Thursday, August 4, 2011
Utah to Calgary
You can never truly experience the location you are visiting or living unless you get out of the city and spend some time in nature.
So I planned to awake early for a guided tour of some of the unique geography by hiking and rappelling down some remote water carved canyons...it was as eye opening as it sounds.
I joined a small group of adventurers lead by an excessively certified and knowledgeable guide and we were dropped at the top of a rusty barren landscape. The leisure hike was apt time to learn about our surroundings and our fellow adventures. The most fascinating fact was the "Crypto-biota" that is the basis for all life in the desert. It forms this kind of moldy crust on the sand and all other plants and animals depend for all soil building, water retention, habitat and food sources. It takes FOR EVOR to grow yet can be destroyed by one foot step...so they have a saying, "Don't Bust the Crust!" You really learn the delicate balance of life such harsh topographies as this.
Back upon my horse with no name to cross the remainder of the desert, I follow the Colorado river up to its sources in the Colorado Rockies and Climb over multiple passes, along raging rivers that are the shoulder for the highways that wind up narrow canyons. Trees are a welcome sight along with the cool of the altitude. But I'm lulled into a cold brain fog by the constant wind and altitude. I stop and warm myself by hugging a hot water machine and sticking a hot bottle of water in my jacket. Pushing on to Denver I arrive in the evening to a wet welcome of the most intense down pour and lighting storm they've ever had in the area (thousands of strikes per hour in the thick of it and three people died from the lightening, and from some flooding). I'm warmed by a renewal of friendships, hot soup and a change of clothes.
I spend the next day checking out Denver (well, mostly REI) and got re geared for the rest of my trip (my back pack broke). Then Caught up with another motorcycle friend from my time in Peru and his son, then back on the long straights for the hard push to Calgary in 2 days...
Colorado and Wyoming where a blur of yellow dashed lines blue sky's and fields of commodity crops. I made it to a quiet spot near Big Timber, Montana on mid-grade and Lembas bread, to catch some z's before another big push north. I didn't even set up camp, I found sleeping in my riding gear on a closed gravel road to be satisfactory. The evenings entertainment was a babbling brook, a full view of the galaxy belt and a hunting owl that flew right over me to catch his prey near the road.
I arose with the universe to the feeling of serenity and joy to see the light painting a nearby snow caped range. I climbed to the top of the nearest hill to welcome the morning and bid adieu to the full moon and attempt to capture its beauty with my camera.
The farther north I rode the more rich and golden crisp light of morning and evening seemed to linger. This magic hour seemed to slow and quiet my fast pace as I ripped my loud "Thumper" across the peaceful land.
Finally at the boarder crossing, the officials denied me entry for lack of documentation to work in Canada, yet after hours of perusing the NAFTA qualifications manual and drafting my layered defense, the officer waved me in on a promise to straighten things out next time..."yes, sir". The only noticeable difference in the land from northern Montana was the intense winds that buffeted my ride (known locally as the "Chinooks". The inconsistent gusts had me leaning almost 45 degrees just to ride straight at times! Fortunately a kindly trucker took me under his wing and I rode his draft about 6 feet from his right rear flank for the next hour. I continued straight north and arrived at my hosts ranch just in time for another bowl of my famous instant split pea soup and some of the best beef in the Canadian plains...or at least it tasted like it after that ride!