diving in

I finally (finally, finally) found a place to submerge myself.

This is Snook’s Bottom.

Photo Jun 06, 6 25 04 PM

I have no idea why it’s called that. It’s this gravel pit off the Colorado where high schoolers go to party, and kids climb on top of floating logs (there are a lot of logs floating in Snook’s Bottom), and desperate, heat-strokey people can dive headfirst into some moderately cool water. I took my neighbors Mike and Cyrus. Cyrus opted to remain on the muddy shore, but Mike and I paddled around, occasionally removing pieces of seaweed from our hair, and wondering aloud what was at the bottom of the surprisingly deep pool. (Lots of broken glass? Sea monsters?) It was awesome. I was so happy.

Photo Jun 09, 11 26 35 AM
The hot trail of Upper Liberty Cap

I just looked up Snook’s Bottom and I still don’t know why it’s called that, but I learned that it is twenty acres in size (not bad) and “will be routinely supplied with fish to ensure that it becomes a prime fishing area in Fruita.” We did not see any fish but maybe they were way deep hanging out with the sea monsters.

It’s getting really hot here. Like, really hot. REALLY HOT. I had a couple of rove days during my last work week, meaning hiking in frickin wool pants, and I keep breaking my own records in sweatiness. I trundled up to Devil’s Kitchen and sweat all over the place up there, and I hiked Lower Monument Canyon and saw a bunch of bighorn sheep and sweat all over the place there, and I hiked Upper Liberty Cap at the moronic time of noon-two pm. On that hike I pretty much went into this heat-induced daze, heading down the hard white trail with sweat dripping into my eyes, thinking hazy thoughts about waterfalls and ice cubes. I was trying to self-monitor for signs of ataxia or declining mental status and concocting plans for what to do if I suspected I legitimately was in danger of heat stroke (not that self-monitoring for declining mental status makes any sense at all), and I decided I would sit down in the piddly shade of a juniper and dump my extra liter of water on myself.

Photo Jun 07, 3 56 49 PM
Surveying my domain.

In between losing a great deal of moisture and salt content, the week was interspersed with an excellent visit from Lindsey and Ben (Mexican food, getting semi-lost trying to find the grocery store in Grand Junction, great conversation), exceedingly lovely star-gazing complete with shooting stars (I saw one, I saw one), a potluck in town at the LE Joel’s house (he has the most immaculate yard, it’s truly impressive), my first evening program (on mutualistic relationships in the Monument), a visit to the park from Senator Udall, and my most well-attended program yet (an 11 am talk on plant adaptations that happened to be mentioned in the local paper and thus was full of locals.)

Yesterday, too, was a stunning field trip to Ouray, about two hours east of here in the San Juan Mountains. Mike and I drove out there and it’s just amazing, all tall lush trees and steep, dark mountain walls and running rivers and waterfalls and local breweries. It was also about fifteen degrees cooler than the Valley, our primary reason for getting out of town. We trooped uphill to a crashing waterfall; standing in its mist, ankle-deep in ice cold stream, felt nearly as good as diving into something. It was quiet and there were lilacs blooming everywhere, the phenology of altitude, so everything smelled lightly sweet. We drank a beer on the patio roof of the Ouray Brewery. I know this is a well-known fact, but it is really hitting me that Colorado is a damn good place to be a beer drinker. Delicious micro-brews on every corner.

The waterfall in Ouray.
The waterfall in Ouray.

Also in Ouray, I awkwardly fell going downhill on a gravel road, tossing my coffee all over someone’s pristine white vehicle, and necessitating a trip to the nearby hardware store for some bandages.

I have been accumulating a fair share of surface wounds lately, mostly from prickly desert things. This one plant grows absolutely everywhere outside our house. I’m not sure what it’s actually called, but it’s been deemed either (please pardon my language) “tumble-fuckers” or “cock-sucking mother-fuckers” by local residents. The plant consists of very small balls (perhaps a centimeter in diameter) which are covered in unbelievably sharp barbs. They are always in my shoes, stuck to my clothes, in my hair, etc. They make their presence known very quickly. Also, the other night, walking outside in the dark, I stepped, barefoot, directly onto a prickly pear cactus. Mmhmm. This ecosystem might just cancel out my barefoot tendencies.

Before I leave you all for an exciting trip to the grocery store, remember resurrection moss? The moss that lies in wait for a flash flood, then springs into life and color? Well, I dumped some water onto some a couple days ago and captured photographic evidence of its transformation for you.

Photo Jun 09, 12 06 06 PM
The left side: unwatered. The right side: vivified.

And now I step out, and submerge myself into the heat.

Photo Jun 07, 2 22 02 PM
A cairn at the outskirts of Devil’s Kitchen.
Photo Jun 11, 4 32 37 PM
Alternate views of a Park Ranger; or, Liz taking breaks from hiking to photograph herself making super faces.
Photo Jun 11, 4 29 46 PM
Mormon Tea (it contains pseudoephedrine); a fruiting Cliffrose, like something out of Dr. Seuss; and a view of Devil’s Kitchen.



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