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Friday, March 5, 2010

The Painted Desert

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

Last night we backpacked into the Painted Desert Wilderness north of the Petrified Forest National Park and camped out in what they call The Badlands. We had the entire wilderness area to ourselves as there were no others taking out backcountry permits at the Ranger Station yesterday. I carried and extra two gallons of water in a big jug just in case tthe 4 liters we had in our hiking bottles was not enough. The weather was cool up on the rim but I was afraid that once we hiked down into the winding canyons we would need all we could carry. There are no water sources out there in that section of desert. When we got down into the badlands the winds were still blowing about 40 miles per hour and it was still cool so we first looked for a place to basecamp and where I could drop the extra 16 pounds of water! I would have liked to camp up on a bluff but the winds had us looking for a tentsite lower down out of the wind if possible. We finally found a place in asome little sand dunes that gave us some protection from the winds but it meant camping in a a very sandy area and we knew everything would soon be covered with sand. Soon we had our tent pitched and started hiking in the surrounding bluffs and canyons exploring old dams and the many areas with huge trunks of petrified wood. The colors of the surounding rocks due to the different minerals gave the desert its name..The Painted Desert. We hiked untill we were tired, returned to ur base camp and ate a few Cliff Bars, out only food for the trip. After a little break we headed out again and explored in a different direction. That night the temps dipped into the 30's and our tent was covered in frost as we woke in the morning. It had been a great day in the desert and the stars that night were amasing in their brightness and quanity. Living around city lights you soon forget how truly plentiful and brilliant they really are!

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