I ran in the desert this morning and the whole time felt as if I couldn’t breathe deeply enough. The desert smelled of rain to come and with each inhalation I tried to take in as much of that smell–that feeling–as I could. I tried to make out what I was smelling: a bit of creosote, some moist mesquite, maybe desert broom too? I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I think that is part of the magic of smelling rain in the desert–it is so infrequent and so elusive and so unique that it reminds us of how lucky we are to get the rain at all. And for me, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be able to step out into this Sonoran Desert–a desert with tropical roots and one of the youngest biomes on the North American continent–and just take it all in, marveling at how such a wide array of plants and animals eke life out of less than 15 inches of rain a year.
Something about the billowing clouds, the sporadic spots of sunshine, and the illuminated Tucson mountains off in the distance all made me think the last time I was in northern Arizona. Last fall I was up on the second Hopi Mesa, speaking with a teenage boy about his life there. The smell of rain was in the air then too, but it was different: we were in a different desert and the rain smell was accented with hints of different plants. He told me about how his culture believed that rain was brought by Kachinas–Hopi spirits–from the San Francisco Peaks, where I had been earlier that day. I remembered the clouds building over the peaks and pictured them trailing behind us, waiting to rain down upon the Hopi Mesas. The boy said they could definitely use the rain, and that a Kachina ceremony was being planned for that evening.
I and my group continued along our way, ending our day at the Grand Canyon. The next afternoon the rain arrived too, and I smiled, imagining the Hopi boy and his Kachina ceremony.
I definitely hope that we do not get the same kind of rain on our San Francisco Peaks Expedition this upcoming summer as we got last fall. I don’t think we will–the amount of rain that northern Arizona received was highly unusual. That being said, I am SO stoked for our expedition, no matter the weather. We’ll be prepared with all of the right gear regardless, and just dreaming of days spent backpacking and night spent telling stories around a campfire or snuggled up in our sleeping bags makes my heart happy I can’t wait to get to know some new girls on the trip and discover a whole new part of AZ together.
Off to write that gear packing list now …..
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