Friday, July 29, 2016

Early Risers

In spite of the magnificence of Capitol Reef National Park the heat was too much. I pulled into a picnic area with pit toilet at 9,845' in the Fishlake National Forest. It was Friday evening and several HUGE 5th wheels went by, but I had no suspicions of what was to come. 

I'd done my business and was contemplating coffee when the first ATVs arrived. There's plenty of room here but they parked about 75 feet before strolling down to gaze at the map and pit toilet. Soon others arrived. Then more. It was barely 8:15 a.m. and you'd have thought a gaggle of geese had landed. I put the coffee together and puttered about wondering wha'sup. I knew they had a sense of humor as the the short-legged terrier, a dust mop with feet, was called Bear.

Eventually I hit on an idea. With my night's-worth pee-bottle (2.63L Simply Orange juice) in hand, I headed for the head. As I neared, one of the women said Good Morning. I returned the greeting then squatted to greet the dogs, the terrier and a German Shepherd who came over to check me out. I removed the lid and while the Shepherd showed his disdain, the terrier, keeping a safe distance, politely declined. 

I asked, "You all here for a convention?" A guy responded with "You'd think so...Alcoholics Anonymous." Not sure if he was joking I asked if they were waiting for me to leave. They sounded sincere when they said no so as I turned toward my destination, I said, "Well, I'm about to take my weekly bath so if any of you are offended by obesity you may wanna avert your eyes.

You'd uh tho't I'd said plague. By the time I emerged the conversations were wrapped and they wuz climbin' aboard they's machines. I chided two women who were heading the pack with, "Aren't you gonna stick 'round? I'm almost up to a D cup." They didn't bother to respond and in less than four shakes of a wet weanie I was alone. 

About a half hour later I heard shots in the distance. It was the encouragement I needed to get out my bow and error and have some target practice too. I find it hard to believe folks get up to drive and shoot before 9:00 a.m. And on a Saturday, no less.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Capitol Reef National Park - Waterfall

Ensconced on a road outside the park, it was the kind of daily commute one dreams of. Just down the street from the bench I was exploring was an overlook so when it began to rain I moved myself and equipment into place, donned the poncho and got out to wait. I didn't have long.

Capitol Reef Waterfall

I had hiked a nearby bench when it started to rain. Back at the car, I moved down to an overlook, donned my poncho and got out to watch. A few minutes after it passed this began.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Are You On Any Medication?

Jung's collective unconscious has always held a special place in my heart. It helps me find my way "home" each evening and I credit it with introducing me to my two most recent lovers.

So when I "heard' the voice tell me to stop and hike this canyon I immediately looked around for somewhere to park. But there was no good place. Then, a road appeared going off in the direction of the canyon. "Take THIS road," it said. I did. 

We (Phoebe & I)  wound through the juniper-pinon hills and found nothing of interest. But at a junction, a T, to be precise, I noticed someone had cut donuts in the dirt. Continuing on after a few miles we decided to return to the highway. As I passed the donuts I again "heard:"  Take THAT road. It was a small track with a tall center and steep slope (remember trigonometry?). Giving Mr. Stomach an encouraging heft, I reminded him we now have 4WD.

Two wash-crossings and a hairy-scramble over some fierce protruding rocks later, we pulled off into a large area that invited parkers. I got out and immediately recognized the canyon I'd seen from the highway.

And there was even a trail! It led to a large pouroff where, as I approached, I had the sensation of "presence."  Then, at the edge, I saw the buildings under the overhang.

I've "felt" sites before. Sometimes it's clear, like this one. Other times it's barely more than a vaguery. 

The most memorable occurred near To'Hajiilllee-He, New Mexico over 30 years ago. One El and I drove west, took the highway north off the freeway and followed a two-track into the desert. While she settled into a book I clambered up the nearby hillside. As I climbed I thought about how I'd been hiking like this for over twenty years but had never found an arrowhead. Moments later, as I pulled myself up onto the top ledge I saw, almost beneath my hand, a purple point. About an inch in length, it's color is unique. It's shape is somewhat broad and it's a little thicker than usual (kinda like me now). It's not the finest example of knapping I've seen, but it is the only purple one.

That was before the ban on collecting. It's a treasured possession; if the house was burning it'd be one one of the things to save.

This place emerged from a much louder "voice." But it's "presence" has a recognizable feel. Somehow I *knew* it was here.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Little Hole...canyon, that is

I read a lot of guide books and pore over a lot of maps. There're so many places to see I depend on the weather to help me choose. Drawn to the peace and quiet of the more remote I hope to help keep them that way by not writing about them. 

But I chanced upon the book Wild Utah by Cunningham & Burke (Falcon Publishing, 1998) in which they argue that the way to save places is to tell people about them so they'll go there after which they'll advocate for their preservation. But I gotta ask -- How many of you have taken the time to advocate? Ah well, even a little hope is better than just leaving it to the developers.

I was relieved to find I had the trailhead to myself. C & B's description of this Wilderness Study Area and the fact that it was just up the road from where I was (Moab) made it an easy decision. The trail, which leads to Westwater Canyon of the Colorado River, is well-marked and obviously popular. My vestigial marketeer had me wondering if everyone found it through their book.

This was my first venture into wilderness in several years so I was pleased to feel the ever-increasing sense of safety that accompanies distance from culture. That calm that comes from the falling away of status, appearance or expectations. The instead is sooOOOOo much more diverse, ain't it?  

Top O' the Trail Pouroff

Age means more time on task with the feet and with that blind eye making depth perception more interesting I use a stick when going down. My pace, still the same after all these years, means stopping frequently to "test the air."

There's something about being completely "away" that brings forth a visceral, almost instinctual "Aahhhhhhhh." I strip to my boots and hat to relish the full-body contact. The lack of water and cows in these places often means few, if any, (annoying) insects. 

The trail

Most libraries can print your letters for about ten cents a page. The literature indicates "they" are getting the message -- that the time of resource exploitation is past. If, like me, you enjoy the out of doors sans flies and the reek of cowshit, please take a few minutes to write the land management's supervisor and your legislators to let them know. 

As skeptical as I am I'm encouraged by the recent successes of Western Watersheds Project and Advocates for the West. Like all non-profits, any contribution is helpful.

The trailhead. Only a little bareground. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

When a Picture's Worth a Thousand Words...

....a video's as good as an essay. 

Here's one from the other evening while mixing an olde lemon and some gin (see P.S. at end or this post). The overlook, at Fish Ford, was accessible thanks to Phoebe and her 4WD.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Castleton Tower Campground

The area around Moab is so rife with spectacles you can drive in any direction and be awestruck. So many people come here the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has signs posted at every turnout, side road or view point saying: NO CAMPING DOWN THIS ROAD or NO CAMPING BEYOND THIS POINT or simply NO CAMPING.

So it was with some trepidation that I returned to the La Sal Loop Road after piddling around the town of Castle Valley until nearly sunset. But something told me to check this one out. I made a U-ee and found this finely crafted latch-pin securely keeping the sign-in door shut.

There're several signs that tell about the place, exhort people to take care of it and there's a vertical cannon-like container for donations to pay to pump the toilet. I gave $20.00.

Utah Open Lands, a non-profit, raised the $640,000.00 to buy the 221 acres that comprise the campground. Other than the toilet, which includes a broom and dustpan, there are two level tentsites; nothing else. The "parking lot" is so uneven a trailer would hang on the embankment. The total effect brought forth a chuckle of appreciation; in my (alleged) mind THIS is "developed" camping. 

I mention the place in case you too happen to be out there and don't want to drive to the BLM C.G. And it was so clean I donned my lederhosen, got down on my hands und knees und crawled aroundt making sure. Und yah, der vuz not eeffen ein schpeck uf trash. 

This, of course, is what all the fuss is about.

The white blocks in the lower left are the facilities.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Skank Water Cure

Things leak; it's a scientific fact. As the ice melts the water gets diluted with various "juices." In a matter of hours, not to mention days, the odour can evoke memories of Lake Erie in the '70s. So I was pleased when an accidental discovery cured the problem.

I sometimes anoint fish with lemon and keep one on hand for blending with rum and/or gin. The cooler is usually full with meat (and beer) so I've always thrown it, the lemon, in with the other (expendable) veggies. I realize it doesn't compare to the work of Jonas Salk or Linus Pauling, but I'm confident Linus would've nodded with satisfaction. 

No applause please, just send money.

P.S. After three weeks the lemon was looking a bit worse for wear. Last night (See my comment in prev blogpost about giving up.) I cut it up and it mixed quite well with the gin.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A German in Name Only

It was time for a change of the blog photo. The previous one, shown below, was taken by guide and photographer Jake Quinones of Las Cruces. It was early morning on the Taos steppe, standing next to Eggbert and I was working at opening a can of stout Jake had offered.

The next one, the one this tale is about, showed me fully-clothed in front of Phoebe (the Geo Tracker) with the German flag.

Here's the story...

Many years ago I had an office in a division of the University of New Mexico's College of Education called LLSS. Formally known as Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies, it was an agglomeration of 22 professors who taught teachers, primarily graduate students, to teach cultural diversity. There was a Buddhist, a Jew, a Fascist, quite a few from the Native American community including the Pueblos of Zuni and Cochiti. Many were/are famous authors.

There was a Chinese woman who came from somewhere in the western part of the country who when I asked if she spoke Mandarin, huffily informed me there were over 27 languages in China of which she spoke six, including Mandarin. There were also several lesbians: a militant, a moderate, and a sensualist, each, of course, with a unique view of patriarchy.  The rest were mostly Spaniards, descendents of the Conquistadors.

I, a mere administrator, designated myself The German-American and taped a brown paper sack with the German eagle on it to my door.

After my four-hour stint, I would cross the street to run my art gallery (NW corner of Central & Pine). My boss, the department secretary, came from an entrepreneurial family of Italians who'd immigrated to Gallup to be miners. Over the years she allowed me to run several long as the faculty were kept happy.

When we first returned from Germany in '62, we went to Nashville, Tennessee. I was almost ten and had never encountered racial prejudice. Living through the Stokely Carmichael and Martin Luther King riots I saw first-hand the hatred and violence of Whites toward Blacks. Today, in an era of nationalism that reminds me of Germany in the 1930s, I occasionally fly the German flag as a mark of individuality, a symbol of pride in German neo-culturalism. It's nothing like being Black, or any of the flavors of sexual orientation, or -- there but for the grace of god go I -- FEMALE, but I like to think when folks see it, it'll give pause for thought. Maybe they'll wonder what those Germans are doing over there! (They presumably know what everyone else is doing.)

Once, when I was flying it, the flag that is, on the bluff above the Takhini River in the Yukon, my girlfriend, said, "There's no place for politics in the wilderness." I agreed and attempted mollification (she's Dutch) by saying it was a joke. She didn't think it was funny. And frankly, neither did I. But it's the best I can do in the face of the lines being drawn.

Finally, Wahnfried was the name of Richard Wagner's (the composer) home in Bayreuth. It means madness-free. Nomadicism has done the trick for me.

It's hot here in Moab, but at least it ain't raining.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Stoner Mesa Road - Colorado

This is high country nonpareil. The green'll damn near blind yuh. 

Atop Stoner Mesa Rd, one of the many Nat'l Forest Access roads off County Road 38 (Forest Rd 536). 

An extension of County Road 38, 536 was recommended by Mark Johnson of Box Canyon Blog. The mountain loop starts about 14 miles north of Dolores and comes out on highway 145 a few miles north of Rico (Colorado). The southern portion is accessed by long 5th wheels, but the northern part has a few hairpins that, I suspect, are the reason for the NO TRAILERS BEYOND THIS POINT sign a few miles north of the hamlet of Dunton.