Camped out at Pleasant Creek, a NFS campground at the top of Boulder Mountain, on the Aquarius Plateau, the highest forested plateau on the continent. Empty and cool at 8,000 feet this Memorial Day weekend. The campground was deserted.
Scrambled some, took High Ranger Trail on the other side of Highway 12, but bearanoia beat me back despite today’s lesson in A Course in Miracles: In Defenselessness my safety lies. Oh, to hell with that. I used a lot of defenses: walking along Highway 12 where the traffic would scare the bear away; the other people who would populate the campground come nightfall; watchfulness, like the bevy of deer I scared up as I hiked through the aspen stands near the summit of the mountain.
All the defenses I’d wanted to use: the Bear Pause spray I just knew I’d stowed in my camper but couldn’t find; a 2 x 4 that I kept beside my while I slept; a broom. I could just me see fending off a black bear in my camper with a broom. “Go away! I’m a witch and I’ll turn you into a candy bar so you’re friends will eat you.”
Whenever I came near a magpie or a marmot and it took ff in the opposite direction, I told it: “In defenselessness, our safety lies.”
I crossed back over the road, wandered down to a hill at the edge of the plateau and found a trail to the summit. At the edge, I looked out at vistas of the Henry Mountains which stretched about 40 miles east, the summits still laced with snow. Between here and there, Capitol Reef hid the Waterpocket Fold, ancient monocline paired with ancient strike valley. Gold dust deserts surrounded the mountains on all sides, land folded and faulted, wrinkled and thrust.
Dense stands of aspen and ponderosa crammed the seems in the foothills that stepped down from Boulder Mountain toward a reservoir. Meadows and forests lay flatter beyond that until the denser woodlands relented to pinyon and juniper and then to the scrub of desert. I hiked back down the hill until I reacquired the trail that lead me up here. Then I scrambled through a tall aspen cluster and across a soggy meadow back toward camp.
I wandered past camp to a naked hillside. If I squinted, I could make out the faint silhouettes of the La Sal Mountains in eastern Utah. Or maybe, like the bear, it was just my imagination.