Walking with Ghosts in the Superstition Mountains

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The Superstition Mountains ride the horizon east of Phoenix like the old spine of a dying stegosaurus, the broken skeleton of upturned Earth baked to a hard and leathery brown beneath the burning, white-hot aura of the sun. In the warm, early morning light of December, the mountains look like serrated terracotta, their dusty brown slopes rising two thousand feet above the basin below like supersized mining spoils of shattered clay pottery. Driving up to them from several miles off, its easy to imagine at first glance that the mountains- a landscape seemingly parched, void of water, endlessly exposed to the suns ruthless gaze- are inconducive to life. But to believe such a thing is to be deluded.

There are cacti and birds, lizards and snakes, smokecolored herds of pronghorns and mule deer. If you go far enough up into these high and forlorn hills, you can even find remnants of former human life.

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Encounters with the Sublime in the Grand Canyon

grandcanyon3At dusk, in the rarefied, freezing-cold, mid-December air that settles over much of northern Arizona’s Colorado Plateau, the fading twilight skies over the Grand Canyon are shot through with soft hues of lilac, and for a brief moment, the canyonlands beneath acquire a stillness.

Nothing seems to move in this brief interlude between day and night: the huge, billowing winds that waft upwards against the canyon walls in the daytime cease, and the flocks of birds that normally wheel erratically over the ridges below- tracing invisible lines resembling a painters smearing brushstroke- lay up to roost in the pines.

For a brief moment, all in the canyon is still.

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