Sunday, May 20, 2018

Desert Trail: Basin and Range Part 2

Up Sphinx Canyon I found the sculpted rock that the canyon was named after, on a slope dappled with sage, only I thought the sphinxed rock resembled more a defiant fist cursing some sky god. Further up splintered and flaky rock shingled from steep slopes. Cones highlighted the ridge lines around the deep and narrow canyon. No shortage of colors either. Hoodoos and pinnacles poked up on crumbly cliffs. The narrow channel had a trickle of water slowly flowing down the drainage. The canyon meandered in close corridors and chutes between flatter surfaces where the walls would be barricaded by a large old juniper trunk, which at some point careened down this canyon and got pinned in awkward bends. The sand and grit and flaky rock piled up behind the choked trunk. Lichen shimmered in what little light shone, orange and green fuzzy bumps on sheer cliffs that accentuated the walls. This was entertaining, negotiating the tricky falls and chutes and bends in the narrows, climbing over loose cliffs and benches. Toward the top the land leveled out and the howling wind subdued. It was cold and I had already been layered up. I took a gander back and saw fast moving stratus clouds floating like a blob across the sky. I sauntered on and found a solitary boot print , molded in mud, rather smallish. I wondered who had been here before. A hunter, a hiker, either way, I hadn’t seen a footprint in some time.

The evening of hiking became fun while moving along in the Gabbs Valley Range. Up a drainage to a pine laden pass, down a canyon, and so forth just following horse track which used the most efficient way through the wash and the sagebrush by using the contours of low benches that curved the wash. I was grooving. I walked to damn near dark and finally up my shelter and braced myself for a cold night. I was expecting a cold morning.

And it was. Temps were in the mid-30s and I put on extra layers to stay comfortable. The horse trail fun continued through the Gabbs. I walked bundled up until I reached the turn off to Painted Rock Spring, which was off trail about a mile and a half. The spring flowed strongly and the large willows showed the reliability of this water source. However, the small creek smelled like a port-a-potty and seemed to be a favorite of the cattle and horse in the area. As with the day before, I walked under low clouds all day with sprinklings peppering me throughout. The wind was incessant and cold. I looked around and the tinges of green on the hillsides and the vast emptiness, nary a sign of human influence and I thought, ‘Yea, this is all mine. 

Across Gabbs Flat, I stepped on gravelly, compacted terraces of rock splinters and volcanic shavings uniquely placed, moved, and eroded over time. Quite simply a mosaic of petrography. A long sandy crossing of Gabbs Valley ensued. Big and wide, lonesome, an enormous empty, an iconic Great Basin scene, picaresque in grandness, all the while traipsing beneath Fissure Ridge and the Monte Cristo Range, two small and abrupt hogbacks signifying fault lines and fissures in the basin floor: the middle of no where, I found it.

I woke up to the sweet fragrant smell of sagebrush after the night of rain. Such solitude in the Sinkavata Hills——peaceful, remote, isolated...wonderful. The desolate hills had not been grazed by cows in a while, for the grass grew wild and tall. No sign of human existence or influence, only the animal trace of antelope and jackrabbit with tiny pellet poop, scrape marks on the floor, and tiny paths maneuvering through the brush. 

My specificity: isolation, remoteness, lonesomeness. Because that’s what I know. This is entertaining to me. This isolation is empowering me to be self-indulgent, even reflective. Being this remote has a thirsty madness associated with it. That idea of not conforming to what I am capable of, the good-head-on-his-shoulder thing, money, or exerting my intelligence and leadership. Fuck that. My potential is in the invisible, not industry, or social structure, but in the forgotten, the ignorance of being; I just want to understand my experience, the knowledge of my steps, my own path, and not the laid out cookie cutter version of what is popular culture or even what is cool-underground. I live in the basins, everywhere, every range around the depressions, the sinkholes. I thrive in not knowing what I have scholastically learned and how I have not applied that. There has been nothing that has been laid out in front of me that I have followed. I forge my own way, I go by instinct, by gut, wandering with intent. 

I come back to that notion. I am aware I am the antihero. Bah, it’s all shit. Too deep, too much of an equation with no constant and no answer, nothing steady, just all shit, fart and your mom jokes. I just keep finding remnants, scars that show what once was. But I want that equation and answer, what will be. The augury of my own mortality and the next phase of my life, it is what is provoking me. But I must be honest with myself: the desert is my evocator.

The Stillwater Range may be the highlight of the whole Desert Trail. I can’t describe that day with heavy detail, like I am wont to do. Too much feeling and exhilarations. But I’ll make a feeble attempt. 

The troughs in East Lee Canyon spilled over with fresh water. The hills were alive with Spring, vibrant with green on the brush and a sheeny red on the long grass, after a week of soggy storms. At an innocuous saddle I attained the crest proper and began the huffing and puffing climb of Mt. Lincoln. Drenched in sweat I hiked into the cloud layer smothering the crest line. This was the theme all day: dodging storm cells at the jagged crest, sweating profusely and exerting tremendous effort, steep ups and steep downs on trail-less ridge lines, constantly weaving in thick forests of pine and juniper, with afforded wide, sweeping and endless views. Descending into Poco Canyon I found the creek flowing with spring water. I slurped the chilly water up. I then found the ruins of a cabin. Nearby was a grave under a large boulder. A picture frame laid upright leaning against the boulder with the glass broken and the picture crustily stuck to the backing of the frame from periods of rain, then the drying of pieces from the crazy sun. The picture showed a man and his wife, probably from the ‘60s, smiling big. I continue to find remnants everywhere out here. Later that day, after close to 30m up high on the crest, exhausted and stumbling along, what was left of the sunset gleamed in a brilliant reflection on the western edge of the Carson Sink thousands of feet below. A mirrored surface of freshly filled lake beds from the recent downpours showed 2 suns, the horizon in distinct from my vantage point. Amazed by this sight, I realized even further how indiscernible the horizon was to the west. I looked to the east. In the next basin, purple shadows of the Stillwater Range loomed long and jagged on the basin floor. In the alkali flat, miles away, I could see a perfect reflection of the clouds and sky above on the surface. Everything merely blended together. I was confused by this, and I don’t mean for that to sound confusing. This phenomenon, I’m not sure what it is, but I’m willing to bet there’s not very many places on Earth where it can happen. I could see all around me towering storm cells with curtains of rain reaching the basin floors seemingly walking along, floating and vacuuming up terrain, like giant jelly fish roaming the sea beds, the feeders of the bottom, blending in with the backdrop of the sky and smearing the cumulonimbus clouds almost resembling a soggy and over boiled cauliflower. This dreamy panorama, I could gaze at forever.

I laid down that night and instantly fell asleep only to nearly sleep through a storm that pummeled my tarp. In the morning, the rain still pitter-pattered my tarp and I laid in my quilt comfortably snug. I got ready about an hour later than usual. I looked forward to the last 12m or so on the crest before heading down to the basin floor. But I knew I had to move quickly with all the roving storms. I moved through thick forests as the rain streamed from the cell above. Thunder grumbled and the rain fell harder. Ironically enough, I was low on drinking water. The ground was completely saturated and left the hiking a bit more tougher than usual underfoot. So, I bailed down a canyon as the rain pelted me. I moved even quicker essentially trying to out run the storm or at least find some cover. I found water at the mouth of the canyon. A fouled and tainted pond stunk up the air. A sulphuric smell rang my nose as I filled a couple liters. I left on horse trails heading north to reconnect with the route. The storms were bigger this day, as I kept looking back up towards the crest. I missed it up there. Nevertheless, clouds sat on the shoulders as looming premonitions. 

I found another water source. This time water flowed out of a pipe from a well into a trough. The water looked clear and didn’t have a smell, so I dumped out one of my liters of the crappy water from the previous source. I tasted it. I couldn’t hack it as the water was undrinkable, too salty and alkaline, and I spit out the swill I attempted, my body violently reacting to it. I kept a liter full of it, just in case. I began the Carson Sink crossing beneath large sand dunes cloaked in thorny, green brush. The sky darkened around me as I walked into a strong headwind. I felt pretty protected because of the dunes, however, the dunes did block my view of any storms creeping in. Usually, those basin storms move fleetingly and move through an area at an astounding speed. They bring in wind and drop water quickly, then leave. Easy as that. You could even time or out-walk or wait out a storm as you can see then coming from miles away. But something felt off. Like the tides were being sucked in, the way the wind was blowing, as if a vacuum was sucking the air out of the basin. I kept looking over my shoulder keeping an eye on things. Utterly exposed in the depression I was in, I had to keep an eye on things. Something seemed bigger this day. I had noticed lightening flickering in the distance throughout the morning. And this concerned me. 

Then, a cell coming from the southeast suddenly grew in size. I kept gazing at the moving wavy curtains of rain falling from the heavens and drenching the terrain. From miles away I could see this. But the curtains kept getting bigger and bigger until  a mountain of a cloud, bigger than the whole Stillwater Range developed, billowing down from the thunderhead and bulging forth from the front. The mass wasn’t just up but everywhere and the mass became the entire sky from ground level to heavens. I thought it was the tendrils of a massive roving thunderstorm, but I was astonished at how fast it gobbled up the landscape, devouring everything in its way. Really, I hadn’t seen anything like this or this big. I became concerned because I didn’t have much coverage being out on the edges of an enormous dry lake bed, a depression where every channel funnels into. I thought I had a couple minutes when massive blob just about barreled right on top of me. I took cover in a wash that was more like a deep ditch, under a tall bank and a large sage that grew right above it. I braced for cover expecting to get drenched. The air went silent. I waited. Then...sand! Sand whipped all around me, swirling everywhere, the wind howled and raced through in vicious gusts, the volume and roar of the wind became deafening, the sky darkened. I put my head between my knees, cinched my hoodies tighter and lowered my bill of my cap lower to keep the sand out. Sand still pecked at my sunglasses blowing in from tiny crevices. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe what I had been observing from a distance that came up on me so fast, astonished by the enveloping darkness around me. I also knew the gravity of the situation. I knew that this sandstorm meant a vicious storm was next, the precursor to something wicked. About 10 minutes went by. Sand drifted up around my shoes and back. Then, things went quiet, dead quiet. I could see the billowing wave of sand move to the northwest away from me eerily silently. A big drop fell. Then another. Suddenly, the sky opened up and rain just fell. Thunder clapped insanely loudly directly above me. I kept my nerve, just focusing on breathing. I knew I had to endure this. After about 15 minutes into this lightning flashed. I hunkered down and dug my heels in the sand in the ditch. A half hour went by, and I tried to set up my shelter to no avail. The only option I had was to plant my shelter in the sandy wash but the wind prevented me from any such feeble feat. So, I wrapped my plastic ground sheet around me for an extra barrier and waited at least another hour, perhaps even more. I kneeled crouched down in my position focusing on my breathing and watching the horizon to see the darkened sky move west. Slowly, the silhouette of the next range over came into view. I got up and walked on.

The most damage from the storm was further from me. I had been luckily enough on the outer edge of the storm. I found milky mud puddles around small dry lake beds, the once caked mud tiles now soggy and sticky with clunky dirt, the remnants of a storm, the ashes of water, in the wake of wind. The air became redolent of salt, almost like a coast line, like everything had been pickled. I was cold so I moved without stopping feeling the dampness through my clothes. Eventually, I arrived at Wildhorse Spring. The spring situated under dunes tucked up in sage hillsides. The dunes looked saturated and a gloomy appearance marked the beauty and isolation of a desert spring. I found a gouged out pocket of water with tall grass chutes growing out. I wedged in close enough to get the clearest of water. Sulphur rang in the air as I disturbed the still water. I nearly gagged it was so strong. I still filled up 3L worth as I had nearly 25m to town. After two gnarly days I was happy to lay down early. 

On top of Wildhorse Peak I looked back at the Stillwater Ridge skylining the expansive Carson Sink. To the west and north the Desert Trail wended its way towards Oregon. I squeezed my nostrils and muscled down a swig of rotten egg water. The Carson Sink has the most wretched of water I’ve ever tasted, most vile. I had already dumped out 2L of the fart water. I kept one liter but as I looked down in the valley below and saw the potential for water I took the muscled sip, then dumped the bottle. Maybe a half liter was all I could tolerate or else I would vomit. The empty bottle still reeked of sulphur. I twisted the cap and went along the ridge until I dived off and scampered down Horsehead Canyon.

Halfway down the canyon I noticed the rock change. I was shocked to find granite narrows and chutes after not seeing this type of rock in a long while. Tiny crevices on large cleaved slabs of granite were filled with water. I slurped up some of the fresh rainwater, practically guzzled the puddles. Further down I even found a small rill within the narrow channel of normally dry falls. I even filled a liter. I felt happy. A few hours later, taking a piss off the side of the highway about to walk into Lovelock, Nevada, that familiar and retched fart smell wafted up. I was pissing out that rotten egg tainted water.

Guess the joke is on me.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Desert Trail: Basin and Range Part 1

Up Cucomungo Canyon Joshua tree thrived, some really tall with one with one thick trunk with a bouquet of cacti florets up high. At the turn off and getting towards Cucomungo Spring I thought I could see a flicker or movement in the sun light, like water. My hopes went high but I kept that containment. As I neared two tanks, the algae-filled one feeding the clearer other one, both fed from a pipe, water glimmered in the sun. Nevada showing its promise with liquid. Purple lupine and sage dotted the open high desert meadow, the wind provided a cool respite as I guzzled water. The water was cold, so clean and cold down my gullet.

Up the faint jeep track I began laughing in a low cackle uncontrollably, just at the thought of a flowing spring and the relief of stress of not having water. I could almost dance with the bonanza of water, like miners at the sight of gold. One mountain range may hold water, the next dry, the state of the lean and the fat, and as much as I want to sing and dance I must maintain composure and not waste all my money once I cash the gold all in.

The dreams of the past two nights, I've been in such a deep sleep that I don't know where I am at, like directionally and in the physical sense, once I pop awake at night. I groggily look around at all the magnificent stars but I am confused, addled with sleep. This is somewhat not like me, especially a few weeks into trail. One dream even had me in a barren basin, real low in elevation and naked of vegetation. Everything was stripped and I felt in a globe of sorts under a glass orb in which wherever I looked felt the same. Eerie rock formations looked like Joshua trees silhouetted against the starry light. I couldn't see the moon nor the silhouettes of mountain ridge lines. I felt like I was misplaced on a cloudy day without having the sun for a reference and just walked in circles. It took me a couple wake-ups to come to and realize I was in Palmetto Wash on the north side of the Sylvania Mountains. I was exhausted, that must be it.

Across the Oasis Divide the views opened up dramatically. No longer was I within a very deep and long valley flanked by huge mountain ranges. I could see more, my inner compass in tact once again. After Big Spring I headed up Piper Peak. The climb wasn't terribly difficult and definitely less challenging than Last Chance Mountain. But maybe it was because I had water. The views from Piper Peak! Holy shit! At nearly 9500ft, the Desert Trail high point, I could gaze back onto the chain of ranges leading from Death Valley, the Inyos, the crests of the mighty and snow clad High Sierra and the White Mountains, and even into central Nevada and the two big ranges of Toiyabe and Arc Dome Peak, and the Alta Toquima. My bearings on point. On the northern summit two enormous basins had been cleaved from the limestone and basalt rock and fell steeply down to the basins below. One basin even looked like a massive crater. Pinyon and juniper forests blanketed the hillsides in a shaggy green rug as it appeared from up high, sage lined the summit slopes where I was at, and the wind howled, chilly to the core.

The descent was precariously steep and choked with sagebrush. I had to pick my way down deer paths that zigzagged abruptly over roots and loose rock. I moved quickly to get down towards the drainage floor, racing day light. I needed to find camp but the slopes didn't improve as they were choked with an impenetrable barrier of pinyon, mahogany, and downed dead trees. I weaved my way through the maze and finally got to Jeff Davis Spring, which trickled down a thin, grassy channel, the outer part which was brown and dry, the inner green. I suddenly had a spooky feeling. Maybe it was my focus that suddenly broke that had shunned the feeling now present, that mountain lion feeling. I am not sure, but I wouldn't ignore it. Small limestone caves yawned from the hillsides and everything, everything was just so thick with vegetation and plant life. Game evidence showed everywhere and I knew something would have a field day here just picking off game. So after over three weeks out here on trail I finally put up my shelter. But it didn't help me sleep any better for the wind howled through the night keeping me up. I am not sure what time I finally fell asleep but I woke up to chickadees singing their birdsong, my favorite morning noise.

The desert has changed from the Mojave to an even higher desert, or basin and range. The brush is different and cacti are hardly around. Indian paintbrush is more common. I saw a band of bighorn sheep, antelope, mule deer, wild horses, a large owl, and an enormous golden eagle. I also found the carcasses of a couple cows, a wild horse, a bighorn sheep, and a red fox.

I ended the section wandering through the colorful Volcanic Hills where I briefly wished I was a geologist. In the end, I am content simply being an observer. Creamy rhyolite, metallic hues on black basalt, cross country through sandy high sagebrush flats, an incised volcanic canyon, a plethora of pinks and oranges and reds and purples all a part of different rock formations and layers. I stuck a thumb out at Highway 6 in hopes for a 50m hitch into Tonopah for a well deserved rest day.

I got a ride from a sweet girl traveling across the country. The next day I just ate and napped. On my way out I got a ride from a dude who just left Amargosa, a small town outside of Death Valley. His job didn't pay him off as promised so he left. The conditions there sounded horrible and he knew his best bet was Reno. He had that tank of gas to get him there and no money. He drove me all the way back to where I needed to go. I gave him all the money in my wallet. He needed it more than I did.

The Candelaria Hills had pleasant desert walking through the Columbus basin surrounded by small, colorful ranges. Up higher the wind blew through the sagebrush and the gravel beneath each step crunched. I walked into an enchanting sunset entranced by the beautiful beacon like the light at the end of a tunnel. I felt to be at the end of life as I was so nostalgic and mesmerized by the sunset. I watched the shapes and colors of the clouds change, the layering of the sky as the sun sunk, the collapse of color and the envelopment of darkness on the surrounding cones. I wanted to say sorry to so many people I care for and have cared for. I wanted to say sorry to myself. However, I also wanted to say nothing, not sorry for being me. At the same time I wanted to tell everyone that I have loved or have shared experiences and adventures with that I love them and value the time that I shared with them. And that I like being lonesome, alone. I gazed into that sunset recognizing I am a difficult person to deal with, complicated, and all I want to do is walk to the end of where this sun goes, where the color diminishes and fades out. I just think differently than what people believe I am capable of. I felt a peaceful and a weird feeling of remorsefully justified, pensive and less mechanistic, a line lessened in hardness, more brightened and colored by my faults, emboldened by my insecurities, a catharsis and release of pain. I gave the day all that I got like I always do out here, only in what I believe I am, or want to be, capable of. I almost fell into that sunset just doing what I have always dreamed of. It is the end of something and it is beautiful. I kept chasing the sun until I found camp in a wash; this is all I think about, that sunset. All the time.

This is my drive, my singular obsession. And I slept comfortably. That night the stars never shone so bright. I awoke at one point to rest on my elbows to enjoy the night's show. This moment held me over until my quest to dive into the next sunset arose all over again.

Through sage country I went. At German Spring I rested under a small canopy of a sagebrush after filling two water bottles of briny water from shallow, murky pools. I watched an antelope approach the fence line of the large enclosure. She scoped out the area not seeing me in the shrubs. I could see her raise her nose and sniff the air. She flanked around and came up from downwind to get any smell or noise that she may sense. Still unawares of me, she grazed in the small meadow on shoots of grass. Doves drank near her and I could hear their cooing. I could even see the neck of the antelope guzzling the water, the muscles pumping the water up. About 75ft away she would occasionally, yet timed, pop her head up to inspect her surroundings. Her neck hair stood on end ruffled in orange fur and I wondered what wasn't right. I didn't want to move yet to startle her, so I waited for the antelope to feed and drink for about 25 minutes. Then I got up and she bolted away. In seconds she was gone from sight. I stood and turned around only to see 4 burros and a foal nearby. This is what had the antelope spooked.

Through the hills I could see white alkali stains in draws and on flat knobs. In one spring outcrop water dripped and oozed through tiny ravines. Huge piles of burro shit laid in the middle of trodden paths. I pushed on, but on another knob, with bones scattered about, lush grass and muddy pools with clear water came out of the earth at this strange spot. I took another two liters despite the briny and livestock smell. In fact, most of the water that I could find that day was briny. But really, I merely was content at the opportunity to find and drink water. To be honest, I have never been more thankful for anything in my life than finding a good water source. I cannot feel that type to survive, to sustain life, in the other world. Out here, water is everything.

Teels Marsh is a very large basin with a soggy depression in the middle, all surrounded by decent sized mountain ranges. Burros are everywhere. At one spring in the marsh about 40 burros munched on the green grass and slurped briny water. A lone coyote, a small one, ran from the burros who were running too, all to get away from me. The wind whipped their dust up in the air signaling a retreat to anyone around.

Up in the Excelsiors, I found an old mine shaft that had been plugged. A spring now seeped up and pooled in the crevice. Moss lined the walls in the cool cave. Such wonderful tasting water after all that salty shit earlier. Then, up on top, in a narrow swale filled with sage, I found a dead wild horse. I came upon it head first. The eyes were empty black sockets, the mouth agape with teeth that looked like pieces of ivory, tiles of dominoes, while the tongue looked like overcooked liver. I looked towards the rear as it looked like that was where the scavengers had been feasting upon. Over the large and swollen body, across the sorrel coloring, the anus look exploded from the eruption of gas build up. Puddles of blood still lingered in the carcass's rear cavity between the black hairy legs. I walked around to get a better look and stumbled on a smaller skull, bare of fur with most of the meat gone except for some gristle. I could tell it was a foal skull and it looked rather recently gnawed at. I tied two and two together and looked at the erupted rear of the horse. Smaller legs poked out of her rear. The mare had been pregnant. The foal must have came out with the front legs and head together. Complications happened that I knew not. But the foal must have passed in the rear clutches of mom, maybe choked to death. Either way, the vultures, the coyotes, whatever opportunists are out here, must have picked apart the foal's head until it split from the neck. I imagine the vultures or coyotes played tug-o-war with it, flinging the skull around. I heard that's where the good meat is.

I had been surprised to find what I had found. I felt sad, but I also recognized the brutality of life in the desert. I walked around to the rear front side to get an even closer look. My curiosity had taken over. I was investigating the scene looking for trauma and/or cause of death. I leaned in close. The wind seemed unnoticeable until I leaned in closer. As non-existent as the wind appeared to be the smell of the carcasses went straight up my nose and into my stomach. I could taste it. Quite repulse and overwhelmed with the rottenness, my curiosity vanished. I turned and walked away. I said, 'I'm sorry,' out lout as I left.

I navigated through Lion Canyon rather easily. I felt full of water from the mine shaft spring but I became concerned on my next water source. Having that good source blinded my reasoning and gave me a false sense of security. I had one shot or else I would have a 40m waterless finish before trying to hitch to town. At Pepper tasting water on trail. The most well taken care of spring, actually, even had the most powerful flow. I felt relieved and filled my bottles and a bladder. Fuck, the water tasted so amazing. Again, it's so odd how I feel when I find water like this. And I am not sure people understand that, or at least they don't because ,pst jsut turn the faucet on and drink or buy a bottled water. But finding water after having very little sign of fresh and tasty water...well, it is like finding fucking gold. Maybe, also, it was because of all the shitty water I had drank all morning and the afternoon. Eitehr way I sat on the rock wall and relished over the notion that I could keep filling my bottle, a glutton, then drink it all, over and over again.

The next morning I couldn't get the mare and the foal scene out of my head. I kept thinking about it with my imagination going to the moments of retching, the moans and wails, the throes of death and heartache, of life having the chance of being existent, then gone. Of the decay, the rotting of flesh that drew the scavengers in; the tussling of the foal's skull once it was freed from the body inside the mare's womb. When I stumbled upon the scene it was so quiet that I had a hard time fathoming the deathly event. But I know that it happened. Because I cannot see her eyes. And because the head was gone. It is only a short matter of time before the desert pulverizes and vanishes meat and bone.

In the Garfield Hills, I found an exposed old mine with the shafts booming deep into the colorful hillside. Copper, a deep crimson, and yellowish and golden rock crumbled from the slopes. Inside the shafts I could see support beams and thick cable strands. I bet the Chinese were hired to dig this out. Huge tailings piled down the gulch and erosion kept the rock tailing sluicing down the canyon far below. This mine seemed well over a 100 years old, easy. I looked around and felt the spooky haunt of times past, of something that flourished that was now dust and specks and rust, of how hard a life it must have been out here to hardly get paid, or the ones that did would possibly blow it all in town. This mine was yet another symbol of desert harshness.

Down the canyon in a limestone twist I almost stepped on top of a very young bighorn lamb. The lamb was lying in a sliver of shade that would be gone in less than an hour. The lamb blended in so good that I literally almost stepped on it and when it didn't jump away I immediately thought something was wrong with it. I quickly looked up to look for the others, the band. But, there were no others. This lamb was alone. I looked back and I could see the lamb was breathing heavy, almost panting. Although the lamb's eyes were partially closed, more like a deep squint, I could see the eye sand build up, a thick black gunk spackled in the corner of its eyes. I said, 'What's wrong little guy?' Everything just felt off. The lamb looked invalid. The lamb did a double take at the sound of my voice and nonchalantly turned to glance at me, turned away, and on the second take jumped from its seated position and bolted up the hillside. The lamb moved awkwardly, like it might have been injured and stopped about 30ft from me and looked back. I kept talking to it. Something felt off. I don't think the lamb had been orphaned but a separation must have occurred, unless it was sick or injured. Seconds later I lost sight of the lamb as it scurried off blending in through the sage on the steep hillside.

Sometimes you never get a chance, other times you do and you're dealt shit. And then, there's the life of seeking sunsets doing whatever you want. Sometimes life flourishes and it is beautiful. And life can be precious from birth to death. Or it can be taken away, stolen, in an instant. Sometimes you can just dig a fucking tunnel for scant pay in horrid conditions just for a slurp of water or a bowl of slop. But the sun sets each day and the desert makes everything invisible, takes everything away yo just a whisper of wind. Nothing is spared or saved, just broken down. In reality, and in truth, the desert doesn't care.