Saturday, June 05, 2010
Utah Day 2
From journal pages:
Sleep was not good: cold, hard, unsettled and my knee whimpered on and off which raised some alarm as I worried how it would fair in the upcoming days. After a fair bit of puttering, reorganizing we headed out to Dead Horse State Park proper, walking around, taking in the vistas. We hit the Visitor Center where I found cards by a local artist that called out to me.
From there we headed to Grand View Outlook in Canyonlands. Every moment of this walking and riving, this small hike has been beautiful. The vistas are so large, vast offering a sense of scale that those on the east coast or midwest cannot take in unless coming here. Photos, specials on PBS cannot hope to inspire the awe that one experiences when being here. It's like your chest releases and expands at once; the reality of your day to day life, the smallness it encompasses is thrown into stark relief. It recalls, a bit, of the trip I did as a child driving from New York City to Montana one summer. We were not a camping family so I did not grow up doing these sorts of things but that journey impressed an image of the country as vast - culturally, where it seems as if we had entered a different country at times. it was then that I first was caught spellbound by the colors in the canyons as we drove through the Badlands of South Dakota; knowing nothing then (or much now) about geography I didn't know what I was looking at, not really, except the beauty particularly when the lowered rays of the setting sun cast incredible illuminations in my sight line.
It is the striations of colors and the canyons within canyons that still strike me, the way the clouds obscure or set off shapes and lines, even shifting the perspective of depth. The other visual feature that moves me as it always does are the tree corpses and the half dead arching, brittle, stripping barks. Bone white in places, dark as a starless night on others; the high contrast between the stripped wood and dry terracotta dirt, the green of the more succulent plants draw my eye every time. I long to capture these but photos rarely convey what I see in my mind's eye. It is one of those times I most earnestly wish I could draw, to translate my vision to hang on wall once home. These fibrous bones are my happy place, baring impact on the landscape, standing through generations, listening as the ravens play over head, lizards crawling around the exposed roots, hiding in the nooks of their limbs. Always beautiful at each stage of their existence, the same elementally, yet visibly varied at each state.
Scale is hard to judge out here. On the way back down from Grandview Outlook, we could see the parking area looking like a tiny dot but yet it felt like no time to get close, yet we walked more than a mile. Later we went to Upheaval Dome, a site of some controversy. It was a short walk, only about 1/4 of a mile but climbed 200 feet in that short span - comparing this to my walk in New Paltz which climbed that height in more like a mile. Down in what is left from either an exploded salt dome or meteorite is the amazing palette of color, verdigris only there is no copper. It is shaped differently from what we have seen so far - sharp,, long horizontal peaked edges. Juniper trees crop out of the earth and stone surfaces all about us, their green foliage and deep brown trunks contrasting nicely with the dune to deep terracotta earth. Smaller scrubs form a pattern which is probably based on the path from rain rivulets in the wetter months. The sky immediately above is a deep clear cornflower blue, fading slowly as your eyes travel to the horizon, some areas almost blending with the deeper gray blue of the mountains about fifty miles in the distance.
So ends my second day in Utah.