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Forbidden Zone Jan 2011

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Queen of the Walkabout

Joined: 15 Jan 2004
Posts: 1167

PostPosted: 12/12/2011, 12:55 pm    Post subject: Forbidden Zone Jan 2011 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Haven't posted anything for a while here so thought I would put up a few of my more meaningful trips----

War was made on the desert. Bombs dropped, rifles fired, rockets launched, men marched, vehicles driven, camps made. Then came bulldozers to clean up some of it. Then they left. The fragments of war settled into the sands, some leaching rust onto the sandstone, some covered in the washes and mud flows. Craters held solitary growing greasewoods. The washes ran, the rain fell, the wind came. The desert trying to reclaim it's own, slowly, and integrate this new reality. It has seen much trial and tribulations---- great seas, great ice caps, howling hot, cold then hot again winds. Upheaval within the writhing earth. It maintains.

I park my Jeep at the boundary. I am solo this trip. It is after all the forbidden zone. Don't want to get anyone else in trouble. I have a backpack with two days of water and cold weather stuff. I start my walk. I avoid the road, my understanding is the patrolling of this zone is now very light, but I don't want to leave my footprints as a sign. The land is open. It is dotted with small bushes and rocks and sand. I have to be careful around the many animal burrows but still make a mistep now and again.
I have left behind my GPS and map. Both pretty useless in their rendering of this no man's land. Large washes cut veins in the sandy soil winding around on the flat plains after emerging from the low mud hills. Sand has piled up around some of the greasewoods making little knolls. Dirt bike tracks, realtively fresh, have found an old road and follow it, also wise to the ways of The Man.

I start seeing metal fragments everywhere. All rusted, most unrecognizable unless you were a munitions expert. I take a few pictures finding it poignant in this stark world.
I come to a huge wash coming into my huge corridor. I take it, again staying out of the hardpack, where people will drive. In the forbidden zone stealth camping will be the rule. I spot a rather large tamarisk tree out of the wash. It is perfect. The branches are thick and low, but in the rear facing away from the wash it it open enough I can place my bivy in a low spot, hidden from all eyes unless a direct approach from the rear. I have a nice view of low colorful hills. The tree is rather notable, but it is not going to be hot and is not in a easy place to drive to, so I decide it will be safe.

After setting up camp I wander around, in and out of tiny canyons in the magic of mud hills. Weird sculptures in the mud from the scarce rains. Flat scraped off places from the clean up of the war zone. Imagining what the desert was like before. Some greenery here and there in tiny plants pushing their way through the sandy mud in response to recent moisture. The flower show here would probably be delicate and few.
A Jeep comes running hard in the wash. I stretch out on my stomach behind a bush and place my head down. I am dressed in desert tan and pale green, with a tan hat to blend in. It rockets by, I do not look up to see if sightseerers or official business. As soon as it is out of sight I make a run for my camp. I am tucked in when it returns, buzzing by and leaving a void behind.

Very cold night. Bundled up I leave at sunrise, taking a daypack. Early light is very attractive here. I march up the long wash, taking a major right when it presents itself. I am in a huge bowl looking at colorful striped mud hills all around. The wash winds around, old vehicle tracks in it, not enough to make a road. The colors start to change, instead of the pale yellow now a darker brown hue with different harder caprock. I stop at some boulders and spot a grouping of signatures from the 1940's--- some military guys I bet, whiling away the time while on manuevers and recording their presence. I see some notations as recent as 1992, then nothing after that.
Onward, more bedrock under my feet and lovely sculptured sandstone, one canyon with curious steps cut into the rock, completely natural, like a version of stadium seats.
A large red boulder sits in the wash, out of place. I come to a dryfall, easy bypass then on to glimpse bright red rock in the near distance. A short section of brilliant red sandstone cut through by the white sand wash is startling. I stay here a while. I explore, a wonderland of colors and textures, to low sandstone hills of a subltle mauve with miniature washes and rocks on tiny pedestals. I hate to walk here, it is so pristine in a way. Then I see a small rocket stuck in the sand. The red hills have been blasted and huge boulders cleaved away to sit on the slope below. Sudden erosion.
The day is getting away from me, I head back, taking a slightly different route in the mud hills, risky because of the mazy nature of the passage. I have the big picture in my head though, and orient correctly to the main wash and my camp.

Sunset is nice and colorful. Cold again but I seem a little more immune to it. I read, eat hot soup, and ponder this place. Great stars. Morning and I pack up to leave. I make a wide sweep before I get to my main wash wandering a little. I see more evidence of the wars. And I find a special thing, intact in all this great warring, a clay pot, laying on it side in a small tributary to the wash. I study it, take pictures. Then I go far up on the bank, dig a hole, place the pot in it on its side, filling it as much as I can with sand to elminate the void. I then bury it, and cover the disturbance with cobble. I know not acceptable, but I hope I've allowed it a little more time for the person's labor of the past to be preserved, in it's home, and not some museum drawer.

I have a ways to walk. It's a wonderful way to start 2011, in the desert, in a cold dawning light, with magnificent quiet and open views. I have touched upon the land, man's past and present, and above all the superiority of nature; rules us all and calls to the wildness still within us. I hope to continue to answer that call, as often as I can.

You can rest when you're dead
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The dangerous place where the winds meet

Joined: 05 Jan 2003
Posts: 1375
Location: Tucson

PostPosted: 12/18/2011, 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Heroine of the forbidden lands, stealth traveler, your trespass is so beautiful. That giddy, light, delicious feeling is no stranger. The amazing ancient object you came across is testament to the restrictiveness of this landscape.

Your images are well done, more powerful than ever but not overdone. Walk on through the wonder.
Seize from every moment its unique novelty and do not prepare your joys
- Andre Gide
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