It was getting close to October, which was going to be a very busy month for us. We were already planning to go to Perris, CA, for the US Skydiving Nationals taking place October 4-10, 2004. (John would be competing in the 8-Way Intermediate category with his team Tornado, and in 16-Way with S.E.A.L.S.) After that, John was going to fly to Cincinnati, OH, for a job interview with Catholic Health Initiatives in Erlanger, KY. (We had been seriously discussing the possibilities of moving to Kentucky, should John get this position.) Finally, we would be going to Orlando, FL, October 23-28, so that John could attend a conference...and so that we could all go to Walt Disney World, too.
The month of September was the calm before the storm. When John wasn't training with his two skydiving teams, we took whatever time we had to get out of town to do some hiking.
One of John's favorite trails had always been Pivot Rock Canyon, located off of FR 616 on the Mogollon Rim. Pivot Rock Canyon was one of those "pretty places" that John loved to visit time and again, but we had not been there since before Mary was born. (In fact, the last time we had hiked that trail was May 1999, before we were married.)
John wanted to do that trail again; he figured that it would be an easy enough hike for Mary to do, and it would be a good way for us all to get out of the house to get a few moments of peace and quiet. So, on Sunday morning, September 12, we packed up our hiking gear and headed up to the Mogollon Rim.
It was nearly 10:00 a.m. on that beautiful Sunday morning by the time we arrived at the Pivot Rock Campground. As we drove through the campground to the trailhead, we saw that there were lots of children playing out in the sunshine - the campground was packed! Hopefully we were still going to be able to find solitude on the trail.
The trailhead, to our delight, free of cars, so we parked next to the giant boulder and geared up for our hike. Once we were ready, we set off down the Pivot Rock Canyon Trail, to find our peace and quiet in that "pretty place".
Although we found our peace and quiet, we did not find our "pretty place" - in fact, during the last five years, Pivot Rock Canyon had been torn apart by off-road vehicles. The entire trail - even the parts that followed the creek - was now full of tire tracks and was no longer the trail that we remembered.
Yet we continued on, despite the terrible state of the trail, because we wanted to get to the cabins. We hoped to at least find the cabins intact.
That day proved to be a bad day for Mary to go hiking. Even though the trail was still a very easy one to hike, Mary tripped and fell a total of ten times. By the time we reached the cabins, she had already fallen down about five times, and her little shirt, as well as her Dorothy the Dinosaur doll, was filthy. She was also getting crankier with every fall; it took a lot of motivation to keep her going.
It took us about an hour to reach the cabins at Pivot Rock, and we were so happy to see that the cabins were still intact; they still looked the same as they had the first time that we had visited them so long ago.
Although the cabins were still intact, the forest surrounding the cabins had certainly changed. Some of the trees had been killed off by the bark beetle, and the trail passing through there, once a single-track, looked more like a Jeep road now, having been damaged by ATV's. But it was still a "pretty place" to us, because we had so many good memories of hiking there.
And now we had one more memory to add to that trail.
We sat down on the grass next to the cabins and ate our lunch. While we were there, a pair of women on horseback rode by and stopped to talk to us.
We told them that we had not been here in years and were disappointed to find the trail in such a state. They both agreed, as they had always enjoyed riding on that trail. They asked if we knew the history behind the cabins, and we explained that we had not. They, however, knew why the canyon was called Pivot Rock - that was something that even we did not know. They told us that, on our way out, we had to keep an eye out for a rather large boulder on the side of the canyon; the boulder was called Pivot Rock, and the canyon was named for it. John said that he had an idea which one it was, but I could not picture it. (I did look for it on the way out of the canyon, but I did not find it.)
After finishing our lunch, we started our hike back to the car. During that time, Mary fell several more times and grew even crankier, so John found a way to motivate her to keep going. He suggested that I hike on ahead of them, and then he and Mary would make a game out of finding me. It kept her interested in the hike, and when they did finally find me, towards the end of the trail, Mary was very excited to see me again.
We completed our hike around 12:00 p.m. Almost immediately after returning to the trailhead, we got into the Jeep and drove away, past the throngs of children playing in the campground, to FR 616. Mary fell asleep in the backseat of the Jeep soon after we merged onto SR 87, and she slept all the way to Payson.
And so ended another adventure...
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