It’s spring break. I don’t care for the crowds, so I’m trekking to an arch that is a bit harder to get to unless you have a 4WD vehicle. Into my pack I throw the usual accoutrements: a liter of water, chapstick, hat, granola bar, tupperware of peanut M&Ms/cookies, an apple, my camera, a good book, a light jacket, and my purple practice rope.
Cetaceans (my favorite order of mammals) are found in this desert, frozen in sandstone. Ahab-like, I will hunt down the biggest and most well-known of them all.
I drive past Balanced Rock to a remote parking area, smiling amusedly at the 3500 tons of slickrock teetering gracefully on the eroded neck below.
A rutted, rocky 4WD track scars the desert. It saddens me to see what these tens of thousands of tires have done to the landscape, but I remind myself that these are multiple-use areas and I must share them with the jeepers. This is a difficult but useful exercise. I see large four-toenailed footprints in the sand — tracks of a coyote, I think, loping off into the blackbrush.
Not a sound exists out here except the rub rub rub of my pack against my back. Not a bird, not a car, not a voice. This is the way I like it.