A new morning!
A new hike!
I did the Lower Prong loop yesterday, so it just seemed to make sense to do the Upper Prong loop today. (Apr 25)
And if I break from tradition and do the loop clockwise the trailhead is just a few steps away from The Van!
So with the sun starting to paint the fins towering precariously above me
as well as the ridges lining the western edge of the Upper South Prong Canyon
I lay boot to trail,
much to the annoyance of this inhabitant.
In this light I can't really make out enough details to identify it, (OK, let's be honest. I probably couldn't identify it in perfect light either, but it sounds good to pretend that I can.) but it follows me for a while, crying out every time it lights nearby. I can't tell if it's a warning, or a protest, or maybe a little of both, but whatever it is its loud duwee duwee woochi woochi woochi woochi clearly marks my position as I move along the trail.
But that doesn't stop me from continuing up the canyon away from camp, (back there under the red arrow)
the whole time being watched over by the Guardian of the Canyon.
I don't know if that's her official name, or if she has a name at all, but that's what I've been calling her for years.
In my mind she was embedded in the earth hundreds of millions of years ago and patiently waited her turn to be exposed by wind and water to take up her duties of watching over the canyon. And when her time is done there are others like her, still waiting deep in walls of the canyon for their turn to take up the mantle of Guardian.
At a horizontal erosional rate of about a quarter inch per year these canyons are going to be here for a long time and take a lot of watching over!
I know the Guardian's job is to watch over the canyon and its inhabitants and not me, a temporary interloper, but I hope a little of that guardianship is spilling over on me this morning because soon I'm headed up the face of that white ridge there in the background.
There are three sections of trail in this park classified by the park service as Extremely Steep & Rugged.
Having been on all three in the past I propose a slight modification, in that one of those sections be reclassified as Mildly Terrifying to differentiate it from its slightly gentler cousins.
And, of course, that's the one I happen to be headed for this morning - - -
However it's classified, here I'm standing at the base of it and if you look close there behind the branches of that tree you see a large bolder (About Smart-Car size) sitting on the edge of a ledge going to the right.
Nope, as tempting as it is when you get up there, and it has clearly lured in many hikers, that's not the trail, because once past the rock that inviting ledge quickly pinches out to nothing and leaves the hiker stranded above a long drop.
Nope! Not the way to go!
Rather, when you hit the vertical wall at the top of that first scramble, instead of turning right, the proper action is to turn left,
I was pretty much expecting a peaceful wind-down of the day after my hike, but as I was sitting there in camp eating my one-pot dinner and minding my own business, I suddenly had a 1500 pound visitor!