Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leave Only Your Footprints

On our third day in Utah, we woke up in some chilly high-altitude morning darkness in Torrey. First Overlook at Dixie The idea had been to get out to the first lookout in Dixie National Forest just after sunrise (because it would be too dark to ride there before sunrise) and then roll on through our day from there. We actually crawled out of our tents just after sunrise, because it was too cold to be out tearing down your nice warm campsite and still define the activity as "vacation". We were slow moving that morning, but it gave the coffee shop across the road (<3 coffee!) time to open up and sell us coffee and that gave the non-coffee drinkers in our party time to visit the local tourism office two doors down. Good Morning With Coffee The local tourism office had some interesting information about our planned route, like the fact that there was a great little slot canyon a short hike off the main road, if you knew where to look. (I'm experimenting with the Google Map link. If you DO NOT see a blue dot in the middle of the map, you can click the "View Larger Map" link to see where that canyon is and what photos other people have posted of it.)

View Larger Map

We did make it out to that overlook, and the view was worth it, no?Burr Trail View Now, some of you know I have a miserable sense of elapsed time. How long does it take to do laundry? About an hour. How long to make macaroni? About an hour. Watch a movie? Write a blog post? Eat supper? Walk the dog? Get through airport security? About an hour. I'm not at all scientific about time. So Chewy and Chelli got as far down the road as they were going and turned around, and they saw me keep on going. I was going to The End Of The Road, you see. And that got me in trouble, because the time that elapsed between passing them as they turned around on the road and seeing them again at The Beginning of The Road was too long. "Too long" is a scientific measure of time describing the time it takes for others to get tired of sitting in the hot sun and move from worry about you to aggravation with you. Irritated as they may have been, they took some awesome photos!

In the "too long" period of time that I left everyone waiting, however, I went clear to The End Of The Road. I saw some amazing scenery and got some of the real solitude that visits to the desert always promise. I could never be that far from civilization as long as I was on a paved road, but I spent "about an hour" not seeing any other vehicles, and the time and space to let my thoughts expand and roam were a treasure to me.

AwesomeOn the way back to The Beginning Of The Road, I decided to stop in at that little slot canyon. I had noticed it on my way out to The End Of The Road, but thought it looked too busy. So I went on by in search of my solitude. I was rewarded, because by the time I'd reached The End Of The Road and come back "about an hour" later, the place was abandoned. I hiked across the creek and up into this quiet little nook between high stone walls. It was cool, shady and just a little bit damp at the very back where the sun can never really reach. I just squatted back there and listened to the wind whistling over the top of the canyon and the rustling of the cottonwood out in the creek bed, hiding the mouth of the canyon from casual passersby. Passersby If it had been a little warmer that morning, if my phone's alarm clock had been a little louder, if we hadn't stopped for coffee, if we hadn't engaged the local guy at the information office... All those things had to happen to give me that quiet, shady moment in the back of the slot canyon. I know I was but one of many visitors that day and many other days. After all, how secluded can a place be if you can find out about it at the tourism office? Still, for that little while, I had the place entirely to myself.

Red Wall I felt a chill coming off the wall, but whether it was from the rock or the wind I didn't know. So I reached out to touch the stone to feel just how cool it was... The canyon floor was deep sand, and the stomping of all the previous visitors had dusted the walls with powder. Where I touched the yellow stone, I left a little damp mark and my hand came away gritty. I tried to wipe it clean against my pants, but couldn't; the grit of riding and hiking was all over my clothes. So I dug a little at the base of the wall where the sand was still wet from carrying the last rain some months before. The permanently shaded little hole filled up with just enough water to rinse my palm clean. I stirred up the sand and made mud, wet my hand, and made a proper handprint on the wall. The mud was a dark red on the yellow-brown wall, the only sort of graffiti I could bring myself to create.

I hiked back to my bike and rode back to my anxious friends. I never took a picture of the handprint because I gave up carrying cameras on these trips after our RoadTrip07 when I realized how much better Rose's photography is than mine. So my handprint evaporated off that wall, I'm sure, well before I tucked into a plate of lunch and pie at the diner at The Beginnng Of The Road. And that's what it's all about, right? Leave nothing behind but your footprints. The only lasting impact any of us can make is in loving the people around us and treating them gently. I'll try to remind my friends of that the next time I keep them waiting "too long".

1 comment:

the Mom said...

Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing! I took #3 to Utah a few years ago. I was visiting a friend and it was his birthday....anyway, yeah, Utah is beautiful.