SYCAMORE TREK:  MAY SOUND A LITTLE  FAR OUT -- BUT IT'S A PLAN  [HUNTER BEAR]  JUNE 20 2007 -- PLUS MANY FINE COMMENTS -- FOLLOWED BY A GREAT SYCAMORE COLLOQUY WITH GREG EPPERSON [JANUARY 2008]  UPDATED MAY 6 2008



NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:

Initially, we were not going to place this particular message -- a strong
futuristic personal hope and plan -- on this website.  But, since receiving
a number of fine and encouraging messages on the matter at hand, I am now
doing so.  For this significant journey, we are shooting for May, 2008.
But, in any case, we are definitely committed to it -- sooner or later.

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

 

See The Carrot and The Stick  http://hunterbear.org/carrot_and_the_stick.htm

Coming of Age:  Sycamore Memoir:  http://hunterbear.org/coming%20of%20age%20[western%20memoir.%20htm.ht

Wilderness:  http://hunterbear.org/wilderness_life_and_times__and.htm

Grizzlies and Sycamore Canyon:  http://hunterbear.org/grizzlies.htm

 

UPDATE   MAY 6 2008  [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR]:

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:
 
With our wonderful new addition, Sky, having romped earlier this morning and now returned to slumberland [briefly], I'll see if I can get this off smoothly and with dispatch.  She's fascinated by the computer -- or anything I'm doing -- and tries to assist me in anything I take on.
 
It's worth mentioning that she looks very much like Cloudy in some significant ways: e.g., tallish ears  with black tufts.  Not as much fur, at least at this point.  Some behavioral patterns unique to Cloudy are quite evident to all of us.  We'll have photos as soon as we can get Josie's digital properly hooked up to a computer. [Their's recently crashed.] Sky's arrival has been a major, major boost for me -- and for all of us here.
 
At this point, we have had to put our projected Sycamore Canyon trek on hold. [This is the time we would have gone.]  This has been very tough to concede.  But I have always been a realist when it comes to Wilderness situations.  In a nutshell, my hopeful recovery has been moving at a truly glacial pace.  I can take much solace in the fact that my top physiological priority -- my mind -- is as good as it's always been.
 
What follows are excerpts from a letter I wrote in February to John and Peter [Beba and Mack].
 
 
"At this point, approaching mid-February, there has still been no substantive indication of meaningful recovery on my part. It's still on the sloping plateau pattern: never goes too far down, but -- so far -- not up-slope and beyond the higher cliffs that come at the upper end of the plateau. Some days are better, some worse. And the medicinal pattern of almost half a century continues at this point -- no really new and comprehensive medicines have surfaced for SLE.  Mirages appear on that front -- then dissipate.  If something genuinely positive doesn't happen within me in the next month, there is no practical possibility that I could do our Sycamore Trek as we envisioned it last June.  No amount of walking has effected any real changes in my situation.  When it emerged in full force at the beginning of the summer 2003, it came in the context of the most rugged daily hiking in the hills and smaller mountains that I'd done for many years: daily treks over a several year period.  The factual situation re Sycamore Canyon is simply that, given its geographical arrangement, once one goes down into it, the only feasible way out is all the way through it, down into the Verde Valley.
 
So, to again come to the point, unless something positive happens within my physical system in the next month, the trek in May will not be possible. . . .
 
So, if something genuinely positive occurs within me in the next month, we could do the Trek in May.  Otherwise, I suggest that we shoot for mid-October.  During the summer, the availability of water is less dependable in Sycamore and things, down in, can get hot, temperature-wise; and rattlers are in their element.  In mid-October, the Canyon's eastern rim is still reachable by rudimentary roads, snow will have been minimal but good water readily available down in -- and, since no hunters ever go into those recesses, there's no danger of being shot by the Phoenix "hunters" by mistake. The snake situation will be minimal.  By that time, wildlife will be heading down to their winter range and bears will still not be in hibernation.  I strongly suggest mid-October -- or so -- as a fall-back. 
 
One way or another, the full Trek is still quite possible.
 
And, if nothing else, we could -- as Mack has suggested -- assemble there and at least go to the edges of the Canyon itself. It could well be possible that we -- including myself -- could go down as far as the point where I got, so long ago, my Great Bear.  Fall would be quite OK for that."  [H.]
 
_____________________________________________________
 
I'll keep people posted, without belaboring any of this.
 
All the best to all of you,  We'll all Keep Fighting.
 
Hunter [Hunter Gray]

_____________________________________________

ADDITIONAL NOTE ON MAY 6 2008  [HUNTER BEAR]:

Naturally, I've read these very well intentioned comments with considerable interest, and appreciation.
 
You are right, Beba, I have always said that I have to do it myself.  I'm not even sure that it's cricket to take a cell phone along -- and it probably wouldn't even be able to connect from 'way down there in the Canyon's inner gorge. And Sam is right: cats aren't noted for in-unison solidarity. The only time our three here would work together would be if a strange dog came barking at the door.  And then they'd be a Union, for that moment in history.
 
When, more than a half century ago, I went down into the Canyon [and then all the way through it], I descended at what was mostly, after several "stair-step" levels intermixed with steep slopes, a sharply steep and sometimes almost straight-down track.  Took the better part of a day.  There is another entrance possibility.  That would involve going to one of the head tributaries at the very beginning of what quickly becomes Sycamore Canyon.  To do that, we'd go west of Flag toward Williams but, well before we got to that town, we'd turn off south to what's vaguely called Garland Prairie.  In that setting, several small canyons begin which,  going southward, forthwith grow much larger and deeper, joining together, and very soon, especially after Volunteer Canyon enters the picture from the east, becoming the Great Canyon in all of its glory and challenge. And all of that rolls southward for many, many challenging miles until it finally enters the Verde Valley.
 
In any case, we never give up.

_________________________________________________________________

 
SIGNIFICANT UPDATE JULY 1 2007:
 

I now possess an excellent -- only slightly used --  top-of-the-line full scale North Face backpack.  In my life, I have had many good backpacks -- and pack boards -- but this is certainly the best one yet.

 
Serious about the Sycamore Trek!    Hunter  [Hunter Bear]

__________________________________________

FROM HUNTER BEAR:

Aware that this, admittedly speculative, could sound far out -- given my
substantial medical trials and tribulations -- I am sending this forth "with
deliberate speed." [Some initial reactions to it have been quite positive.].
My essential social justice vision remains just as strong -- if not
stronger -- than it always has. But I am now developing a very personal
vision as well -- one which I've been mulling for weeks. In contrast to
three and almost four years ago, when day-to-day personal survival was much
to the fore, I am now shooting considerably higher. I'm planning my
second -- physical -- hiking trip through the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness
Area for some point next May [2008.] If so, my youngest son, Peter [Mack]
will go with me. It's possible that a few other family members might come.
It all depends very much, of course, on my medical situation. The trip would
take the better part of a week.

I have been taking for many weeks relatively short but very strenuous hikes
on an almost daily basis. Things have been going well. A junket of this sort
would present an unusual complex of personal challenges, it would be seen by
many as a pipe-dream, and every one of the doctors who has been involved
with me would likely crumble in horror. But it's clear that something is
changing, however slowly, for the better within me -- even to the point that
the astute Eldri sees such an adventure as being within the realm of
reasonable possibility. We will just have to wait and see. No humans, good
or bad, in there, but, remembering the Grizzly sign I saw 'way down in there
52 years ago, I'll take a 45/70 Marlin lever action. Mack is a great camera
person. More on this much later -- if things actually gel. Attached is some
relevant correspondence from me.

Best, H.

My relationship with the Sycamore Wilderness region has been long, pervasive, and vital.

Among other personal pieces of mine, see  http://hunterbear.org/ghosts.htm

To Peter [Mack] June 17 2007

It was certainly good to talk with you, Mack. The Sycamore trip is a good
possibility -- in May, after the upper snow has melted and before the summer
gets going. The cyber map is fairly good but it is a Coconino NF job and
misses some of the lower [southward] area. [The whole Sycamore region is so
big that three national forests are involved [Kaibab and Prescott are the
others]. I have a good paper map which includes all of it. But, if we were
to go, we would not need a map. It's engraved in my mind, always and
forever, and I dream about it.

As I said, I may be the only living person who has really gone down it. In May '55,
the two hermits, Dick and Jerry, of whom I have occasionally written, and
who lived in an old ranch house at the mouth of the Canyon, told me as I was
emerging [they had known me since '52] that they knew of no one else who had
made the long junket. They had lived at the mouth since the '40s at least, maybe
before. The man who blazed a few trails in the upper slopes in the '30s -- 
Old Man Dave Joy -- never went down in there. I had that on good authority
from USFS officials when I worked for the Coconino. Claude Wright, the bear
and lion hunter, hunted the up high regions in the '30s but told me
personally in '55 that he had never been down in. He was much impressed with
my trek -- asked many questions. I kept up well with regional things into
the '70s and never heard of anyone doing the junket. Have found nothing on
Google that's been written about any full scale down-in trip through. Most
of the people, and they seem to be few, who get into the general Canyon area
come in from the south -- Clarkdale area -- and never go any further than
Sycamore Basin which is on the far lower end. After that it gets super
rough -- and to the folks of today -- scary. None of my high school peers
ever went down in there.

I have found some b.s. on the Net that talks about sinister-type UFOs around
Sycamore. I'm obviously far from a skeptic on that general matter -- see the
ETs as friendly but cautious -- but I have never heard of ETs hanging out in
Sycamore. The same post made the bizarre claim that, in the old days, cattle
were trekked up to Flag etc from the Verde Valley thru Sycamore Canyon!
That's a profound indication of ignorance. You couldn't get cattle half a
mile up and past the hermits' old place -- it gets far too narrow and rough.
After a certain point, you couldn't take a horse. The "writer" was confusing
the Sycamore situation with the entirely different Mooney and Loy cattle
trails. These come up east of Sycamore Pass -- i.e., well to the east of the
Canyon -- in what's called the Secret Mountain region. I have hiked those
trails several times and trapped in the Secret Mountain setting. That's a
bull shit writer who probably never left Sedona.

I will always remember the bear- or lion-scarred huge black Spanish
long-horned bull that I saw crashing thru the brush to drink from Sycamore
Creek. When I spoke to him, he turned and crashed back into the brush. He
was as purely wild as a lion or bear. I -- and others to whom I told that -- 
have always felt that he was a wild descendant of the Spanish cattle that
fed miners back in the 1790s [the Lost Padre Mine]. But the Spanish did not
come up from the difficult southern end of the Canyon, nor down from the
very difficult northern end -- but probably from the more open western side
of Sycamore Basin, or maybe from the east via Sycamore Pass -- and then into
the Basin and then a bit up, northwise.

To put this in more cogent perspective: The Canyon comes down from the
north, opens into Sycamore Basin, and then narrows once again, eventually
emerging into the setting where Sycamore Creek flows into the Verde River.
And that's about where the hermits lived.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Let's keep one another posted on just about
everything.

Best, D [Dad]

To Peter [Mack] June 18 2007

Mack:


All of this -- the Sycamore thing -- boils down to what happens in my
medical situation in the next year or so. There have been some encouraging
signs: I can "go longer" feeling fairly good later in the day than ever
before. Sun now has no significantly adverse effects. My feet are fine when
they are in my hiking boots -- not so good in moccasins. I am stronger in
all ways. On the other hand, there are feelings of acute fatigue that emerge
suddenly, especially in the latter afternoons. Mind and spirit are just
fine. Stress can be bad -- but challenges, in which I can see the "way to
go," bring out my best. It's clear now to all of us, especially myself and
Eldri, that the SLE has been below the surface since the attack in Vermont
decades ago -- and that I was able to keep it down pretty well, despite
short-lived flares, for decades. This big attack in 2003 may have been the
result of heavy, accumulated stress. It is, as the med authorities put it,
"a deadly disease." It is clear that my chances were written off by several
doctors four years ago. We will have to see what happens. I will do my best
on several personal fronts -- e.g., exercise. I do believe that, if I can
make the Sycamore trip, I'll emerge in much better shape than before.

And we will have some great stories -- and unique photos.

It's always possible, of course, that there have been those in recent
decades who have made the trek through the Canyon but, if so, they have been
far and few between. And as I say, I have seen neither records nor photos
from down in. I continue to doubt that any at all have gone all thru there. It's
too tough, too lonely, too dangerous in the eyes of "rational" folks. Locals
have never gone down in there -- it is a substantive time commitment and
wild game cannot be retrieved from the inner gorge -- and the "dudes" like
the Oak Creek/Sedona and Grand Canyon settings [and, if Sycamore photos are
sought, they are always taken from up high and afar.] The very able sponsors
of our high school and ASC [NAU] hiking clubs never even considered the
innards of Sycamore Canyon. But, in any case . . .

[There are several Sycamore canyons in various places indicated on Google -- 
but only the Big One for us.]

Best, D [Dad]

________________________________________________________________

COMMENTS:

Lois Chaffee:

This sounds terrific! Best news in years. I say that because your psychic
impulses are the most reliable indication of your inner physical and mental
being. If you have a feeling you can make this trip, then I believe it.
Best regards to you and Eldri and all of yours.

Lois

________________________________________________

Jyri Kokkonen:

Dear Hunter Gray,

You're a battler if there ever was one! Mind over matter. Mind over Lupus!
Found some pictures on the Net of the Sycamore Canyon area. I wouldn't mind
hiking in those places myself.

On a slightly different topic, I heard the following from a friend of mine
who's a sugar-cane farmer in Australia. His neighbour was bitten in a cane
field the other year by a poisonous snake (can't remember the species). He
was alone at the time and had to get to a doctor fast. About half a mile to
walk to his car, and it seemed like curtains for him. Struggling to get to
the car, he was "fortunately" bitten by another species of snake, whose
venom works as an antidote to the venom of the first one, though havign a
lot of other nasty effects. He was sick as a dog, but made it to the doctor.
Possibly a tall story, but definitely a good one. Ever heard of anything
similar?

Best wishes,
Jyri

[Comment by Hunter:  Makes one wonder about the effect of a rattlesnake nip on Lupus.]

__________________________________________________________________

Martha Elizabeth Ture:

I think if you can do it, you must. That canyon has been calling you for a
long time, it comes out in all your writing about it. The place is a fount
for you, of inspiration, information, and joy. Whatever you find will really
serve you well, and more importantly, will serve the people with whom you
relate. There is something unfinished between you and that journey and it
wants to see some more of you.

Go there.

Martha

__________________________________________________________________

John Salter:


In Thunderheart--which Bret and I just watched again--the Graham Greene
character comes riding up on an ATV pulling a travois. That's an option;
you could relax with your pipe while being pulled into the canyon.

Bear ate a kid in Utah. I'm thinking the bear could have been sick.
Rabies?

Far too busy here; scrambling to get Bret ready for his Europe trip; Sawyer
is in NDSU's basketball camp; Taylor is in Michigan with her aunt and uncle,
etc. Kids want to go to the fair. Brings back happy memories!

JS

_______________________________________________________________________

Peter Salter [Mack]:

We're excited. Jack's been looking for a topo map online. He priced
revolvers at Scheel's yesterday. I need to get into shape.

Mack

____________________________________________________________

Kathy Marden:


Hello,

I is certainly good to hear that you are feeling strong enough to look
forward to a hiking trip next year. What great news! I hope that it works
out well for you and your son and that your condition continues to improve.
My book, coauthored with Stanton Friedman is currently with the printer
and is due to be released soon. It is titled Captured!: The Betty and
Barney Hill UFO Experience. You can find it on Amazon.com. It will also be
in Barnes and Noble and in many smaller bookstores. The publisher chose to
list it with Stan's name first even though I wrote all but three chapters.
They made this decision because he is well known, so I gave them my
approval. Stan and I will have autographed copies, if you wish to purchase
one.
I'll email a promo sheet to you as an attachment.

Best regards,

Kathy

____________________________________________________________________

Brian Rice:

Hi Hunter,

This sounds excellent . I am also back on an exercise regime and
feeling more myself. I won't make Yellowstone this year but may end up
doing some tracking in the Grizzly maze the following year. Your journey
sounds excellent. I would be more inclined to believe that there may be
some Nature spirits in the rock faces rather than UFO's. They sometimes
come as balls of light. Good to lay down some tobacco before embarking
on your trek.

Brian Rice

AND HUNTER TO BRIAN:

Yah-Tay Brian:
Thanks much indeed for your solid and encouraging words.  Not at all
surprisingly, we are certainly very similar in our thinking.  Beyond my
return to pipe smoking -- often the case in the family from which I come -- 
I join you in recognizing the spiritual and related dimensions inherent in
tobacco  and its appropriate uses.  I don't think it's necessary to say -- 
but I will, as per my mention of my rifle -- that we are not interested at
all in killing any bears of any kind on this proposed trip down into and
through Sycamore Wilderness.  But I did see considerable Grizzly sign in one
especially remote area [actually, it's all extremely remote] on my first
time through and we much respect them and their lands, as we do other bears.
If we have to do so, a few warning shots into the air from my 45/70 will
serve, I am sure, as a relatively polite rejection of any "aggressive
impulses".  There are very, very few Grizzlies in Arizona:  the small
undisturbed and rather loose cluster whose sign I noted in Sycamore 52 years
ago -- and at  least several in the Lukachukai Mountains in the Navajo
country, near Four Corners.

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness is, in every sense, sacred land for me.  I draw
much strength from it and from all of my many recollections of my many
travels within it -- though I have only traveled its long length, in the
physical sense, just once.

In the summer of 1999, I had a dream, about which upon awakening, I
immediately told to my family members here and elsewhere.  In it, I saw
Sycamore Canyon -- as I sometimes do in dreams and, near one of its rims, I
saw two white horses dancing.  I knew then that that was the western rim
area of the Canyon, which has Whitehorse Lake.  Then the focus shifted to
the Eastern Rim region, which I know very well.  After a pause, there was
another shift and I saw an old black hearse.  Then I was in this very house,
looking out our window into the night -- as the hearse put-putted to our
front area, circled our house [this house], three times and then stopped in
front of our front door.  And then it drove away. I awoke with the Dream
etched vividly into my mind. Four years later, the Lupus struck with
ferocity, I went to the local hospital three times in little more than three
months -- and almost died each time.  But I am obviously alive and
recovering.

Your exercise program sounds very worthwhile.  I think it's critical to
those of us who were/are destined to be free and wide-ranging.  And one of
these times we shall get together and discuss Grizzlies and other significant
matters. . . .

We will certainly keep in contact.  All the best from all of us,

Hunter

_____________________________________________________________________

David McReynolds:


Bravo - what an example you set!! I should determine to double my walking.
After all, I may be older than you, but in generally good health. Too easy
to get depressed by one's age. If I tell myself I'm 77, I feel dismal. But
if I think of my self at 57, or 47, I immediately have new energy.

Good luck with the long hike.

David
______________________________________________________________________

 Barbara Svedberg:

Dear Hunter,

It sounds ambitious for you to plan for this trip but also optimistic.  If
your lady thinks it can happen, well there it is.  I will be looking forward to the
photographs that comefrom the hike.

Barbara

_______________________________________________________________________
 

 Loki Mulholland:

Is this the same canyon with the hidden Spanish gold?

I'm glad you're looking to do this trek. Keep me in the loop on this. I just
might want to join you.

Loki

_________________________________________________________________________

Helen:  [A poignant endorsement from a great lady -- like myself, a Native victim of Systemic Lupus]

hunter,
  I'm so sorry I haven't been in touch, I did read your message , and I think your plan is just great , I'll say prayers that it work out well for you, I hope you're feeling good . I haven't been doing well , it seems everything is going wrong, I've had all kinds of tests , had three today, one was a gas test I guess maybe you may have had it, it hurts but I was brave, now I just have to wait  until the dr. calls me , I'll let you know  the results,  I do have something wonderful my granddaughter and great grandsons are coming next week I haven't seen her for four years, and son  number 2 will be here later in July it's been three years , I'll be meeting a new granddaughter as well as a new great grand son ,so with all the pain life is good, keep in touch let me know how your plans are going, best regards to your wife.                         helen

____________________________________________________________________________________

A TRULY  GREAT SYCAMORE COLLOQUY BETWEEN MYSELF [HUNTER] AND A GENUINELY KINDRED SPIRIT, GREG EPPERSON  [JANUARY  2008]
 
First, Greg's fine letter and then my response. [To Mack last summer I wrote for
geographical reference, "To put this in more cogent perspective: The Canyon
comes down from the north, opens into Sycamore Basin, and then narrows once
again, eventually emerging into the setting where Sycamore Creek flows into the Verde River.
And that's about where the hermits lived."  H.
 
To Hunter Gray,
 
Dear Hunter,
 
It is of great interest that I read your stories about your exploits
of Sycamore Canyon. I was born in Flagstaff in 1954. My parents and
grandparents came to Flagstaff years before. My grandfather was
William Epperson, just until his retirement and death in 1964 he was
Chief of Police there for many years. Currently I live in Cottonwood
and have for the past 35 years.
 
I don't know or have heard of the people you mention from the
Cornville area but you may remember some of the people I know, like
the Girdners, Stones, and Zeke Taylor?
 
Anyway what I wanted to write to you about was I too have had a love
affair with Sycamore. I grew up with the tales of grizzlies and lost
treasure since early childhood. I killed my first bear there, then
several more over the years. I have been in many areas of the canyon
but never have made the trek all the way.
 
As you know the canyon is very big and rough. Even though I've been in
many parts I will never see it all.
 
I have seen some interesting things in Sycamore, even though nothing
ground shattering. In one section of the basin area I have seen
ancient carvings in the rock wall that appears to be a map of
Sycamore? Back in those days, about 20 years ago I was not much of a
camera person, today I am, and hope to make the trek into the basin
again to document this find. I have also seen some ancient ruins;
these were small and unfortunately been scavenged by people.  I, like
others would never reveal any great find as I've seen what happens
when the public finds out about these places.
 
I believe I've also seen what was left of an old time whisky still in
the basin off the beaten path.
 
In my youth my focus, like yours, was on bears and lions. I was an
amateur houndsman, learning the skills from my brother and other
houndsmen of the Flagstaff area. One in particular was Otis Baker.
Otis, I understand is still alive and approaching 100 years old. It
was during my high school years that I spent a lot of time trailing
bears and lions in Sycamore until I realized there were easier areas
to pursue game in instead of this rugged canyon. It was during these
hunts that I saw what I saw of Sycamore. Then of course other hunts
I've made for Black Bears without the hounds. I gave up the hound
thing, as it was too much work to train and travel. I had a family and
couldn't afford the time off to pursue the sport.
 
Years ago my father and another gentleman named Don Gagnon were
varmint calling somewhere either in the basin area or the mouth of
sycamore behind the old Packard Ranch, (they don't agree where it was)
they saw in their binoculars what appeared to be a cave that had been
sealed up with stone in one of the canyon walls. My brother and I
spent a lot of time looking for this but could never find what they
described. By the way I'm told the old Packard Ranch has been burned
down. How or why I do not know but am told it’s no longer there. I do
know the Forest Service has been on a campaign to eliminate a lot of
old historical cabins and shacks in our area. Most of these that I
remember growing up are no longer there.  But this has not discouraged
me from exploring the canyon. After all this is what keeps me looking
and while exploring the canyon you always find interesting stuff.
 
There is so much I would like to tell you about the canyon and yet I
feel it’s repetitious and therefore would bore you.
Just wanted to let you know there are a few of us out there that love
and respect the canyon and have spent many years exploring its
mysteries and beauty. I was quite surprised when I read your article
about possibly making it back and walking it again. My hat's off to
you, even though I am younger than you, it takes a body in great shape
to even consider such a task. Not sure I could do but would love to
try before I get too old. Anyway I wanted to send a few pictures  I
have, and I plan on taking a lot more in the future. I've enjoyed your
writings about Sycamore and hope you well.


Sincerely
Greg Epperson
 
 

From Hunter:

 
Dear Greg:

I was delighted to get your excellent letter -- and the fine Sycamore
photos.  I am taking the liberty of making a document from your total
package and also sending these messages to various quite interested family
members.  I don't think the photos will travel via this e mail, but one of
my daughters here will assist me in conveying them to the others.  Document
status will preserve everything.

As soon as I saw your name, I recalled your family.  You and I missed each
other by a few years!  In '54, I was still in the Army and, as you've
gathered, I made my very long trek through Sycamore in the spring of '55.
At that point, I was 21.  I was back in there a number of times
thereafter.  I remember all of it as clearly as if it were yesterday.

Most of my involvement has been above Sycamore Basin -- up-canyon.  When I
last saw Taylor Cabin, in the Basin of course, it was a rather pathetic
wreck.  I gather it has now been sort of patched up and is a kind of
long-distance quasi-monument.  In the old days, I was never tempted to stay
inside it -- skunk concerns and rattlers and maybe scorpions as well.  I'm
not surprised that the Old Packard Ranch is gone.  It was holding on in my
day, but it was clearly looking at its twilight.  The Hermits who lived
there, Joe Dickson and Jerry Greaves [Dick and Jerry], passed away decades
ago.  They were great friends and Jerry once took me to a small cave, west
of the Packard Ranch, and showed me a ledge of silver ore therein.  I have
never had any interest in mineral wealth, nor, really did they -- but they
did enjoy probing possible locations simply for the mystery of it all.  On
the far lower end of things -- down in the Verde country -- I believe I may
have met Zeke Taylor.  I knew a few members of the Perkins family.  Until
the beginning of the 1990s, when we finally sold out to a Phoenix doctor, my
two brothers and I owned about 14 acres of lower Oak Creek frontage near
Cornville.  Names from those days:  Greenwell, Loy, Neece, Huffaker et al.
I am sure they have all moved on, some way, by now.

Old Man Dave Joy was in the Old Pioneer's Home at Prescott by the time I
hit Sycamore in earnest.  I did know Claude Wright, who hunted bears and
lions in the upper reaches -- but by that time, Claude had his hunting
outfit in Bloody Basin and the area below the Tonto Rim.

My turf lay in the very rugged Sycamore up-canyon  regions north and far
north of the Basin area. [The Basin, of course, is wild enough for sure in its own right.]
The Grizzlies, and I am quite sure they remain, are in some extremely rugged regions well
up-canyon from the Basin.  But they do get down to Sycamore Creek. A couple
of years ago, I gave my take on the Lost Spanish Mine and Old Man Casner's
buried treasure to a 15 year old who wrote me from around Cottonwood.  My
letter to him is on one of my website pages, "Coming of Age in the Red" --
on the far upper end of our Directory/Index in the more personal material.
[You may have already seen it.]  In my letter, I mention that probably only
a Vision will turn up Mr Casner's fortune -- his name is a widely scattered
place-name in many locations in that general Sycamore and environs
region. [As you certainly know!] But I do give my admittedly vague idea of
how to get to the Lost Mine -- pointing out, though, that the fortunate
designation of the Canyon region as Wilderness Area prohibits any mining whatsoever.

I continue to hope I and my sons and grandsons can make the essentially full
Sycamore Trek this spring.  It depends completely on whether I can recover
sufficiently from this Systemic Lupus.  Recovery is not expected by the
docs, but I surprised them several times a few years ago when I did not die.
If recovery doesn't reach an acceptable point by spring, the Trek can be
easily arranged for later -- but I much hope next spring will see the trip
come to pass.  As I am sure you are aware, once the Trek is begun the only
way "out" is to proceed down-canyon into the Verde Valley!  Even in my
prime, climbing directly straight up and out never appealed to me -- ever.

It is really great to know you, Greg -- a kindred spirit in every way.  We
shall certainly keep in touch.  Perhaps we shall some day meet. Certainly
hope so.

Take care and our very best to you and your family.

As Ever, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
 
AND MORE SOLID STUFF FROM GREG:
 
Hunter,

Glad to hear from you soon fast! I do know the Loy's and Huffakers. 
Both the elder Huffakers are gone but they had several kids and I know 
all of them. The only Loy I know is Dick Loy. I think he lives by the 
Huffakers old place still. I haven't seen him in years but I think 
he's still around. That’s so neat you know some of these people, small 
world.
 
I don't want to pester you with emails but I too have spent 
more time in the upper end. Mostly around LO Pocket and Little LO, 
Volunteer Canyon, Geronimo Springs, Babes Hole, Dorsey and Kelsey 
Springs. Did a lot of bear hunting in there over the years. I work 
with a man named Randall Stone, his mother was a Girdner, and her 
brother had a cabin some where’s real close to Geronimo Springs a very 
long time ago. Its not there anymore and I have never saw it. 
According to Randall you can see the foundation of where it used to 
be. Its been long torn down. Before he died according to Randall he 
video taped some stories and one went like this: "About 2 miles up from 
my cabin there is a red stone outcropping with a Spanish Cross 
chiseled into it."
 
 Well I got out my GPS maps and wandered up 2 miles 
from where I understood his cabin to be and it puts one of the 
locations in the upper end of Little LO Pocket. I've been in that area 
several times but unfortunately I was not looking for signs of Spanish 
Crosses, only black bears. It’s a beautiful area there, rugged to get 
to but cool nonetheless. Then from there we went down the canyon in 
some neat sandstone cutouts, some requiring bailing off the ledge into 
pools of water below. It was pretty much that all the way to Geronimo 
Springs. Then the long hike out. That was also a few years ago.

The other location would be right at the mouth of Volunteer Canyon 
going up from Geronimo Springs. I have never gone up further into the 
bottom of Sycamore from there but have bailed off into the canyon from 
the Whitehorse Lake side. Randall's son Ken has been looking for it for 
some time. That is huge country, as you know. It’s overwhelming, but 
you can always find something different each time you go in. I think 
that’s what makes it so...spirtual.if I can use that word.

Now that I live in Cottonwood I spend more time on the basin end only 
because it’s close. But the upper end is more interesting and has its 
own beauty.

It also reminds me of my Flagstaff roots.  I'm glad you liked the 
pictures and honored you thought they were good enough to send to 
relatives and friends; I hope to get some this spring of the upper 
end. I can't travel as much country as I used to in a day's time but 
can still give her heck. I missed many an opportunity to capture some 
neat places, now have to do it all over again.

Hope this does not bore you, don't want to be a pest. Here are some 
pics I thought you might be interested in. By the way I’m told Taylor 
Cabin is no more, even though I find that hard to believe. I spent 
some time in there drying out once and have made several trips to it, 
but the last trip was years ago.


Sincerely

Greg Epperson
 
 
 
AND THEN AGAIN FROM ME [HUNTER]:
 
Dear Greg:

Once again, many thanks indeed!  You certainly are not pestering me.  I am
delighted to hear again from you -- but don't feel obliged to have to get
back to me pronto.  I am sure you have many responsibilities.  But it is
indeed very good to hear from you.

It seems very clear that our trails have crossed at many Sycamore junctures.
I am pretty familiar, recollection-wise, with the settings you outline: L.O.
Pocket, Little L.O., the springs.  BTW, long before your time and even mine,
a hound-man, Jack Tooker, did a great deal of hunting -- mostly lions -- in
the L.O. region.  My father caught up with him down in Mexico at Durango
[the Sierra Madre country] where he was "sort of" in retirement.  He and Dad
became good friends.  Mr Tooker had some great Sycamore tales of his own,
which furnished fuel for my own motivational fires 'way down in our great
canyon.  Claude Wright, I should add, came from the Arkansas Ozarks into the
region during the Depression and, for a good part of the '30s, maintained a
home -- mostly a tent setup -- at Dorsey Spring.  He actually, for a few
years, raised his family there and I never drew the impression that his kids
felt sad about missing public schooling.  Years later, virtually nothing
remained of Claude's Dorsey setup -- one or two heavily rusted metal
containers, mostly covered by pine needles and oak and maple leaves.  The
Wild Country, with whatever deliberate speed and chronological timing,
always -- ultimately -- [and as you certainly know so well] effects its own
rejuvenation.  By the time I knew Clyde, he was -- as I mentioned earlier --
in the Bloody Basin region, under the Tonto Rim, and was doing nicely in his
lion and bear hunting.  In the summer of '55, he honored me with a firm
offer to become his partner.  I declined, sadly, because I was pointed
toward school via the GI Bill.  Now and then I've wondered if I made the
right decision -- but I guess I did.  Among other things, I wouldn't have
the super fine wife and rapidly enlarging family [all great folks], if I'd
gone to Bloody Basin!

Exaggerating my age, I went to work for the Coconino fighting forest fires
in 1950.  By the summer of '51, they were shifting me into some fire lookout
work.  When old Bill Pratt [a Laguna from New Mexico and a good friend of my
folks] took a few days off from Mount Elden Lookout, I subbed for him.  My
Great Moment came when I trumped all the other lookouts -- Woody, Volunteer,
Bill Williams, Turkey Butte -- in spotting a developing fire at Kelsey Spring.  My reading
was, as I recall, 239 or so -- and I was one pleased 17 year old.  That was
my last day of that particular stint and, when I returned to Knob Hill that
evening, the fire dispatcher, Keith Hunter, complimented me and then asked
if I'd like to go with Bob Legg to help fight the Kelsey fire that night.  I
was sure game for that so off I went to the fire I'd been the first to spot.
The lookouts from Turkey Butte and Woody Mountain were already there and we
all contained it with no great trouble.  The next summer, I did Elden [Bill,
after decades, had retired] and then -- when for his  personal reasons Lloyd
Van Deren was shifted from Woody to Elden, I took over Woody for the rest of
the summer. And that move, of course, put me quite a bit closer to Sycamore.

Your fine photos of the obvious map-on-the-rock are truly fascinating.  If I
were making a sort of educated guess, I'd say it's very old Spanish work.
It certainly seems to be a map of much of the Canyon.  It could be Native
but, from what I know about American Indian hieroglyphics and related
drawings, I have never encountered them in such an extensive linear format.
But that's just my guess.  Whatever and however, it's a genuinely wonderful
find and you are certainly to be complimented for registering it on camera.
I greatly appreciate the photos and, again, am documenting them -- but I
won't share them beyond our family.  That's your find, and it's a great one.
 

Too bad, I should add, about Taylor Cabin -- assuming it's gone

down.  But it was a wreck long ago.  Winter Cabin was in better shape --
but showing its age.  Two cowpuncher friends and I spent a Thanksgiving weekend
at Buck Ridge Cabin -- pretty new back then.  I shot a turkey and we ate it all up.


Well, we've walked the same sidewalks and back streets at Flag, gone to the
same public schools, and much more in that "urban" setting, but it's clear
our hearts and minds as well are securely in Sycamore Canyon.  And there, as
I say, we've crossed trails many times indeed.  I really do hope we have a
chance to meet directly at some point.  That could come to pass.

We certainly wish you very well indeed, Greg.  We will certainly keep in
contact.
 

Write when time allows.

As Ever, Hunter

 

FROM GREG:

Yes, you and I have crossed the same routes but at different times. So interesting that you know the the history of these places. I feel like I found the gold mine. 

I haven't heard of Claude but will ask my brother. He has been a professional lion hunter since the early seventies. He has met Clell Lee and has had some conversations with him, what, I do not know. Jack Tooker, I still have a book with an article he wrote about Sycamore, maybe some of the same stuff you've read.. About the winter he spent in Winter Cabin hunting grizzlies. I also have a picture on my old computer at work and I'll have to get it that's shows a son of a friend of mine that found what I think may be a very large grizzly bear trap he found down by OT lake. Hope its still there as another party has that computer now. That is so neat your Dad knew him, I thought this kind of information was long gone.
 

I've been thinking about doing a website with a forum about Sycamore I would respect your thoughts on this? I don't know if thats a good idea or bad, but thinking about it, may reap some info that could be very interesting. On the down side, how much would I want to make public? So much of this is personal, what's your thoughts?

 

By the way, did you ever trump East Pocket Lookout. There was one year back in the early seventies, my guess is 1969-1970 ( I was  a sophomore in good old Flagstaff High) that I must have seen 20 black bears during the late summer months.

 

They were thick in there, until hunting season opened. We saw some really huge bear there that summer, There was a fire soon afterwards and it was not the same after that. I have very fond memories East Pocket.. 

 

There was an old plane wreck real close to the edge of the canyon, looking towards Secret Mountain, and a friend and I sat there on this ledge eating lunch when a sow and cub passed directly underneath us while we ate lunch. That was a fun year.

 

I think I've been to all the lookouts, I know for sure East Pocket, Turkey Butte, and Woody Mt. 

 

You are a fascinating man! Glad I found you!

Talk to you later

Your Friend
Greg
 

FROM HUNTER:

Greg:
 
Quick response -- I have to go in a bit -- but Sycamore is much on my mind.  I knew East Pocket pretty well.  Joe Janes was lookout there for a season during my time and became a good friend for life.  He and his wife live now on the western Washington  coast and we keep in touch.  He's ten years older than I am -- and holding on well. We talk by phone every so often.  He got on well with the Hermits, too.  I think a website would make very good sense.  You have some very, very interesting stuff to offer.  It's not hard to judiciously filter personal stuff when you publish -- although you might not want to put everything out in public [maybe not the rock map].  But your photos and your stories and insights are really excellent and offer much, certainly, to the younger people [and there are always a few like us]. And it's easy to add other dimensions as you go along.  The best website arrangements are not the free-bees -- we briefly tried that -- but something, say, that requires some expenditure for Front Pages 2003 and a fairly moderate monthly fee.  We have found that _________ is our best arrangement -- and they help one set things up.  [I am grateful on that score to my kids and grandchildren.  When we developed our website years ago, I was pretty much in first grade at that point.  Now I might be a high school junior.]
 
Later, Hunter

FROM HUNTER: [SOME OLDER MATERIAL]

Note to Greg [1/02/08]:  Our website is huge and draws between two thousand and three thousand hits per day. Much of the material is on the Real West but some of the older posts are not up high on the Index/Directory.  Some of those older posts, however, are reachable via Google -- like most of our stuff -- and there is a lot of interest on lions [panthers.]  I've quickly cut and pasted herewith just some excerpts from those "cat pages" that you might want to glance at -- at your leisure.  There is mention of Buck Ridge Cabin, among other things.  Take care and all best, H
 
________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
FIRST POST:  NOVEMBER 15 2004  [HUNTER BEAR]

Getting up early these mornings -- usually anywhere from 1 am to 3 am -- I
see and hear interesting things. No tangible evidence of earthquakes and --
with the exception of a very few odd and shadowy cars seen in our
floodlights -- nothing especially suggestive from the Stormfront White
Nationalist hate outfit or its associated National Alliance.  I have,
however, heard close-by yowling on a couple of very recent occasions -- big yowling.  I've heard it before, and odds are heavy it's a mountain lion.
Several are often around here, especially in the late fall and winter when
the really up high country is locked in snow and the deer and elk have come down into this region.  A lion recently wandered into the large Pocatello suburb of Chubbuck -- and then left in leisurely fashion.

Now we're into November and its winter rains and snow and I always remember Another Time.  A Teen, whose parents somehow avoided worrying about my many adventures, I had left my camp on the edge of Sycamore Canyon at night  and was planning to head to Flagstaff and home.  The roads were really not roads much of the time but my '29 Model A coupe could always handle them nicely. Soon after I started the long very dark trip back to Flag, I saw coming toward me, two horses with their riders.  They turned out to be Ken Fox [a cowboy and rodeo man not too much older than I who I'd met a year before] and a slightly older friend of his, Joe MacBride. They were planning to hunt mule deer. Upshot was, we tossed in with each other.  We now headed away from the direction of Flag, toward Buck Ridge Cabin -- a line shack on the Sycamore rim used by cowpunchers.  Joe, who was not in good physical shape,
rode with me.  When we came to a barbed wire "horse trap" [corral] into
which we put the horses, we built a fire and camped right there in the rain.
My buddies, with bedrolls, had a fifth of a caustic whiskey known in those
days as Four Roses and consumed a fair amount before turning in.  They were soon soundly asleep. I slept under my big wolfskin robe [we still have it here in Idaho] which, as always when wet, smells like an old dog.

I awoke suddenly shortly after midnight.  A lion was yowling, maybe a
quarter of a mile away.  I reached for my 30/30 Winchester, not too
surprised when -- suddenly! -- the yowls came only a few yards from the
horse corral.  The horses were now frantic.  I stood up and, yelling, fired
one shot into the air.  My buddies arose sleepily but the crisis was over
and the horses settled.  The next morning, Joe again traveling with me, we
continued to the Cabin where we saw a huge wild turkey running across a
clearing.  I shot it at a hundred yards, Joe cooked it inside on the Cabin's
wood stove, and we three ate it and some of the Cabin's grub for a couple of days before the rain and snow passed. [We left a few dollars on a shelf with a note.] Then, Joe with me, we headed back north/northwest, 20 miles or so at least on obscure roads which went around the head of Sycamore -- to Ken's folks' ranch house.

If I have any tinge of regret, it is that I sometimes wish I spent my life
[so far] in the woods, hunting in emulation of my Great Hero, the legendary
Ben Lilly, "Last of the Mountain Men."  But I did not, although I've often
returned to the wilderness in many capacities and still do, of course,
whenever and however I can.  I did turn down offers to join the business
side of my Mother's family; I did not consider attending the proffered
Wharton School of Business [University of Pennsylvania] which later became a well known think tank for Phelps Dodge Copper [horrors!]; and I turned down a management slot in one of the western Bell affiliates [before the divestiture.]  The ghosts of my Native ancestors -- John Gray et al -- would have never allowed those heresies. [My father would have been much displeased -- but would never have interfered.] I may not have devoted my life [so far] solely to the wilderness -- Audubon's "perfection of
primitiveness" -- but I am satisfied with the activist trail I've taken and
faithfully followed -- as I always will.

Anyway, here is a bit on Big Kitty with mention of Ben Lilly.
 

SECOND POST  [March 5, 2002]  Hunter Bear

Note to RedBadBear List:  This is being sent to the SNCC list in connection
with the discussion of the origin of the Black Panther logo for the  Lowndes
County (Alabama) Freedom Party.

Panthers were traditionally found all over Dixie and are still much around
in several sections of the Deep South -- and, by other names,  they're in
much of North America. A broad term for the animal is puma.  In the  general
Southwest, they're called mountain lions;  in the Pacific Northwest and
environs, it's cougar; in  Mexico, they're called leon or pantera.  And in
the South, it's panther or pantha.  There is a slight variant in the Florida
Everglades, but it's the same basic animal.  The general color is
yellowish -- varying with season and geography -- but occasionally one is
born dark.  In the West, those are called "blue" lions [or blue cougars]
and, in the South, "black" panthers. They can easily weigh anywhere from 150
pounds to over 200.  A range of a lion [being from Northern Arizona, I use
that name] is substantial -- 20 or 30 miles is not unusual and it can be
much more than that.

There is every reason to believe panthers could easily have been  in the
Lowndes County region in the 1960s -- and still are to this very point.  And
they would certainly have been seen there.

 Actually, after having been relentlessly "thinned out" in many parts of the
country, they're now returning -- and in increasing numbers.  As a rule,
they are very shy and don't bother humans.  The rare exceptions almost
always involve the very rapid expansion of Western mountain cities into
traditional lion hunting terrain: e.g., Boulder, Colorado.  Two lions -- a
large male and a smaller female -- often come within two hundred yards of
our house here in Idaho. Nice to have them around -- along with all the
bobcats, coyotes, deer, moose, and much more.

Lions can be, in defense of their families and their interests, quite
fierce.  They are a very worthy totem -- or, in the non-Indian context,
logo.

As Ever - Hunter Bear

THIRD POST [March 6, 2002] Hunter Bear

They are all the same animal -- simply different names from different
geographical and cultural  traditions. As I mentioned, the Florida
Everglades has a slight variant -- but it's still the same critter.  Other
cats -- with which city folks sometimes confuse the
puma/lion/panther/leon/pantera/cougar -- are the wildcat or bobcat [15-25
pounds] or the Canadian/Siberian Lynx [40-60 pounds.]  The South has plenty
of bobcats but it's doubtful that any rural person would confuse a bobcat
with a panther.  From extreme Southern Arizona down into various parts of
the rest of the Hemisphere, one finds the Jaguar [tiger, tigre.]  These are
often 150 to sometimes 250 or 300 pounds, yellow tan background with many
black spots -- and, like the lion or panther or pantera [Mexican for
panther], there are occasionally dark Jaguars.

I began learning these things when I started hunting from early childhood
on -- and then, for a time, trapped extensively.  [I once had about 200
Number 4 Victor double-springs for large animals -- but I now have only one,
hanging on the wall.  I can set it -- as I always have -- with my bare
hands, on my knee. If something goes wrong in that ritual, I'll then have
two thumbs and seven fingers.]

More to the point here:  There's an excellent book, The Ben Lilly Legend, by
the late Southwestern writer, J. Frank Dobie of Texas [Boston: Little, Brown
and Co., 1950 and many more recent printings.]  I bought my copy as a 16
year old at a Santa Fe bookstore almost as soon as it appeared. Dobie, BTW,
from an old Texas ranching family, was a consistently courageous liberal: a
supporter of  union labor and full civil rights who always vigorously backed the
Southern Conference for Human Welfare.  He was a very fine writer who
taught at University of Texas [and England's Oxford] and fought hard for
academic freedom over several generations.  He was also a very good friend
of the late Jim Silver, who was, of course, the courageous History prof and
human being at Mississippi's Oxford -- and who wrote the classic,
Mississippi: The Closed Society, 1963/1964 and 1966. Jim told me that he and
Dobie gave each other every book they wrote.

The focus of this particular Dobie book  [ he wrote many very fine ones]
is Benjamin Vernon Lilly, the great lion and bear hunter -- "Last of the
Mountain Men" -- who was born in 1856 in Wilcox County, Alabama, grew

up in Mississippi's Kemper County, hunted extensively in the Deep South and
eventually went down into the Sierra Madre of Mexico, and finally came up
into the Western New Mexico/Eastern Arizona setting where he was active for
decades until his death at Silver City, NM, in 1936.  There is a monument to
him in the Mogollon Mountains.  Lilly was a Southern hunter -- who always
referred to the cats we are discussing as "panthers."  One fascinating
chapter of Dobie's book is Chapter 9, "Ben Lilly on Panthers" -- which is
based heavily on Mr. Lilly's manuscript, "What I Know About Panthers."  And
he knew a lot.

A ranching family in the remote Blue River/Bear Mountain country of extreme
eastern Arizona, at whose home I occasionally stayed in the late 1950s and
1960s especially, had two gunny sacks of possessions that Mr Lilly had left
there during his "last trip through" -- in the early 1930s.  Everything was
kept just as he had placed it: home-made hunting knives, clothing, spare .33
WCF cartridges, etc.  Ben Lilly was highly respected and is to this very
day -- a top authority on bears and lions.  And he always, in the best
Southern tradition, called the latter "panthers."


Sitting right here by my computer is my one-half Bobcat cat -- making it
clear she resents my devotion to the computer and is now ready for a morning
walk.  She consistently gets her way with me.

All best.

Yours - Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

 

FROM GREG:

Hi Hunter
 

I have read almost everything I could put my hands on that had 
anything to do with hounds, then later just any kind of hunting. I 
have read Dobie's book on Lilly, twice. Great writer, I especially like the story about Lilly marrying a gal 
down south, she nagged him to kill a chicken hawk ( I think ) and he 
came back a year or so later. She asked him why he was gone so long, his reply, the bird kept flying! 
Classic.I read another book called Puma, Mysterious American Cat, and read 
some of Lilly's hunts around the Pine Mountain Wilderness area. Great 
Stuff.
 

Years ago I met a guy named Ed Hartwig, Ed was maybe late sixties when 
we met, and he told me of stories hunting grizzlies and huge black bear
with his buddies the Goswicks in the Pine Mountain area. The Goswicks 
are still around. Not sure I'm spelling their name right though.
I've also read the book ( my brother has it ) and I think it was 
called The Greatest Guides? Not sure about the title, but it was about 
the Lee brothers.
 

I loved the hound hunting, just as dogs died out so did my ambition 
for it. A lot of work, especially for a guy trying to support his 
family.
 

After the dog thing, I got used to glassing the scrub oak benches over 
looking sycamore for bear. Was pretty successful over the years, and a 
whole lot less work and easier on the body. I soon found out why some of those 
old hound men like Lilly were so tough.
 

I have spent several cold winter nights in Buck Ridge cabin. My 
brother and I were hunting lions and we stayed there a couple of 
nights as it was handier than going
back to town. Had the wood stove stoked up and kept comfortable. The 
mice running all over me gave me the creeps but that was the worst of 
it.
 

Buck Ridge cabin is in pretty good shape as you can see from the 
pictures. I was really surprised when I went back and took these 
pictures it hadn't been ransacked yet.
Maybe too far out of the way. Whatever the reason was glad to see it 
was still standing. I did not know its been around that long.
 

You are a fascinating man, sure glad I ran into you.

Your Friend
Greg

 

 

[AND THIS SPECIAL INSERT FROM QUICK BEAR [BRET SALTER]   1/01/08]

Dear Grandpa,
 
    I would love to go on the trek. I wouldn't think twice about it. That would be amazing to go on it. Count me in.
 
        LOVE,
            QUICK BEAR

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

MORE COMMENT:
 
JOHN SALTER WRITES:
 
Good post this morning.  Good message about the nit-picking.
 
More warm weather here.
 
Bret very interested in the Sycamore thing.  He's researching edible plants in the region.
 
Guy from here was in Fargo shoveling snow off a warehouse roof and it all started sliding.  Jumped off the roof to get away and was buried under a pile of snow.  Died.
 
Is there a viable stream at the bottom of the canyon?
 
I'm glad Obama pulled it out in Iowa.  Well, anything to keep Hillary out.  I liked Dodd and of course Kucinich, though.
 
JS
 
HUNTER'S RESPONSE:
 
Beba;
 
There are several good-water year-around springs in the Sycamore Wilderness -- and Sycamore Creek [at the bottom] is big and very permanent in the sense that, even during dry periods, there's always something water-wise down in there.  In my day, we could drink from any spring and the Creek as well without any problems. I note now that the USFS  recommends a water-purifying kit -- but that may just be pro-forma.  My hunch is, all the Sycamore Canyon water is just fine.
 
Best, D [Dad]

________________________________________________________________________________

TIM MCGOWAN:

Dear Hunter,

I think I might take you up on the option name -- Anything....That's VERY
mystical. . .
 Seriously, what a treat to get your letter.
I'm amazed that the main site gets 2 to 3,000 hits a day . That's phenomenal
!  On the security end, I'm mindful of the flies still in the air around any
fisher of trout.  I've just started to look at the Sycamore link, and will
be correlating the narrative with the Sycamore section of a book on" The
Meaning of Trees"  that Michelle gave me for Christmas.  The book, by Fred
Hagender, is subtitled Botany History Meaning and Lore.  . .
I'm not even going to start on the political corner tonight , except to say
I feel the same enormous need to get a good, bright, capable leader to
follow the incumbent.  That's an understated comment.
Please give my regards to Eldri, Maria, and Josie, my goddaughter and social
worker.
Be open to just getting down to Sycamore Canyon in the Spring.  You don't
need to hike around like a 20 year old to make yourself available again to
it's spirit.  It's presence will come to you regardless of your degrees of
physical engagement.  You're certainly aware of it's openness and welcoming
when and as The Creator, your  intuition and your common sense approach the
prospect freely.

I'm baked for the day and am heading for some sleep.
It's a real delight to be in correspondence.
We can even look forward to a phone visit in '08.
Peace, and solidarity
Tim

_________________________________________________________________________________
 

 
QUICK BEAR [BRET SALTER] ASKS:
 
Dear Grandpa,
 
    I got a couple questions a the Sycamore trek if we go. Would we take the tourist trails or find our own way through? Is there any laws banning firearms there because I wanted to bring my .22 with? About how many days will we be down there? About how far would we go? I'll send a longer email soon.
 
    LOVE,
        QUICK BEAR
 
 
AND I RESPOND:
 
Dear Quick Bear:
 
Very good questions.  Recognizing, of course, that the timing of the Sycamore Trek depends on the condition of my [so-called] health, I do hold to my conviction that It will surely take place -- sooner or later.  And, of course, we all want it sooner! 
 
We won't be fiddling around with trails -- other than some pure game-trails.
 
Despite the US Forest Service trail map re Sycamore Wilderness, the very few trails there are indeed very few and could never be tagged conventional "tourist trails."  They are rough, sometimes not more than slightly "glorified" game trails.  And of the few trails there are, almost all involve the upper reaches of the Canyon or the somewhat more accessible far lower end, Sycamore Basin and southward down into the Verde Valley.  Even the vehicle roads that go close to the Canyon at a few spots are rough.
 
And, of the very  few  trails, they are not at all well traveled, believe me.  Even the somewhat more accessible "lower end" -- the southern end of the Canyon -- sees very few people.  And this certainly holds quite true even for Sycamore Basin.  The vast and extremely rough section of the Canyon that lies north of the Basin [and that's the biggest and longest part of the Real Canyon] sees, I am sure, virtually no one.  Sycamore is really enormous and very, very rugged.  I suspect only a rare person even touches into the Inner Gorge. And, if someone does get 'way down in there, they don't go far.
 
[As I've said, I know of no contemporary person -- other than myself -- who has gone all the way through Sycamore Canyon.]
 
There is no reason you couldn't take your rifle.  I plan on packing my 45/70 Marlin lever action and probably my .22 Magnum revolver.
 
I am giving much thought to our own non-trail routes.
 
And I will certainly keep you all posted on everything.
 
Our very best, Quick Bear!
 
Grandpa [Hunter Bear]

 

AND THIS OBSERVATION FROM HUNTER BEAR [JANUARY 15 2008]

 
The proposed Sycamore Trek has already served two very useful purposes:  It's feathered out the now well visited Sycamore pages on our website -- and greatly increased the likelihood that, in the years to come, my various levels of descendants will eventually get there and experience the same enduring magic that has so constructively and successfully carried me through a myriad of crises and battles. But I strongly believe that I will, myself, make the great junket yet again, in the flesh -- and with offspring.  The question is not If -- but When -- and I reiterate: the sooner the better. 
 
And the new Grizzlies page is developing well.  http://hunterbear.org/grizzlies.htm
 
H.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

Check out our Hunterbear social justice website: www.hunterbear.org
[The site is dedicated to our one-half Bobcat, Cloudy Gray:
http://hunterbear.org/cloudy_gray.htm

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings. Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]
http://www.hunterbear.org/GRAY%20LANDS%20AND%20GRAY%20GHOSTS.htm

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