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End of the road

We drive as far as we think the once-full tank of gas will take us away from and back to civilization with enough fumes in the tank to keep the engine running. Pulling off the primitive two-track, we pick the perfect camping spot. Watches and schedules are no good here. The cycle of the sun is the only timekeeper we need. In an hour we will cook up some grub, and another hour after that it will be dark. We will build a small fire to tell tale tales around, laugh at each other and the world then crawl into our sleeping bags and fall asleep. Perhaps we will dream of a world at peace. It’s a simple life in the outback. That’s why we are here at the edge of the world, at the end of the road where wilderness reigns supreme. No cell phone coverage, no fast-food meals and no reminders of man’s greed. OK, one confession. We did listen to satellite radio on the way here, where the “World Zone” gave us music from other cultures and set the stage for our journey. Escaping the trappings of modern man’s madness is not easy. We assure each other that we have indeed escaped. We are only a short hike away from the edge of the canyon. The faint path alternates between sand and sandstone bedrock until it stops abruptly. The only thing between us and the Yampa River below is a thousand feet of pure desert air. We take pictures to prove we have been here. Dangling my feet over the edge of the earth gives me an exhilarating feeling of freedom. For a long time there are no words between Frank and me. Finally, we get up and head back to camp. Birdsong fills the air. Don’t know what kind of bird. Don’t care. Once we turned off the main all-weather gravel road we have not seen a single vehicle. Later, at sunset, off in the distance we hear an engine straining, the only sound of other humans we will hear for two days. I suppose you’ve figured out by now that exactly where we enjoyed such solitude will remain a secret. That’s the way it has to be these days. It’s getting increasingly difficult to find places within a few hours of home where you can truly escape from the worries of the world. You just have to look harder and in a way the search makes the place you find more valuable than ever. All too soon we are bouncing along in four-wheel, memories of the previous night’s full moon hike tucked away for future use. The gas gauge reads empty. Doubt about making it out goes unmentioned but shows on our faces. The slow steady rain caused us to break camp and head out earlier than expected. Too much rain and the word “impassible” turns into “impossible.” Forty miles later the wheels touch pavement. Another treacherously successful adventure.Writing from 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies and hiking in wilderness, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories and thoughts with readers every other week.


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