For the first part of March I was lucky enough to be back in Salt Lake for some work-stuff, but also to spend some much needed time with my mountains, the city that holds my heart, and dear friends and family. The road to my northern home is approximately 700 miles long, and it’s primarily desert. But, the desert is, in ways both figurative and literal, my other home. I was driving by myself, which meant I could stop as often as I wanted to for pictures and little hikes. Frankly, I don’t know why I don’t do that EVERY time I make this drive!
There are several places in Utah and Arizona with these stripey hills and cliffs. Most are red, but the ones here are a greenish-gray with purple-y stripes and I have always loved them. They kind of look like enormous elephants taking a nap, and you know how much I like elephants. As you near Page on the Utah-Arizona border you wind your way to the top of the plateau that towers over Lake Powell and instead of looking up at the cliffs and formations you have the somewhat-stomach-dropping opportunity to (lay flat on your belly, inch towards the edge and) look down into the beginnings of the Grand Canyon at the famous Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River.
I really wish that I had a lens to capture the enormity of this view, a major wide-angle or something so you can comprehend the vastness of the space, but also, comparatively how this tremendous bend doesn’t seem enormous when compared to the horizon and the knowledge that this is the northern end of the Grand Canyon plateau.
I mean, yes, it’s huge. Those are scrubby trees down there on the shore, not sage brush. But to think about how small this one particular place is on a river almost 1,500 miles long. This water started as snow in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and winds it’s way through the deserts of Utah and Arizona, supplying power for Las Vegas and Southern California, before emptying into the Baja and on to the Pacific. And this is just one, tiny little bend of that river.
You can see a tiny smidge of white on the river, that is the wake of a pretty massive speed boat, the kind that could easily hold a party of water skiers without feeling crowded.
Goodness, this earth is gorgeous. I realize I’m biased, but I just cannot imagine how anywhere else can give you the thrill of redrock country. The cliffs, the scale, the colors, and the knowledge that a river of melted snow created hundreds and hundreds of miles of stuff like this. It’s the kind of thought that makes you feel incredibly small and unimportant, yet also determined to protect these spaces.