Photos: Greg and Trina
We woke to panicked cries of woodpeckers mingled with the quieter twitters of other birds. Fishscale clouds rushed over from the south, but the air was calm and the river pool was a mirror where a great blue heron hunted on stilt-legs in the shallows. Patches of blue sky between the clouds competed with the bright flash from the wings of western bluebirds.
We lingered a short while, then headed for new places. The dirt road rattled us onward and upward onto a high mesa. We left the truck and rode our bikes on an old road where patches of snow lingered in the shadows and where a cold wind cut over the ridge and through our clothes. "Hey, this is like home!" Maybe too much like home.
Seeking warmth, we hoofed down a trail through juniper and scrub into a canyon where a small stream of clear water flowed through wide sandstone pools past the camouflaged trunks and bare branches of sycamore trees. We followed the stream downward to where sandstone and rubble turned to flowing pools of arresting green. A huge spring poured crystal water into the flow, creating a bright oasis of vibrant water plants and mosses. Ranks of bare trees lined the pools, waiting for spring, waiting to leaf out, to shade this sanctuary of wetness amid the dry country that surrounded it. Wild creatures, I'm sure, are attracted to the water, but we saw only birds and the smallest of creatures.
On a warmer day, we might have been tempted to enjoy a dip in the cool water. But the early afternoon's thin warmth was blowing away to the north as clouds poured our way. We climbed back out of the canyon into the cold wind and into the truck where we rumbled into a mountain town for lunch. Rumors in the local cafe were that it would surely snow the next day.
Snow was not really in our plan for this trip. We pointed the truck southward on fast pavement toward lower elevations and hoped we could dodge the storm.