The hot desert sun beats down on us. Sand whips around as the wind picks up speed. We follow a narrow path that hugs the base of prehistoric cliffs with contrasting sandstone layers, each representing a different geological epoch. Birds fly in and out of small “huecos”, holes carved into the rock high above. Glove Mallow flowers sway in the wind. My friends Franny Weikert, Torie Lindskog, Suzy Williams, and I are approaching the steepest climb of our bikepacking trip through the San Rafael Swell in Utah. We’re weekend warriors and set aside a few days to bike the route. We fled to the desert in hopes of a break from the stress of our everyday lives. What we thought would just be a 3-day bikepacking trip and a chance to make some new friends, turned into an unexpected adventure full of memories we’d never forget.
Through the arid silence, you could hear the past rumble and scream.
The clangs and grunts and dust penetrated time, a ghost of the hurried chaos of carnotite extraction, the very earth from which we amassed the mineral components of uranium to drop the bombs on Japan. Makeshift stone huts, left behind by the miners, could be mistaken for thousand-year-old relics from the relentless winds, sun, and sandblasting of central Utah.