On the trail: Just what I needed | AspenTimes.com
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On the trail: Just what I needed

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

MOAB, Utah – I was overwhelmed.

The stress of work. A relationship on the rocks. The anniversary of a loved one’s death. Everything seemed to be going awry last week.

The strain was taking its toll. I was lethargic. Restless. I needed to clear my head. I needed to get away, if only for a day.

I threw a bag of clothes and a few blankets into the back of my Jeep. I stopped for gas, two gallons of water, a loaf of bread and some bananas.

Then, I headed west. Past Rifle, Grand Junction and Fruita. Past the Utah state line.

A few hours later, I was standing in the shadow of Titan on the Fisher Towers trail outside Moab. I took a few sips from my Camelbak as I glanced upward at the peculiar-looking monoliths, the tops of which disappeared into dense, low-lying clouds.

The wind whipped around me. There was no one in sight, save a few workers moving scaffolding across the rocks in the distance. (Paramount Pictures was shooting “John Carter of Mars,” an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Barsoom” series.)

I could not help but smile as I breathed in the surroundings and the cool air. I could not help but revel in the solitude.

Later, I followed Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway 128 to the Negro Bill Canyon trailhead, where I thumbed through a David Sedaris book while waiting out a passing rainstorm. When the precipitation subsided, I grabbed my pack and headed for the Morning Glory land bridge. I scurried across well-worn slickrock, through sand and across a freshwater stream on the nearly two-mile trek – pausing only briefly to say hello to a dog named Blue.

One ray of sunlight poked through the clouds, illuminating the surrounding trees and an expansive rock wall behind the bridge – a spectacular arch stretching some 243 feet and soaring high above the canyon floor. I dipped my feet in a nearby pool of water, then pulled out my camera.

Everything rounds into focus when peering through that viewfinder.

The awe-inspiring beauty and sheer magnitude of this place. The joy painting the faces of two brothers playing tag under the Sandstone Arch the next morning at Arches National Park. The resolve of a European tourist navigating the narrow pathways of the Fiery Furnace. The admiration of a couple sharing a kiss while posing for a photo at the base of Balanced Rock.

Here, life’s struggles and disappointments seem like a world away.

This was just what I needed.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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