Friday, December 19, 2014

On The Bank Of The San Juan River

Mexican Hat Rock, the improbable geologic sombrero upside down.
December, Mexican Hat, extreme southern Utah. Snow swirling above, lightly. 

I feel a part of this country now, so I had no nervousness of driving higher. Up the Moki Dugway onto Cedar Mesa. A piece of cake. 

Still...why today? I had one more. Why not stay down on the San Juan for a night? I knew where to camp. Who wants to camp in December, way out here? 

I did. Had spent a night in a motel the night before. It's nice to have some creature comforts, shower up. But really it's kind of sterile. The window curtains pulled shut, the strange noises of the city. Or even others next door in a little far out motel town. 
The Goosenecks Of The San Juan River,  southeast Utah.
So I usually sleep better in the wilds. I follow my gut, my feelings. I've been right so far. Don't mess with success, right? And I was beneath Mexican Hat Rock, which somehow I had an affinity toward. Maybe a protection from. I didn't feel like I needed that, but comforting anyway.

Right. I chose a campsite out on the red sand, a flat spot with a fire ring. Just a short walk down the bank into the Tamarisk cover along the lip of the cold, muddy river. 

I was looking for firewood. Streams tend to provide that, in the form of driftwood. But in this case I wasn't rewarded. It was a fairly popular spot, after all. The easy wood already gone. 

I noticed the cardboard shell of a beer case. I like to clean up camps I visit. Even though most are so clean, they can use a little more. My theory is: love a place and it will take care of you, too. It's worked so far. Right?

I pulled the beer case out of the sand as I walked back to camp. I'd burn it in my campfire. 

And back at the fire ring, peering into the gulley as I relieved myself, I saw beer bottles. I jumped down the sand embankment to get them. I'd look like a garbage man with all this stuff in my truck. As if anybody would see it before I dropped it off somewhere proper. It felt right to me.

And I gathered what firewood I could. It would be a short fire, burning hot and quick. Good enough for some cheer. 

I had bought a new sleeping bag, and was curious to test it out. Here on the river bank, in December, it was cold but not like being up in the snow. Rather, just below it. Fine. I slept almost too warm, keeping most of the zipper open. 

Morning. Repack camp, shove off. 
Approaching Cedar Mesa, December snow, from Mexican Hat.
Since I was heading past the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, it was only proper to veer west a few miles and gawk over the edge again. The geologists call the Goosenecks far below to be "entrenched meanders". Indeed. 

This un-entrenched mountain man continued on. The Moki Dugway beckoned, up the foggy, snowy face of Cedar Mesa. 
Let's go, up the Moki Dugway. Bring it on.
 No problem. I knew this road now. Loved it. Photographic opportunities. Peace via ascent in my warm vehicle, stopping to get out for more images. 

Winter sunset, atop Cedar Mesa.
Then up onto Cedar Mesa. Former home of the Ancients. And future home, yet again? After all, they have come and gone. Who is to say they won't be back again? 

All is temporary.

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