Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 5 - Friday April 23

We all woke at 6am to break camp down and load up so that we could make it to Calf Creek Falls and score two camp sites since this place is first come, first serve. Our car with M, M, G & I hit the road at 7:30. Katie and Janet stayed for a while to explore the canyons at the camp.

The road was beautiful, with a key sighting of Prong Horn Sheep - one was crossing the road ahead of us to meet up with his herd. I was able to get a few photos but none too close unfortunately. We arrived at the camp early enough to score two lovely sites near each other. Greg helped me set up my site since he had so much energy and his tent was with Janet. I t
ook a short nap while waiting for the rest of our party to arrive, which turned out to be fortuitous given the hike that was still to come.

At about 2pm all of us started on the Lower Calf Creek Trail, with M, M, & K quickly moving ahead. Janet and I took a lot of photos which slowed us more than my pace alone would. Early on I struggled with the climb even while enjoying the vistas. The path rose and fell with the landscape frequently shifting from marshlands, to plains, to a trickling creek to river. This area was overall much greener, almost lush compared to the first days. The presence of a stream changes so much; it snaked nearer and farther from the trail. It's hard to believe that all those colors in the rock are not the rock itself but the effect of minerals and rain shifting formations of blocks and stripes that dance across the surface. The beauty of all this is hard to describe because it is so vastness that it is almost overwhelming to absorb. The rock goes from barely having color to this incredible deep red streaked with rock varnish - a particular combination of minerals that is a black-purple coating sometimes in blocks
or great swatches of the rock face, other times mottled as to form a picture in w
hich everyone would see a different image.

The plant life included cacti, segmented scrub grass, safe, holly, some species of oak, juniper, and pinyon pine. there were a number of small flowering plants - yellow, pink, purple and white blooms abounded. There were also
pictographs high on the wall on the rock face opposite of our trail; there were also ancient graineries built into the hollows of an overhang.

At various point I heard what sounded like it might be the waterfall which filled me wit
h hope but it was the wind winding through the canyon. There were posts with numbers delinatinating interesting points of the trail. At #10 I saw the accompanying pamphlet which told me that the end point was #15 and I doubted my ability to to finish the full length. Just before #12 I told G & J I was going turn around. I had seen people coming back from the falls who were older than me, heavier than me but clearly I thought they were stronger. I had been using the image of a very old woman who was being carefully led down the trail as inspiration but in the end it all failed me. As we took a break M, M, & K were coming back towards us and encouraged me. After a time assessment, some swigs of electrolytes, and handing off my camera weight to Greg, I trudged onward.

Making it to the 125 foot waterfall was a grand reward. The pool of water looked like an oasis, greens on the rock face under the flow, ferns growing upside down on the canyon to the left of the water, the serenity of it. Here the tempe
rature was significantly cooler and the sweat running down my back chilled rapidly. Adding layers, eating some food revived me a bit, so I got up to explore just a bit.

Soon I decided to start back, figuring that G & J would easily catch up with me. In the stream I again spotted the trout with the leopard print design, saw a pair of mallard ducks and much to my surprise came upon a small stand of mule deer. Tempting as it was to unpack my camera, with them so close I declined, simply enjoying making eye contact in silence with them.

The light had changed by this time and the rock, scrub, and trees became beautiful anew. It looked like the sun, which was lower in the sky, was making the light rock even blonder on my left which then was reflecting onto the red next to me, causing it to look like a glowing ember.

I took great delight in the numbered posts descending as it marked my progress. Once or twice I got a little disoriented on the trail and had to take a moment to place myself. Much to my amazement G & J never quite caught up with me. It was during this time alone that I had my first epiphany. Back in January when I "accidentally" ran, BC asked me if it made me feel like I could do anything. My response was "No." But today? Today I felt like I could do anything. This was a life changing day for me. In the end I had hiked 6 miles, a large accomplishment for me. When I returned to the camp I was tired, achy, cold and crabby but I also realized that I had done something huge. I was a different person in some hard to define way that would live on forever.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Utah day 4, April 22

From my journal:

Just to note this marks 12 weeks of daily writing - perhaps the only thing I've done daily for that long except eat and sleep.

I never got totally warm during the night; the rain stopped by around 2:00am I'm guessing as I got out of the tent to pee at 2:45 and it was quiet. My knees, particularly the left one cranked at me most of the night. Sleeping in bad positions and being chilly made my neck scream as well.

By Greg's thermometer it was 32F degrees at dawn. Our tents had frozen rain covering them, which meant we needed to wait for them to defrost and dry before packing them up.

Driving over to Green River I was so tired all I wanted to do was nap. A short visit to the John Wesley Powell Museum was on the agenda after which we stopped at an excellent funky cafe place with a Native American gift shop attached. From there we left the town of Green River and the last vestiges of civilization. Green River is largely a ghost town with a lot of empty store fronts; typical desert town. Quickly there was nothing, hardly any traffic.

Now we are in Goblin Valley State Park for one night. My energy and mood improved but now after setting up camp and showering I am ready for a nap. I also need downtime, so though Katie just joined the group (after flying into Moab) I am in my tent scribbling, warm at last with one long side facing south.

I alternate between feeling so defeated at my limitations and thrilled with what I've done the last few days. I am grateful at how well I am getting along with and enjoying Matt and Meredith which a large unknown for me. Now that Katie has arrived the dynamic will shift again, more so since we now have a second car. I suspect we will take turns keeping Katie company.

Tomorrow will be a long day of driving but we will be there for two nights and then Sunday will we be in a lodge, which no matter the conditions (just about) will feel like a huge luxury.

The sky here is so huge, vast, endless. Variations of clouds and shades of blue are ever changing, always beautiful - a mix of wisps, puffs, shaded, fluffy the clouds are compelling.

Later we will go on a hike to see the Goblins; a mile and a half loop is being proposed. I think I can handle that. As long as it's not too steep in either direction. Water, camera, and extra layers are the things I need to carry.


At the Goblin Valley Overlook - what gives you a vast lowered old sea floor of these structures that are like babe voodoos (though they may be geologically different materials). Especially when looking out over them they look squat, almost smurf shaped. They also call to mind a baby god playing in the surf dropping wet sand on itself for hours and hours.

Walking down to the floor of this geological anomaly the scale shifts dramatically as you realize how they tower over you. It is possible to climb up on them, even balancing on one leg for a
fun vacation photo as I observed other visitors doing. Out behind the bed of goblins are the tall jaggedly cut rock that as so common here; mostly dark brown, with subtle shaded striping running horizontally. Further beyond that is this amazingly verdigris rock, the color of that blows me away every time.