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Monday, October 24, 2011

A visit to the desert

We headed out to the desert for the weekend, to enjoy a couple of last days relaxing in the sun before winter arrives in the form of a snowstorm tomorrow. We arrived at a favorite campsite in the evening, as the sun was setting over the Colorado River.
As the sun peacefully sunk below the horizon, the world turned orange and red.
After dark, one star rose before all the others and sparkled with furious intensity. I opened the shutter on my camera for a few minutes, and the star turned into a streak above the opposite wall of the canyon.
In the photo above, you can also see lights down in the canyon, regulating the flow of train traffic along the tracks that parallel the river. A train came, and I captured its beam as it rumbled by. The million stars are all streaks due to my long shutter time.
The spot where we camped is one that we've visited many times, and it's always almost completely empty. Alas, this weekend was different. In the middle of the night, a boy scout troop arrived. Because all of the designated campsites were filled, they decided to erect their tents on the desert floor surrounding our campsite. It is an understatement to say that the rest of the night and the following morning were not peaceful. I even had the honor of a flashlight beamed on me while I peed behind a tree in the middle of the night. We kept wondering what values the scoutmasters thought that they were teaching those kids. Camp in illegal places. Trample all over the fragile desert floor. Make lots of noise.

Not surprisingly, we moved to a different campsite the next morning, and, although we had a less spectacular view of the river, we enjoyed peace and quiet again. The river looked different at sunrise than at sunset.
I, of course, enjoyed long mountain bike rides on both days, teetering on the edge of cliffs.
Sometimes, I was teetering over the awe-inspiring Colorado River as I pedaled my bike on the edge.
Little did I know that I would continue to teeter, metaphorically, when I arrived home. Life isn't always easy. Sometimes I feel like the gnarled old Utah Juniper near our campsite who has somehow survived centuries despite the harsh and parched heat of the desert.
Unlike that Juniper, I have my pack around me. I feel very lucky in that regard!

I'll tell you more about my gleeful desert bike rides tomorrow. Believe it or not, the stories include a bear who must have accidentally wandered into the desert. I'm starting to think that bears accompany me everywhere!


  1. I was hoping you were off on an adventure when I hadn't seen you post for a couple of days!

    I give you tons of credit for even spending one night when the Boy Scouts showed up. Our experiences with them, sadly, have never been positive.

    Some days you sure need your pack more than others!

  2. Stop that teetering behavior! Love those long-esposure photos. Unfortunately, I also had a bad experience with a Boy Scout campout. I was backpacking in the Grand Canyon for 7 days and when we came to one of our campsite, the Scouts had just departed, leaving it literally trashed. Not good PR!

  3. another great adventure. We think you guys need back packs
    Benny & Lily

  4. What great shots!!! It's too bad that this Boy Scouts and their Scout Master 'forgot' who they were and what a poor example they were setting. But I'm glad you found the serenity and peace you came for and enjoyed your trip!!

  5. The scout troop is not typical. After all, their motto is, "Be Prepared," which clearly this group was not. That is a shame, not only for the inconvenience it caused you, but for short-changing the boys.

    Glad you were able to find another good site. I loved all the photographs. Your lovely state amazes me from the snow-covered mountains to the dessert. All of them beautiful.

  6. There's nothing more important than a loyal pack! It makes even the most difficult of days OK.

    Looking forward to more pictures tomorrow!

    Your pal, Pip

  7. The photos of the stars are amazing! And the beauty in all the scenry you shared is just awsome.
    Those boy scouts evidently do not know to walk softly, and treat mother earth with respect.
    I am glad you moved to a new place and had some quiet time

  8. Wise to visit the desert before winter truly hits. Glad your pack is providing you with comfort. Mine is, too...

  9. Draw strength from your environment and determination from your Pack. It creates a most beautiful and amazingly resilient you.

  10. Your post today made me think of Tom Lehr's song, Be Prepared, its very old, but I believe he was a Harvard guy!

    Glad you found a better spot and the whole place is very beautiful. Can't wait to hear about the bear.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  11. Hi All, sorry that your camp was disturbed. We usually hear good things about the Scouts. Hope this is a one off. As usual, your photos are majestic. Look forward to more. Please. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

  12. Oh, that makes me angry..
    there are enough rude and destructive campers out there. GOOD JOB, scout leaders, for teaching these kids the rules don't matter. Ugh.

    The views are just got some fantastic shots!

  13. Beautiful pics!!! OMG a bear? Can't wait to hear the details!

  14. Stars and train headlight...stunning comparison! Unbelievable that Boy Scouts would show up...not my cup of tea and never glad you were able to escape all that nonsense. Man, the beauty of your world is captivating!

  15. Great Photos. I love the desert because I am a Geologist and the rocks are naked there (you can see their structure). I also love biking in the desert. We have been to Moab several times!

  16. That river is breathtaking.

    Such a shame that the Boy Scouts troop leader(s) didn't teach their kids to follow the rules and respect the environment.

  17. Luck of the Bear, I think you have, to find a bear in the desert! I had a sneaking hunch you'd followed our tracks the previous weekend, and now I see visual proof.

    Whatever's teetering, I hope it evens out and everything's okay. Love your startrails! (wanted to do the same thing, but too snuggly warm inside the tent to pry myself out until after the sun came up!)

  18. I really, really wish the Boy Scouts would come up with a certifying something or other to get their leaders up to speed. I've run into several very scary situations with scouts being ill prepared/ignorant to the dangers at hand. We lost a boy scout a few years ago on a local trail when he was separated from his troop. The same situation nearly repeated itself this year. Thankfully my friends spotted the kid while he wandered down a ravine. He was three hours lost and his troop hadn't realized he wasn't around...gggrrr...

    I hope your beautiful surroundings and pack help make the teetering stop. =(

  19. Hi Y'all,

    Rest assured you aren't the only one who has been "caught" in lights like a deer.

    K, you look really happy gazing down into the canyon.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  20. How gorgeous! So sorry that the peace of the evening was disturbed by rude campers. Glad you were able to find a quiet spot for the next day.

    Already raining down here at 6500 feet...laying bets on what we'll wake up to tomorrow!


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