There’s a mountain preserve near our home – actually, I’m not sure if it’s a real preserve. The real estate agent who sold us our home said it was a preserve. If it is, it’s the first one I’ve seen with a housing development and gravel company on it.
Even so, it’s a nice park with a Frisbee golf course, playground & picnic area, softball fields and basketball courts, plus lots of places to hike.
Including, to our great surprise, a labyrinth.
No, not that kind of labyrinth. You won’t run into a Goblin King here. It’s one of those meditative labyrinths. Husband came back from a long hike, where he was trying to gain more steps for his Fitbit, and announced his discovery.
The next day, Dog and I set off to find it.
Desert hikes may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I for one enjoy them. Maybe because I grew up in the desert, I appreciate the tenacious nature of its plants and animals, and how they evolved to not only survive, but thrive in this harsh environment.
For instance, this little guy growing between a boulder and a mostly dead something or other. Pretty little thing, isn’t he? This is a Globemallow – a very common wildflower that you might see growing along the highway, in a deserted field, in your yard if you don’t weed very often (yes, it’s in my yard). What a persistent little guy he is. So adamant to grow wherever he lands, even between a rock and a mostly dead something or other. He’s not picky. Just determined.
I turn to get back on the path when.. whoa. Almost ran into a cholla. You definitely don’t want to run into one of these. You don’t want to get anywhere near one. There’s a reason they’re nicknamed “jumping cactus.” Barely brush by one of these guys and you’ll likely find a part of it clinging to your pant leg or arm. Or back. Or front. Or… look, just don’t go near one, okay?
I locate Dog and see she’s far from the cholla. Good Dog.
We once had a dog who, while in hot pursuit of a rabbit, jumped into a thicket of cholla and practically leaped straight into the air with a yelp. The poor thing was covered in little branches and she began frantically trying to pull them off, which then got the barbs in her mouth. We somehow got her into a car and immediately took her to a vet. They gave her a sedative and over the next hour, began the removal process. Three hundred dollars later, she was cactus-free. Dumb dog.
Eventually I find the path again and begin thinking about the person or persons who created this path. It seems a fairly distinct path, something deliberately made. Was it a city employee or a nearby resident? Or maybe it was just a random hiker, like me, who wanted to help the next person on their way. If so, I like that random hiker. He or she is a swell kind of being.
Then I come across this — a tower of balanced rocks. How long has this been here? We’ve lived in the area 15 years and only now find it. Interesting.
I’ve no idea how to estimate a rock’s weight, but that bottom one looks darn heavy. Random hiker must have many friends.
I think about those people, grunting and pushing and heaving and sweating. For this – their art. Their contribution to the desert scenery. I love random hiker and his or her friends. They’re good souls.
At last we arrive at our destination. Not too far from the balanced rocks, up on a small mesa, was the labyrinth.
Before you ask, yes, I walked it. From its beginning, round and through and up and over and round again, until at last I reached its center. And as its center was a heart formed of white rocks, I added a small white rock to it.
Did I feel anything while doing it? You mean besides a little silly? No I didn’t feel anything. I was probably supposed to be meditating or praying though, which I wasn’t.
And if I was supposed to feel a sense of peace after doing it… well, I was already feeling a sense of peace, so maybe it wasn’t needed. Thoughtful desert hikes are meditation enough for me. But Labyrinths are cool, just the same.
Thank you, random hiker and his or her friends. You did well.