Just like that, I woke up and the world was blue. The big storm showed itself out overnight and the morning sky was without a single blemish. Not even 20 miles to cover today, so it’s a lazy morning on the sandy bank of a dry streambed. By the time I take my first steps down trail it’s nearly 9:30, and all my gear has been thoroughly dried of the frost that settled while I slept.
No Man’s Mesa rises uo out from the valley, one of its sides caved in so that a natural staircase leads up its slopes. Beyond, the White Cliffs break apart to the east and west, marking their territory by gleaming white in the mid morning sun. Only half a day outside of Bryce Canyon, and that distinct landscape has been rinsed out, as if the storm took it on it’s way east. And where were these cliffs and mesas when I was high on the ridge of the Grand View Trail? The world hides itself so well, and for what reason?
Eventually, after wading through a deep sandy wash for a couple hours (horrible for one’s ankles, by the way) I discover a well-worn jeep trail just to the east and bushwack up the rutted slopes, incurring only minor scrapes and cuts from the desert flora.
I feel my mind click, my steps lock into motion, my gaze rest and glide. The day is mine now as late afternoon eases the sun from my brow. A trio of horses, unburdened, stroll past and approach in a gesture of friendship.
I take a long break at a metal trough, filled with greenish algae water and take three liters. This water is out here for them–the horses–but they seemed amiable enough and I think they would gladly share with a parched amigo. I drink one liter quickly–it tastes good. Minnows and tiny fish flutter about underwater and I scare them away by dragging a finger across the surface.
The red hills that grow out of this valley begin to cast long shadows and I know it must be time to press on, before the day grows too late and my stomach becomes concerned about its next meal. At dusk a willowy strand of cirrus clouds settle over the mesas to the west and cap that mighty land. I take a moment after dinner to trace every outline I can see: trees, hills, cliffs, my own body. I remind myself how special it all is and I say the word aloud–special–as if planting it within my mind and my body. In doing so, I take the place with me.
Arizona is only a stone’s throw to the south and I’ll head into the town of Kanab tomorrow for a big resupply and possibly another day (or 2) off. What a place Utah has been, and now it’s time to venture off in search of the Colorado River, and the Grand Canyon.