Ranger Kathryn's Arches

November 15, 2011

Cataract Canyon 8: Moonlight

(Continued from Cataract Canyon 7: Concord)

I stumbled out of my tent for a bathroom break as Thursday became Friday. The half moon’s silver patina polished dark sandstone cliffs; a thin icy veneer of bluish-ness clung to every surface. Mesmerized, I began picking out constellations in the black openings amid lit walls. With delight I discovered this: the same brain that is overwhelmed by a full sky of stars sprinkled generously overhead could actually identify clusters in small swaths between bluffs. (I love such revelations. My mind is so curiously wired.)

It's not a night photo, but you get the idea!

A rock offered itself to be sat upon, since chairs exist in some other reality than this one. I took up my position, long-johned knees tucked inside clasped arms, and settled in to sense the night. Far down canyon, a Great Horned Owl inquired. One solitary cricket-metronome kept time. A light chill breeze pinked my cheeks. I sat in the lap of this beauty for quite some time.

Gentle burbles from river’s edge reminded me of the task at hand. I had awakened to “use the bathroom.” Wait. There IS no bathroom. Regulations require that you pee directly into the river, which means I had to deftly avoid the sticky quicksand rimming the beach. A multitude of sunken footprints from previous campers indicated that the super-saturated grains have been in that place for some time. [Review quicksand mechanics here.] I vowed not to add to them, choosing to take my chances rock-hopping with a micro-layer of ice underfoot.

For half a second I envied my male trip-mates the ease with which they could empty their bladders, but nobody ever said it’d be easy. Besides: how often does one get to ‘moon’ the moon?!?

(Continued in Cataract Canyon 9: Tracking games)

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