Notes from Westwater

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma, a category-five storm, skimmed by Puerto Rico on the north, causing three deaths and widespread power outage. Two weeks later on September 20, Hurricane Maria rammed the island, crumpling the entire power grid and blowing frame houses off their foundations....
A few months ago, I told Ted I was addicted to Fable Valley, which we’ve returned to three times this fall. Since my confession, I’ve discovered that an addiction to nature is healthy for us. In the book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, Florence Williams...
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words. And some of the words are theirs. (Norman Maclean, A River...
On September 15, Oggie and I stopped at our usual resting place about halfway around our Westwater route. Oggie had previously dug a hole under a rock overhang where she liked to cool off while I poured her some water and took a drink myself. This time, after she rose to drink, I heard a squeak and...
“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls” – Aesop In recent months, I’ve been reading and purging old journals. I made it to September 2000 where I paused. In one of the folders, I found notes scribbled on a tiny pad documenting a best friend’s funeral in Edmond, OK. In the eighth grade, still...
A few weeks ago Oggie and I went off trail in Westwater and descended down the canyon toward the stream. Oggie stopped to rest in the shade, so I paused beside her, absentmindedly staring into the branches of a pinyon tree. A dark shape caught my attention, and as I focused on it, I could make out...
A few weeks ago, with an arch in Deep Canyon as our destination, Ted, Oggie, and I drove across the Causeway to Elk Ridge. A friend had described the arch’s location, so Ted pulled off the road at the designated spot, and we donned our backpacks and hats and started down the steep decline. Some...
Because Oggie is a rescued dog, we don’t know her ancestry, but we do know she was bred for high altitudes and cold weather. She’s miserable when we hike in the canyons during the summer, but she has strategies to survive. In Westwater, despite the fact I’ve bought her a cooling vest and carry...
On June 30, Ted, Oggie, and I hiked toward the rim of Arch Canyon with Bear Cave as our destination. As Oggie and I followed Ted past yucca, manzanita, pinyons, and junipers, the old story, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” came to mind. John Bunyan dreamed the story while imprisoned for ministering...
Cheatgrass is the bane of Oggie’s life. On the Westwater trails it’s mostly beaten down by foot traffic, but she still picks up the seedpods on her feet. Whenever she stops and frantically chews on her paws, I try to pull out the bristles, also called awns, but our progress is slow and the walk...

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