I step into Aravaipa Canyon and water floods through my shoes, spilling through the mesh, swirling between dirt-stained toes, and onward down the stream. It’s cold against my skin. It feels good. The rush pushes away the noon heat and makes the desert feel like a memory.
Aravaipa Canyon, past Booger Canyon – 3/5
I breathe easy. My mind unwinds. That sliver of fear, the one that expands and contracts with the air in my water bottles, it rests and goes quiet.
This is Eden, I think.
The water never ends here. It doesn’t fade into the summer heat. It doesn’t disappear into the ground. It flows and flows, and soaks and soaks, cutting a thousand-foot deep green ribbon through the desert cliffs.
You can taste the privilege.
The endless flow makes you forget the desperate, vicious world crowding around its edges. You linger under the shade of cottonwood trees. You splash next to banks of green reeds. Everything around you bursts with life.
But the opulence ends just feet away. The mud turns to dust, the cottonwoods to cliffs, and Saguaros peer down wishing for legs they’ll never have.
I have legs though, and they’re planted in the water under those lavish cottonwood leaves that shimmer in the sunlight–broad, green, and wet– as the spiked, unlucky masses stare in at the water flowing under my feet.