An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveThe Heat of Summer in St. George
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Here is one of my web log entries, perhaps from my Yakkity Yak page, What's New page, or one of my Astounding Adventures from my Geocaching section:
The Heat of Summer in St. George
Wednesday, 09 July 2003 9:29 PM MDT
Holy Bananas, it's hot in them, thar, ahem, valleys -- if you mean the valleys in and around St. George, Utah. While I totally love living in this southwestern corner of Utah, a dry but spectacular red rock desert, the summer heat in the 100s and even 110s (degrees Fahrenheit, that is) is just too much. And having recently returned on Monday afternoon from a long, lazy, wonderful Fourth-of-July weekend in the much cooler environs of Pine Valley, the heat seems somehow hotter.
Why am I complaining? I don't actually have to earn my living like my ancestors, trying to eke out an existence from the dry soil, physically laboring each day out-of-doors, exposed to the vicious glare of the desert sun. I have it easy! I work each day in air-conditioned comfort, fingers flying across the computer keyboard. Somehow, just looking out the window into the glaring afternoon sunlight is enough to remind me, it's HOT out there. And somehow that thought offends me, or at least taunts me, whispering to my mind, "Ha ha! You can't come out here, you can't go walking or hiking, or else my mighty heat will swat you down and sap your strength in seconds."
Perhaps the prayers for relief from the ongoing drought will soon be granted, and merciful rain will anoint these powder-dry hills at last. Oh, how I hope, and how I pray, and will continue praying until such drought relief comes.
As usual, Horsey (that's Orson Scott Card to you -- see another Yakkity Yak entry for an explanation) has done it again, with his latest columns. In his Weddings and Hometown Memories article, he very eloquently points out where marriage comes from, and how it is absolutely essential to civilization. In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling that may lead to future attempts to redefine marriage into something other than what it is, the lawful uniting of man and woman, the core foundation of family, this article was extremely relevant and a delight to read. Well said, Mr. Card! I agree wholeheartedly. I happen to have been blessed to see in my parents' marriage an example of what marriage is supposed to be, and how it can be a powerful force for good.
In his other column, Judges, Filibusters, and Hillary, he laments the state and direction of the Democratic Party (to which he belongs), and points out how it could turn around, as I'm sure he hopes it does. As a modern conservative and a registered Republican, with some libertarian leanings balanced with a few old-fashioned "liberal" views mixed in (Wow! What a hodge-podge concoction my political views must be!), I must agree with what Mr. Card has to say. His vision of the Democratic Party would merit serious consideration. I don't think I would be so quick to announce my Republican affiliation if the Democratic Party offered such choices. Actually, here in Utah, the quality of persons who run for office in the Democratic Party is often better than in many parts of the country, candidates of a character perhaps closer to the kind of Democrats Mr. Card would like to see more of.
Okay, I decided to do it. I actually signed up for a free trial membership at one of those online singles web sites, this one specific to members of the LDS faith. I just don't have many opportunities to socialize with eligible single LDS women. When I do socialize with those of the gentler sex, I am intensely shy around them, like I am around those with whom I'm not familiar. (However, I tend to get louder as I warm up to people.) So I haven't been dating a lot, a fact I really should remedy.
I attend a family ward (that's a local church congregation for any wondering), only occasionally visiting the singles' ward my sister attends. I just don't meet many single LDS members going to my own ward. Even when I visit my sister's ward, because I don't attend the ward's activities during the week, there isn't a lot of time to meet new people and socialize, especially for one as sky as I am. Hopefully this online experiment will at least help me learn to come out of my shell a bit more now and then.
Now that I've signed up and set up a basic profile, I need to find some pictures to post. Hmmm, since I have an aversion to being photographed, this may take some time. Nah, if worst comes to worst, I'll snap a shot of myself with my digital camera and see what happens.
On Monday, my family's extended Fourth-of-July weekend get-away and reunion in the beautiful community of Pine Valley, Utah, nestled at the base of the Pine Valley Mountains, was coming to a close. Before we packed up and returned home, I just had to get outside one more time, so I grabbed my brother Kendall, who was not adverse to the idea, and we started walking.
We took off walking from the cabin where the family was headquartered, even though it was early afternoon in the heat of the day. We followed the main thoroughfare (there's only one) southwestward for about a mile-and-a-half, then turned south, winding up at the Forsyth Trailhead, where one of several mapped trails that venture up into the foothills and climb to the top of the Pine Valley Mountains begins.
Just last year, my father, my sister's husband, and I had hiked the first part of Forsyth Trail. We were looking for a Geocache, one called 19th Green. We found it near a small meadow, surrounded by aspen, Ponderosa pine (one of my favorite pines), and spruce trees. (Please forgive me for any tree misidentifications. I just don't know my horticulture!) We had found the cache hidden beneath a fallen aspen log, near the burbling brook, Forsyth Creek. I remembered that the forest and meadow near the cache was a verdant paradise in the bottom of Forsyth Canyon.
Since my brother and I were already at the trailhead, even though it was a very warm day (probably in the low 90s or high 80s), I wanted us to continue up the trail for about a mile or so to the cache site so that my brother could see it and enjoy it. So we signed in at the sign-in box, then on we hiked, following the trail as it weaved among the surrounding sagebrush and juniper trees.
As the trail gently climbed, the surrounding flora included more and more pinyon pine and fewer juniper trees and sage brush plants. In several places, the trail even tunneled through the middle of small groves of Gambel oak (or scrub oak). Later, as the terrain grew steeper and the surrounding arms of the mountain, both east and west of us, closed in, a few clusters of white-barked quaking aspens, ever-majestic Ponderosa pines, and spruce trees made an appearance.
As we neared the glade where my father, brother-in-law, and I had found the cache last year, we stopped beside Forsyth Creek, here a small, babbling stream tumbling over mossy granite rocks. Inspiration struck! I scooped up some of the clear, cool water, and soaked my hair. Ahhhh! The cooling effect was instant and wonderful. My brother did the same.
We continued up the trail a hundred yards or so more, and there it was, ahead of us, the little clearing in the trees near the cache hiding spot. We were at the cache site at last. Kendall followed my lead as we left the trail and ducked into the trees to the right, once again close to the brook.
I couldn't help but be amazed that there was still water flowing, despite an extended multi-year drought. And the small clearing was still green, a patch of verdant grass among tall Ponderosa pines, aspen trees, and spruce trees, even after so many weeks without rain.
Hidden beneath a slowly decaying aspen log (they decay much more slowly here in the desert southwest than in rainier parts of the country), was the very same geocache, a beige, waterproof plastic container filled with trinkets for trading and a notebook for visitors to write in and log their visit. I extricated the container, opened it, and spread the contents out on a speckled gray granite boulder.
I checked logbook to see who had visited since my visit last year. There was only one new entry. Someone had found the cache in May and logged their find. Any other cache finders apparently did not log their visit, that is, if anyone found it.
I looked around for a pen or pencil to make a new brief entry. No luck! The cache was barren of writing utensils, and neither my brother nor I had brought a writing implement with us. We didn't log our visit in the notebook, excluding my vain attempt to write the date on one of the lined pages using grass to stain the paper.
Geocaching rules state that if you take something from a cache, you must leave something in exchange, something of value that a subsequent cache visitor would find interesting, but nothing dangerous, harmful, or illegal. Last year I'd made such an exchange, but this time, since I hadn't really planned on visiting the cache at the start of our walk, I was unprepared. So we took nothing and left nothing.
We'd come far enough for our Monday afternoon walk. This beautiful nook of the Pine Valley Mountains would serve as our turn-around point. We returned the cache to its hiding place, and headed back down the trail.
Twice on the hike back, we paused to saturate our hair with water from the brook. Since the journey back was all down hill, it went more quickly. As the warm dry air breezed past, the water in my hair evaporated, cooling my head mervelously. It was exhilarating!
By the time we made it back to heart of the small village of Pine Valley, my hair was almost completely dry. We stopped at the visitors information building in the middle of town, a little white building beneath tall Ponderosa pine trees. To the side of the building was a pair of drinking fountains. That's where we headed.
I tanked down on the cool water, then refilled 32-oz water bottle. It was long since empty, even though I'd topped it off at this same fountain on our way out. My brother, who hadn't brought any water with him, sucked water down like a camel at an oasis. It sure tasted good, the fresh, cool, mountain water. Before we left, I drenched my hair yet again.
Once back at the cabin, we estimated that we'd walked and hiked a round trip of five-and-a-half or perhaps even six miles total, ascending then descending 200-250 feet in altitude. Not anything amazing or strenuous, but a respectable little hike.
Later when I looked at the topographical map on my laptop computer and plotted our route, I determined that we'd ascended nearly 500 feet, starting out at 6500 ft. in elevation, then climbing to nearly 7000 ft. elevation at the site where we turned around.
Interestingly enough (to me at least), I learned that some other visitors on the previous Friday, the 4th of July, had hiked the Forsyth trail and continued past the cache site. Beyond where we turned around, the trail really gets serious and climbs 2000 to 3000 feet, depending on which route you take, to the summit of the mountain. The other visitors had hiked all the way to where they could see over the top of the mountain, southward into St. George. There they hid a new geocache.
I worry that one or both of these caches may be located inside the Pine Valley Wilderness Study Area. Inside a designated wilderness study area, physical geocaches are not permitted. If either or both of these caches are located within the boundaries, they will need to be removed and converted into "virtual" caches. With a virtual cache, a cache hunter can still visit the cache site, and find the cache by proving that he or she was actually there, often by taking a photo of himself or herself at the site, or by some other means. With a virtual cache, no physical cache need exist.
I must say that I really had a blast walking and hiking with my brother.
Wow! This appears to be my longest Yak yet. I guess I'm calling it quits here. If you get this far, my heartiest congratulations! You've proven your fortitude at reading someone else's random musings, comments, and adventures, and you deserve a break.