The commencement of Día de Muertos brought 13 spirited W/T/F/NB/GNC humans together to explore the Coronado National Forest. Brenda and Mo lead the crew in search of an oasis in the Sonoran Desert. Our journey began in the town of Arivaca, 11 miles north of the Mexican border.
Departing from town, the path quickly washed away into rugged, washboard roads as we headed towards the mountains. We were met by roaming cattle staring at these bewildering creatures on two wheels charging through the valleys of the desert.
We took solace from the sun at Arivaca Lake where the trees' foliage protected us from the scorching sun. Despite the lake resembling ectoplasm due to the algal bloom, it was refreshing to take a dip into the cold water as the frogs and fish scattered around us.
But alas, this was not quite the oasis we were seeking so we continued southeast towards Ruby in search of treasure.
Passing the ghost town of Ruby, we entered into the mountains, rolling up and over the canyons as the sun started to set as we settled into the nooks of the valley gorge. We gathered around the fire while sharing ghost stories and our hodge-podge of ingredients to create hybrid tacos. After our tummies were full and the coals turned to ashes, we slipped into our cocoons.
In the witching hour, a shrill shriek was released in the darkness. A visitor dressed in black and white came scurrying through the sleeping grounds. Pepé Le Pew tried to get cozy with Summer scampering across her legs as she shooed Pepé's stinky butt away into the night.
The sun peaked over the ridge as we emerged from our chrysalides to stretch our wings in the warmth of the morning sun. Yogi Rio guided the flock through sun salutations in preparation of the journey ahead of us.
The sun was high, and we continued to chase its radiating rays climbing up into the sky. The Ocotillo branches pointed our way up into the steep, rocky mountains as ravens surfed the clouds above us.
As we continued to climb up, down and around the canyons, the US Border Patrol made their presence known as they sped around the bends of the loose gravel turns. While passing in their big ol' SUVs, they gawked at us like we were a band of wild banshees baffled by the sight of banditas on bikes in the depths of the mountains.
Descending down to the foothills of the Pajarito Mountains, the limestone bluffs widened displaying the open waters of our final destination — Peña Blanca Lake. Peña Blanca is derived from the Spanish term for "white rock"; but if you remove the tilde from the n, it translates to "white sorrow" which seems ironic with how close this body of water is to the border. Let's reflect that humanitarian aid is not a crime and, as humans, we should recognize that everyone has a right to live and seek asylum.
We took pause to soak in the spirits of the forest and breathtaking views of the flora and fauna flourishing around the waters. While we slipped into the water, cooling our bodies and souls, a blood sacrifice to the leeches was involved while saving a winged creature out from the surface of the water.
As we gathered around the shoreline, we witnessed a couple of banditas pirating a canoe from unsuspected sightseers. (The canoe was borrowed with permission. ...maybe a bit longer than expected.)
After absorbing the beauty of mother nature, we released our blessings to the forest spirits and headed back into the majestic mountains as the sun receded behind it.
We settled on to a bluff overlooking the valley gorges of the Pajarito Wilderness — the view was astonishingly gorge-ous.
We stretched our legs and explored the valley below where a stream trickled through the crevices of the canyon. The painted sunset was to live for as dusk approached into the twilight of the night.
We gathered around the flames of nature's television as we nourished our bodies and felt the warmth from not only the natural hearth but the hearts of the humans gathered together. The howls of laughter echoed against the chitter-chatter of the coyotes as we played games, read our destinies in tarot minis and twerked beneath the stars. And oh, my stars! What a bootyful sight a twerk train is — it was so hot it was on fire!
Our final night together was a magical gathering of endless laughter that will live on in the echoes of the mountain. We found our own oasis within each other which is the truest treasure of all. As the stars and the moon disappeared into the light of the morning sun, we blew farewell kisses to the Sky Islands as we descended back down to Arivaca.
The warmest thank you from the depths of my heart to Brenda and Mo for organizing with the WTF Bikexplorers to host this ride and bring all these lovely humans together: Brittne, Carly, Dani, Jenny, Karla, Megan, Rebecca, Serena, Summer, Vanessa. Each and every one of y'all radiated such kindness and fun-filled energy that made this unforgettable adventure.
You may trace the path of our journey here or preview the interactive route below. This route traverses through areas of border crossings by refugees and asylum seekers. Please consider donating to No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, a humanitarian organization based in Southern Arizona whose mission is to end death and suffering in the Mexico-US borderlands through civil initiative.