Dead Horse Point ~ Memorial Day Weekend 2010

Weeks ago, at 6:50 am, Danna and I were sitting at our respective computers ready to log on to ReserveAmerica at exactly 7:00 am in an attempt to reserve a site at Dead Horse Point State Park (Kayenta Campground) on Memorial Day weekend. Our goal was to get Site 1, the most coveted of campsites at Dead Horse Point. At 7:00 am we both logged in, yelling back and forth from the bedroom to the kitchen describing what we were doing and how fast the computers were letting us get to that reserve button. I got there first, Danna raced to the kitchen, credit card in hand, and started reading me the numbers. My fingers were shaking as I typed as fast as I could. When everything had been entered, one more glance at the dates to be sure we'd selected the correct days, we clicked "buy now." Site 1 was ours. After the celebration dance and hug, I went back to ReserveAmerica to see what was left...all campsites had been reserved. Now, it was time to wait 8 long weeks until Memorial Day.

May 28, 2010, arrived in the blink of an eye or so it seemed. All that was left to do was to fill the water tank on the trailer and throw in food and clothes. We'd hoped to get out of town by 4:30 pm to try to beat some of the traffic. We both got home from school at about 2:00 pm and got busy putting things in the trailer. With the 40-gallon water tank filled for the first time, we were ready to go. Time: 4:00 pm.

We arrived at Dead Horse Point before sunset. The sky was filled with white puffy clouds as the sun came to rest on the horizon. Shafts of yellow light on the wildflower filled red sand desert created luminescent shades of red, orange, yellow, white and purple...everywhere. Long shadows gave rest to our eyes as we drove west into the sun which was blinding at times, and the jeep pulled the "little guy" filled with water to Site 1. Time: 8:15 pm.

Site 1 is a long pull-thru site with plenty of Juniper trees to give shade and privacy. The small pavilion provides a light source, electricity, aluminum table and grill. And all of it faces west. As you stand on the cement pad, red sand and sandstone drop away from you and across the canyon gorge you see Canyonlands~Island in the Sky. If you never left camp, the view and colors of light playing on the canyon wall before you, would be enough...enough to calm your soul and give you peace.

As we began setting up camp and preparing to make dinner, we found the water pump shooting the heavy hauled water out the side of the trailer onto the ground. Problem solving began! We read the specs on the pump system, looked at the "map" of the pump components, turned it on and off more times than I can remember, but to no avail. Our precious water cargo would not be bubbling out of the faucet. We made sandwiches, talked to family members and went to bed. It was a warm evening so we slept with the windows open. Time: 11:00 pm.

A cool early morning breeze awoke us and sunlight of burnt orange painted juniper bark and wildflowers with its color. We enjoyed a simple breakfast of cereal, milk and muffins, and we called Salt Lake to inquire about the water pump problem...the word was..."it can't be fixed in the field, you'll need to bring it in." Well, we've hauled water by hand before and for what ever reason, just before we left home, we threw in a 5-gallon fresh water jug. We hadn't brought enough bottled drinking water, so we decided to head to Moab to buy water and fill the jug. Paved road or dirt road? ~ SHAFER TRAIL! ~

A ride down the Shafer Trail is always a blast and the jeep pretty much knows the way. Since we discovered this backway to Moab, we've traveled it many times. Somehow, without fail, one finds new rock formations or wildflowers to talk about, and the sky is always turquoise blue against red-orange sandstone. We encountered very few people on our downward drive into Canyonlands and every time we travel Shafer Trail, there's a discussion about the condition of the road..."I think this may be our dustiest and rockiest trip ever." At the end of the track, you come upon the potash pools. I don't think I've ever seen them as vibrant blue as they were on this trip. The water on the ground was bluer than the sky!

We hurried into City Market and picked up the few things that were on our list. A few days before we left Provo, the Utah Friends of Basset Hounds asked us to post a few fliers in Moab about a missing Basset. About 2-weeks before, a Basset Hound had gotten out of a tent or trailer in a remote campground up on Hwy 313 near Canyonlands National Park and on May 23rd there had been a possible sighting on Hwy 128 along the Colorado River. We stopped several places and posted the notice where we could. Hopefully, the pup was picked up by a good samaritan and is happy and healthy in a good home.

On our way "home" we decided we'd spend the rest of our weekend up on the plateau so a visit to Arches National Park would have to wait until October. We'd eaten lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Moab and we were both ready for a nap when we arrived back at the campsite. We wandered around a bit, but the rest of the day was spent quietly reading and sleeping. As the sun settled behind the darkening red sandstone canyon walls, a cold wind began to blow and roaring gusts of wind slammed into the trailer sides rocking it slightly, unlike the night before when the breeze was warm and gentle. With trailer windows closed to keep sand and wind out--we settled in for the evening.

I'm reading "RED ~ Passion and Patience in the Desert" by Terry Tempest Williams. Reading her "poetry" gives voice to my feelings about the desert. "If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred. Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self. There is no place to hide and so we are found." ~TTW

I am part of the desert. Peace fills me there. My eyes are rested by horizontal lines that lead into the vast expanse of the Colorado Plateau. I am at home. "When traveling to southern Utah for the first time, it is fair to ask, if the redrocks were cut would they bleed. And when traveling to Utah's desert for the second or third time, it is fair to assume that they do, that the blood of the rocks gives life to the country. And then after having made enough pilgrimages to the slickrock to warrant sufficient separation for society's oughts and shoulds, look again for the novice you once were, who asked if sandstone bleeds." ..."Pull out your pocketknife, open the blade, and run it across your burnished arm. If you draw blood, you are human. If you draw wet sand that dries quickly, then you will know you have become part of the desert. Not until then can you claim ownership." ~TTW

It seems to me and only by reading her words do I have this impression--Terry Tempest Williams is a strong, intelligent and sensual woman. I am in sincere admiration of her.

We were up, breakfast eaten and ready to take a walk. The cold wind called for long sleeves and we packed the camera and snacks before heading out. I've never seen Dead Horse Point in full bloom before. There was color everywhere and it felt like walking through a garden all the way to the point. We spent hours wandering along the canyon rim and peering down, down to view the Colorado River. We were alone on the trail. When we arrived at the point we sat down under shade to eat apples and chocolate chip cookies washed down by cool water. We followed the canyon rim trail all the way back to Kayenta campground where we ate lunch.

After a short rest and planning meeting, we hopped in the jeep to find Mineral Bottom Road. The guidebook indicated there would be an 11-mile dirt road and a short hike to view the Green River. That was probably true, but we never found it. What we found on Mineral Basin Road was spectacular. We drove approximately 12 miles on a perfectly flat red clay road that must have been grated several times. It was hard packed and smooth. But once you crossed the cattle guard the road traversed the steep canyon wall and tight switchbacks zigzagged to the bottom. It's a one way road with few pullouts and we waited several minutes for an SUV coming up the grade following a group of mountain bikers. Unbelievable! Danna put the jeep in 4WD and we descended into the canyon our eyes on the Green River below us. We learned later that day that the Mineral Basin Road is part of the White Rim Trail. It's the end portion, and we will be going back. Three day White Rim Trail extravaganza--here we come!

Back at camp we grilled steak and had a wonderful dinner on our last night in the desert. The wind picked up again and rocked the trailer as we fell asleep.

Morning light came fast and it was time to pack up and head out. Traditional stops were made along the road home...Green River and Wellington, and another adventure has come and gone.

Next stop...Glacier National Park!


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