Four days of solitude

Since 2001, I’ve spent the Thanksgiving holiday in an outdoor space and typically the high desert most years.

A four day weekend makes for a precious gift, and what better way to make use of it than exploring the red rock, walking the ancient travel routes, and basking in the starkness of the desert?

Our backyard is where I’d often drive many hours to spend the weekend. And now in only two hours or so, we can drive to a quiet place and have it ourselves. (And some cold-weather gear helps a lot, too!)

Originally we planned to camp for two days and backpack two. But it turned out better to enjoy the rim above, hike to a canyon, and then repeat for a few days.

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And the place we called home for a bit, quite frankly, is one of the better camping spots we’ve had in a while in terms of scenery.

We did not see anyone from Weds afternoon until sometime on Sunday – a solitary backpacker who I happened to know and haven’t seen in a few years!

Otherwise, we had the canyon country to ourselves.

And in this place, we saw the hidden alcoves and dwellings overlooking the canyons below.

And we followed old paths, of course.  Trails formerly jeep track and that, no doubt, followed much older routes in and out the canyons.

At least as evidenced by the images along the descent to the canyon floor.

A very faint image, but I like it because it shows two signs of the southwest – Flute players and what looks to be a representation of a thunderbird.

I took Joan to a panel I last saw two years ago. However, as with any intricate display, there is always more to see and notice.

Before exiting the canyon and driving home, we took a side trip to a place new to us—a place hidden until you come upon it over a field of boulders. The many potsherds in the area tell me this place is lightly visited compared to the main canyon.

A cozy alcove. Note the hands on the wall across from the buildings.

We climbed out of the canyon and enjoyed the last winter light on the old jeep track leading to our truck.

The short days make for not as many hours of hiking as earlier in the year. But I love exploring this area in the winter months—the lighting, of course, and few people. But I think the short days force us to enjoy an area more, savor it, and relish it.  This area does not serve itself by thru-hiking style backpacking with its emphasis on miles. It’s an area meant to meander, poke around, explore, and scramble up one side of the canyon wall and not completely knowing what you’ll see.

In the words of my favorite philosopher, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

In the winter months, we tend to watch more and see so much.

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