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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Behind the cliffs

During our desert vacation, we spent a second day near the "top of the world" trail but we explored a little-used trail that appeared to wind its way into a cleft in the sandstone cliffs. Although the runners (including K) followed the same route as I did, they started earlier than I did.

I descended on my bike into a "wash" - a low and wet channel that almost certainly gets filled with rushing water or even a flash flood during a downpour. These washes are oases of life - green leaves on cottonwood trees, green shrubs, flowers, and myriad birds.
From the wash, I cut upward on the side of the cliff followin a trail that somehow wove its way upward without ever being very steep. Soon, I was peering back down at the valley that I'd just been riding in.
Amazingly, once I'd passed through the first barricade of cliffs, I found green meadows. Evidence of deer abounded, including an antler that my pack's runners had propped in the middle of the trail for me.
I'd been reading that mountain lions lived in the canyonlands but I hadn't seen evidence of their favorite prey - deer. Consequently, I'd been second-guessing the nature books, thinking that lions didn't really live in this area. As I surveyed the meadows hidden in the midst of the cliffs, I knew where the mountain lions lived and hunted!

Not only did green grass cover the ground in this hidden paradise but wild flowers abounded. And, I soaked up the silence - except for the whisper of the wind through the cliffs.
I descended from the mesa on a sinuous trail into the next valley over from our campsite.
As I descended, I spotted another place where deer (and therefore mountain lions) almost certainly flourish - on the fertile plains next to rivers. I guess that the nature books were right.
In the "new" valley, I spotted a Prickly Pear Cactus whose yellow blossom had opened.
The yellow flower made a beautiful sight against the blue sky.
When I returned to camp, we decided to move on for our next night. We resupplied in Moab and drove to a familiar campsite in the midst of imposing red cliffs. To our surprise, we discovered that we had the entire popular canyon to ourselves. It was our lucky day!


  1. Hi KB,
    I meant to say in your last post that your flower pics are amazing - ditto for these! I love the desert landscape. It's so different from my familiar stomping grounds. It really looks as though you did some strenuous biking! K looks very focused in her pic!

  2. I am just awestruck by your photos. I would love to be able to take photos that are even half or less as good as yours.


  3. I LOVE the prickly pear blossom against the blue sky!

  4. Your photos just knock me out! Wonderful stuff!

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo and Stella

  5. I love that prickly pear flower picture. Your pictures always draw me in!

    It looks like K always finds a rock somewhere! :)

  6. what a beautiful area! and beautiful blue skies.....
    love the antler!

  7. Smiling at all your pictures...especially love the colors in the last shot with K.

    I remember a trip to that popular canyon several years ago. I left camp one day of relentless rain (didn't want to stick around with the thought of flash floods) and drove into Moab to sleep at the Lazy Lizard Hostel. Oh boy, did I meet some characters there! A fun trip to be reminded of.

    I'm amazed at the different climates mountain lions live in. Some amazing cats. Glad you got to explore in their stomping grounds.

  8. I'm so glad you got to go on your trip and are exploring away again.

  9. That sunlit portrait of K is simply phenomenal, but then again, all the photos are. I especially love the wildflowers. I was really wishing we could have gone; wondering if the poppymallows were out yet...


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