Well after the events of day two it was decided that Elisabet would do a hike called West Canyon, which is a walk through Snow Canyon with some small slopes but no climbing. I decided to go with her. It was a special day too, Elisabet’s birthday, there was going to be no cake, even more reason to be together, if I could keep up with her, which I knew was unlikely, but we would share the experience.
There were four of us altogether doing the hike, and the setting was very beautiful, Snow Canyon has both white and red rock, and the landscape changes all the time as you make your way down the road. The guides don't escort you on this hike, the objective is to get to the end which is a hut with no road beyond its about 7 kilometres there. So you are sent on your way and told to turn around at 9:30 and make your way back for the bus. We started out as a foursome, chatting about the landscape, children and life. Elisabet and I were always being asked questions about Iceland, good job I had the expert with me, I learnt a lot from her. Eventually we pulled away from the other two and then Elisabet said to me do you mind if I go on, which of course I knew was inevitable and didn't mind one bit.
I walked alone at a good pace stopping occasionally to take a photograph, occasionally a bike rider or runner would pass me or be returning in the opposite direction. There was always a good morning and a smile. It was an absolutely wonderful experience walking through that canyon, alone with my thoughts only for company. I felt very spiritual again, I felt as though both of my sisters were with me somehow, floating along in the air beside me, urging me on. As you walk through the canyon it's like the back canopy of a stage setting just keeps changing, unfolding, I can't think of any other way I can describe it. There are small areas of plants, and I came across a patch of large cacti. I saw a Hare running across the gravel track. There were these pipes sticking up out of the ground alongside the track which were gurgling. What I hadn't noticed until I came back was there was a large covered reservoir just at the beginning of the walk. The sun was shining and all was good with the world. I managed to walk 5.5 Km by 9:30 and I was really pleased with that, now I had to get back. I met the two younger women who still haven't turned around a few minutes later, but still carried on alone, just me and the canyon. I was almost back at the van when Elisabet caught up with me, she had made it right to the end, but I was very pleased with my 11 km, it was the longest walk I had done in a long time.
On day four otherwise known as Thursday, some people were going kayaking instead of hiking, and we had spoken to the manager of the resort the night before about the hikes the following day, because by this time Elisabet had developed something of a cough as well, and so we wanted to know where we were going. Elisabet was very disappointed that she wasn't able to join in with the more advanced hikes, and I can certainly empathise with that, she had been looking forward to that part of the experience so much. Anyway we were told that there were two hikes happening the next day, ravine 1 and ravine 3, and we were going to do the first one. So we set off in a different direction this time through a little town called Santa Clara. A lot of the houses and businesses had wooden decorated cows outside, and I asked what that was about, It had recently been Swiss Day, when they commemorate the fact that a lot of the settlers in the town came from Switzerland. I managed to snap a few cows whilst driving back through, not really doing them justice, but you get the idea.
We arrived at the ravine and the other three went off with their guide and our guide led us up a hill for quite a while, he then took us down a little into the desert and we walked through the desert for some time, the conversation was varied and interesting, from Iceland, England, how the Mormons were run out of so many cities before they settled here. He showed us a plant which was used to make Morman tea and both he and Elisabet were chewing on it for a while. We talked about snakes and how expensive it is to get treated for a rattle snake bite, but we were ok because it was too cold for them to be out at the moment, phew. He told us a story about seeing a baby rattlesnake in the pathway in the spring when he was out hiking with his wife. He covered it with sand to warm it up and then poured some water on it to get it moving, and eventually it went back into the vegetation and out of harms way. Apparently the young ones are the most dangerous in terms of the venom they pump into you because they don't know how to control the amount yet, whereas older snakes only use enough venom to provide a warning… nice !
He also told us a story about a coyote and a goat they spotted on a hike once, they had passed a farm and were on a trail when they heard a goat bleating when they got closer the saw a goat cornered by a coyote which ran away when all the people appeared, they then realised that the goat had bite marks and blood on its head, so had a lucky escape, and they led it back to safety at the farm. I haven't seen one yet, but there are apparently plenty about where I am now too. When we were going to breakfast one morning Elisabet said she thought the noise we could hear was coyotes, howling in the mountains.
Whilst walking in the desert our guide got a call on his radio form the other guide asking where we where. His party had reached the highest point which was on a mountain alongside us. They were trying to see us, and we looked up and we could see them, there was a lot of frantic waving on our part until they spotted us in the middle of the desert. Even though it's the desert we are on a well marked trail and there was a significant amount of vegetation.
So it was time for us to turnaround and make out way through the ravine, I am not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I got! The ravine wasn't too bad to start with, but it soon became and interesting exercise in how to get past the huge boulders which were in our way. Sometimes we could just squeeze through, other times we had to clamber and climb over the rocks to find a way to the other side, there was a point when I though what happens if we can't get through, but of course our guide was extremely experienced, and in his 70’s I believe, and he always found a way and gave me a helping hand when I needed it. My biggest problem was that one of my knees is not properly supported by the muscles in my leg, the result of being knocked down by a motor bike in London a few years ago. It was only when I started to train with Thomas that it started causing me problems. I finally got a diagnosis on it this year and am working to build up the muscles, earlier in the week I could hardly bend it enough to clamber down the rocks, or to sit on one to do a small jump, but I found it was getting much easier by the time I was doing this hike, even though some of the climbing down was really quite difficult. Eventually we made it out of the more difficult area of the ravine and back to the bus for the daily lecture and lunch.