After spending a dusty day with the mustangs, we headed a little further west, and walked into a dream.
The Gates of Lodore opened wide, as the emerald Green River flowed through the deep red canyon walls, luring us in. This place, this ancient, old place, is none other than Dinosaur National Monument in northwest Colorado. It continues on the other side of the mountains, into Utah, where Jurassic creatures, now fossilized, were embedded into a sandbar 149 million years ago.
The enormous cottonwood tree at campsite 9 coaxed me in. I hopped out of the Subaru, eager to check out the place we'd be spending the night. Running my hand around that tree, I found a weathered horse skull at the base of the trunk!
How utterly ironic. With all my mustang love and passion for bones, this was a gift, a sacred campsite, so I would remember the horses. The one's from today. The one's here and gone.
It had been a scorcher out at the Sand Wash Basin. Particles of dirt and dust stuck to my bare arms and legs, and rabbit brush stems and stickers had eased their way inside my socks and hiking boots. Just on the other side of our camp was the river. We couldn't wait!
The Green River is wide and slow moving. It was cold. It was perfect. C and I swam and splashed around and talked about the ponies. We laughed at the little sandpiper birds doing mating dances in the sky. I don't know if they were really trying to mate, but they acted very flirty, like it was a courting game.
Feeling refreshed and invigorated, we hiked to where the river starts to flow into the deep canyon. The canyon of Lodore. That's exactly where our trail ended. We sat on wide, flat rocks and stared, as if in a trance, at the jaw-dropping scenery before our eyes. The cliffs were high and rust and fushia with contrasting greens of pine and fir trees standing like soldiers on the mountain palette. We sat there for a long time. It was one of the most quiet places I had ever been to. If we talked, we whispered. A bird the color of Azure caught my attention, flitting from tree to tree. From a crack in the rock, a curious lizard made an appearance, looked at me, then quickly crawled away. C and I both watched an osprey dive into the river and and fly away with the prize fish. We watched the sun go down. Needless to say, I didn't want to leave.
Did we step into Narnia? Maybe.
Was it sublime? Yes. It really was.