Return to the Mountain

This is a wondrous place. At the highest points it is primarily a mixed pinyon and juniper forest with ground cover consisting mainly of sagebrush and rabbitbrush. The rabbitbrush’s yellow blooms are a vivid counterpoint to the endless subtle shades of green that typify the region.

In the canyons where springs secretly seep, wild roses grow in dense thickets festooned with scarlet rose hips - a nice little hit of vitamin C and moisture for a desert wanderer. Navigating through them though is virtually impossible, necessitating detours. But such is the way of the desert - there are no straight routes. The plants that aren’t spined or bristling with thorns are gnarled and grasping. Despite my caution, my shins paid the price this trip!

Above the canyons but at a lower elevation than the peak, pinyons thin into rolling sagebrush meadows and boulder fields and the views expand to forever. It as though giants once sported here and were unaccountably called away, leaving their playthings.

Game sign is everywhere. Mule deer, coyotes being the most common, however, tiny white-rumped ground squirrels peered at me from sentinels’ perches atop boulders. There were bobcat tracks around my campsite and I scared up a curious kit fox coming back to the site from a hike. Red-breasted nuthatches - friendly, inquisitive birds - were fascinated with my tarp and truck. And, of course, the raspy calls of scrub jays punctuated the still air. Ravens soared on thermals and great hawks wheeled high above.

This is a magical place, remote enough that animals retain their wildness and curiosity. People seldom linger here and the solitude is complete. It is vital that places like this remain untouched and unexploited, these pockets of wilderness where the stillness is so profound you can hear your heartbeat at times.

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