Along the Trail

On the remains of the Applegate Cutoff

After the trauma of the election last week, Renee and I decided to flee the city and to do some desert exploring (I know, twist our arms, right?). We left on Thursday night due to the holiday weekend and drove north. We made a dark camp on the first night on the playa and talked and played under the light of the almost-there super moon and in general had a great time. The next day we continued our trek north, stopping plenty to celebrate the the eleventh hour or the eleventh day of the eleventh month, then Little High Rock before finally settling in for the night at Stevens Camp, at the north end of High Rock Canyon. After getting our camp in order we walked up the trail into Upper High Rock Canyon, a narrow and steeply walled canyon (although not too steeply walled compared to lower high rock canyon. We noticed that the canyon had what appeared to be a road going up and then one of the metal signposts that mark emigrant trail information markers. I was vaguely aware that we were along the old Applegate Cutoff (we were in the Black Rock High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area after all), but I hadn’t really put two and two together until we saw the marker. The old road that we were standing on wasn’t just a run of the mill old ranch road, it was the Cutoff once struggled over by emigrants fighting to cross the continent and to establish lives (and seek fortunes) on the other side. We enjoyed our hike along the trail and on the way back, in celebration of the trail and its emigrants and the natives who alternatively fought them and helped them and all manner of interactions in between, to handstand in the middle of the trail. It may not be the most “stunning” backdrop, but to me this handstand capture is extraordinary because it marks a piece of the history that affects all of us Westerners.

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