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:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150249099321420.369421.711831419&l=b2106690c1

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

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