Things come and go so quickly out here. Train your eyes on a target and then it blurs by–turn around and the horizon has swallowed it. Where are the Henries? The La Sals? The arches and monuments of Arches and Canyonlands? Today I charged up the Burr Trail switchbacks and crossed the Waterpocket Fold and just like that, another obstacle behind me. Or should I say…beside me. because this particular landmark runs a nearly 200 mile course, and for most of today and tomorrow I’ll be walking right next to it.
The walls coming from this wrinkle in the earth’s crust are monolithic. They barely fit into the field of vision of a normal human. The only other fortrices I’ve seen of this magnitude are in Yosemite Valley, and those are world class. Are the walls here just as legendary? And how come I’ve never heard of them?
I’ve feel like I’ve made a gross miscalculation in that I have far more food I can ever hope to eat, including a dark chocolate bar that weighs in at over a pound. But hiker hunger is building, and once its here there are seemingly no limits, so I’ll have to have my cache around. I have a donut stashed safely beside my pillow for when I wake up at 2 in the morning.
As evening draws in I begin to worry about camp–it seems I’ve found myself in an expansive wind corridor. I meander about the valley broadly, hoping to find asylum, a cozy hidy-hole, respite, or even just a simple hole in the ground. But my search is in vain and I settle for a used-up tree held together with vines and thorns, hoping what little mass it has left can block ye olde enemy and hold it at bay.
The wind knows better and it has my name tonight as I can hear it from far away growing and rumbling through the valley like a ghostly locomotive. It flattens me again and again until I forget what sleep means and set about fixing and refixing the lines of my tent. I nearly just give up and lie there in a crumpled mass of silicone-nylon camping gear, nursing a chocolate stomach ache, wondering how many seconds there are in midnight.
But I have dignity, so I keep my little ship afloat, moored to the ground, casting a stern eye into the wind saying–“Again, again, again.”