We left early morning, still dark, the road is illuminated by Old Faithful’s five headlights, two more are in reserve. I have a sweater underneath my riding jacket, the vents are closed and Spirit can hardly handle his excitement, unusual for Mr Sleepy at this time of the day. We make a right a few miles east of Escalante and start the rocking and rolling on some of the worse washboard road. Tires are down to 30lbs of pressure each, I don’t feel safe taking out any more air, one set of directions said 12.5 miles, the other 16 miles… The idiot light on the speedometer has of course stopped working and I have to pull my flashlight out to check the mileage figuring out that by the time we get there the sunrays will able me to watch those numbers turning while we ride. All is flat here, as flat as the ancient maps before they figured that the Earth was round. The scenery is the same in either direction and sure enough, in the glow of a multitude of pastel colors the day starts turning on its power.
There is calm, there is silence, there is nothing as we stop, breath in, breath out and start thinking, a bit ahead of myself unfortunately, that these will be the last days spend within this area that has been Paradise to us. But Paradise has had many names these past months, it has had many locations to where we have even returned, and now again returning for the third time for the winter months on this new adventure near Big Bend. Devil’s Garden’s turn off had a sign, to the right another quarter mile and as it has happened so many times before, the stage had rotated to a new unexpected scene. There was a ridge blocking the sunlight and there, slowly from out of the shade, coming to Life, the Hoodos and the Goblins awaited their spectators.
I did not know the lay of the land. I thought maybe we would be late and all the characters would be basting already in the sun. But not so as the ridge kept them in the shade for a while longer allowing us to make the first round using the main trail and also the many side trails drawn as a giant maze. There was a truck with a little Casita camper behind and I knew we were not alone. The area is rough country, nothing to take lightly if spending any amount of time wandering throughout. Overnight camping is allowed provided with a few cement type picnic tables and benches, fire ring and grill. The warnings were there in plain view, somber reminders in contrast with the golden glows taking birth in the background.
We had been warned. Company on the premises turned out to be two professional photographers, husband and wife on a short assignment before their next destination in Wyoming for a wedding. Very nice and pleasant couple that taught me something I had been pondering upon for a while now, even had written about it… "digital manipulation". The bottom line? Everyone has their own sense of reality as even Ansel Adams enhanced and manipulated his photos. Stay in the path of your own reality she said, do what you are passionate about, don’t forget the fun factor and let everyone else ride on their own trail. Made sense as we chatted for a while, discussing "light" throughout the different hours of the day, "clouds"… "rainy days"… all part of their profession and fun. I was content as we each went our way amongst the big rocks standing seemingly still, keeping their positions while only changing color as time went on. I was also content that right here, in the middle of nowhere, unexpected, some answers I had been thinking about for a while materialized. Karma.
Every wonder we have experienced has had a feel of its own. This one is of an intimate one as we spend hours (and too many pictures!!!) walking around like a kid in a toy store never filling up his hunger for its surrounding. It is intimate because of its touch and feel ability, because able to walk around anywhere sometimes on sand, sometimes on rocks and delicately on the sandstone called "entrada sandstone", layers of countless quartz sand cemented together by calcium carbonate and iron oxide. How long will these layers last with the its natural erosion and the visitors stepping on them maybe not as careful as we were?
As the sun was emerging from behind the ridge, the rocks starting glowing in their golden hues, the trees even were not green anymore but had taken on its neighbors colors. A giant shoulder showed up suddenly with an arm up and a fist held in the air is if it was trying to convey a message. A shadow maybe wanting his ancient remains to be left alone at last. In unison others started appearing as we walked around, all constantly moving without a sounds on the golden rocks.
We entered a small maze of rocks, as a natural structure it had its own windows letting the golden glow through as if lit by a giant light bulb unseen to my eyes, a natural phenomenon with its own miniature arches as artwork would be displayed in a gallery, only better! It is amazing the intricate wonders one can find when really looking, taking the time to linger on the constant transformation of lights monitored by the skies going through their own changes.
I don’t think that Devil’s Garden is a much visited destination unlike others such as Bryce, Arches or even Canyonland. But I am ready to return and spend a couple days also witnessing a sunset which will turn everything around being that the rock formations run south to north, unseen faces throughout sunrise will show up throughout sunset. So many places yet to see in this State we have been in it seems for ever. Next year! as we will now spend some time in the Zion area. Colorado is also on the map for next year, with its high elevations it should keep us cool during the summer months. I have more pictures of the Devil’s Garden which I will post next time including the arches that we found.
Two years of Photography is finally in order on SmugMug… In Favorites, in States, some even labeled "first year" and second year". Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun. I still have 20 T shirts that need to be sold at cost, $20 including shipping… redundant? The only way I can then switch to SmugMug’s Merchandise. These are the sizes left.
With the "ADV" (Adventure Rider") logo: 2 XXL ~ 4 XL ~ 2 M
Plain: 2 XXL ~ 3XL ~ 5L ~ 1 M ~ 1 S
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Be well, always. Ara & Spirit