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Stop and Smell the Sagebrush

By Ann Driggers

Thin puffs of cloud float through a cerulean sky above the high mesa, a rolling sea of pinons and juniper stretching as far as the eye can see.  We lean into our hike, shouldering packs with equipment and food to sustain us for several days, as we begin our descent into the labyrinth of canyons carved into this vast landscape.  At first, the earth’s fissure is no more than an arroyo winding through the sagebrush but, as we travel downwards, the sandstone cliffs rise higher, becoming more bold, until they are vertical, soaring hundreds of feet above.  In places they bulge and billow into fantastical shapes, hoodoos shooting into the sky, and the red, brown, orange and pink rock is streaked with the black patina of desert varnish.

We travel along the floor of the winding canyon, the lightly trodden path taking us through knee high grass, a lush neon green carpet flecked with the purple of milk vetch, and along sandy washes, pooled with water and flanked with sandstone walls. 

After a long winter and delayed spring we rejoice to see the desert flowers blooming.  From the pink flowers of prickly pear and whipple’s fishhook cacti to the vibrant red of the claret cup, from orange globe mallows, white primrose to blue flax, and from the yellow Hopi blanketflowers to the vermillion penstemon, a veritable kaleidoscope of color unfolds and decorates our journey through the canyon. 

The midday heat shimmers and the air is thick.  Ballooning clouds turn the color of steel, wind rattles through the trees and thunder rumbles along the canyon walls.  As the rain starts we duck beneath an overhang for shelter and watch the storm roll in.  Rivulets spill down the rock walls, collecting and rushing through furrows in the rock and sweeping into the arroyos.  The canyon roars as the earth is cleansed.

Shards of light filter through cracks in the gray sky.  Blades of grass and leaves, stooped with the weight of droplets, glisten and the rock, mantled with water, gleams.  The sweet fragrance of sagebrush rises - embodied in its aroma is the very essence of the glorious landscape of the West.

We make camp at the mouth of a side canyon beneath giant cottonwood trees and leaden skies.  Although rain spatters on the tent fly as we crawl beneath our quilts, we sleep soundly.  At daybreak the sky is washed clear and thin strips of watery sun stream over the canyon walls and filter through the trees.  Clasping our mugs of steaming coffee we are drawn to pools of sallow light and warm our chilled bodies.

As the sun rises higher in the sky we continue our journey down canyon, weaving through brushy thickets of tamarisk and traversing arid grassland benches above the wash.  Ravens soar along the edges of the sandstone cliffs silhouetted against a brilliant blue and cloudless sky, as the song of the canyon wren cascades down.  In the heat of the day we seek the cool shade of the rock walls or the dappled sunlight under the great cottonwoods.

At dusk, like the Anasazi centuries before us, we make an alcove our dwelling for the night. As we eat our supper, the amber planet Venus slowly sinks through the darkening sky, at first indigo then purple and finally an inky blue.  From our amphitheatre, a yawning crevice tucked up high above the canyon floor, we watch and listen to nature’s nighttime show - glittering stars wheel across the stage, heralded by the chorus of the canyon tree frogs rising from below.

 

The next day dawns bright and clear again.  After a few more miles that pass by all too quickly, we are clambering hand over foot up a slickrock gully to reach the canon rim.  As I take my final and reluctant steps towards the trailhead I grab a handful of sagebrush leaves and crush them in my fist, releasing their aroma, and stuff them in my pocket for the journey home.


 

COMMENTS

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It looks like you had an wonderful outdoor experience, I can’t wait to have one too! I plan going camping during my summer vacation, but first I want to visit new york and enjoy the best civilization has to offer!

La mayoría de los ríos del mundo se alimentan desde fuentes de la montaña, con nieve actúa como un mecanismo de almacenamiento de los usuarios intermedios. Más de la mitad de la humanidad depende de las montañas para el agua.
photography essay

There’s nothing more beautiful than an outdoor experience, such as this one. Everyone should take a break and spend some time in the nature. Those planning to do so, should first take a look on SuperiorSportsProducts.com, it’s the best online source for sports products, that could come in handy for such a trip!

A hiking trip is by far one of the best ways to explore and enjoy what nature has to offer. In most cases, people plan their vacation carefully, but even so, there are few of them who have experienced a trip cancellation in Atlantic City. To be sure that won’t happen to you too, you should always consider a travel insurance, so you can fully enjoy your vacation.

Travelling is the best hobby ever. There are people, especially old people who can not travel away from home, but they still find ingenious ways to relax. For example, if someone wants to make a few bus tours NYC, to visit all the city, he will remain only with beautiful memories and unique experiences.

The landscape in the area is breathtaking, it makes you wonder how many other wonderful places are on earth that haven’t been discovered yet! Exploring the world can be one step closer if you check out the US Passport Agency in NYC, you can go whenever you want and see the world the way you want to!

Indeed, a road trip in these places will be like making a magic trip to another land. But the view from a plane is almost as beautiful as this one. Choosing the services from http://goldenstatejet.com/charter.html will give you this opportunity. You will rent a charter aircraft, which gives you the power to travel on your terms.

Mountains are a great travelling location, but people who were often in the mountains should choose other locations to spend their holidays. For example, people who like to sail resort to the Yorktown cruises services at http://SailYorktown.com to spend some time on the sea. The experience is amazing, the weather is almost all the time nice and the entire atmosphere is pleasant.

Every place has something to offer, you only have to find time and energy to visit it. For example, many people who visited the Singer Island Marriott region adored it. They fell in loved with this place and some of them returned for the second time.

For such trips you should take your friends with you. Also, a RV is the easiest way to get on top of the mountain and to have a place to sleep and cook your meals. A San Antonio RV dealer can advise you how to choose the best model of trailer, suitable for your needs.

People on Holidays like to indulge themselves, to relax and to enjoy the weather because they feel they deserve such a treatment after a difficult year at work. It is true, we deserve to take sometimes a break and if we can, to travel in another country to embrace new cultures and traditions and to meet new people, who may become our friends.

If someone wants to climb the mountains, he should be well equipped and trained for such a trip. The experience can be unique and magnificent, but everything can go wrong if the tourist doesn’t take all the necessary precautions to climb the mountain. For example, a fall protection equipment in Colorado shouldn’t miss from his luggage.




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