Notes from Westwater

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...
On June 6, 2020, Ted, Oggie, and I headed for Bullfrog, hoping to find a hiking place south of the predicted rainstorm, but rain and hail started peppering down when we turned onto Highway 95 and grew heavier as we traveled west. A white-out of ice hit us after we drove through the Comb Ridge cut...
When we were kids, my older brother, Tom, and I snagged snakes out of water meter holes in Hutchinson, KS where we lived. We mostly let them go, but on one of our adventures, unbeknownst to our mother, we planned to take home two for pets. Tom lifted the cover, and we dropped onto our bellies to...
Last Saturday, Ted, Oggie, and I drove to Blue Notch, the clay saddle between two massive red rock formations north of the Happy Jack mine in Red Canyon, hoping to photograph desert wildflowers. The prince’s plumes bloomed along with a few fishhook cacti, primroses, and, surprisingly, tamarisk,...
Despite a strong winter, some of the pinyons in Westwater have died with brown needles hanging on the branches or piled beneath. Those trees will become nurslings – sometimes to baby flickers whose parents have drilled holes into the dead wood – sometimes to other plants as the branches and trunks...
A long time ago, in a world much different than ours, three friends set out to explore Butler Wash and Comb Ridge even though snow blanketed the desert. They drove south on the Butler Wash road until they spotted a likely side canyon, turned off, and bounced over a rough trail, finally bringing...
After World War I, Midwestern farmers began using machinery to expand their fields. They plowed up land that once grew drought-resistant grasses and planted wheat, but the market soon became glutted, and people couldn’t afford to buy much food during the Depression, so prices plummeted. Desperate...
“Once upon a midnight dreary...” begins the poem, The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe. It tells the story of a man who has lost his beloved Lenore and yearns for her presence only to be told by an ominous raven that he will hold her “nevermore.” In this poem and in many cultures, ravens and crows serve...

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