I had the following comment from a reader and wanted to take a few moments to post something in reply:
I’m . . . visiting Superstition Mountains this weekend. I’m not interested in gold, more interested in learning more about vortexes and cryptozoological sightings. I’d like to do so in a respectful, cautious, and open-minded manner.
First of all, thank you for your comment and your question. The very fact that you have asked the question likely means that you are in no serious danger of doing something disrespectful that might get you in trouble. Respect starts with awareness and you seem to have that already.
Specific to the Superstition area, while I am sure there are vortexes (areas where one or more ley lines intersect and cause a power center), I did not encounter any in that area. That’s not to say that they are not there, just that I did not happen to walk into one, nor am I aware of anyone having surveyed and mapped vortexes in that area. Sedona, a little farther north of the Phoenix area, is famous for its vortexes and there are maps aplenty of those, some of which you can find online.
There have been some Sasquatch type sightings on the Mogollon Rim (again, just north of the Phoenix metroplex) and I believe that there is at least one in the area just to the south of the range so a cryptozoological encounter is not impossible but not as likely as it would be further north in AZ.
As I mentioned in my post on the Superstitions, the area is sacred ground to the Apache. Much of your experience will depend on where you go. If you stay on “the beaten path”, then my impression is that the spirits of the place will more or less leave you be. They have grown accustomed to people wandering through their demesne and, while they will keep an eye on you (that feeling of being watched) in some places, that is no cause for concern.
Where you have to be more careful is if you choose to leave the designated trails in the area, particularly if you are going to be over-nighting. If you are going to bushwhack at all, look to your physical safety first: travel with a partner, or if you are alone, at least be sure someone knows where you are and when you should be back. Carry a good first aid kit (many slip and fall hazards in addition to snakes beginning to move around this time of year) and more water than you think you will need. The desert is DRY and it dries you out more quickly than you might think. Supply lists can be found on many backpacking sites and how much you carry will depend on how long you are going to be out.
On the psychic/spiritual level, my biggest advice is to maintain your attitude of respect and, as I mentioned in the earlier blog, listen carefully to your gut. If you happen to wander into one of those “dead zones” that I describe in the article, then back out slowly. If you feel that something is not right, that some place might be dangerous, that you are being watched and the feeling becomes oppressive or if you feel presences you are uncomfortable with then my best advice is to leave whatever area this occurs in. If this means a detour then so be it. Do not let your route dictate your safety and, if your navigation skills are not up to plotting such a route, simply go back the way you came. Discretion is the better part of valor in this area.
Apache people traditionally make offerings and do blessings with cornmeal so it might be useful to carry some with you. If you stumble across anything that you fear you might have offended, leave a pinch of cornmeal on a rock or the ground, explain quietly that you meant no disrespect and leave the area. This same technique can work if you come into an area with “friendlies”. Offer a pinch of cornmeal, explain that you have come in peace to learn about the area and its inhabitants both visible and invisible and ask to be introduced. Sit quietly, turn your attention inward (meditate if you are of that bent) and see what manifests. You may see nothing, you may see things with your inner vision or you might be lucky enough to see something with your physical eyes. I’ve had some encounters in that area with beings that appeared solid but were definitely creatures from Southwestern myth.
One other thing in the respect realm: there is an old backpacker saying – leave only footprints, take only photos. This applies doubly in this wilderness area. Not only is leaving trash around ecologically unsound, it is extremely disrespectful of the local supernatural fauna. How would you feel if someone walked into your home and left their candy wrappers and cigarette butts laying on your carpet? Be sure to pack out everything you take in and, if nature calls, use proper wilderness disposal techniques. The discourtesy that some people have in the wild provides you with another ‘offering’ you can make to the ‘locals’. I used to take a bag with me when I went into the mountain ranges around Phoenix so that I could pick up trash and cigarette butts along the trails. You would be amazed at the amount of good will this generated in the Otherworld.
In summary, your best defense in this area is an attitude of respect. I can almost guarantee you that, if you walk softly in the area, make some offerings as suggested above and listen with all your senses, you will come away from the experience with some stories to tell. Enjoy your time in one of the great wilderness areas of the US!