Monday, October 01, 2012
We had been watching the leaves on the mountain turn for days--a patchwork quilt of scarlets, greens, and golds. This is such a beautiful time of year, but it can be so fleeting. A heavy frost and a stiff wind can end all that glory almost over night--leaving the grey, bare trees of later fall.
Saturday, I really wanted to make our yearly trip up the mountain to enjoy the autumn leaves, but at first my mother wasn't having any of it. She had things to do and places to be. Finally, she decided that a short ride would be okay; then we would come down and get the work done. We helped my dad into the car (he has post-polio syndrome and Alzheimer's) and went on our way. The road was newly opened following six-months of repair work to recover from an avalanche and landslide last winter that took a large section of it out. It was our first trip up the mountain in months.
The mountain was beautiful. We could not have chosen a prettier day. The colors were brilliant--reds, oranges, golds set against an azure sky, and there were still plenty of greens as well. We turned up Right-Hand Canyon road which is mostly dirt and gravel, but is beautiful forested land and has great views of the valley below. There are also large lava outcroppings and acres of lava beds to add a rugged dimension to the Aspens, scrub oaks, and pines. Many of the trees are gnarled and twisted from harsh weather conditions of wind and heavy snow they endure in the winter. Here in there are flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and a few horses running free. Boundaries are sketched by miles of wire fences. Here and there are the zigzag log fences. They used to dominate the mountain, but many have fallen into disrepair, been replaced by posts and wire. Here in there are cabins and sheepherder's camps.
We remember girls' camp, picnics, family outings to hunt fossilized shells in the tiny mountain creeks. One year, Dad even kept a hive of bees on a friend's mountain property. The mountain wildflowers made a light, delicate, floral honey that was so delicious--especially on Mom's hot homemade bread with melted butter.
My mother was exhilarated with the crisp beautiful day, and all the memories. Once we reached the plateau, she thought we might as well just drive on across. This journey took us past Kolob Reservoir, which was brim full after a wetter than usual summer, and through the back roads of Zion National Park. It took us two and a half hours at 25-30 miles per hour on dusty, rutted roads. After we reached Kolob, the roads were oiled again, but still very winding and narrow.
The peaks of Zion are fantastical--red and white sandstone monoliths. They catch the sun in shining glory. From where we are, they still have a distant look. But they are familiar, and we know their grandeur well from many summers of hiking and picnics.
Then Mom decided we might as well just go drop in on my brother, about 30 miles more, but good highways. He and his family were so surprised. "Why didn't you call?" he wondered, but this day would never had happened if we had planned it. We would have just felt that we were too busy and it was too hard. It was the allure of that "just a short little ride, then we'll come home" that got us out the door and up the mountain. How glad I was that I had gassed the car the day before so that this adventure could happen.
My mother sent my brother and I out for hamburgers--her treat. We had a great time together; then headed back home by another, but faster, scenic route.
The next day when I looked at the mountain, it was so gorgeous, and I felt so connected, having just traveled across its face the day before.