I never cease to be amazed by the transformation that takes place within a person after a full night in the wilderness and prospect many more days and nights thereafter.
This portion of the Hayduke spends most of it’s time in one of the most vast roadless areas in the lower 48, and something about that lack of civilization has sunk in the air and permeated the earth. Or perhaps it’s the other way around–cities and humans haven’t had time to percolate this earth and our strong brew haven’t flavored the land. Either way, the living is delicious out here.
I dreamt deeply last night and my second self must have gone exploring while I slept. He returned to me eager, with much to tell, but he speaks such a foreign and indecipherable tongue so I cant make out much, but his eagerness is contagious.
The morning air is cool today and full of the ripe smell of rainwater, even though I dont get more than just a few sprinkles. I follow Monday Canyon down to its confluence with Roger’s Canyon where the way is slow as these places are full of boulderfields and giant pour-offs. Despite a constant heavy effort, I’m barely moving a over a mile a hour. Deep in Roger’s Canyon I’m joined by a steady stream which only adds to the effort, lest I choose to walk right in it an dampen my feet (I dont). The water has left mineral deposits all along its shores and tastes slightly salty, so I leave it be since I found good water in a pothole earlier in the day.
By early afternoon I’ve reached Navajo Canyon, which I follow in a northwesterly course as it cuts its way through the Burning Hills. This area is mighty desolate, without any vegetation at all and cliffs that appear to be made of a strange combination of white sand and dark ashy charcoal. For the first time all trip I decide to sit in a shady spot behind a rock to let the late afternoon sun pass me by. The final few pushes up canyon contain some interesting little maneuvers over boulders and pour offs, which require a bit of problem solving and climbing. If one is to keep ones sanity and good spirits out here, it’s a wise idea to face challenges in the spirit of fun and games, as if the area is a vast lock and the body is the key. Twist and turn yourself into the right positions at the right places and the next area is unlocked.
At least, this is what I tell myself to pass the time.
I find camp a little ways off route, out in the open and on a small platform. The area has good views in all directions and I believe I’ll have a fine time with both the sunrise and sunset from this perch. The undulating hills seem to melt in the last of the light, spilling away down the wash, down Navajo Canyon, and finally seeping into the ground, miles away, where no human eye can watch them return back to the earth.