The day after I returned from Ecuador was my friend and colleague Brian and his fiance Christine’s Ruracio, the second part of their traditional Kenyan wedding. The third and final ceremony of their wedding will be celebrated in Kenya in a few months.
From that ceremony it was off to the west coast for another, this one in LA for my old college friends Michael (a.k.a. Miggity) and Amanda.
Now that both coasts were taken care of I headed inland for a few weeks to explore southern Utah with my folks and visit my niece Crystal and her son Tayt in the hospital. Tayt was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition where only the right side of one’s heart is functioning. He’s 6 years old and now back at the familiar Primary Children’s Hospital where he’s spent much of his 6 years undergoing one surgery after another. His smile and polite, jovial manner are those of someone who has painfully learned to appreciate every healthy moment life has to offer. His current round of operations are a few of many more leading to an eventual heart transplant once he’s older and stronger.
Meanwhile Eugenia, a dear friend and colleague of mine, was on an aircraft instrument deployment in Iceland and spread the word that Tayt could use some cheering up. One afternoon we received the following picture taken in the cockpit of the ER-2 while 65,000 feet above Greenland. Thanks so much for all your thoughts, and we couldn’t agree more – “FEEL BETTER SOON TAYT!”
First stop with my folks was Capitol Reef National Park where we’d spend four nights camping and five fantastic days cooking, hiking and trail running.
From there we went to Goblin Valley State Park, an alien landscape with rock formations so surreal it feels more like walking around Mars than anywhere on Earth. In addition to the strange, gobblin like rock formation within the park, the region around them boasts some of the best slot canyons in Utah, certainly worthy of exploration on this trip.
Though the rock formations are broadly described as goblins, just about any creature one could imagine can be found here.
In the evening we went on a ranger led hike to the Goblin’s Lair, a cave that was only recently discovered in the park.
From Goblin Valley it was off the the Moab area for more hiking and some of the best mountain biking in the country. Along the way we ran into one of Tayt’s best friends, pity we didn’t find Lightning McQueen and Sally as well!
Camping for three nights at Dead Horse State Park we explored most of the park’s trails and had easy access to the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands National Park.
Trail running in Capitol Reef and Goblin Valley had been none to kind on my knees so the switch to mountain biking came just in time. With several great single-track loops in Dead Horse Point State Park and the legendary slickrock of Moab at my disposal, it was time to ride!
With our last night of camping upon us, Mom and Dad serenaded the campground with some evening tunes.
As luck would have it our last night coincided with the brightest full moon of the year. After a week and a half of over 150 miles of Utah hiking, trail running, and mountain biking the draw of a moonlit night was too much to pass up; at 11 PM I took to the trail up Negro Bill Canyon toward the Morning Glory Arch, the 5th longest natural span in the world at 243 feet (74 m). The photos of this adventure fail miserably to convey the experience and I fear words can do little better. An hour into the milky night I neared the dead end of a dark, cliff-faced canyon and was convinced I was lost. A few steps more the perspective changed and out of the right cliff face the arch emerged overhead against the bright, starry sky, rising above me like some huge stone appendage of the earth. Beneath lay a small pool of water replenished by seeps in the cliff, reflecting the arch, moon, and stars above. Sprinkles.