It’s been a while since I posted another chapter of the Little Book Cliffs story. The last episode ended with the following “Little Book Cliff-hanger”:
Feeling fresh and energetic, we tied up our boots, picked up our packs– and let the packs hit the ground with a grunt. We cursed the fact that water weighs eight pounds a gallon and that we each had much more than that, and tried again to pick up the packs. Staggering under the load, we climbed up the first steep ridge and were shocked to see…
… wild horses.
We had been pretty skeptical that we would see any, so spotting some within sight of the car was taken as a good omen. They weren’t especially haggard, but didn’t look especially majestic either. Although we never stopped searching, and we saw plenty of “signs”, these two were the only wild horses we saw on the entire trip.
We hiked up the main canyon, labeled on our maps with the helpful descriptive name “Main Canyon.” Trickles of water emerged and disappeared in the alkali-stained stream bed. The sun was bright and high in the sky, and we quickly tired under the relentless brightness. We crawled under the shade of some juniper shrubs to rest and eat lunch (Kim, the self-described “Fish-bacon vegetarian” sampled some beef jerky, which in the two years since I have kidded her about approximately 752,673 times).
Eventually, the corny riddles imprinted with edible ink on Kevin’s Pringles potato chips began to bore even us, so we reluctantly re-shouldered our packs and continued up Main Canyon to its junction with Spring Canyon. According to the guidebook, Spring Canyon was filled with a “braided gravel stream,” but the lower sections were just sand. On the sides of the canyon, however, were interesting hoodoos- large chunks of rock seemingly balanced on eroding pillars. Looking like either giant penises or terrain from a Roadrunner cartoon, they distracted us from the depressingly dry riverbank under our feet.
The sun wasn’t helping any, and when we found a shady pile of rocks were were glad to lose our packs for a few minutes of rest. The shade proved too enticing for merely a short break, however, and in minutes we were all pleasantly snoozing in the cool shadows… I’m not sure what woke me up, but when I peaked my eyes out from under my hat, there was a six-foot snake slithering across the trail, just outside of the shade line. That excitement motivated us to get moving again.
Moving again and moving up- not long after our break we started to climb high up the side of the canyon. We saw ravens on a rock on the top of a steep pitch- Sky was quickly off in hot pursuit. Our doggie friend was no bird watcher, but the dead rabbit parts that the ravens were pecking at were the definite doggie highlight of her dusty doggie day.
We were far above the sandy stream bed below us, with a nice breeze and good views across meadows of brown grass. I was pretty concerned about the water situation, but we had enough to make it through the night.
After debating, we decided to postpone the water search until the next day, and opted instead to find a flat site for our tents. It was dark before our dinner of rice and crunchy bean burritos was ready, but it was a good first day in the desert.