One day's journey into southern Utah's wild slickrock paradise.
I have often wondered why the term "slickrock" is used to describe smooth-surfaced sandstone. My boots didn't slip on it; in fact I found it rather grippy while hiking across it, up it, or down it. Unless it is covered by a thin coat of ice or damp moss, it wasn't slippery. My mountain bike tires held firmly on Moab's Slickrock Trail. "Slick" was the term that early pioneers of the southwest region gave this multi-colored, cross-bedded rock because metal horseshoes and wheel rims had poor traction on this terrain.
We have been fortunate to meet two friends who are showing us some routes in the magical and ever-changing southern Utah slickrock country. These routes are not marked; no cairns, no signs. They are wild and untrammeled and untrampled, a welcome change from southern Utah's over-traveled national parks. The landscape is remarkable because there are so many things to see - from small-scale ferns, moqui marbles, and mountain lion tracks, to large-scale towers, blazing orange temples, hoo-doos and spires. Colors vary from black desert-varnished and stained sandstone to blue pool refections in white slickrock. This land is unpredictable. When you reach the top of a smooth sandstone bowl or cross-bedded steps, you may find a cliffed-out canyon, or more slickrock flats, or a rocky pass with gnarled ponderosa pines and junipers to negotiate to reach the sand washes below.
"Nirvana" is the final goal of enlightenment in Buddhism, a state of transcendence where there is no suffering, desire or sense of self. It's also a term used to describe paradise, a place of perfect peace and happiness - an "idyllic" place. After a few nights backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains, I would call that range in central Idaho "paradise". Low, green valleys and sawtooth peaks all formed by glaciers, and plentiful lakes, so many that you could walk to a few of them in a day or spend each night at a different one. Southern Utah's Red Rock Country might be described as paradise, or nirvana, at least by me. It's a place where you can immerse yourself in the extraordinary beauty that's the artwork of millions of years of shaping and carving an ancient sand sea. I'm grateful to be able to experience these places - to have the companionship of my husband and friends, to have strong legs to get there and be able to share our adventures with others. We have available limitless adventures, but limited time.
The slickrock slideshow and other images that follow highlight scenes from one day's journey into slickrock paradise.
Sue and Fred
About this blog
Exploration documentaries – "explorumentaries" list trip stats and highlights of each hike or bike ride, often with some interesting history or geology. Years ago, I wrote these for friends and family to let them know what my husband, Fred and I were up to on weekends, and also to showcase the incredible land of the west.
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