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Into The Light

For some reason (which is still unknown) I woke several times throughout the night.  At 4am I found myself tossing and turning inside my zero-degree sleeping bag.  I wasn’t cold at all, but I just could not find a comfortable sleep-inducing position.  At 445am I surrendered to the unrest.


By the aid of my headlamp, I dressed in two layers on the bottom and three on top plus a navy-blue wool beanie on my head, pulled down tight to cover my ears.


The morning sky was crystal clear and filled to capacity with the most beautiful twinkling stars that I had ever seen.  The intense blackness of the early morning desert landscape coupled with the deafening silence had me frozen in my tracks fighting to make sense of my surroundings.  The desert has a vast arsenal of unsuspecting ways to sneak up on you and if you’re not careful and if you left your A-game in the tent it can really fuck with your mind. 


I had to look twice at the thermometer.  21 degrees F!  Sometimes I forget just how cold it can get in the desert.  Within moments the silence of the morning was broken by the metallic squeaks, clinks, clanks, clicks and hisses of coffee making. 


Mornings like this definitely require a fire (no sense in suffering or punishing yourself if you don’t have to.)  I stirred the ashes and held the palm of my right hand a few inches above the coal bed and sure enough there was still a little heat coming up off last night’s coals.  I added a generous amount of kindling and a few large pieces of dry pine.  I was anxious to enjoy the warmth, so I squirted a small amount of charcoal lighter fluid onto the coals and within seconds my fire erupted to life which in turn took the edge off the creepy early morning blackness.


Fireside, I sipped hot black coffee and made some journal entries that I would later reference to help me write this story.  I spent the next couple of hours tinkering around camp and getting ready for today’s planned hike.


I rolled to a crunchy halt at the deserted trailhead parking area a few minutes before 9 am.  Leaning back against the driver’s side door of my SUV I finished the last few sips of coffee while surveying the landscape before me. 


The entire area was encased in shadow.  The mouth of the canyon waited patiently just one hundred yards ahead.  A raven glided by from right to left through the cloudless morning sky. I shouldered my camera backpack and began today’s exploration.


Now, I was officially in the canyon which eventually would become a slot canyon.  The canyon walls rose dramatically.   The shadows softened the textures of the rock walls and gravel wash that was my trail.  There was so much to look at, so much begging for my attention. “A kid in a candy store” is what came to mind.


As I rounded a gentle right-handed bend in the wash I was greeted by the most amazing wall of light.  I framed up this shot and made a few photographs, then I continued my walk “Into The Light.”

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