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.