Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cedar Breaks

A yellow-bellied marmot and an immense bristlecone pine were highlights of our hike to Spectra Point at Cedar Breaks National Monument. At 10,350 ft, just being able to complete a three-mile hike was an accomplishment.

The marmot was at the viewpoint with its young. When we got too close, the animal played dead while the babies got away. Finally, it became curious and turned to look at us.

Bristlecone pine trees are extremely hardy and live many years. One at Spectra Point has lived more than 1,600 years and in other southwestern states, 4,500-year-old specimens have been discovered. The tree I photographed is certainly impressive, whether or not it is 1,600 years old.

The rock formations at Cedar Breaks in southwestern Utah are beautiful and similar to those found at Bryce Canyon and other places on the Colorado Plateau. We had visited Cedar Breaks for an hour or so, two years ago, but we wanted to spend more time there. So we decided to camp for one or two days, depending on how the altitude affected us. The campground is quiet and most sites look out over huge meadows. There are no hookups, but the water is good, and at $7 a night for seniors, who can complain?

When we were talking to the camp hosts, Ron and Paula, they said they went two months without grocery shopping. She makes her own yoghurt using powdered milk and bakes her own bread in a bread-maker. They fill their bathtub with long-lasting fruits and vegetables and forgo ice cubes till they whittle down the food in the freezer. Many of their ideas didn’t appeal to me, but since I eat yoghurt everyday at breakfast, I’ll have to give that one a try.

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