Salt Lake City is full of smog in the winter. It sits in the valley like a toxic blanket, ready to smother your body and cloud your mind when you step outside. Winter in the city finds us gasping for clean air and free space. Fortunately for us, Utah is full of deserts, mountains, canyons, hot springs, and empty expanses.
We decided to go South this weekend and try to find something. We did. Mid-February is a long way from tourist season in the desert, and the BLM lands, dirt roads, and even the Capitol Reef National Park were almost entirely deserted. It felt like we were the only people on a strange, lonely planet. We were alone, and surrounded by other-worldly landscapes on macro and micro scales.
As we rode the sandy, washed out roads, the hills glittered and hummed with selenite deposits.
Capitol Reef is a part of the earth shaped by millions of years of oceans, volcanos, earthquakes, sediment deposits, and erosion. The area has an incredible diversity of landscapes, minerals, and rocks.
The Capitol Reef area is said to have the darkest skies in the country. The wildness was juxtaposed with the sounds and sights of jets traversing the skies. The stars were worthy enough to spend hours staring at, finding planets, and experiencing the feeling I hope every human knows; of everything you think you know dissolving into the mystery of the night skies.
As we do best, we slept in the dirt, cooked over a fire, and drank gritty cowboy coffee in the morning. Much to my dismay, I lost my coffee strainer which I was given as a memorable gift nearly ten years ago when I first hiked the Northville-Lake Placid Trail It was a constant companion of mine and produced hundreds upon hundreds of cups of delicious, crunchy, wilderness coffee for me. It deserves this eulogy of sorts.
The best trips involve hot springs. They are something to be protected and respected. Hot water full of minerals that flows out of the ground and into a pool or tub or (in this case) old cattle cisterns. Sleep in the dirt, soak in the springs. It's some kind of life.
Peace and until next time!