Monday, November 23, 2015

A Walk Into Destiny

November 16, 2015 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Sharon with her pack burro hiking in the foothills of Superstition Mountain near Massacre Grounds circa 1993.
Sometime near the end of my cowboy days at the Quarter Circle U Ranch I met this young lady named Sharon. We were so much alike that I couldn’t believe it. She loved the outdoors, the desert, hiking, horseback riding, and most of all she loved me. I had never met a person who was genuinely enthralled with me.

 We met for the first time in October of 1959. I was recovering from a severe injury while working as a cowboy on the old Quarter Circle U Ranch. Shortly after our first date we spent more time hiking in the mountains and visiting old mines in the area than anything else.

I told her about running in the Apache Junction Lion’s Club Burro Derby in 1959, and she encouraged me to do it again in 1961 Burro Derby. Well I wasn’t much better in that race either. As a matter of fact the burro led me most of time in the 1961 race.

Our friendship was a very strong relationship that continued to blossom based on our love for the desert, Superstition Mountain and each other.

We hiked to Fremont Saddle to enjoy the spectacular view of Weaver’s Needle. It took all my energy to keep up with my new hiking partner.

We continued to search out new things to see in the Superstition Wilderness. Our hike to the Flat Iron up Siphon Draw was a challenge, but it was also one our most interesting outings.

We were finally married on June 23, 1961. I had a job and so did Sharon. However, as a young married couple we had very little money. Neither of our parents had much money so there was no big wedding with a paid Honeymoon. We both tried to think of something we could do for our honeymoon that wouldn’t break our meager savings account. Finally we decided to hike from Peralta Trailhead to Canyon Lake on July 4, 1961.

The trip is approximately fifteen miles, however the average daytime temperature for July was about 105°F. The idea sounded insane at first, but we decided to follow the course of La Barge Canyon all the way to the Canyon Lake. We departed PeraltaTrailhead at 4:30 a.m.

We hiked up over to Bark’s Draw and took an old trail up to Linesbee’s Camp at the base of Bluff Springs Mountain. Due to recent summer rains we found an abundance of water. Sharon and I stopped at Bluff Springs cabin and found plenty of water at Bluff Spring’s tank.

We then hiked down Bluff Spring Canyon to La Barge Canyon and La Barge Spring.  As we hiked down La Barge Canyon we found shade quite often and plenty of water. Yes, my friends it was hot, but we were young and full of energy. We were in Marsh Valley by noon. We stopped and ate lunch by a large pool of water just above the Lower La Barge Box. Our hike through the box was slow and difficult because of the big boulders, however when we exited the box we found a wonderful pool of water to sit in and cool off.

We continued our hike down La Barge Canyon past old Chuck and Peggy Aylor’s old stone cabin on the west side of the canyon. The hardest part of the hike was the climb out of La Barge Canyon to the crest of the hill that looked down on Canyon Lake Marina and Canyon Lake.

Sharon led the way to the top of the hill. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but she continued to encourage me. This was the first time I really thought I was going to give up and sit down. What an enduring hike up that hill it was. I will never forget it as long as I live. I watched Sharon go over the crest as I lingered to rest a moment. Finally I made it to the top. I think I was dehydrated and I was out of water. Walking down hill I finally caught up with Sharon and she shared some water with me. We made it to the Boulder Creek Bridge and the end of our hike. What a matrimonial test this was.  At the end of the trip we were convinced we would be lifetime partners. We will have been married fifty-five years on June 23, 2016.

Sharon’s philosophy has always been “never give up.” The first of October, 2015 my wife was diagnosed with Bilateral Carcinoma. There for a while I thought I would loose her, but she fought a valiant battle against all odds. She survived 10 days in ICU fighting Pneumonia.

She survived chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Her health and strength has once again returned. She told me recovery was ninety percent attitude.

Last Sunday, November 8, 2015, we started a hike from Lost Dutchman State Park’s Cholla area and hiked a round trip of 1.5 miles on the Treasure Loop Trail. Once again she is happy to be hiking and walking in the desert.          

This outdoor partnership has lasted more than fifty-five years if you count it from the time we met. My partner loved my cowboy persona, but encouraged and supported my desire to attend the university. After graduation I remained in my profession as an educator for thirty-five years. I loved teaching science and teaching the history of the area with my partner always assisting and at my side. All my success in life I must give to her because without her none of this would have been possible.

Yes, I have made mistakes in my life, but I have recovered from them and continued down that straight and narrow road. And that hike from Peralta Trailhead to Canyon Lake in 1961 was “my walk into destiny.”