Skip to main content

Sinking into a Surprise

Of all the advantages of a fatter tire on a mountain bike, not the least is being able to go down dry washes, arroyos. Arroyos are the most natural highways, with ridgelines coming in for second prize.

I was doing so, the other day. Thank goodness I chose a route that descended that arroyo, and finished the loop by coming back on a smoother dirt road.

What was it about this arroyo? It certainly wasn't pretty. But it was impressive on some level, if only I could figure out what that level was. The arroyo had gotten a small bit of ATV traffic; thus the gravel was packed down just enough for me to keep moving on the mountain bike.  So neglected -- and yet it was only a couple miles from where masses of RVers hang out in the winter.

Downward it went, always sinking closer to the Colorado River. There is something creepy about that, in the pit of the stomach, and not just because I had to dig out of the hole on the second half of the loop.

Maybe it was analogous to aging and death. At any rate, it had the quality that the novelist, Thomas Hardy, would have called 'a negative beauty of tragic tones.' At least that is one possible explanation.

And then the clippity clop of two large bighorn rams crossed the arroyo just ten bike lengths ahead of me. They heard me, but didn't seem terribly frightened. They clambered up a ridgeline, and out of view, before I could deploy the camera.

Wildlife is not the deity to me that it is to most greenies from the Metropolis. And most sentimentalism in that direction seems rather pukey. But it was odd to become infatuated with the harshness and the neglect of this arroyo by my 'fellow' homo sapiens, and then to realize that only a couple ungulates shared that opinion with me.

From the archive: my previous encounter with bighorns.


XXXXX said…
Why is it that you believe the ayorro should be maintained by homo sapiens? Is there some responsibility for this written somewhere? And surely, the rams have no opinion at all.

Your musings always hold interest to me for this type of "conclusion" is so typical of the human mind...such a forward movement all the time when it seems to me that things might be just fine the way they are. Nature has no need for maintenance.

I do tend to agree with you in one regard...the feeling you described as you descended toward the river. I can't remember thinking much about death when I was young but it seems natural that the thought occurs from time to time as one gets older. When you were a young chap, you could have taken the same ride and the thought would not have occurred to you.
This is not a popular thought but it seems to me that this resistance we have toward death only makes people go out kicking and screaming rather than accepting that their time is simply up. As for me, the kicking and screaming is a total lack of nobility, intelligence, and honor. It takes preparation though and I wonder if such thoughts as you had are nature's way of getting the process going. OK. Done with the soap box.

By the way, Daniel Boone became a legend and there are many stories about him that cannot be substantiated....the one told in the last post is an example.

I'll invent any mental recreation I can think of to make an outing interesting. Not really concerned with being wrong on something.
But about the "improvement" of the arroyo by the ATVs: it is remarkable how much good a LITTLE bit of ANYTHING does.
Ed said…
I think George may have missed your meaning when so said that the arroyo was neglected by fellow homo sapiens.

Or perhaps it is I, that understood you to mean that other people do not use it nor enjoy what it has to offer. I certainly did not think you were in favor of we humans 'maintaining' or 'improving' the arroyo. The little bit of improvement that you spoke of will disappear with the next rain.
Yes, I used 'neglect' in the sense that you took it.