The day started at 6:30. Early to bed, early to rise seems to be the thing I’m doing now. Go look for a good sunrise.
I do my breakfast routine and head out. I’m walking the rest of the way up the road to the trail head, there is only really one wash that would have caused me problems – it’s passable in my RV, but you would have to pick your route wisely. No big deal really, the mile to the trail head is a good warm up to start the day. I arrive and read the signs there. Talking about the lack of water, and how these “tanks” (natural pits of water, augmented by human dams sometimes) are the only source for many miles in some cases. Animals, and humans that lived on the land here rely on them for water.
I wander up the trail, and veer off to the right to see the first big pool. This is the biggest bit of water I have seen in the desert, you could swim laps around or back and forth in it. I actually see running water, a small dribble of water falling into the pool. I take a bunch of pictures, and head back to the trail.
I see a couple coming up, and decide to wait for them, I’m actually starting to feel just a little social again after a full day not talking to anyone. Go figure. They are an older couple; kids have left home, they are travelling now trying to figure out what to do for retirement. We talk about my rig, they saw it as they drove by. Sounds like the perfect thing for them, although the lady would like a fancy looking van. She is coming up to us much slower, she broke her ankle six months ago, had pins put in and everything.
She is determined to get up there, by the seat of her pants literally. I’d like to see what this woman would get up to in full hiking health. We talk a bit, she recommends Zion Park as the most amazing place to take photos. So many places to visit, so little time. I let them go explore the big pool, and head further up, don’t know how far yet – will see how it goes.
I see many more holes in the rocks, big and small. I walk over some of them. Thump, thump, thump, thoomp. Definitely hollow under me there. You could shelter easily around here from the infrequent rains.
It’s a bit spooky – the holes feel like the eyes of the dead staring back at me.
I gain a good vantage point above the Horse tanks, getting this perspective shows me I seem to have no fear of heights, at least at this vantage point.
I continue my climb up, there is a peak ahead that looks like a good destination. Up I go, over the most solid rocks I can find. The gravel is treacherous at a steep angle. I find the light rocks with the light stones especially bad, as you don’t see the stone until too late. Climb carefully, look hard.
I reach the top of the first small peak. Great view! I admire the surroundings – it’s like another world up here.
To my right, looking back to the Horse Tanks, is another knoll, rocky and slightly higher. I spot a hole that goes straight through. I’ve seen a few of these so far, but none up so high. Must go over and investigate. It’s a quick down and up again, stopping to look through the Window Hole. I recall a photo I took some years ago in the Queen Charlottes, a “Key Hole” window you photograph the sunset through for maximum effect. What could I photograph here? I FART around for a long while, using both my SLR and the Sony to try and get what I have seen down for photographic posterity.
The Sony RX100 Mark 6 wins this round, go figure. My Canon kept failing on the exposure. Sure, I could have messed around with manual exposure until I got what I wanted, but why bother when the Sony managed to figure it out, with a little prodding on my part. Photography is an art, you need to use your tool (the camera) to record the light and the scene the way you want it – then you get the maximum wow effect. This is why I lugged my gear up here – I needed the zoom, and the smarts of a camera rather than a smartphone to get this shot.
I climb to the top, and find the perfect “couch rock” to recline in, enjoying the vista around me while I have my lunch. I have cell signal! I text some people and send a couple of pics out showing my great view. But the next bigger mountain behind me beacons.
Mountain peak, here I come!
This time I need to go down a little ways and then up. The darker rock I am sitting on has split off large chunks, rocks the size of a basket ball to the size of a small car, they are scattered on the ground yet almost looking arranged like a Zen garden. The scale is deceptive; look at the Cholla on the top right for scale – that is about waist high.
I climb up, easy at first, but I need to traverse one tricky bit to get to the top. Solid rock is easy to climb, but I am watching for bits with gravel on them – those I can slip and fall on. I pass a rock outcrop, stepping up some giant steps along the way. I am happy I am still relatively flexible for a fifty year old.
I get to the top, and look back the way I’ve come – the little hill I had lunch on seems small in the distance now
However, I have climbed high enough to be able to see over the ridge to the south east, I see my RV in the distance, surrounded by the desolate splendor of the desert below me.
I look all around me, the view is mind blowing from every direction – I run out of superlatives to describe it, the pictures show but a fraction of the beauty surrounding me:
But eventually, it is time to come down – I pick my way back down to my lunch spot; with the loose gravel around me I am not deviating from my route up – I know this way is passable; all others may not be. I return to the rig, still amazed at what I have seen. What will tomorrow’s hike bring, I wonder?