Monday, November 16, 2009

Outdoor Destination Wish List: 2010

The Outdoor places I want to visit, hike, see or just experience by the end of 2010. No particular order ~

(This post has been edited with follow-up notations)

· Yosemite NP: Half Dome and Glacier Point (Sentinel Dome)
It is here I want to once again feel a waterfall push the air across the Mist Trail before dawn. The ache in my legs and lungs brushed aside as I contemplate the power not seen; only heard as we climb ever higher.
(Didn't make it to Yosemite in 2010. Aiming now for 2011.)

· Zion NP: Walk the full length of The Narrows
At this point, I think I’ve walked all of the trails in the canyon, even a portion of the Narrows but only near the Temple of Shinawava. It is upstream I wish to see and bare witness to the beauty wrought over millennia. Those who have touched the canyon walls there are few indeed.
(Done and in spectacular fashion.)

· Valley of Fire, NV: Check it out from top to bottom
A new place to explore, perhaps with friends who live in the Vegas area. It looks absolutely fabulous from the photos.
(Moved to 2011 list.)

· Joshua Tree NP: It's all good
The closest NP to home, it is truly a special place in terms of beauty and personal history.
(Visited twice, enjoyed greatly.)

· Portland, OR: Gorge and/or Mt. Hood treks
The main draw is the extended family living there now. But to see so much green at every turn is a treat in itself.
(Done and listed again for 2011, 2012, 2013, etc.)

· Superstition Mtns, AZ: "The Wave"
Not so easy to find, almost a hidden slot canyon that is unlike any place on earth. I’ve only seen photos of the rocks as well as how to get there. Still, it might be a challenge to actually see it in cool weather.
(Very real possibility for 2011.)

· Prescott, AZ: Peavine Trail
I want to share this sweet walk with my sweetheart. For an “urban” trail, it gets NO better from a visual perspective.

· Saguaro NP, AZ:
Rather short trails, I think…but beautiful in so many ways. I want this for my birthday.
(Maybe 2011...not sure if this can fit into the current travel schedule.)

· Hidden Springs and The Grottos, Mecca Hills
Want to hike this as a backpack trip with my sis and my brother. We enjoyed this unique place as youngsters where it took hold of my imagination and never let go. I found some recent photos of it and the thrill of it all came rushing back.
(Visited twice in 2010. Very nice, indeed.)

· Anza Borrego Desert, CA:
I’ve only been a couple of times and enjoyed it…but I know there is much more to appreciate out there.
(Moved to Spring, 2011.)

· Daley Ranch – Entire Loop
I walked the entire thing solo this year. It took all day but I want to do it again, only a bit faster and with less pain the next day.
(Done and visited several times in 2010.)

More to come, I am sure.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Moving Day - Excuse my dust

I've moved a lot of old posts from Modern Artifacts that were more focused on writing, poetry and such to this blog today.

Trying to keep the other blog more focused on art, craft and maybe some instructions now and again. I've deleted some posts and kept some over there that I was just too lazy to move.

That being said, I'll try to keep this blog more werdz centric and the other more artsy-fartsy centric.

Sorry for any confusion and sorry if you find yourself re-reading any of this old junk.


Waiting for Spring; Time for a Poem

NOTE: A post from last spring, moved over to this blog. I'll hammer one out in time for this spring.

The other day, I noticed it wasn't completely dark at 5:00 PM. During a particularly wondrous setting sun event last week, I remembered that Spring keeps its promise to always come around to bring some green. I suppose there are some things you can depend on in this life besides taxes and death.

I wrote this poem some time ago. It's time to dust it off as the sun sets a little bit later each day.

(cue: G. Harrison "Here Comes the Sun")


Cold, hard reminders of winter’s grip
fail to halt the promise of Spring.

Chilled nights, early sunrises prepare
for the life giving thaw.

And I breathe deeply, drinking in
the warming air.

Young children, flower buds of
humanity play, squeal in delight
and wonder.

Magical season, with each visit I ponder
and realize,

This is the beginning of the New Year.

Sure, we have plenty of winter left, but it's still nice to know its ticket is just about to be punched.

Book Lust

Books are like lovers.
You may secretly desire to have many in your life.
But you soon realize…
you can’t have them all.

Still, they catch your eye.
And they tempt you – in a store, library or just resting in a soft chair. Perhaps noticed at a friend’s party, ignored by everyone else and standing, waiting next to the wall. Waiting for you to introduce yourself.

Their smell is intoxicating.

The feel of their spine…

Large, small, thin, fat, plain or decorated.
All are seductive…
and often mysterious.

But once entranced by their charms,
you want
to know what might await you beneath the covers.

Above all else, it is their words, whispered into your imagination and those words cause your heart
to skip
a beat.

Spoken softly and to no one else in the room.

“Look at me lover.”
“Read me, touch me…open me and I will open you.”

Together you journey to places which can be called your own and no one else’s. You share secrets as the book touches you in places never before realized.

Lust becomes passion. Passion becomes deep love.

Let’s not fool ourselves, though. Each of us have taken a fling with one of those cheap and tawdry types. The ones our mothers told us to avoid. The ones which were bad for you, but exciting, nonetheless. You know the type, all flash and no substance.

But it was memorable, right?
Was it just a summer fling?
Were you attracted just because you were lonely?

Were there aspects of forbidden fruit? How did it taste? Sweet, luscious and rare?

And did you stay up all night, enjoying the pleasure only to see yourself in the early morning mirror?
And did you respect who you saw looking back?

Or did you simply smile and tell yourself,
“it was worth every minute”?

Each one is remembered for some reason or another. Some are remembered as being “good”.

And a few….
They were the BEST you ever had.

Anyway, even the worst one is better than television…
any night.

Poem: Seeking Perfection

Sometimes creative inspiration and motivation is difficult to dredge up. I could also call this little poem "procrastination", for it describes the frustrating feeling one gets when the words or the images just won't come.

Seeking Perfection

My spirit dried like
a catacomb mite
my Muse abandoned me
as I demanded inspiration.

Walking among
dark alley pines
seeking perfection
in expression.

Bird song offered no
Sunlight granted no

Heavy heart and hand
drew no line.
No brush rested
comfortably in the
crux of my soul.

Come to me
vision beyond eyes.
Sing to me
symphony opus infinite

In quietude and repose,
provoked in a playful timbre
she kissed me once again

and whispered,

"Remember, perfection is the exception."

More Bad Haiku

Redisovering the joy and constraints of Haiku. Here are three more that arrived during lunch.


mountain oaks ablaze;
each branch yellow, orange, red
autumn colors now


a riot outside;
squabbling before winter comes
birds at the feeder


cold coastal fog moans;
soft, low, wet and distant cry
the harbor horn calls.

all by terry l. tyson

Trekking In Sanctuary

NOTE: This post is almost a year old, but wanted to move it over to this blog. Saving the other blog for more art or craft-centric stuff.
Thanks for understanding.

About a month ago, I returned from a hiking trip to Zion National Park. The trip was proposed several months ago by some friends at work with the idea of doing some hiking and camping in and around the park.

Not having hiked with any regularity for many years, I was a bit concerned that my older bones and extra poundage would be a hindrance to the enjoyment of the other, younger and fitter pals. But the idea of seeing a place I hadn’t explored much at all, only viewed from a car window or motorcycle saddle appealed to me.

Plus, I needed to lose some inches and this seemed like a good time to start. So I began to hike more often and the first several “day-afters” were significant reminders of how much I needed to be doing this.

An early morning departure allowed us to arrive in the early afternoon. After a celebratory Guinness, we mounted the park shuttle and set off on our first trek. It was then that I began to understand that this trip was greatly needed. In early retrospection, I do believe that the trip had a profound effect on me.

Zion is a special place. It is perhaps a holy place. Zion, “the place of refuge” holds a power that is probably impossible to fully describe but is easy to completely feel, all the way to the bottom of one’s soul.

Zion can be a place to hold personal and a place to share with loved and cared for ones. Connections are strengthened, bonds are forged more tightly when the silent canyons, talking leaves and singing river are witnessed together.

I feel privileged to have come to this place, even if has been later in life. I will return and I will share this wondrous place and forge the connections that can be made here.

To my amazing friends who brought me this time, I thank you.

Gary, thank you for giving us a bit of insight into your love of the canyons, trails and trees, which also gave us a bit of insight into your own self.

Thank you, Ian, for your calm patience, support and displays of what a real friend is. Your mere presence and quick laughter colored the days with true spirit.

And thank you, dear Tricia, for your sweet ways, easy smile and open hearted displays of the many ways that life excites you.

I love you all.

Summer Wind

Moved from "Modern Artifacts" blog to maintain continuity in blog themes. Excuse any confusion.

"Summer Wind" has been covered by Lyle Lovett, Michael Buble', Madeleine Peyroux, Wayne Newton, an interesting version by the Ataris and probably a host of others. While I love the Buble' version, I think Frank Sinatra nails it best.

"The summer wind, came blowin' in from across the sea
It lingered there, to touch your hair and walk with me
All summer long, we sang a song and we strolled on golden sand
Two sweethearts, and the summer wind

Like painted kites, those days and nights they went flyin' by
The world was new, beneath a blue umbrella sky
Then softer than a piper man one day it called to you
I lost you, I lost you to the summer wind

The autumn wind, and the winter wind they have come and gone
Still the days, those lonely days that go on and on
Guess who sighs his lullabies through nights that never end
My fickle friend, the summer wind,
Oh, summer wind"

The song is sweet, sad and romantic all at once. Sometimes I get hit with the fact that my summer winds are numbered, and the times I can walk along those golden sands with loved ones dwindle with each passing day.

I suppose we need to just take the time we do have and enjoy each moment given and cherish it. One really never knows what tomorrow brings.
Thanks, Frankie, for reminding me.

Gym Cancellations and Late Night Walks

NOTE: This is moved from my other blog to keep themes consistent. This blog will continue to be more of a writing exercise.

Walking alone in the fullness of night brings with it a certain sense of having the entire night to yourself. Well, maybe not completely especially since I've been taking these walks along a city owned greenbelt that's borders a well established Orange County suburb. The space is well loved and used in daylight, but as evening slides in it becomes pretty much void of people who might want to interrupt my desire to just get a few miles in before sleep in relative solitude.

The doc said I needed to lose more than a few pounds, get the blood pressure within some range of medical safety and shed some stress. Though we've got a few workout machines at home, I really enjoy walking. Hiking on the weekends is taking care of a lot of these urges to trek about, but through the week, it's near impossible to get dinner on the table, catch up on vital internet jabber and maybe watch a round of Wheel of Fortune or other important television program.

I gave up my gym membership that I've had for over 25 years. Like most folks, I just stopped going a long time ago because it's just a pain in the ass to get there. Remember, we've got all the gym equipment we need at home and that goes unattended for the most part, so why keep it active, I asked myself?

Partly because I'm lazy and just kept putting it off. And I needed a real good story to tell because I just knew the nice sales person would try to persuade me to remain a member.

Placing the phone call took some research to find the correct number, but perseverance and CSI-like detective skills revealed secret phone extention.

I advised the incredibly sweet, obviously sexy woman working the membership line of my intentions. "Oh, but Mr. Tyson, you've been a loyal member for, well over 25 years! Is something wrong?" she coyed. She continued to talk about the wonderful things she could offer me and had a comeback for every protest I made.

It wasn't until I lied that the tables turned.

"No, I just don't think I'll be using the gym much any longer..." and proceeded to advise her that I was ill. Which was true, because I was really suffering from a bad cold. She interrupted by saying that I could freeze my membership for a few months.

"No..." I paused ever so briefly..." it's because I am DYING." Well, it wasn't much of a lie, because we're all dying, right?

Anyway, she got real quiet and said, "I'm so sorry, sir. I hope it's not serious and if you change your mind, we'll hold your current monthly rate for you if you decide to come back."

Six weeks later, I received a nice letter offering me a reduced rate, six sessions with a trainer and I think obtuse promises of sexual favors if I just renewed ~ Right Away!

The evening walks result in getting the heart pumping and my spirit calmed. Tonight I was joined by a few coyotes who darted away upon my approach with the exception of a very curious one. She followed behind me for a while, keeping a safe distance away until I drew closer to busier cross streets. Small cottontail rabbits froze in my flashlight beam, oblivious to the hunting pack a block behind me and the only disturbing sound was that of a distant television, belching too loud but fortunately well away from the cocoon of my short lived, imaginary solitude.

The Legend of Tahquitz - Demon of the Cahuilla

What follows is a re-telling of a Native American legend told to me many years ago. Recently, I was asked by a historian to record the legend for a project on which he was working. The story below contains the best parts of the collected, printed (online and otherwise) versions, the story as it was told to me, and true to the spirit embellishments of my own. I'm not sure where my creativity starts or ends as the story has simmered within me for years. For certain, the story as it is written below is true to the overall concept and spirit of the legend and as any storyteller is allowed, embellishments are permitted as long as you keep the narrative on course.

The Legend of Tahquitz is a classic tale of courage, evil overcome, personal sacrifice all mixed together with a healthy serving of quest-legend elements. It has been fun for me to go back and remember how it was first related to me. Although I've edited this a few times, this current version is to my mind, the most complete. I consider it a final draft.

The Legend of Tahquitz

On clear, dark and star filled nights, one may hear deep rumbling coming from Tahquitz Peak. One may hear thunder where there are no clouds and even voices passing through tree tops though no one is near. Some will explain these strange sounds are merely natural occurrences, with scientific facts to back their claims. Others will tell you that these mysteries are deeply rooted in the ancient legends of a people who lived here before all others. They will tell you that what you hear is the voice and roars of the monster known as Tahquitz.

Many moons ago, when the bear walked among vanilla scented pines, deer drank from unspoiled creeks and eagles hunted above wide meadows, there lived a people of peace. The Cahuilla were brothers and sisters to the high country animals when the sun hung high in the sky until evening and were grateful inhabitants of the passes below when snow whitened the mountain tops and the desert’s bounty came into bloom.

The Cahuilla took only what they needed from the land and repaid it by honoring the ways of Brother Bear, Sister Fawn and Father Eagle. Nature provided and the Cahuilla thrived. Their songs and the laughter of children were lifted by the smoke from their camp across tree tops and into the sky where spirits dwelled, who would so often smile down upon these people and bestow good fortune.

It was believed that it was within this smoke that the true nature of a people could be realized and if one were wise enough to understand such things, could know much about a village. The scent of roasted game and simmering pots told of prosperity, the aroma of pungent sage meant chief and council were gathered to discuss the future of the tribe and the smell of heady herbs told of a shaman delivering his cures to the weak and ill. It was within smoke that the prayers to “Those Above” could be sent through the passing of the pipe and the lighting of ceremonial fires.

And it was in those days that the Cahuilla were lead by a strong, wise and brave chief, Algoot. Algoot would watch the signs given to him by his little brothers, the ants, as they covered their mounds on cloudy days to tell him that rain was approaching. He would listen to the changing chirping of crickets that would foretell the coming of cold or warm winds. He listened to his people and provided guidance when it was sought, his decisions always viewed to be just and fair. And as all wise leaders must do, he sought prudent counsel from others, including the tribal shaman, Tahquitz, who knew of cures that came from seemingly ordinary plants and who often spoke to invisible spirits, of both good and evil.

But as we know, where there is light there is also darkness. Where there is joy, there can be pain. And where there might be peace there can be discord close behind. As the years passed, the wise man Tahquitz began to change. Initially, he began to play tricks on small children, teasing them until they would turn away at his approach, fearful of his increasingly hurtful taunts. Tahquitz was often heard mumbling to himself, as if speaking to invisible beings, often going into rants that took on terrifying proportions. His madness increased as the level of his pranks and tricks rose to physical harm to those who encountered him.

Many would testify that he would take on disguises or somehow magically alter his appearance so that he was unrecognizable until he caused harm and only then reveal his true form. All the while he was seen smiling at his treacherous accomplishments. Hunters claimed that Tahquitz would scare away game when he appeared in the sky as a noisy crow, his maniacal laughter emanating from the beak of the fleeing black bird.

Algoot was presented this and much more evidence of the changes in his friend and confidant, and weighed it heavily. It was not until members of his tribe failed to return from gathering food or from a hunt and the possessions of the missing, stained with matted hair and blood, were found in Tahquitz’ medicine bag, that Algoot knew what he must do.

Algoot realized that Tahquitz was no longer the man he once called “friend.” The man had transformed into a walking demon. Saddened, but resolute, Algoot banished Tahquitz to a cave high in the San Jacinto Mountains, well away from the tribe where he could no longer harm his frightened people. Tahquitz, raged against this decision and cursed Algoot and the Cahuilla tribe, claiming that famine and illness would strike them all.

“You may banish me to a barren mountain, but you will hear my voice and curses in the wind throughout the day and night. I will visit you in your dreams, whispering words that bring nightmares, fevers and fearsome signs,” Tahquitz promised. “Berries will vanish from vines as you reach to pluck them and streams will run foul and dry up. My magic is strong and knows no boundary between desert, mountain and sky,” he continued. As he was bound and unwillingly escorted to a hidden cave, his dreadful laughter and frightful curses could be heard for miles as the sun set behind his mountaintop exile, soon shrouded in dark clouds.

As the sun always reveals itself after a storm, all things seemed to return to normal for many days thereafter. The sound of women singing their long remembered songs and the sight of children playing fanciful games filled the tribal camp. As the tribe’s bounty allowed, Algoot, would send young scouts and small parties of women to the base of the mountain with food and other provisions for Tahquitz so that he might live without want even in his separation from the rest of the tribe.

As the elders would relate many years later, the signs of the demon Tahquitz’ return were at first subtle and often explained away as bad luck or unfortunate circumstances. Bow strings would snap just as a hunter released an arrow. Abundant springs slowed to a trickle and then smelled of hellish sulfur. Women were repeatedly stung by wasps and bees as they reached for tender wild berries.

As the days continued, tribal stores of gathered food quickly spoiled or became infested with mice and insects. At night, the bravest men of the tribe would awake in screams at horrifying visions that came to them in their sleep. In a few short weeks, the tribe began to feel the first pangs of hunger that grew stronger with each setting sun.

And from the mountain of Tahquitz’ lair came deep rumblings as if the rocks themselves groaned in pain.

Algoot saw what was happening to his tribe, he heard the low roar of the mountain, but refused to believe that Tahquitz was responsible. “Surely, even a demon’s power has limitations,” he prayed silently. He did not believe of such things until unspeakable death befell his people.

Late one evening, a tribal elder told Algoot that the party delivering what was now a meager offering of food to Tahquitz, had not returned. The elder feared that a cougar that had been seen in the area might be responsible or perhaps, as it was whispered in the camp, Tahquitz had once again retuned to his murderous ways. Algoot called upon three of their strongest men, one of which was his handsome and dearly loved son, to walk to the mountain to discover what may have happened to them.

The three eager youths promised Algoot that they would not return until they found the missing women or their bones. He embraced his tall son and told them all to return in a week, even if they found nothing, for the tribe would be moving soon to perhaps safer ground, further away from the cursed mountain.

As his son and his two courageous companions trekked up the mountainside, dark and thunderous clouds began to gather around the high summits. Lightening glowed within the clouds and soul chilling winds started to blow. Algoot sent a prayer to Those Above to watch over them, give them strength and courage to face whatever awaited them in the darkening gloom.

Days turned into many and four weeks passed with no word from the scouting party. Algoot feared the worst and decided that he and he alone must discover the fate of the missing members of his tribe and in particular his dear son. He instructed his elders to lead the tribe to the lower mountain passes and to seek the hidden springs that might still provide fresh water and game to keep them alive in his absence.

“Do not follow me or send our men to seek me out if I do not return,” he instructed. “If Tahquitz is truly our destroyer, then he pays with his life. Send up your prayers to Those Above that I may find the enemy of my people and provide him with proper justice.”

His people cheered as he turned to ascend Mount San Jacinto to seek out the passage to Tahquitz Valley from where he would then climb Tahquitz Mountain and to the cave of the demon. As he continued his journey higher and higher, wild winds blew carrying the cries of Tahquitz’ victims and the whispers of evil spirits telling him to turn back. Thunder clapped all about and trees fell before him from a multitude of lightening strikes. Algoot was undeterred in his quest and he braced himself for whatever awaited him in the desperate forest.

Before the shadowed sun reached its zenith, he entered Tahquitz Valley. It was no longer the lush, verdant meadow remembered from his youth. Algoot, no matter how prepared he believed himself to be, could not have imagined the scene revealed to him in the valley. Gone were the ferns now shriveled and blackened from some unknown scourge. Gone were the tall pines that once surrounded the valley meadow, now bare of needle and bark and strewn about as so many twigs carried by a child.

A low, brown mist covered the valley floor like a malevolent fog, filled with the stench of decay. As the fog cleared with his steps he saw the bodies of wild animals, torn apart and strewn haphazardly wherever he looked. Some lay half-eaten yet still alive while lying on piles of bleached bones. It was among these bones that Algoot saw a bit of buckskin he knew to be the dress of a young woman in his tribe, a member of the missing party who had been given the charge to bring food to Tahquitz. Close by, the barren skull of the young woman lay crushed among the bones of bear and deer.

Algoot’s attention was immediately drawn to a soft moan, its speaker hidden in the putrid fog. Following the sound, he found the battered body of one of the young men led by his son to this valley so many weeks before. Algoot lifted the head of the young man, now close to death and did his best to comfort him in his pain.

“My good man, where is my son?” Algoot asked.

“Algoot, how can I tell you this and yet I live? Better had it been that Tahquitz had taken my life than to tell you this dreadful news. Your son, my friend and companion is dead,” the dying boy answered.

In mute anguish, Algoot listened how everything had been happy and almost a game until they reached Tahquitz Valley. Here, loud roars and echoing sounds were heard. The smell of death hung everywhere and though two of them wanted to leave, the son of Algoot declared that he had not come so far to only retreat at the first sound of danger. Undaunted, the son of Algoot continued his journey, ignoring the appeals of his friends until a deafening clap of thunder and unnaturally sustained lightening revealed the demon, the monster that was Tahquitz. With one fierce sweep of his hand, he struck down the three, causing them to collapse with many broken bones but remaining alive.

Tahquitz then picked up the body of the son of Algoot like a pine needle doll and tore an arm out of its socket. He slung the body of the screaming youth over his shoulder and marched back to his cave while eating the still warm flesh of the son of Algoot.

“Chief Algoot, we could not do anything except listen to the crunching of the bones as he ate. Our legs and arms were broken, useless to flee or fight,” the young man explained. “But our horror was not yet complete.”

Algoot continued to listen as the boy explained that as the sun rose two days later, Tahquitz came to gather up the next of the scouting party. His evil and hunger not yet sated, blood covering his hands and jaws, his next victim was torn apart as the son of Algoot had been, this time taking his feast in view of his next intended victim.

“When he had finished with the body, he threw it over the mountain and retreated to his cave, laughing at my cries of terror until I had not the strength but to breath. Tahquitz left me here for many days and nights, but I knew I would be next. Algoot, protect me and protect our people from this monster. Kill Tahquitz.”

With these final words, the young man shuddered in the arms of Algoot and died. He picked up the boy in his trembling arms and turned towards the cave of Tahquitz, his sorrow tempered by his rage.

In a fearsome whisper he said, “You will pay for this Tahquitz. You have killed my son whose eyes where as bright as the morning sun, arms as strong as the grizzly bear, mind as curious as the blue jay and whose stealth was that of a fox in hunt. You have killed my people who sought only peace with the land and lived with blessings from Those Above. You will die, Tahquitz and I will deliver that death to you.” Tahquitz turned away from the cave where glowing yellow-red eyes could be seen and the sound of subtle laughter could be heard.

As Tahquitz descended the mountain he took the time to place the lifeless form of the young tribesman upon a blazing funeral pyre. The burning wood was carefully chosen so that it was sure to cause much smoke, thereby allowing the spirit of the   rise and join the spirits of those gone before. He chanted the songs necessary at times such as these, all the while knowing that his own son’s spirit had not been allowed to unite with Those Above. And as the last of the embers cooled to grey black ash, Algoot vowed to sing no song and to utter no words until his mind, body and spirit were prepared to face Tahquitz again.

Silently, he departed his makeshift place of mourning and set about to carry out his vow. In the spring, to build his swiftness, he began to run, each day increasing in speed and endurance. He challenged the fastest buck to races over mountains and through flat valleys until there was no deer he could not beat in a foot race. He began to swim long distances in lakes and deep streams, until he could out swim the fleetest of mountain trout. He would leap up and scale the sheerest and slickest of all cliffs until he could reach the pinnacle before Father Eagle could fly there. For three months he trained until his lungs were doubled in size and he could hold his breath beneath the water longer than one could count.

In the summer, to build his strength, he sought out increasingly heavy boulders to lift until he could carry the largest above his head and throw hundreds of yards. He conferred with Brother Bear who agreed to wrestle with him in daily contests of might. He continued these matches until he could better the largest of all grizzlies in the forest. For three months he trained this way until his muscles were tougher than the fibers of the hardiest trees.

In the fall, to build his mind, he consulted the wisdom of Cousin Owl, learned the ways of the trickster crow, studied the silent, cunning fox that hunted alone and followed the shrewd coyotes who hunted in packs. He taught himself the means to count all of the stars in the heavens and how to predict when the sun and moon passed before each other. Algoot learned of the secrets of the plants, which would cure and which were poisonous. He could study the knots created by the roots of trees and could untangle them in his mind’s eye. He blindfolded himself and learned to run through deep forest brush without sight by remembering each branch, each shrub and stone that might lie in his path. For three months, he trained his mind until he knew the answer to every puzzle in the natural world.

In the winter, to build his spirit, he built a smoke lodge where he could meditate and pray silently to Those Above and seek the purpose of his life and all life within the world. His spirit became calmed and his eyes took on the cast of one who comprehend his relationship between himself and the Great Spirit. He understood his place within the stars as well as the sand beneath his feet. He did this for three months until his spirit was a part of everything around him, seen and unseen.

For an entire year he trained until he felt ready to face the monster. He wished to see his people once again, only to find his tribe more hungry and dissolute as ever before.

At first, the Cahuilla ran in fear of him, thinking that the shape shifting Tahquitz had taken on a new form. No one recognized Algoot, for he had grown two hands taller and his shoulders were as wide as three men. His legs and arms and entire body were altered for he had transformed into a giant. It was not until a wise woman, bent with age looked past the long hair that partially covered his face and into his eyes. There, she could see the man she once knew as their chief, his kind and insightful spirit still recognizable despite his transformation.

She smiled, “Children, do not run away…it is our beloved chief, Algoot.” And with that she brushed back his hair and saw that indeed their chief had returned. Cries and cheers rose up and all wanted to touch and see their courageous chief, to hear of his adventures with Tahquitz and to learn what was to become of them.

Solemnly, he told them of Tahquitz’ corruption and the depth of his evil. He shared with them the story of the deaths of the missing tribal members and of the death of his son. Men and women alike cried in sorrow and horror, and expressed sympathy for the loss of the son of Algoot.

Algoot held up his hand and said, “This is not the time for tears, my people. Tahquitz is wicked, fierce and strong but I am stronger and wiser than he. This is not the time for tears for what I must do is clear and my path leads to his utter devastation. I must do so for the sake of our future and for the sake of those lives he has taken.”

“Those Above can no longer resist our pleas for aid. For certain, Tahquitz will die or I will die, that is the way this shall end. Send up your last prayers with mine that I may find the enemy of my people and slay him.”

Algoot then turned and leaped up the mountainside with inhuman ferocity and speed. His tribe desperately tried to follow him but he was soon beyond sight as he continued up into the high country. Within mere minutes, Algoot stood before the fetid cave of Tahquitz, now scattered with even more bones of indefinite origin.

Algoot paid no mind to the dreadful surroundings but focused on the cave’s opening and called forth, “Tahquitz, slayer of young children and women, come out and fight a man! I am Algoot, chief of the proud Cahuilla people and I have come to end your reign of foul terror.”

A low, wet voice issued from the cave, “What is it, Algoot that you have to say to me? Do you wish to be my next tasty meal? Perhaps your flesh will be as delightful as your son's?”

Undeterred at Tahquitz’ words, Algoot replied in disgust, “You are an abomination, Tahquitz. Today and in this place, one will stand and one will fall. Fight me, Tahquitz or are you also a coward who dares not battle a man such as I?”

“No, on second thought, your flesh will be sinewy and tough because you are so old, Algoot. I may just use your bones to pick my teeth after I dine on the rest of your tribe,” Tahquitz replied. “And I will fight a dozen more of your best and strongest if I so desire.”

The demon began to step forth, laughing as he entered daylight. As he rose to full height, Algoot knew that the friend and confidant he knew so many moons ago was no longer before him. Tahquitz was no longer a man, but a repulsive monster. His white, putrid skin hung from malformed bones and his hands were now filthy claws, tipped with talons from which dead flesh hung in strands. The mottled face of Tahquitz was that of a demon, his eyes changing from milky white to yellow then to fiery red. His fallow lips and cheeks hid ragged teeth and his matted hair blew wildly in the howling wind. When he rose to full height he was twice as large as even the giant Algoot stood, but the mighty chief felt no fear.

Tahquitz' voice roared as thunder, “Prepare to die, old man!” and with speed that was only matched by lightning, Tahquitz attacked Algoot.  Holding him aloft with one hand, he threw the chief into a lower valley as if he were tossing away a dry stick.

Algoot landed on the valley floor on both feet and smiled at the demon, “Tahquitz, is that the best you can do? I felt as if I were a bird, floating among the high branches and hilltops. I do not want to play with you, I want to kill you…now join me so that I may do so!”

In a rage, Tahquitz took a boulder the size of ten bears and heaved it towards Algoot. Algoot swiftly stepped aside as it rolled harmlessly down the mountain. Taking a boulder twice as large Algoot heaved it up the mountain, striking a stunned Tahquitz. Scores of such rock were thrown back and forth between monster and man. All along the mountains and valleys, these huge boulders landed, all of which may still be seen today on Mount San Jacinto, and the Moreno Valley below. In years to come, elders who gave witness to this battle claimed that the granite monoliths of Suicide and Lily Rocks are remnants of this fierce battle. But Algoot’s aim was truer, more deadly than that of the demon. Hour after hour the conflict waged, but little by little Algoot began to get the better of his foe.

Seeing that he was losing the battle, Tahquitz turned himself into a gigantic buck and began to run away in escape. Algoot quickly caught up with the fleeing mountain monster, took hold of his twisted rack and pulled him to the ground. Again, Tahquitz using the powers of a wizard changed again into a bear-like creature of enormous proportions and began to claw and squeeze Algoot in a mighty hold.

Algoot flexed his powerful chest and arms to break free of this death grip and turned on his foe. Tahquitz ran in fear to a wide lake, changing form once again into a fearsome serpent as he entered the water. As a serpent, he planned on luring Algoot into the lake’s depths, where he would attempt to drown the Cahuilla chief.

Algoot immediately understood Tahquitz’ wicked plan but pursued him regardless, for he knew the battle would soon be over. Bleeding and almost broken, the chief dived after the serpent-Tahquitz and overtook the rapidly swimming beast, grasping his scaly tail.

Tahquitz rose up above the lake’s surface to open his fanged maw in order to deliver a deadly bite into Algoot. As the snake’s head reared back to strike, Algoot released the tail and leaped up to grab the snake behind its head.

In desperation, the serpent-Tahquitz thrashed so violently that he cut away a portion of the shore line, causing the lake to drain into the foothills and flatlands below. Algoot maintained his forceful grip, all the while squeezing ever tighter until the snake’s eyes took on a filmy glaze and its slashing tail moved no longer. Tahquitz was dead, the lifeless snake coiled along the muddy lake bottom lying next to the still form of Algoot.

Many of the more courageous tribe members had witnessed the final act of the contest and came running to Algoot’s side. Near death himself, he instructed them to gather the driest of wood and build a funeral pyre to burn the body of Tahquitz. Although the physical form of the felled monster was dead, his body and evil spirit must be consumed by a smokeless fire.

The tribe did as instructed as they also rendered aid to their hero, giving him nutritive herbs and life giving broths. Algoot, in great pain now, watched from his bed as they prepared to dispatch Tahquitz forever by placing the giant snake onto the raging inferno, making sure that no smoke emanated from the flames.

As the snake’s skin began to sizzle and be devoured by fire, a near blind old woman, wishing to help her people placed a green Manzanita stick into the blaze. Immediately, a small wisp of smoke began to rise up and in horror, the tribe saw the visage of the monster also drift up, his malicious grinning face bearing down upon them all.

Algoot summoned his last remaining strength, left his sickbed and leaped into the air, taking hold of the smoke spirit of Tahquitz. With powers that no one understood, he threw the smoke spirit into a massive boulder near the fire ring. And though most of the vile spirit was cast into the stone, some curls of smoke escaped, drifting into the sky only to rest on the mountaintop that is known as Tahquitz Peak.

With this last act of bravery, Algoot fell to the ground and spoke, “My people, Tahquitz is ruined. Touch not this rock and travel not into his hidden mountain lair. Though he is at rest be careful not to stir him, for his malevolent power could be awakened.” And with those last words, the mighty Algoot, champion and chief to the Cahuilla, breathed his last.

The mourning of the death of Algoot was great and his memorial brought tribes from across the land. He was given a hero’s funeral and the smoke that rose from the pyre contained not only the body of the chief, but also the collected bones of the victims of Tahquitz, including Algoot’s most beloved son. Their spirit smoke drifted skyward, swirling together to join their ancestors, forgotten heroes and lost loved ones that would now dwell together with Those Above.

The Legend of Tahquitz and Algoot, a tale of sacrifice, bravery and vanquished evil has been passed from generation to generation for over 2,000 years. To this day, the boulder that rests near Strawberry Creek upon which the face of Tahquitz is emblazoned is the subject of much controversy. Algoot instructed his tribe to avoid touching the rock, for in doing so the trickster Tahquitz is awakened from his spirit slumber. Whispered stories are often shared that tell of those who have defiled the rock have come to bad fortune, injury or worse. There are tales of those who have sought and perhaps even have found the empty cave that Tahquitz once dwelled in have suffered similar fates. 

But for those with an understanding of the mysterious and ancient past, respect for these cursed places comes easily. They know to follow the wisdom of Algoot, heed his warning and honor his memory by allowing Tahquitz remain in his spirit sleep.