Oasis In The Desert
You would think that a place such as this, far out into the desert and under a scorching hot summer sun, would be devoid of all but the sparsest of water. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, nearly everywhere I went, I found some of the liquid gold. All you need do was search the rocks for a glint of green, and there, in between the crags and cracks where some plant took a foothold, water was also. My next stop in the canyon was Weeping Rock, a short hike from the canyon road up a winding path to an overhang dripping with water. So much so that moss and other vegatation hung everywhere like a hanging garden. I had been told by the driver that this water was actually seeping through the pourous sandstone from high above on the mesa and that it took an amazing 2000 years to once again appear as it wept from this precipice. So intrigued with this revelation that, for a short time, I followed its meandering to this tiny cascade which appeared and ferns grew.
My next stop was a daunting trek to The Emerald Pools.This hike was probably the most strenuous thus far, but moreso because it began about noon when the sun was on high and the temperture even higher. On this journey, one encounters many degrees of elevation change as well as vegatation and animal life. The end reward for just such an expedition is the sight of the three emerald pools, neatly tucked away from those who do not wish to venture into the near "backcountry". Pool number one, was not so spectacular for its size or color, but rather the fact that it was fed by a several hundred foot waterfall. It fell not like a driving force, but more like a gentle sprinkling from overhead. Here I stood under it arc and wondered at this amazing sight taking this photo. Onward I climbed the ever steep path, through rock and hand-hewn steps made from 4 inch sandstone blocks. Around hairpin twists and turns, through scrub and sage, and darting between shade and sun.
Soon I found myself at pool number two. Once again not as overwelmed by its beauty as I was for the fact that it slowly flowed towards the slope of the cliff I was now standing on, and over its rocky edge. For it was this pool which was, infact, the maternal entity which fed the waterfall that shortly before, I was standing beneath. Once again, I trekked on and now the path narrowed considerably, gave way to a much more strongly inclined trail and was in full sun. Heat of this nature can drain even the best natural reserves, so I stopped often to partake of copious amounts of water which I had brought along. At one of these stopping points I found a large boulder directly in my path and atop it, many cairns placed there by previous passerbys. I too added my declaration to this landmark memorial and pressed on.
Ultimately, I attained my lofty goal, the third and final emerald pool. Situated under towering cliffs and dotted with huge boulders, there before me was a very large, dark limped green pool. Its surface as calm as glass, I could not help but move toward and eventually enter its cooling waters. There below the surface was a very fine grained, sandy bottom and my eye caught a slight motion under the water. Upon closer inspection, I found that this alpine pond contained a thriving population of medium sized tadpoles. Oblivious to my presence, they wiggled and squirmed in the warm shallows near the edges of this pristine pool. For perhaps an hour, I sat there in the shade of a nearby live-oak and contemplated this place. High above the canyon floor and seemingly far from all society, I listened intently to the sounds of the wind and a faint hawks cry from high up the rock wall face. This was indeed, a mountain oasis!
Are you not the oasis where I dream, and the gourd from which I drink in long draughts the wine of memory?-Charles Baudelaire