Outside the Happy Trails Resort, to the southwest, is a nature preserve named the White Tank Mountains.
Whereas Surprise is a continuation of development, an encroachment upon the desert, the White Tank Mountains are resolutely clinging to nature. Within fifteen miles of Surprise, this preserve takes you into wilderness with modern conveniences. There are picnic areas, a winding loop road that returns you to the visitor center, RV spaces for rent, clean bathrooms. Some of the trails are okay for patrons in wheelchairs or using canes, and on other trails you see mountain bikes, horseback riding, and hikers.
After a hike in the rugged mountains, one comes back with appreciation for civilization, but also an appreciation for nature.
Appreciation, walking hand in hand with Humble, are two cowpokes who have long shared a cup of cowboy coffee sitting in front of a crackling fire under trillions of stars. They have often spent time musing whether anyone lives on those stars up there who likes to sing Home on the Range?
Leaving the visitor center and driving into the park, there is a pull off place for active souls who like to run, ride bikes, horseback, train for athletic events. This time of morning, on a weekday, there are only two cars in the parking lot when brother Alan and I pull in.
Walking the trail, it isn’t hard to imagine grizzled prospectors leading a donkey deep into the mountains looking for precious metals. It isn’t hard to imagine ranchers chasing down cattle or Indians fighting troops stationed at old time forts.
There are still places you can disappear in Arizona.
Staying on Pathways has always been difficult, and I am not the only one who has trouble doing it.
Brothers keep us grounded by knowing who we used to be.