After spending the night at the Circle D Motel in Escalante on June 9th, I drove to Boulder (Utah) to meet my off-grid guide at Burr Trail Outpost. I am an adventurer, but I know my limitations. I wanted to camp far away from anyone and everything but didn't feel ready to do so on my own. I found a guide who is well versed on dispersed camping. I describe him as my "courage potentiator". He took me to Pleasant Creek Campground in Fishlake National Forest the first night and then to a place called Bears Ears, located 8700 feet above sea level in the southeastern corner of Utah.
Along the road from Escalante to Boulder, I stopped at the unexpectedly quaint and beautifully appointed Kiva KoffeeHouse for a coffee and look-see. If I hadn't been headed to meet my guide, I would have most definitely stayed here. There's a guest cottage and a restaurant and with all the nearby beautiful natural sites, it's a nugget of travel information I'll tuck away for another time.
My guide was in his own vehicle so I followed him. I liked this because it was as if I was doing the trip on my own. He took me on a road known as Burr Trail where the most mind-blowing naturally occurring exquisitely fabricated sandstone sculptures exist. Burr Trail is at least 75 miles long and we drove approximately 30 of those miles to see nature's majesty. Here are just a few of the images I captured. It's really impossible to capture the wonder, scale, and images of this amazing place.
At the end of this day of driving, we arrived at Pleasant Creek Campground- a quiet place with a small stream nearby. There was nothing spectacular about the site. In fact, I didn't even take any photos. After a days worth of driving in the hot Utah sun, it was the perfect place to make camp for a quick overnight. My guide has his own gear so it was like camping alone- but his nearby presence was comforting. We were up with the sun, made some coffee, and headed out toward Bear's Ears along highway 95. Once again, the scenery was breathtaking but this was the only photo I took. In fact, the photo below is probably the one I took when I left my phone on the windshield of the car the entire trip and couldn't find my phone until the next morning!
We arrived at Bears Ears right as the sun was setting. Enough time to set up camp, open a can of soup to heat over my Primus burner- the best little invention since the napkin! I had no phone or camera to take pictures of the sunset so I simply sat in my camp chair and was fully present to witness the setting of the sun over the ancestral homelands of tribes across the Cedar Mesa of Utah. The night sky in the desert is a celestial wonder. On this night, the waxing moon was 46.65% full, casting beautiful light on the rocks and surrounding structures. Early in the evening, Jupiter hung next to the moon like a perfectly placed diamond. As the night wore on the sky was full of stars, still and shooting. In this stillness, I listen for the whisper of spirit. These are the moments that cause me to love being so far away from everything. All the world is stripped away and I am present in nature. On these sacred Native American grounds I'm in tune to the kachinas and spirits that live in these rocks and soil and their ancient wisdom.
Up again with the sun, we awakened, shared a coffee, and my guide shared stories of this land with me. As I began to pack my car, I was so relieved to find my phone tucked neatly into the windshield wiper on the outside of my car for many reasons, not the least of which I was once again able to take photos. Here are a few from the campsite.
Just before leaving, I hung this sign. A love note to the land, to my guide, to the natives and kachinas, and to the people who will come to this site in the future. I love you, too.
My guide and I departed at the end of the road. My courage potentiator was gone, leaving me with very few words and a nod of approval. Traveling east toward to Durango, onward to the next experience.