We nursed our water today. We had saved a couple bottles of the good drinking water the guys gave us yesterday. We’d take a drink of sandy water, then a small swig of good water to try to wash the sand out of our sore sand-scratched throats. I can still imagine that feeling in my throat and it is a memory I’d just as soon forget.
Satchmo tried to get bit by a rattle snake AGAIN today. This is the third time on the ride, and every close call has been with him! But this time, it backfired on the snake. We’re pretty sure Satchmo stepped on it, as it was writhing around abnormally after he walked past it. Satchmo seemed to be fine though, so we were pretty sure he didn’t get bit.
The beauty of the day, however, took our minds off our sore throats. We rode through a national park we had never heard of, and it became one of the scenery highlights of our trip. If you’ve never been to Capital Reef National Park, make a point some time. How can words describe the beauty?!? There was a myriad of colors in the rocks, jutting spires, rock slabs the size of Jackson Hole homes, cliffs in a long line with more piles of colored sand at the bottom, huge tree covered mountains in the distant background, red rock, white rock, fields of grasses, dazzling blue skies, quiet and seclusion- just totally beyond words. I’ve never been in the red rock country of Utah, and the canyons and cliffs are just awesome. I blazed through two camera batteries in one day!
We eventually wound our way through the cliffs, narrow canyons, and beauty to the steep and narrow switchbacks famously known as “the Burr Trail” for the pioneer who created the wagon road. And we thought we were wowed before- WOW! This was COOL! The switchbacks were tight, wide enough for one car, and wound back and forth many times down a steep cliff to the valley floor a dizzying long ways below. Yes, we rode this with our horses! Well, actually, Richard got off and walked because the rock slabs at either end of the switchbacks were jutting up at an angle so magnificently that it was quite disorienting. Even the trees looked like they were growing sideways, but it was probably an illusion. It was a bit tough to balance on Apache as I looked around at this world of rock gone crazy. When we got to the bottom, we were now looking up at the rock cliffs. They looked like a solid row of wall, until we rode miles more and discovered there were many separate rocks standing in a row like soldiers. They jutted up to the same height and gave the illusion of being a solid wall from certain angles.
We rode past an area that clearly gets flash floods, but there was no sign of water anywhere. In fact, I was starting to get a bit nervous as the sun was getting lower in the sky and we still had not found the next stock pond where we were supposed to camp. It became obvious that the tourists who came to see the park would drive down the dirt road we had just ridden, take the famous switchbacks to the bottom, then turn around and drive back to civilization. We hadn’t seen a single car or even fresh car tracks since we’d passed the switchbacks. We were more out in the middle of nowhere- truly- than I’d ever been.
It came as a huge relief to find the stock pond- red water and all! We nearly passed it. There was plenty grass, so we let the horses eat for a long time. The stars were so incredible out there where no human lived. We saw many shooting stars, and even a few dots of satellites moving across the sky. I could nearly reach out and touch the Milky Way it seemed so close. What a special day this had been.