I dreamed of traction spikes crunching into ice and snow gracing the soaring geology of the Grand Canyon in winter. It was a dream we rush into reality as my pregnancy moves along into the fifth month. The frigid air nips at our unacclimated faces on the porch of the Yavapai Lodge as we disembark to the South Kaibab trail. Herds of elk meander along the rim while condors freewheel overhead, striking the clear blue sky through with their imposing black wingspan. There is no snow despite the cold. The brutal series of switchbacks decending into the canyon peals away layer after layer of breathtaking scenery of the Grand Canyon’s interior.
Introducing my good friends to the Bridge to Nowhere trail was something I anticipated with great joy. I knew they’d fall in love with its calming waters, riparian greenery and imposing geology. The weather was warm and the hike itself was simple as we cooled off in the river and found one of the many small camps where we put up the hammock and enjoyed the peace offered by the San Gabriel Mountains.
The brutal summers take a toll on the river. The sunken levels mildly reroute the trail and expose banks of sand and granite that would be otherwise hidden. I painted as my friends skipped rocks across the shallows. I’ve been hiking and painting this trail for years, but this particular season was disconcerting. I have never seen the river so low. This painting is aptly titled “The River Survives”, done in oil on 10 x 8″ canvas panel.
Utah went out the window when our two-jeep caravan crawled its way through highway gridlock past a big rig on its side. That’s when Mom’s ’92 Jeep TJ stalled.
Instead of making the nine-hour drive to Moab to meet up with a good friend, do some rafting and some offroading, we wound up calling a tow truck on the side of a two-lane highway in the desert just outside of Las Vegas, NV. The noisy highway made a stark contrast to the expanse of golden desert shrub and the shadows of complex joshua trees cast by the tenacious noon sun. We got out of our vehicles and away from the impatient traffic hitting the gas as they passed the big rig accident.
At Point Reyes National Seashore we hiked vast open spaces, towering trees, wooded meadows and sundrenched chaparral with an amazing view of the rugged shoreline.
There may be 24 hours in a day, but the number of usable hours depends on when the sun goes down. They don’t call 8 PM “Backpacker Midnight” for nothing.
Out of the boundaries of Avalon and Two Harbors, the mostly isolated Trans-Catalina Trail (TCT) travels along exposed mountain ridgelines, deep into canyons, and leads to cliffs that meet the emerald and sapphire ocean far below.