In my first excursion into the world with other people in 10 months, I began 2021 on a high note. Traveling with my friends Steve, Katie, and Jeff, we hiked to the top of the bluff at the Cedar Canyon Wildlife Management Area, walked across the bluff to the far side and back. After 8.5 miles, it was my first physically distanced, non-mask wearing trip since February 2020.
In order to reach the top, we had to hike a mile to the game trail before climbing up for another mile. Spectacular views at the top await the weary traveler who made the trek straight up.
Steve and I had made the trip together before. We took much longer, and never made it to the far side as we spent most of our time zig-zagging back and forth across the top of Cedar Canyon to take in the views and click the shutters on our cameras.
On this hike, Katie and Jeff joined us, which provided me with a different perspective of the beauty in nature.
We stopped along the way to take a few group photos. Katie used nature to her advantage for the photo.
This time, we had a lot more fun and found a variety of interesting things along the way, including this can. We also followed cat tracks, sometimes to our own detriment.
We made it to the scene of a terrible tragedy from the last trip Steve and I made to the top. Steve turned to Katie and Jeff and said, “This is known as damn it cliff.” This was the place on our last hike where the wind kicked up such a gust, it nearly blew Steve and I off the cliff. Unfortunately, his cap was not so lucky. It flew off Steve’s head so quickly, there was no time to react or make an attempt to save the cap.
We kept going and made some other interesting observations.
We climbed down another steep slope and made it to the end of our journey. None of us thought about climbing back up that section for our return journey.
“You know, Steve, that hurt my thighs a bit,” I said.
“Yeah, I can definitely feel the burn,” Steve said. “But what a view.”
“I was walking by and this rock said, ‘Sit your ass down,’” Steve said. We had been walking for four hours without a break. I wanted to sit down, but I knew if I did, I wasn’t getting back up again.
After continuing on, we got slightly turned around on the top, but Steve quickly noticed and shifted course.
“This area is see more cliffs,” Steve said. The area on the top of the bluff juts out in several places, making it easy to get turned around and off track.
A little while later, Katie stopped along the two-track and picked up Jeff’s hat. He hadn’t realized he wasn’t wearing it anymore.
“We’ll call this damn it road,” Steve said. We kept walking, knowing we were nearing the game trail where we would begin our trek back down.
As we continued down the two-track, Katie and I noticed the big horn sheep tracks were on top of our tracks from when we traveled in. We got our bearings and made the conclusion the big horn sheep who were running below us must have run up the side of the bluff and across our previous tracks before disappearing again.
As we continued walking, Katie suddenly stopped.
“Hey. There’s an insect,” she said. Katie bent down and pointed out the insect. “It’s an icheumon.”
“How the fuck do you know that,” I said to myself. Jeff came over and confirmed it. An icheumon is a type of wasp. It’s not uncommon to see them this time of year, especially if it’s warmer than usual. I hadn’t been looking for insects because I assumed they wouldn’t be around until Spring.
Finally, we to the top of the game trail. A pile of rocks marks the entrance to the trail, which could otherwise be easily missed.
We walked down the trail. It was slick. You had to travel slowly. Steve and Jeff went first, keeping about 20 feet apart as they traversed the narrow trail. Katie and I were about 100 feet behind them, but also about 20 feet apart.
The distancing is good for safety reasons, but from the start of our day, knowing we wouldn’t have masks on while hiking, we instinctively kept our distance from each other the entire day.
About halfway down, Katie mentioned how much she enjoyed the absolute peacefulness and quiet. We stopped and listened for a while.
“I love how quiet and not windy it is right now,” she said.
“Well, except for the tinnitus,” I said. Naturally, I had to inject some dorky-ass response. “I can usually push through it though and enjoy the silence.”
We stood there for a while, taking in the moment of peace. I closed my eyes and listened. A few birds were chirping to the right of me. After a few deep breaths, we continued down the trail filled with turned over pine needles mixed with snow and clusters of pine cones.
Katie stopped again to take a picture of “moss or lichen or whatever” she thought looked like a tribble at first.
“I’m going to name this moss ‘Bob,’” she said.
I wasn’t quite sure I heard her correctly, so I turned and asked, “Did you just say you were naming the moss Bob?”
“I sure did,” she said. “Bob Moss.”
Jokes ensued. Katie and I kept talking and walking.
Anyone on a hike should always be mindful of where they are. You don’t want to be climbing down a steep trail, partially turn, and start to take a header down the trail. Fortunately, knees, particularly right knees, are willing to make the sacrifice to keep you safe and relatively injure free.
Steve yelled at us from farther down the trail.
“Why don’t you all just parkour the trail at full speed to get down quicker,” Steve said.
“I’d probably impale myself on a yucca,” Katie said.
Steve and Jeff continued walking down the trail.
“I used to do stupid stuff like that all the time when I was younger,” Steve said.
At the end of the day, I got to hike again with friends. We took the necessary precautions during these pandemic times, which weren’t too different from regular hiking with friends. I started a new journey, which I’ll continue to post about as the year goes on, and I’m one step closer to all of my ultimate goals.
Note: You can also read Katie’s write-up at her website.