I am walking alone down a wash, a dry river bed in Southern Utah. The sun is low enough to cast a vermillion glaze of color over the highest rock formations.
My route takes me along an increasingly rocky dry river bottom. It is late in the day and I walk in the shadow of the canyon walls. My husband and dog are well ahead of me. I can hear only my own breathing and silence.
The canyon walls are gouged and violently ripped by recent flash floods. Ten foot piles of dry mud and piles of sharp shale, ripped off the canyon wall block my way. I navigate crossing with my alpine poles with relative ease. I am careful. A fall on the sharp rocks would not be good.
But… I have a feeling memory for a moment. I recapture the feeling of being twelve years old again and full of unconscious faith in my own body. I feel once again that I am strong, confident and capable.
And I remember that I was raised for this connection, this integration with nature. My family spent every available hour in wilderness. I was born to this. Rare, lucky, visionary parents.
I continue walking the canyon riverbed. The cerulean blue banding in the cliff looks like clay. I touch it and I distinctly feel the presence of a native woman harvesting the clay for body paint. I can see the red earth and the blue clay on her face and on her pony. They prepare for a ceremony.
The canyon opens into an amphitheater, lit vermillion by the ever lower sun.
The air in the canyon begins to chill and I pause to add a sweater. I hear the jingle of Juneau’s tags on his collar. He has come to herd me more quickly toward Tom.
I can see the white rock forms near our truck. There it is. We pile in, comparing the rock collections of the day. Our trailer is only three miles away. The sun is nearly down.