Monday, August 26, 2013

Down in the Canyon

Words by Greg
Photos by Greg, Trina, Chelsea

We hike the steep trail where there is still a trail. Where there is no longer a trail, we step carefully around drying mud, around freshly rearranged boulders, through the bottom of the gully, now stripped of vegetation. Now piled with uprooted vegetation, stripped. Torn grass stalks and tree limbs and brush are caught in stronger trees, head-high where the water crashed through and down into the canyon. We bear our burdens upon our shoulders and we step down. Into the canyon.

Down into the canyon, down to the river. The recent rains, the recent floods have muddied the water. The eddies of the muddied river are solid with dark bark, floating freely, stripped from trees by violent water. Pine needles pad the edges of the river. Spiny green pads torn from prickly pear cactus wash in the shallows. Raw earth and rock, both torn away and freshly heaped, have redecorated the canyon.

On the river, she and I in our small rafts, two dogs, one proudly upon each bow. The other two in a large leaky raft they've borrowed. We bounce through rapids. We float eyes-up through scenic calm stretches. We marvel at the recent high water line where floods ran three feet higher than the water we float. On down the canyon.

We stop the scout the tough spots, to determine if the dogs ride the rafts or if they walk the shore. To determine if two people have enough power to steer the big raft, or if Trina and I get to make three in that boat. Get to run the rapid a second time.

We find a spot to camp, down in the canyon. Where walls pull back enough to leave a swath of high grass. To leave bare dirt where others have stayed the night. We rest. Chat. Eat. Nap. Hike into a steep side canyon. Listen to birds and crickets. Let dogs hunt grasshoppers. Sleep. Then wake and pack and float again. Down the canyon.

The walls grow close again. The water remains muddy. The river surges between rocks, some fresh, some solid as rock. Above, the blue sky is a bright stripe crowded with bright clouds. Below, the toughest rapids challenge us. Water boils. Hearts pound. But all goes smoothly and we emerge from the last rapid. Grinning.

It grows calm further down in the canyon. The floating more serene. The walls close once more then open wide to wider views. We steer though riffles in sunshine. We paddle lazily. But the river pulls us down the canyon. To the end. For now.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Large Bites of Enchilada

by Greg

Not far away near Moab, Utah, there is a Whole Enchilada that attracts mountain bike riders from all over the world. This tasty dish consists of a 26 miles of trails that start high in the mountains and drop downward into the sandstone desert.

My cohorts had planned to leave out the lowest section of trail. Something to do with the expected 95+ degree F heat. Which still left us with, if not the Whole Enchilada, at least a hearty portion of it.

It was cool, cloudy, and breezy in the mountains. Even a few spatters of rain. But "luckily" it cleared off and heated up as we descended into the desert. Tundra to forest to scrubland to desert slickrock. Nice way to spend the day. Good fun trying to catch it in the camera.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pre-Pesto and a BLT Tasting

by Trina

Pre-Pesto is what I make when there's a glut of basil needing to be harvested, but not enough time, or ingredients on hand, to make full-on pesto. Whiz the basil in the food processor with some olive oil. The nuts and cheese can be added later when you have the time.

Spread the pre-pesto out in a thin layer in a Ziploc, and lay it flat in the freezer.

You end up with a nicely stackable block of pre-pesto which is thin enough that, even frozen, it's easy to break with your hands or with a whack on the kitchen counter. This means you can use small amounts of it when you need it without having to thaw the entire bag and then refreeze the part you didn't use (which is a bad thing to do).

Since there was pre-pesto sitting around, ripe tomatoes hanging on the vine, happy pig freshly installed in the freezer, and a slightly-earlier-than-fall crop of red romaine in the garden, I decided to do a little experimenting with the season's first BLT. I tried half of the sandwich with a little of the pre-pesto, and half with some roasted garlic and onion jam.

Both were really, really good.