward to it.

Back at the vehicle after more than 7 hours of snow hiking, my hips and ankles were worn out from all that instability. This would be a great trail to hike without the snow – the convicts did a great job, and only about 3 logs had fallen across since their work.

It was the eve of the shortest day and the sun was well set as I descended that icy road, lucky to have no one behind pressuring me – although I did pass a Jeep and an SUV on late runs up to their cabins.

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Return to Boulder Canyon

Friday, December 23rd, 2022: 2022 Trips, Grant, Hikes, Pinalenos, Regions, Road Trips, Sky Islands, Southeast Arizona.

Three and a half years ago, I tried to hike this canyon without a map, and ended up mistakenly scrambling up a three-mile-long pile of giant logs and boulders, enticed by pink ribbons that turned out to have nothing to do with the actual trail, and almost losing my mind.

I did reach a spectacular waterfall, but was left with a powerful yearning to come back some day and find a less maddening route all the way up this canyon to the crest of the range. It would be a route that’s unique in taking you from high desert, through Southwest riparian habitat, to alpine fir forest at 9,000′, with massive rock formations and views across the landscape on your way.

One reason I got in trouble in 2019 was that floods had washed out part of the lower trail, and I could find no information on how or whether I could reconnect with the upper part. Being well-watered this canyon is dense with vegetation as well as boulders – it’s a jungle where it’s easy to go astray – and there was no record of anyone using this trail since 2015, two years before the big wildfire that led to the flood damage. It’s a remote and challenging trail that likely never saw much use anyway.

But when planning this trip I revisited the crowd-sourced page for this trail and found that a group had hiked it in September, claiming it had been rebuilt by a trail crew and was now clear and easy to follow.

I’d driven the access road twice before – it’s a very rocky high-clearance-only path roughly bulldozed up the alluvial fan behind the state prison, to the creek crossing, about a mile below the mouth of the canyon. On both previous visits, the creek crossing had been flooded to over a foot deep and blocked by 18″ tall boulders, so I was assuming I’d again have to park at the crossing, find a log to cross the raging creek on, and walk the rest of the way up the old road on the opposite side.

With a perennial stream, this canyon has always been attractive to miners, ranchers, the military, and prison developers. The map shows the dirt road continuing up two miles past the mouth of the canyon, making two more creek crossings in the process. At least two different water pipelines were laid down the canyon in the past – an old buried iron pipe, and an elevated PVC pipe which formerly supplied the prison. But even before the wildfire, floods damaged both the pipelines and the upper part of the road. Now you find broken 20-foot lengths of 8″ PVC pipe stuck in trees and protruding from boulder piles.

Following the road and trail as shown on the map, from the first creek crossing to the crest road, would be 6-1/2 miles and over 4,000′ of accumulated elevation gain, so I was expecting a long, challenging day, and hit the road over an hour earlier than usual. But when I reached the creek crossing, the water was less than 8″ deep and was clear of boulders. So I drove across and continued to just before the mouth of the canyon, where there’s a turnout. Now the hike I was planning would be two miles shorter, round-trip, and I should have plenty of time!

Since the lower part of the trail follows the old road, it’s always interesting to see how drivable that road is, and how far people have made it up recently. With floods, this canyon has regularly been conveying the top of the mountain down from time immemorial, and the top of the mountain surrounds you all the way up, in the form of white boulders that fill the creekbed and have been bulldozed into rows beside the road.

It was below freezing, and even here at 5,500′, little patches of snow hung on in the shadow of boulders. Entering the mouth of the canyon, I was glad I’d parked where I did – what was left of the old road needed higher clearance than I’m comfortable with. But tracks showed that a bigger truck had recently been up here. And someone had been collecting sections of the old PVC pipe and stacking them alongside the road, presumably to haul out at some point. It would be an even more beautiful canyon without the ruins.

I started making noise as soon as I entered the riparian forest, to alert bears. I’d encountered a black bear here on my last visit, and this range is reported to have the highest density of bears in North America.

Before long I came upon a flock of 7 wild turkeys. And a little farther, a boulder I figured would stop even the biggest truck. But no, some macho dude had made it over that, all the way to the next creek crossing, where there’s a graded turnaround, since no vehicle on earth can cross at that point now.

After a little deliberation and searching for sticks, I crossed the roaring creek on a thin, sinuous fallen tree trunk I expected to flip on me at any time and dump me in the ice-cold water (it’s all snowmelt). A few dozen yards from the bank, the old road reappeared, rockier than ever. And a few hundred yards up canyon, I came to the third creek crossing, which was both easier and more dangerous.

That third crossing was probably where I got lost before. But on the other side, after climbing over a towering tangle of logs and branches, I found a series of faded pink ribbons which actually led me through a thicket and back to a surviving segment of the old road. From there, it was a straightforward “walk in the forest” until I reached the next flood washout.

I’d never found this route on my previous attempt, but at the washout, another pink ribbon beckoned me up the left bank, where a faint trail bypassed the washout, climbing high above the creek, and back down, to rejoin the next surviving segment of the old road.

Rounding the base of a boulder, I came upon a rock alignment – again, something I hadn’t encountered on my previous visit. The rocks showed a branching of the trail, and a marker post with an arrow directing hikers toward the first waterfall, partway up the opposite side of the canyon. Apparently that’s the destination of most visitors here.

Continuing on the left branch, I reached the original end of the road, at the base of the massive boulder pile. There, two tributaries come together to form the lower creek, and that would be my moment of truth, since that’s where the old trail had been completely washed out.

Back in 2019, after wasting over an hour scrambling over flood debris in the lower canyon, I had finally relocated the road and reached this point. I hadn’t seen evidence of a trail continuing on this side of the creek, but I saw a pink ribbon in the trees across the base of the boulder pile, so I clambered across and went that way, which led eventually, with utmost difficulty and increasing desperation, to the waterfall.

Now, however, I spent more time scouting, and finally noticed a pink ribbon hanging from a tree, straight up the left bank from the washout, and some disturbed ground that might have been a faint game trail. I decided to go up there – it was about a 40% grade – and continuing, found what was obviously a new trail bypassing the old one that had been washed out. It was very narrow and very precarious, climbing 50-60 feet above the creek, skirting the vertical bank in places. But eventually it led to the original trail, which followed the left-hand tributary. What a relief to avoid that apocalyptic debris flow!

This tributary canyon was narrow, and on the left side, the trail was forced to wind back and forth between big boulders at the base of a cliff. Rounding one huge boulder, I surprised a small troop of coatis. And I finally came upon a small, very old pile of bear scat – the first I’d seen so far. So much for all my noisemaking to warn away bears!

And at last, I came to the final creek crossing, beyond which I hoped to find my trail to the crest.

Since this tributary was smaller than the lower creek, it was easier to cross. But the old trail had been blocked by debris on the other side, and I found another narrow, precarious bypass that again took me 50-60 feet above the creek and involved climbing over deadfall and boulders. It had become obvious that the September hikers had been exaggerating – this trail had hardly been rebuilt, let alone cleared. The best you could say is that an expert can find a route.

Now I was in deep shade, where snow had collected up to 8 inches. But the trail to the crest consists of nearly 40 switchbacks climbing 2,200 vertical feet, and the slope they climb faces west. I figured every other switchback would have enough southern exposure to melt the snow, and I was right. All the way to the top, I faced only limited patches of snow, at most a hundred yards long.

But I had more immediate obstacles to get past: deadfall and overgrowth. Far from being rebuilt and cleared, the switchbacks were blocked again and again by deadfall logs and small, tough shrubs. And I began to suspect that the September hikers had lied about coming this way, when I kept finding old rotten trunks and branches blocking the trail that you would normally need to snap or toss aside in order to pass. Not just for yourself – removing obstacles is good manners, to improve the trail for the next visitors.

Eventually, I did come to a deadfall log across the trail showing a recently broken branch that someone had snapped in order to step over it. I concluded that the September hikers had been there after all, but generally preferred to go around obstacles rather than removing them. So I did my part by breaking branches and hauling small trees off the trail wherever possible.

The switchbacks seemed interminable, and I came to a few spots where tread disappeared completely and I had to scout a route before relocating the trail. But the reward was the view, which got better with each increase in elevation. Finally, on the last switchback, I got the full view south out of the main canyon, and shortly after that, I crossed the crest into the interior of the range. I’d done it – what I’d been dreaming of for years!

Unfortunately, that seemed to be the end. I’d expected to continue up this ridge about another mile, to the crest road, but the trail ended abruptly at a distinctive cairn, with nothing ahead but a maze of deadfall across a steep, overgrown slope.

I scouted and I scouted, finally returning to the cairn in dismay. I checked my map, which showed a tiny dogleg at this point. What if I just went straight up the slope?

That’s what I did – about a hundred feet, climbing over deadfall logs. And finally spotted the continuation of the trail, on the opposite side of yet another couple of deadfall logs.

In short order, that took me to the fairly level top of the ridge, partly forested, holding deeper snow, where I had glimpses of the high peaks of the range, arrayed to north and east.

I knew I’d only gone about 5 miles so far, and it’d taken me 5 hours. I hoped to go faster on the way down, but I was still surprised at how much slower I was hiking on this trip. In any event, I was now where I wanted to be – on top of the world. I had no need to go any farther – only to reach the crest road – and I didn’t want to rush on my way back.

Going down those switchbacks was so much easier! I’d achieved my goal of reaching the crest, and despite all the obstacles, I decided the condition of this trail is just right for me, as is. Enough ambiguity, deadfall and overgrowth to make it a challenge without making it a bummer. Yes, I benefited from a few pink ribbons, for which I’m grateful – but they could’ve been put up any time in the past couple of decades. Wild animals are now keeping it open and maintaining tread – no human workers needed.

And in the canyon bottom, I encountered what I assume was the same troop of coatis. This time I could see at least one was a juvenile, and while the others hid, the biggest adult perched on a boulder above and chuffed at me for a while.

One thing I noticed on the way up, but puzzled over on the way down – the soil of the trail in the tributary canyon bottom was “turned” as if with a plow – like walking in mashed potatoes – with frequent deep holes like large hoof prints, but at random, without any identifiable pattern. It was another thing that slowed me down, and I still couldn’t figure out what caused it.

It was only later that I realized it must be the coatis that were causing that – they apparently both consume leaf litter and dig in soil for invertebrates, hence their long, flexible snouts.

Returning those 5 miles, with many stops, took 3 hours. But at sunset, what should I find at my vehicle, but a big black bull?

Some may remember my past experiences with bulls in the wild – being followed, chased, and charged. But I was tired, and it was getting dark, and my vehicle was right there. Standing behind a barrier of brush, I yelled and clapped my hands, but the bull ignored me. So I emerged in the clearing, and still yelling, walked past the bull to my vehicle. It moved off a little and stood watching to see what I would do. So far, so good!

This was a first for me. I unloaded my gear and got in the Sidekick, while the bull stood like a statue, never making a threatening move. If only they could all be so placid!

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