If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time I’m sure you’re probably tired of me professing my love for Utah: the dramatic red rock formations, the high country meadows, the bright aspen and fragrant ponderosa pine, yadda yadda yadda. But I really find it difficult to contain my enthusiasm for the incredible countryside that constitutes the southwest corner of the state, and I find it more difficult to refrain from gushing about the kinship I feel with the land and the places I know there. I can’t help it: I have a great love and feeling of belonging for/to this part of the world that I have yet to experience in any other place I’ve ever been.
For all the exceptional features however I think what I love most are the “normal” sections, places not visited or known to tourists, places omitted from guidebooks and blogs, places that are sometimes literally accessible from the backyard. When we lived (part of the year in a house) in Utah there were literally dozens of interesting canyons, rock formations, mountain trails, and even waterfalls to explore just by walking out the door. Parking at Terry’s house puts us on the opposite side of town from where we lived, but opens up a whole new “backyard,” one that includes some pretty great slick rock formations and fins for scrambling as well as canyons to drop in to, not to mention hidden stashes of iron ore freckled with quartz crystals. Though it’s much more an established place than the BLM land adjoining our old house (it has actual trails for example) it was entirely devoid of people on all our visits which made it feel like we were the first to traverse some of the more off-the-beaten-path-parts.
Abbs and I hiked around here a few times during our visits with Terry over the summer, finding new overlooks and pockets of captivating formations rising from the sage flats of the high desert. On one occasion we left the house early with me still wearing my fleece pajama pants intending to only walk for an hour and returned mid-afternoon dirty and scraped from crawling up cliffs – not to mention terrible thirsty and pretty hungry. Saying that I find the opportunity to wander and explore in place like these addicting can be an understatement.
As nowadays I spend most of my months of the year living and working in small city it’s these types of places – and the opportunities for those sorts of excursions right out the front door – to be some of my fondest memories of the summer. For all the spectacular sights we saw, mind-blowing vistas we hiked to, and new places visited in the middle months of 2019, it is those unplanned mornings and afternoons of exploration along with time spent with friends and family that most often bring a smile to my face.