Landscape: Desert Dog Days

gorilla leadDog days. The phrase usually refers to the longest days of the year. Those hot, sticky summer ones when the sun shines on late into the evening. When Sirius—the Dog Star—once rose with the sun. But now, the days are getting shorter, and I find myself still trying to hold on to the summer as long as possible. Don’t get me wrong—I love winter. I live in a ski town, so I get my fair share of the snow. But I’m not ready to shovel myself down the stairs in the morning. Not just yet. My efforts to keep winter at bay have involved making a few recent road trips to Utah, where the sun still burns against the red rock faces and where it’s still possible to go out rock climbing in a tank top.

Of course, climbing sandstone splitters is a joy in itself. That’s me (pictured at right) after leading Gorilla Crack (5.10b). I’m smiling, but this type of climbing is often painful, and I’m still not having super proud leads at Indian Creek (I call out “take” when I get freaked out, and I had to rest on this one several times). The surrounding desert landscape more than makes up for any climbing frustrations, however:

Desert Skull

Seriously. This is not staged. We found this skull near our camp at Hamburger Rock, and even though it looks like something from a movie set, this place is for real.

moto biker

Besides climbers in this area, there are all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts, like this guy here buzzing home to his camp on a dirt bike.

pastel skies

And…at this point, this post is turning into a landscape photo montage. The narrative thread is gone, okay? So, just photo descriptions from now on. Above: painted desert.

Bridger Jack Road 1

And now, above: the road into the Bridger Jack Mesa camping area. Nice and rocky—can’t believe that the van didn’t have any mechanical problems after driving this.

Nanda shadow

Above: walking my friend Sibylle’s dog in the evening. Long dog-days shadows.

Nanda smile

And, finally: Nanda Devi, named after the mountain. I assume she’s smiling here, as I’m sure I was in the desert dry evening air.


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