Friday, June 24, 2011

La Sal Mountains

Only seven days remain here in Moab; more than two-thirds of my time passed lickety-split.  A mostly lonesome passage from human interaction to enthrallment with ancient, wonderfully complex rock.

Every day in Arches Park, I would come eventually to a high place where, instead of red sandstone shaped by physics or God into forms that demand attention, I would cast a wistful eye to the La Sal Mountains some thirty miles to the southeast.  At thirteen thousand feet, their peaks stand some eight thousand feet higher than me, rosy in the morning sun, with blue scarves of snow flying in the wind.  See one of those views from Arches above.

 When I arrived on June 7, I bought a trail map and asked how the trails might be faring.  With some three times normal snowfall last winter and melting fast—not so well, I was told.  So I waited until today to go.  I drove high among  these alluring peaks, and then took to a trail.


Driving upward through pygmy forest of juniper and piñon pine.  On up come the scrub oak jungles, the Manzanita, sumac and dogbane.  

Quaking aspen, tall, straight slim trees with bark as white as the birches of International Falls, The foliage responds to the slightest movement of air.

I climb into a springtime of flowers—larkspur with thick stem and deep blue petals; blue flax with pale sky-blue petals veined in violate, state flower of Utah.

Climbing higher, red fir and lodgepole pine forest, subtle fragrance of sun-warmed, oozing resin.  I climb to nine thousand feet and see timberline at about eleven thousand, the peaks two thousand feet above that.


  1. The top photograph should be hanging in the Autry Museum! The pathways look so inviting too. Beautiful is all I can say today. I hope that's enough :)

  2. Steven RadiceJune 24, 2011

    Ooo! From red rocks to the amazing green plunge!

  3. Watching and listening to you... from the train to Osaka! Masa has a 3-G router that works to give us all wireless as long as we are not going through tunnels! So on this 3 hour train I am able to peek at you as you climb La Sal! So wonderful. I love the richness of vegetation and the subtle dreaminess of the trail it must have been so quiet and magical to be there alone. Soon enough you will be back to your human interaction... and you've been enriched by the complexity of rocks... I know this final segment will be especially beautiful, with the love of friends. I am happy you were able to climb into this dream. The sight of the blooms especially enthralling... I read the biography of Anton Webern, composer who climbed the Alps and was inspired so much by Alpine flowers... that rare exquisite mostly unseen beauty is a treasure for a composer and a poet too! Soon enough we will be together again and share stories of our simultaneous journeys.

  4. Gail RadiceJune 25, 2011

    I can hear the birds singing and the sound of a nearby creek! Lovely, lovely birches always compliment their green surroundings! I did a painting of birches in a forest this green.

  5. Sharon.... amazing pic (top one). My first reaction when I opened the page was 'WOW'. Think this is THE BEST pic of all you've taken on this trip. Looks like you're having fun too. :)

  6. Wow! I am over whelmed. That first photo is spectacular, but there are so many great ones from this trip! And I love your writing as well. So fresh to include your own feelings along with the descriptions. I truly wish I were walking beside you to see these things in person...well, maybe not beside you on that cliff wall...maybe riding on your shoulders!

  7. Yes, Lois, the trail was so inviting and lovely with flowers, aspen trees and the peaks high above, with their scarves of white. A wonderland for sure.

    Well Steven, it was more of a sail away than a plunge, up into thin air, and certainly green.

    Yes Kathabela, it is a subtle green trail, so soft and homey compared the the beautiful, but stark beauty of the Arches.

    Gail, there were in fact birds singing, and rustle of aspen leaves in every little breeze. Every creek was overflowing and babbling its way down to the Colorado River. These aspens are like the birches I lived among in International Falls.

    Yes Mandy, I am having a dreamy kind of fun, the kind where it’s all so strange and lovely I don’t know how to act—kid of like being high on something I guess.

  8. susan rogersJune 28, 2011

    I agree with Lois. The top photo deserves a museum wall. Your photos area all wonderful Sharon. Many of them are sublime. I am enjoying them all very much and your observations that accompany them as always.