SE Utah Week 34

This week my year-long quest takes a break, as I set aside my butterfly fervor to honor a very special person.  Driving down Utah highway 24 toward the Colorado River, I’m reminded of my wife May’s passion for canyonland country.  Before dying of lung cancer two years ago, she explored the many wonders of this region - Zion, Escalante, Bryce, Paria, to name a few - for over 20 years, mostly on foot.  She organized and led national Sierra Club backpack trips, guiding neophytes into red rock marvels - Neon Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, etc. - that can only be truly experienced by leaving the car.  She eventually lured me from my favored Sierra high country into this incredible desert, and I became her co-leader on many memorable outings.  


Navajo National Monument, AZ

At the beginning of this year I circled Week 34 on the calendar as a time to celebrate and re-live some of those memories.  So this week I have hiked portions of May's favorite trails, emptied small cannisters of her ashes in appropriate sites, and captured a few photos, which I share below.  Legend has it that backcountry places, small towns as well as natural attractions, seemingly never change . . .  are truly timeless.  That was certainly my experience as I walked the streets of Escalante and Bouldertown and re-visited familiar shops, hotels, and restaurants.  These sights helped recall faces of comrades from around the country, people who became part of our small temporary community as we moved about the landscape, sharing daily adventures.  Out on the trail, configurations of rock, sky, water, flora and fauna generated flashbacks of special moments, like the raucous frog mating orgy at Wilson Camp that kept us up much of the night; or the intestinal gas attack, following a dinner of beans and onions, that drove most of us out of our tents, only to have frenzied kangaroo rats jumping on our sleeping bags through the night.  Or the time Roger and I climbed over a hundred feet to the top of an overlook to urinate . . only later did we realize that a popular hiking trail passed directly below the overlook.

I now head west through Yosemite to the coast, in search of a Golden hairstreak . . 

New Species:  0    Total trip species:  467   Species Photographed:  452


Zion National Park from our favorite campsite, Springdale, Utah


Desert Bighorn Sheep, Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada


Red Rock Canyon, Utah


Hoary Comma on Rabbitbrush, Cedar Breaks NM, Utah

© Chris Tenney 2014