Ranger Kathryn's Arches

May 8, 2011

South Mountain Saturday

Mt Tukuhnikivatz -- 11,760 feet -- second-tallest in the La Sals

Five distinct paws of bear on this trunk.

At 8,000 feet in the La Sal Mountains, I felt as if I’d been abruptly transported to Far-Far-Away-Land. We could have been a thousand miles from the desert, instead of twenty-five, as I hiked with my colleague in secret locations he’s walked for decades. My Minnesota roots were evoked; my heart leaped at things that felt familiar.

Bear tracks in the snowpack, perfect claw imprints and all. Tiny wildflowers — spring beauty, lupine, marsh marigold — pushing up through the snowmelt. Vernal run-off turning small streams into mighty erosive forces. Fallen logs on which to cross the freezing torrent. Elk tracks in mud and snow, hinting at mass and strength. Birdsong quite unlike that which I hear in the desert. The unique comforting smell of an aspen grove. Glacial erratics. A Northern Goshawk patrolling her thick conifer forest. Flag iris showing just their first two leaves. A fun-to-make snow angel. Birch trees with bear claw marks raking their bark. Pocket gopher eskers criss-crossing the trail. Post-holing through snowdrifts up to your thighs.

All this in 65 degrees while Moab roasted at 86. A more perfect day off is not to be found.

Want more photos? Look in this Facebook album:


Leave a comment: Where do you go to experience something completely different from your everyday life?


  1. I haven’t – for too long now . . .
    Have to think about that.

    Comment by leroque — May 8, 2011 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  2. I always try to go where there are no people. Barring that, I look for places that are quiet. Back home, it’s often the White Mountains of NH or paddling on the ocean. But for pulling me out of the routine and placing me fully in the present, there’s noting quite like exploring a new corner of the planet — someplace I’ve never been before — either alone or with a dear friend, someone who also appreciates quietude. But nothing frustrates me more than meeting people along the trail who insist on bringing their everyday routine with them. Why, just last fall…

    I was hiking up Owl’s Head in the White Mountain, with two friends and a couple we’d met along the trail. Owl’s Head is as remote as you can get in the Whites, and the last mile is a very steep scramble up a rock slide. It’s a perfect day, the sun is shining, the fall colors are at their peak, and then two of our expanded group start talking about their jobs and then, of all things, stock options. I patiently waited for the conversation to change, and when it didn’t, I said, “Excuse me”, and ran ahead of them as fast as I could go, up the steepest part of the mountain. I had a blissful 10 minutes at the summit, alone with the silence. But still, after all these years, my initial reaction to these situations is to think there’s something wrong with me, that perhaps I’m being too asocial. I have to talk myself through it and remember the craziness doesn’t come from me.

    Thanks for reading… 🙂

    Comment by Ron Carroll — April 8, 2012 @ 8:53 am | Reply

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