Shaking hands with a Cactus and Serenaded by a Rattlesnake–
When most people think of Moab, they think of the adventure that awaits them: mountain biking some of the most technical and fascinating terrain there is, rafting the winding Colorado River, or hiking through the neighboring National Park that is reflected on almost every Utah license plate there is, Arches NP. In retrospect though, the adventure I most loved took place in a lesser known State Park that overlooked Canyonlands NP. Dead Horse SP will not only live in my memory, but serve as a future point of reference when reminiscing about my time in Utah. The name itself is unforgettable because it lends itself to a history whence hundreds of horses dove off a cliff in search of the water that lay below on the Colorado river. They were trapped there by the angry locals when settlers came in to take over. Tragically, they fell to their death in search of their dying of thirst.
Deserts do have a way of highlighting the extremes and complementing the utmost preparation. Waking up at 5 am to avoid the summer heat that late June was only one of the many factors of this adventure, but it brought me edge of the precipice at sunrise which set the red cliffs aflame and cast shadows akin to an Ansel Adams photograph. I paused and took what I like to call a bike selfie–just the bike and the beautiful backdrop–classic Strava photo of sorts.
The ride brought technical terrain, and jaw dropping desert scenery, but also hysterics–both laughter and a few tears. I rounded a corner and heard the ever familiar rattle of the venomous rattle snake. Being the leader, I rode to a safe space and waited for my buddy to round the corner, heart pounding–luckily nothing came of it. However, something came of an observation later on. Right as my cycling partner observed that there was no poison oak, my front wheel slide out from under me and I landed palm first in a cactus. Stunned I ripped my hand instantly away, but those pesky thorns when right through my glove and part of the cactus came up with it. I made a surprised guttural sound as the sting began to settle into my nerves. She began laughing to the point of tears, and I, shed a few in light of the fact that I had to ride with my hand like this all the way back to the car for a pair of tweezers. Despite the sting, and the song of the rattlesnake, I still turn back to those moments as some of the richest memories in Moab.