The Sunrise gave birth to a new day bathing this Montane Forest with evolving hues of Grandfather Sun’s spectral rays. A color wheel changing by the second from deep saffron orange, to amaranth and cadmium red, to pantone and golden yellow, to its final ivory white.
As I stretch my body, I fix my gaze on the horizon and slowly turn in an arc. I find myself surrounded by Engelmann Spruce, Utah Juniper, Douglas-fir, and Quaking Aspen. My sleeping bag is laid out in a thick bed of soft needles from a massive Ponderosa Pine that looms above me.
Oh, what this Standing Person may have witnessed in its thousand years. What wisdom imparted.
Unlike some of its cousin pines, its rich, creamy-yellow inner bark exudes the sweet smell and taste of vanilla or perhaps butterscotch. The flavor mixed smoothly with the Juniper berry tea from the night before.
An undulating landscape of gently rolling hills covered in a carpet of greenery up to the tree line characterizes this portion of the Markagunt Plateau. Our campsite lies somewhere a little higher than 6000 feet above sea level, and the occasional thicket of Gamble Oak accents this mosaic of different-aged forest.
Dropping lower takes you to the chaparral of the Mohave Desert. Climbing higher, through the subalpine region, you’d be surrounded by a thick pine forest – Lodgepole, Limber, and Bristlecone. And poking above the tree line carries you into the “barrens,” with coverings of mosses and lichens.
Light glimmers off of the dancing leaves of the Aspens. And I’m reminded of the watercolor images from the Masters – Darroch, Monet, Hudson.
Emerging from the trees, I take off over the meadow leaving my fellow travelers in their sleeping bags. I have no objection to hours spent in Dreamland, but at this moment, in contrast, I’m hiking in the Material Dream.
A pastoral paradise.
I could hear the stream rippling by to my left. The runoff from the melting snow trickles down from those alpine snow-caps. Weeping Mountains, their silent tears forming rivulets down their faces, ever increasing in volume until they transform into a stream. Bearer of an infinite number of life forms. I wander parallel to its waters figuring I’d let it lead me back to our campsite when my sauntering was complete.
More people should learn the Art of Sauntering. 😊
Here, we had to stop, to breathe. A (deliberate) misstep, made the day before, by allowing me to navigate had sent us down an undeveloped road which brought things to a halt. Four hours at five miles an hour of total “shake, rattle, and rolling” to our cores, only to travel twenty miles. All were exhausted. But where we were trapped was truly a Heaven on Earth. And after their shouting at me ceased, they began to open their eyes as to what surrounded them.
Now, it’s not like we’d traveled 3500 miles across the Atlantic from England to discover the “New World.” Or then again, maybe it was. We had left all trace of civilization behind and were greeted by calm winds, mild temps, serene beauty. No people. No trace of civilization.
How could this have been an accident? Even though it wasn’t a pre-planned destination.
As I made my way back to camp, I studied the stream. Noted the fine movements beneath the surface. I stripped my boots off, rolled up my pant legs, and plunged in the thirty-degree waters. Dipping my hands beneath the surface, I scooped, flipping a large trout onto the bank. Followed by another, and another, until I had four, one for each of us. Strung them all through one of my boot laces. And retreated with a gourmet breakfast in tow for the four of us.
It would turn out to be, arguably, a few of the most enjoyable days on our trip. We ended up here after fleeing from Zion, a planned stop that turned into little more than a drive-through. A missed opportunity for exploration until next time.
Now, some forty-four years later, it was the next time . . .
To be continued . . .
Photos: Utah is incredibly diverse as far as its biomes, landscapes and incredible shits in terrain. My very few photos from the past are largely degraded, so I found the feature pic On-line, in the Public Domain, and I could find no other attribution for it. It demonstrates some of that diversity. The last pic, below, is one of mine, restored, of the Meadow and Woodlands I sauntered through on my way down to the stream.
The Place: Dixie National Forest, Utah. The Year of this visit was 1976. It’s said that this area derived its name because Brigham Young sent Mormon Settlers, many of which were from the “deep south” (southeastern United States) to the St George, Utah area to grow cotton for the Mormon Church. They began calling this Utah’s “Dixie”. The name stuck and spread to the surrounding areas.
Rabbit Hole: When I diverted us, you might say, I was fighting against a disease my brother and our two friends had acquired. Impatience. They were fine if we kept moving down the road meeting an invisible timetable. But they seemed panicked if we stopped for “too long.” In some cases, staying the night was just too much for my brother, which is how I missed out on seeing Big Bend, Texas my first time through that area. After traveling all day to get there, picking a camping spot and stretching out for the night, he ordered me back into the driver’s seat.
I would have to visit these areas solo to truly take them in. When I was of a different mindset. To inhale them. Let them absorb beneath the layers of my skin. Rest behind my eyes. To touch and taste them as much, or more, than I would see them.
As you continue through this series, I will address the concept of Karmic Traces. Those imprints we have left in the past and those in the present. And since I’m talking about Karma, it’s only fitting to use Sanskrit to number these chapters. 🙂
One एकम् ( ekam)
Two द्वे ( dve)
Three त्रीणि ( treeni)
Four चत्वारि ( chatvaari)
Five पञ्च ( pancha)
Six षट् ( shat)
Seven सप्त (sapta)
Eight अष्ट (ashta)
Nine नव (nava)
Ten दश (dasha)
Of course, I may not have ten chapters for this series, but it is fun to learn, even if minimally, other languages.