Thursday, November 18

late autumn in the desert

I am in between roadtrips at the moment. tomorrow we set off east, north, to the cold windy scapes of Chicagoland. I hope the trip is smooth and not too exhausting. the holiday time with in-laws will, I'm sure, be festive and cheery and very much worth the two-day drive.

last weekend, taking advantage of our Veteran's Day day off, I took a short, sweet roadtrip up to St. George. I stayed with friend Chalice for a few nights, ate some great food (including cheesecake crepes and almost-too-spicy basil chicken ramen), and joined my sister to hike or rock climb or something. I wouldn't find out exactly which until I got up there.

first, we spent the morning leisurely hiking around Confluence Park, enjoying the morning sunshine glinting all over the the bright blue Virgin River. it was such a gloriously nice day.

next was the more rigorous bit. we set out with ropes and harnesses to rappel down into a slot canyon and canyoneer around boulders and through puddles. it was a beautiful spot-- Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. I had never been there, never done anything like rappelling, but so it goes when one signs up to tag along for unspecified outdoorsing. 

as it turns out, it was awesome.

{ photo taken and shared by one of our canyoneering companions who brought their phones along }
hopefully I get to do some more of it again someday. beautiful rocks and autumn foliage. strenuous exercise. gravity. adrenaline. scraped and muddy shins.
much of this adventure reminded me of my final spring break as an undergraduate, years and years ago. the Red Cliffs isn't far at all from Zion National Park. the steep climb out of Yankee Doodle Canyon reminded me just a little bit of the last few yards up to the top of Angels Landing, sans the helpful chains.

the whole canyon loop we followed is less than a mile long, but keeping our socks dry from puddles and taking time for so many photographs slowed us down considerably. the sky was darkening by the time we even found the way up and back to the road. the moon, a nearly perfect half-moon, peeked down at us and pulled thicker and thicker layers of darkness out over the whole sky. it got cold in a heartbeat. 
the next morning, I drove home again, on mostly empty highways, first under star-strewn pre-dawn black and then alongside a peachy pale sunrise that just so softly outlined the shine of Lake Mead as I raced across Nevada. Arizona welcomed me back again with more traffic and more sunshine, more desert, more cactuses. 
tonight, the moon is a soft fuzzy circle of shine, like a gauzy flower all aglow. tomorrow, perhaps she will see us off at our early departure toward the north-east.

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