The day promised good weather — cloudless expanse of blue, and low 6os for dawn temps. We would learn all we could about “The Ancient Ones,” predecessors of today’s Hopi and Zuni. These early Puebloan people were active 700 to 1000 yrs ago in the Four Corners region, and were skilled masons, farmers, and artisans. Our morning hike would circum-ambulate the modest canyon which they populated, and examine what was left of their structures.
We strapped our Camelbaks (100-ounce water packs) onto our backs and headed down. To our delight, we owned the park — again — and the silence was before, behind, and around us. Each time we arrived at a ruined structure, we got out our trail guide and read about what it was and how it was used. Jess was in the lead, and in the middle of the hike she stopped abruptly and said, “Camera!” — in which moment everything inside of me went TILT YIKES OH BOY WHAT’LL IT BE —
When I first began reading about the reptiles of Arches, the Collared Lizard was the only one I flat out told my colleagues I was going to find and photograph. It is an unassuming 9 or 10 inches long, but its coloration — oh my!! Bright turquoise body and bright yellow head!! In the red and tan desert! And it is rare, so I had no business boasting that I would find it. But, here he was, posing on the rock for us long enough to snap a few good shots and zoom in and snap a few more. Gorgeous, gorgeous reptile.
And I believe it was put there just for me, a pure and simple gift.