Friday, December 16, 2011


We arrived in Bluff, Utah after a long sunrise hike in Arches National Park. We were exhausted but too excited to spend the evening lounging about, so we grabbed a couple of fry bread tacos from Twin Rocks Cafe and headed out the lonely road to Hovenweep. We rushed past dilapidated windmills and herds of spotted horses. The sound of sheep bells carried through our open windows. Hungry dogs paced the concentric circles that their chained stakes prescribed. They stopped pacing long enough to watch our car blur past. 

Little Ruin Canyon is gouged into the top of the mesa like the claw mark from a giant bear. Not carved by a river but a small spring at the head, the canyon drops away in a series of slabs and shelves as the mesa was undercut by the seeping water.

A strange wind blew through the absolute silence. No one was in sight because no one was there. We were alone to walk the canyon trail, among the ancient ruins and reaching shadows. We wandered aimlessly, sleep deprived and sore. Ravens hunkered in hidden alcoves and crumbled granaries. Occasionally, one would call out, perhaps mistaking our stumbled delirium for wounded antelope, soon to be carrion. Tiny lizards played chicken with our foot falls, scattering in every direction. The falling darkness and exhaustion compelled us to walk faster. We were willing to do just about anything to be back in our hotel room so we could crash in a heap.

We were probably too tired to fully appreciate Hovenweep while we were there. Probably, we should have waited until morning. But the memory of that evening still hangs in my thoughts, a ghost of wonder.

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