|Through the Wingate layer.|
|Seeing the layers and ancient environments they reflect.|
As my mind often does as I hike, I reflect on my week. All the field trips for students in the park. All the things I've learned.
This week’s field trip was to Delicate Arch. At 3 miles round trip, it’s a long hike for students. As sweep, I hike with the students in the back of the pack, which we all know is where the magic happens.
“One thing I like about you being my friend,” a student says to me as we trail behind the rest of the group, “Is that you jump around to different topics. But you remember my questions and then come back to them.” The field trip has been going on for two hours and we are already friend-level.
“My big wonder,” he says, “is how did the rocks get this way.”
|How did these rocks at the end of the Wilhite Trail (called the Holman Slot) get this way?|
The important thing that sticks with me is this phrase “my big wonder.” I keep thinking about this conversation as I hike. I wonder a lot but someimes I don’t have a “big wonder.” Most of my wonders are small, and involve petty insignificant details. Even out here, backpacking in the spaciousness of the canyonlands where it should be easier to remember the insignificance of our tiny concerns. Yet, for hours all I can think is, “Will the wind ever let up? How can it be so cold? Are those clouds going to dump rain? Will the wind ever let up? Wow much longer can I keep glueing these shoes back together? Will the wind ever die down? Will the sand and sunscreen ever get out of my eyes? How can there be this much wind?” Big wonders get pushed aside, as I lean into the wind.
The wind intensifies. I worry about finding a sheltered campsite in my at-large backcountry camping zone. It should be easy enough, yet the requirements are that I have to be so far from the road and there are a lot of cliffs I can’t make it down, a lot of cryptobiotic soil that is off-limits.
|Watching the rain clouds pass over.|
|Sleeping out under the stars, there is time for Big Wonderings.|
|They seem so young.|
The Wilhite Trail in Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, is 6.1 miles and 1600 feet down to the White Rim (Jeep) Road. Going south and east on the White Rim Road to Murphy Hogback is another 10 miles, then it’s only 4.8 miles back up to the Murphy Trailhead. If you had a shuttle you could park another car here, but I didn’t so I roadwalked to the Wilhite Trailhead (no shoulder in some places so be careful!) which only took a couple hours.
Only saw one bicyclist and two dirtbikers on the White Rim Road, so plenty of solitude (hiked February 17-18, 2017).
Backcountry camping permits are required for all overnight trips. Carry all your own water and pack out your poop.