Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I let the sun beat me up this morning, but not by much. Today I will stay home, catch up on mundane adobe chores, a little painting and rest and ice my knee. It is still too windy to paint outside, but otherwise is a beautiful day, enjoyed by the steady stream of RV'ers pulling into the Painted Desert Inn across the street.

Late in the afternoon I can resist it no more. The wilderness below the PDI is calling me. I gather drawing materials and gingerly navigate the switchbacks down to the Painted Desert, telling myself to just keep on even ground and don't go too far.  And don't keep wrenching my knee like I was doing. And avoid climbing over large rocks. Except for these.

But most of the time I can navigate around the pillow-like rocks, fields of shale, and chunks of black petrified wood. I skirt the "foothills" below the ridge, dipping into drainages, most which turn out to be dead ends, but one that contains a treasure of petrified logs inset with quartz crystals.

Before going too far I find a spot to draw. Since my pad was too big for my pack I was going to carry it under my arm and grab it just as I went out the door. WAS going to grab it. FORGOT to grab it.

So a bit bummed, I decide to scrap my plan of sitting quietly drawing and instead explore the rocky terrain which is like a stairway drawing by M.C. Escher. Just when I think I'm at "ground level" I come to a cliff and have to backtrack, only to find myself in a high walled gully, which I  follow only to find myself at the base of the same cliff.

The sun is getting low in the west but I figure I still have a few hours to ramble before heading back up to the Painted Desert Inn. High on the mesa, its visible most of the time from the desert below, and I been within sight of it not long ago. A thin cloud covers the sun and the light dims, which causes me to nervously take stock of where I am. Of course I know in general, but its just the kind of lost I would get, within sight of my destination but hitting dead ends and not able to get there. So I start making my way back. The sun strengthens, the terrain looks familiar and I relax and climb a high shale-covered hill to sit and watch the light change as the sun approached the horizon.

I head back through formations glowing with heat and sun under a deep blue sky and cold white moon, climb the switchbacks in the dusk and sit at Kachina Point overlooking the desert for a long time.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful visual journal, Kathy!
    Love how you documented you residency at Petrified Forest through this blog.
    I had a residency at Petrified Forest in 2007...and it's great to see that the program is still flourishing 5 years later!