April 4, 2017 – Day 4 of A Thousand Words a Day
At the top of one of those amazing red domes, there, in the middle of nowhere, I saw a suspension bridge strung over a narrow canyon. I might not have noticed it if not for the heavy set person stopped directly in the middle with a small crowd on the other side trying to coax him/her forward. I hopped off my bike again to take a few shots of this picturesque scene. The group was part of a zip line course. I don’t know where they came from. There are no actual roads nearby and…well, some of those folks didn’t look like walking long distances was their forte. More important to me than taking pictures that are…beautiful, or composed, with all the right lighting, etc. etc., I like to take pictures that tell stories and this one would. I was too far away to make out whether the person on the bridge was a man or a woman, but something in the very way that they had positioned themselves on this narrow suspension bridge conveyed their internal struggle with moving their feet forward. The brightly colored parka and brightly colored hats on a few folks in the crowd backcast with the red sandstone domes stacked to the horizon, would add interesting dimension to the story.
At this point, the sky was that amazing turquoise blue I’ve only ever seen in the Southwest. The weather was cool, a bit too cool for my bike shorts and cotton tshirt attire, but as long as I kept going up and down hills, I’d be fine. I hurried up towards the footbridge to see if I could get more shots of the people, but by the time I got their they were all over the bridge and congregating further away, listening to instructions from their guide. I couldn’t hear what those were. I took a couple of photos of the bridge. I bet a few of those folks were scared. It looked like a metal 2 by 8 hung by too thin metal twine. As I walked back to my bike I looked off to the La Sals and their cloak of misty clouds. The clouds were moving our way.
The two guys I’d been playing leap frog with passed me as I was mounting my bike. We all smiled, waved or nodded. Another look over my shoulder at the clouds coming in from the La Sals and the word ‘ominous’ sprang to mind. Last night, I’d been sitting around a campfire telling Moab Wind-War stories and hearing about how bad the wind had blown the night before we arrived. Darren, Nila and I had nodded appreciatively, then shared the story of the time we’d come out in our vintage canned ham camper and the wind had blown so hard it’d torn the window off the back of the camper. Granted the window was having some problems anyway. The camper was pretty old and I was in the process of remodeling it, but still. That night we’d seen all the tents blown flat then held down by a wind that never ceased. The next morning we were the only ones in the campground and camping chairs, tarps, tents, even sleeping bags were scattered all over the place.
As I thought about that, I thought about how slowly the clouds seemed to be coming in and decided that, while I didn’t have any time for dilly dallying, I’d better sheath the camera and get moving. I figured I had two hours of up and down to get in. In a few minutes, I’d caught up to the fellas again. They were having some water while they admired yet another amazing view. I smiled and said, “I’m hightailing it before I find myself caught in a storm. I don’t even have a jacket!” They waved and I headed.
I passed several other spots that begged for photos, but I stayed moving, until I saw something that I just had to have a picture of: Two men on UNICYCLES heading my way. This would have been about the halfway mark for the once again and I can’t emphasize it enough, seriously tough trails in Moab and here’s the two on fricking unicycles. I stopped dead, smiled and said, well fellas, this I got get a picture of. I brought out my phone and tried to get a couple of shots, but was informed, by my phone, that I’d exceeded memory. Ah well, “You guys are awesome.” I shouted and pedaled on.
Somewhere around Mile 5, the phone rang and it was my husband. He’d expected me back by now and was wondering where I was. I apologized for forgetting to call him and tell him I’d decided to do the full trail, eyed the clouds that I was finally facing and said, “Hon, I better get moving. Looks like the clouds are moving in faster.” I passed a lone biker heading the other way and I called out to him, “Guess I’m not the only one crazy enough to be out here with a storm on the horizon!” He had a red beard and mustache and big, smiley blue eyes. He smiled and nodded. “You’ll be fine, hon. It won’t hit us.”
I’d just gotten started again, when a steel cold blast of air hit me head on. A chilling storm harbinger, though I hoped just a straggler. I picked up speed. A few minutes later I was pedaling my heart out straight into a fierce wind, 40, maybe 50 mph or more. I squinted my eyes for some protection from the sand that was being blasted against my face. I had moments of reprieve when I dipped briefly between domes, but those were scarce moments. I debated whether or not to duck between domes and wait out the wind, but the wind was only the first part of the storm. Dark clouds were being hurried by them and they looked endless. I think red was wrong. And I didn’t have a jacket. So I had to keep moving, driving straight into the wind.I’d told my husband I was around mile marker 6 but half an hour later I passed the 6 mile marker painted on the rock. Four miles to go and the wind just kept coming. And I was getting cold.