Mile 781, on the Kaibab Plateau

Today was a day, I think, of stripping away, of peeling away the layers of my oh so comfortable life.

I left my dog, my home of 20 years, and my wife of 30 years. I left the city I’ve lived in for 35 years, and then exited my state on a 9-seater twin prop plane bound for Page Arizona. A shuttle ride out to the stateline trailhead was the end of my contact with man made, controlled environments.

My ride from Denver to Page

Obligatory state line selfie

I’m on my own now, a complete unknown. But I do have a direction home, so I’m not quite a rolling stone. Just an aging hiker still afflicted by the need to go out into empty spaces.

And it’s pretty darn empty here on the Kaibab Plateau. Lots of red rocks, lots of juniper and pinyon, and not much else. Space and silence are what I signed up for and I am getting them in abundance.

Sunset on the Vermillion Cliffs

It’s 28 miles to the next reliable water. The southern half of the state is the domain of the sky islands — 9000 foot peaks surrounded by low deserts. That terrain made for some pretty hard climbs, but the topographic relief gave rise to many springs and even creeks. The mostly flat Colorado Plateau makes for much easier walking but there is very little surface water. No springs at the feet of mountains, no streams trickling down deep canyons (except for The Canyon of course).

The only water today was a wildlife drinker- a cistern- and it must be the only source for miles. Jays, chickadees, doves, woodpeckers and even deer stared at me from a distance, impatiently waiting for me to finish tanking up so that they could have their turn. Only the chickadees, always the bravest of birds, ventured to drink before I left. I was an unwanted interloper.

I’ll have to try to be a better citizen I guess