A Desert Travel Tale

Painted Hawk

~ Mel Gotwalt


A cooling breeze across sweat dampened

brow welcomes arrival at the peak of

Mount Ajo. Seated on the golden hued

ground, the view remains the same as the

ancestors enjoyed thousand years before

with few exceptions. To the southwest mountains and valleys roll out in the distance beaconing a visit, and to the southeast the great nation of the Tohono O’odham keeps vigilant watch over the dignity of these lands. It is a good place to be, one sees the handiwork of the Creator of all things.

The air is sweet here and the touch of the earth feels like home, but the exceptions assail the moment. Nearby, a solar powered signal tower stands invasively mocking the effort spent climbing to evade modern life for the peace of the wilderness. While the towers presence is not especially desired, its purpose offers communications a gift if sent from kindness of hearts to each other. The other exception has lesser and unkind purpose.

Prior to the journey to the mountain trail head, a drive through the scenic loop trail “Puerto Blanco Drive” passed by the southern US border. The current wall, as captured in this photograph is not friendly, but it does allow animal brothers to migrate safely in search of food and water. Beauty of the land is not hidden and remains for enjoyment.


But in these days, the leaders of those that control this land gather in Washington DC with a scheme to build a high and solid wall. It is not clear whether fear or arrogance is the motivation, but much will be lost if they succeed. What shall grandchildren and great-grandchildren reflect upon if silence is the only response? Hope rises that descendants embracing the spirit of those who fought many years ago against injustices to the land shall give voice to resistance. Perhaps the reader of this travel tale may be one of these defenders.