Goddy and I usually do this in February or March, but time slipped by us this year. I did go up there with my dear friend Becky then, so it was a bonus for me to have two meanders in a still-fairly-wild place. Well, calling it wild might be a bit of a stretch. How about relatively undisturbed by crowds of people?
|...but the flowers are so much prettier surrounded by nothing but space|
We parked the truck in a hunters camp, just off the main road that goes across the area. Then we set out in the general direction of Wychus Creek. I wanted to get to where we could see the creek. If you don't have some sort of a goal in mind when heading out, you just wander around. Which is good on some days, don't get me wrong. A mindful wander can be very invigorating.
|As long as you can see a mountain you won't get lost.|
It rained this week, so there were some bonus tiny tarns for the dogs to quench their thirst. They lapped up the opportunity like seasoned pioneer dogs (which they aren't but you wouldn't have known that today.)
We got to where we could hear the creek and see across the canyon but weren't too keen to navigate down to the water. This time of year, when Goddy is shearing most days, his legs protest at going down steep canyons and since we want to keep those pins happy we stayed up top.
As we wandered back toward the truck we both were thinking about why this grassland exerts such a pull on us. There are many more beautiful places to hike in and certainly less rocks to clamber over. But this was our space as we learned how to be Americans again.
When we worked at Long Hollow Ranch, which has the permits for the grazing allotments on the grassland, the cattle summered on the expanse. We rode around the perimeters of the pastures, checking fences and getting familiar with the lay of the land. We hauled water up to the cattle every day, and organized the drives to move them through the pastures and bring them back to the ranch at the end of the permitted time. Although our time at the ranch was short, the hours spent on the grassland helped us understand this western way of life we would be part of. We marveled at how different it was from the mild green hills we'd farmed in New Zealand.
The landscape out there is a reminder that soft and mild, while soothing, are not necessary for life to persist. Plus, all those rocks and the possibility of snakes keep the crowds away, which is really why we go there.