Giving Thanks in the Desert
There is something magical about the emptiness of the desert canyon lands of southwest Utah. So much so that my wife and I are continually drawn to this wilderness to disconnect from life’s noise and reconnect with reality. A perfect way to enjoy Thanksgiving.
“When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard.” — Lakota
Our connection is centered on the remote silence of the place. A wilderness to sit and remember the real artifacts of nature, the weathered red sand, eroded rocks, rugged plant life, and vibrant skies. A place to leave behind the grinding fictional sounds of man, his problems, and the stresses of life in exchange for the natural purity of nature.
My wife and I, along with our old dog, camped for 2 nights in 2 different spots. Our first camp was in a valley along a shallow wash surrounded by high mesas. The second camp was atop the rim overlooking a deep canyon and the signature of this area. This was our favorite camp delivering magnificent views of the canyon along with an incredible sunset and rise.
The night desert sky never disappoints unless you consider the risk of a sore neck from looking upwards for long periods of time, mixed with the fear of losing your balance on unstable ground. We were treated to a moonless night that delivered amazing stars, planets, the Milky Way, several shooting stars, and the occasional satellite.
The temperatures over the 2 nights were in the low 20s and highs in the upper 40s during the days with brilliant blue, clear skies. The richness of the colorful ground with the deep greens of the junipers and pinyon pines provided color to the seemingly lifeless desert.
The only birds we saw were crows and a few Pinyon Jays. We also saw a coyote feeding on some prey while being harassed by hungry crows. Other than that, we saw many deer tracks and small animal scat around.
We rooted around an old mine for a bit, wondering aloud how the hearty souls who worked the area lived, ate, and shared life in this rugged place. They left behind an old rusted car, rusted metal cans, and lots of deteriorating wood from fallen structures. All are now full of bullet holes and all are being consumed by the land they once abused for profit.
Our hikes included a couple of dry washes where we followed canyons into the silence while sharing good conversations with each other about whatever was on our minds without any interruptions from life.
On our last day, we drove about 20 miles down a dirt road to a wall where over 2000 years ago, indigenous humans painted images of their life, spirits, and animals. They unknowingly provided us interesting documentation of a place in time well before the invaders from Europe decided the land was theirs to take for riches and even before the effort by Bill from Texas, 1984 (and all the other yahoos) who thought it was a good idea to scratch their name over the rock art. Thank goodness for the organizations who are working to preserve this for future generations to enjoy.
This Thanksgiving adventure was packed into a short drive from home and joined by our old arthritic dog, who enjoyed nothing more than being with us, 2 meals a day, and rolling around in the dirt. Oh, and the last night when he got his own bed in the pet-friendly hotel while on our way home. As for us, it was great to reconnect with what is important in life.
The one thing we’ll omit from this story is the location, as the best part of any adventure is finding it. That, and we really appreciate the fact that few others show up in our special place over Thanksgiving.