In the Presence of Sheep

I’ve never seen a Big Horn Sheep in person, not until this weekend at least. 

A friend and I had planned a four-day three-night camping trip to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. I was expecting lots of hiking and beautiful landscapes but I hadn’t exactly thought about wildlife. The second day we were driving back to our campsite when we came across a large number of onlookers, pulled over on the side of the road. My friend immediately knew what was happening as she had experienced this same occurrence during previous visits to the park, so we, of course, pulled over and got out to stare. 

“See the sheep?” she asked me. 

“No,” I said back as I scanned the area in front of me and wondered why a fuzzy white sheep would be out in these parts. 

“There see? Look for their white butts.”

And then as soon as the words left her mouth, I saw a furry white butt and the animal attached to it. And then another, and another, and another. A whole herd of butts or rather rams, scattered the rock outcropping before us. 

I was awestruck. 

I had never seen one ram before in real life, let alone a whole herd. We observed them from a safe distance but I could still feel the sense of power that was emanating from them. I’m not sure how long we stood there watching them graze and climb among the rocks but finally, the shared time with them ended as one ram trotted across the road and then another until the rest of the herd leaped from their places on the rocks and followed suit in full gallop finding greener grass on the other side. 

The spell that held us onlookers was broken and everyone continued on there way. As we also returned to our car and drove past the grazing herd I couldn’t help but feel moved by the experience. To see such powerful animals, in the wild, doing what comes naturally to them was inspiring. 

During the rest of our time in the valley, we would encounter these fellows a few more times and their presence was never taken lightly especially as the cracking of horns could be heard echoing off the red rock that they so easily claimed as their home. Oh, they also became easier to spot now knowing that when the cracking of horns could be heard, I could scan the cliffs for white butts and there they would be. 

bighorn

(Rams In The Wild) 

Other Stuff I’ve Done or Did:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Other Blogs I’ve Posted:

Coconino National Forest: A Love Letter

Disfigured By Love

Coconino National Forest: A Love Letter

Digging through some old journals as I do occasionally, I came across a small entry from 2018. I am pretty sure I’ve never posted it on the blog, however, I found it sweet and of course have no recollection of writing it. I still feel the same about the forest surrounding Flagstaff and think it’s one of the reasons why we have been drawn back so many times.

11/20/18: Flagstaff AZ – Coconino National Forest  

There’s a feeling about and within the Coconino National Forest that I don’t exactly feel anywhere else. It’s a tingling feeling of fall and winter; a weird but undeniable truth.

There is a low hum of life that surrounds me in this forest yet it is so still if you move to fast you may miss it. Things are moving and growing but slowly, carefully, never in a hurry but always waking.

A walk on a trail will help you notice, feel eyes on you but yet you cannot hear a thing, leaving you to wonder what exactly is out there with you. This is not at all a scary feeling but somehow magical and comforting.

There are still wild places and wild longings that man has yet to tame.

forest

(A Time In The Forest) 

Other Stuff I’ve Done or Did:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Other Blogs I’ve Posted:

Same Trail, Different View

Camping With Kids

 

Same Trail, Different View

I went hiking this weekend down the same section of trail that I have hiked before. If I’m being honest, it’s the same section of trail I have run before too, but it was different. 

The snow was still completely covering the trail and surrounding landscape so I traveled along with spikes on my shoes. I paid special attention to avoid sections of ice and was very aware of the world around me; very “present” as it were. 

The trees and ground seemed to twinkle and wink at me as the sun hit ice crystals.  I listened as glumps of melting snow lost their grip on tree branches, rustling branches and needles as they fell. Somewhere between the branch and ground, the clumps would separate and became individual flakes again which in turn, became glitter in the sun for just a few, brief, seconds.

The trail seemed hushed and still although I passed others braving wet feet and frozen noses. I could smell wet pine and feel the tingle of ice on my face as the breeze relocated snowflakes. This same trail that I have traversed many times before revealed a different side to me as I traveled in this new season. I tried to imagine a few familiar spots along the way in the summer or fall but I struggled being so immersed in the world around me, so beautifully decorated by Jack Frost.

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(Humphreys Peak in the Distance

Other Stuff I’ve Done or Did:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Other Blogs I’ve Posted:

Frozen Time

Four Years Ago, On A Trail Far, Far, Away…

 

Frozen Time

Snow captures a moment and freezes it, often showing a map of activity you never knew occurred.

I can still see my sister’s footprints in the snow from Saturday when she and my mother left. Every day her footprints become less defined but they still linger on the ground. The snow still holds on to her print as I hold on to the memories of the time we shared. Moments we shared in December swirl in my head like snowflakes in the wind, and then the wind sends my thoughts across the year of 2019.

Eventually, my sister’s footprints are melted and gone. They become water for the earth and help ready new life for the spring. As 2019 fades it also nourishes 2020, helping ready me for a new year just like the melted snow to the earth.  I recognize the impermanence of my existence then and lift my head to greet the sun of a new year, new ideas, new trials and errors and of course new adventures.

Welcome to the new year,

– Snuggles

 

The Year Coming To A Close

Typically I post on the Snuggle Diaries throughout the holiday season but this year I have decided to take December off. I have family flying in from my home town in December for their first-ever trip out west and I want to be fully immersed and present during their time here. I am also taking the month to focus on other adventures and personal journaling. Have no fear! The Snuggle Diaries will continue in January of the new year! 

Until January, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite blog posts from 2019 along with a link to my book Mini Misadventures that has now been up on Amazon for almost a year! 

I hope that you spend this holiday season surrounded by the people you love most or the places you love most and doing the things you enjoy best.

                                                                                                                         – Snuggles 

 

 Click Here to purchase my book Mini Misadventures

 

Some Of My Favorite Blog Picks From 2019: 

What We Didn’t See In Antelope Canyon

Disfigured By Love

Quick Nature Fix: Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve

Return to Red River Gorge

Our Last Days In The Gorge

The Seasons Change

The Journey Around Mount Hood

A Trail Run Of Bad Decisions…

AZT Weekend

Hiking with Friends

Cades Cove Virtual Run

 

Ditties From Here To There

The following are a few little ditties I have written on morning and evening walks from here to there. 

 

Big sky, full moon, time to take a picture.

The setting sun, times begun to get a little shorter.

 

Dark sky, cold air, see a deer and whisper.

Morning sun the leaves have fun, falling along my way. 

 

Rays of light part the night along the path I travel. 

A little scurry, but not to worry a bird flies away.

 

A lunar scene leads me towards my destination.

 

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Cool Thingys:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post:

Cades Cove Virtual Run

 

 

Cades Cove Virtual Run

A few months ago I signed up for my first virtual run. For those of you who do not know what that is, allow me to explain. Often a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, etc. will give the option for participants to sign up for the race but are not required to toe the starting line. For instance, they can “sleep in” but still show support for the cause the race is supporting. Sometimes these races even provide a “virtual runner” a medal and souvenir t-shirt allowing the virtual runner to participate on their own time. Being one who enjoys running with others, I typically participate in person. However, I could not show up in person for the 3rd Annual Cades Cove Loop Lope and thus I registered as a virtual runner. 

The Cades Cove Loop Lope is the only footrace that takes place inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so it is immediately special. I miss the Smoky Mountains greatly as Darwin and I would spend our vacation time there almost every year before we started to travel. Last year we spent several days in our beloved Gatlinburg, TN before starting our Blue Ridge Parkway Cycling Tour. Finding out that I could help support my first National Park love and run at the same time, seemed like a great idea. 

This past Sunday morning was race day. I got up early before the sun was up and although on a different time zone, I tried to think of all the other runners doing the same. Waking early, layering up for the cold, dawning headlamps, and heading out to Cades Cove via bus. The race day excitement they all must have been feeling! The thought of being apart of a limited number of participants with permission to run in the park free from the worry of cars and tourists seemed so enticing to me. Not to mention the fact that each participant was running through history, SO COOL!!

These thoughts stayed with me as I started my run on the Arizona Trail, the complete opposite environment than my fellow runners in Cades Cove. Yet, although we were over a thousand miles apart, we were all still running together and helping to raise money for the continued preservation of a very special place. As I ran my three-miles I thought of the beautiful “smoke” of the Smoky Mountains, the historic cabins, the smell of damp fall leaves, the colors that surely surrounded the runners in the cove. 

When I hit my three-mile mark the sun had fully risen. This run felt extra satisfying knowing that it was benefiting more than just me. I also felt I wasn’t just running by myself but at least 750 other people were on the other side of the United States doing the same. I know that some people may not participate after signing up for a virtual run sporting their medal or t-shirt regardless but I honored my commitment and it made my morning and run so much more meaningful. I felt connected to one of my most favorite places even though I’m so far away. 

Sun Rise

 

Cool Thingys:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

An Old Blue Ridge Parkway Post:

Blue Ridge Parkway Tour Part I

 

 

 

The Things A Camera Can’t Capture…

Sometimes I find it hard to write. I have nothing profound to say. No deeper thoughts or ponderings to share. No topics to discuss. I only have the simplest, softest, and dearest, moments that all build up.

Sometimes a picture will never do a scene justice.

Sometimes words are just not strong enough to take you there.

I often stay behind the camera, taking the moment in for only myself. I’m present at that time and in that space and it’s enough.

Sometimes it’s fleeting these snippets of time and sometimes their view lingers on.

And so I am filled with images and feelings of moments, times I know I could never explain, times I know will stay only mine; no significant words or tellings to share.

Some images and moments are not meant to be shared and that’s what makes them special. I have locked many away that I can come back to and visit forever only in my head. I hope that everyone at times does the same.

Sometimes it’s important to set the camera down and take it all in just for yourself.

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(Me taking a picture of Darwin, taking a picture in Mesa Verde)

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Previous Post:

A Weekend Visiting The Past

 

A Weekend Visiting The Past

This past weekend a friend and I left Friday afternoon and drove about three hours to Cedar Mesa, Utah. The drive there was breathtaking passing by amazing red rock formations, through open land reaching out into infinity and driving in the shadows of tall towering buttes. We found a place to call home for the night only after exploring several dirt roads that seemed to lead on to nowhere while others just abruptly stopped. Once parked, we slept in the back of a truck under a bright starry sky.

In the morning we very slowly emerged from our bag and quilt and were greeted by frozen water bottles. Mine having not solidified until I attempted to move it aside and then instantly froze before my eyes. We eventually made our way to Bullet Canyon to try our hand at hiking into, thru, and out the other side of the canyon, making a full loop back to the truck. Let me go ahead and just say, I didn’t make the whole loop. Hiking in a dry water bed is not the easiest thing to do. I had to stop several times to dump sand out of my socks and trail runners (I forgot my dirt girls), and part of our day consisted of bushwhacking through tall weeds and brush. But for all this hard work I saw what many may only in pictures.

The goal of our day was to see several different Anasazi ruins and pictographs within the canyon; of this we were successful. Two of the biggest locations we saw are fondly named Perfect Kiva Ruins and Jailhouse. The Perfect Kiva site required some slight rock scaling but was incredible to behold. We were even able to enter the kiva becoming completely immersed in a world that seems so distant from our current one. We felt the grooves left in the rock made by tool sharpening and gazed upon petrified corncobs and bits of pottery lying scattered around the structures. We pondered at the pictographs left from these ancient people and discussed our disdain for the current people who left behind their own markings.

From there we hiked a short amount further to the Jailhouse Ruin, having received its name from the ancient limbs still supporting vents and windows in structures built-in and along the canyon wall. Feeling too tired to continue fast enough to beat nightfall, we made our way back the way we came finding yet another ruin we had overlooked on the way in; it had been so perfectly built, it was completely hidden when coming from another direction. We both felt small as we immerged from such a large canyon and humbled by the life of the Anasazis.

The next day having parked in a different spot, we awoke to watch the sunrise above a place called Valley of the Gods. I couldn’t help but wonder how many times the Anasazis had done the same. Driving the rest of the way through the valley, the landscape was almost too much to take in. The gold and red rich hues of the buttes and land surrounding us was overwhelming. I will never be able to put into words what the valley made me feel.

On the way back on Sunday we visited the Wupatki National Monument. A protected area outside of Flagstaff, where we were able to visit the Wupatki Pueblo and many other smaller ruins. It was again amazing to me that people were capable of living and surviving in such a harsh environment. We discussed and compared the differences the environment made on how these ancient people lived compared to the Anasazi.

Reflecting on my weekend, I did do some hiking but I also learned a few basic survival skills if you will, from my friend. I learned more about ancient people who lived with much less than myself but in a way with much more too. I slept in the light of a full moon and awoke to the warm rays of the sun which I haven’t done in a while. I explored a canyon on a trail that tended to disappear; one not maintained by volunteers depending on my friend to guide the way via map and compass. Overall, this past weekend was full of new experiences and lessons starting a foundation of skills I hope to expand upon.

 

(Left to Right: Perfect Kiva, Pottery, Corncob, and Tools ((these were left out on a rock when we arrived)) Jailhouse from a distance ((notice the face towards the top?))

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  – 

Previous Posts:

Hiking with Friends

When You Find My Body- REVIEW

Hiking with Friends

Hiking has a funny way of bringing people together; strangers become friends and friends become closer, families make memories to share years later, and lovers draw nearer to each other.

I think nature is indeed to blame for this having nothing to distract us from each other on a hike besides those of natural occurrence. On a hike of any length, the scenery demands nothing from us. We can relax and let our five senses do what they will.

I believe this is why it’s easy to get to know someone while hiking. What else is there to do but talk to each other as we travel along? Taking a long hike with someone can tell you a lot about them and I highly recommend hiking a few times with anyone you consider having a close relationship with.

I had the honor of hiking with two good friends to a magical place called Lockett Meadow and experienced first hand two strangers become friends. These two wonderful women in my life had only met the day before we arrived at the trailhead (me being the connector friend if you will). They each represented two different parts of me; one represented my life and experiences in Albuquerque, NM and the other my traveling adventures and life in Flagstaff, AZ. I was incredibly excited for them to meet feeling deep down they would be fast friends and I was right. Joined by the love of nature, fall, and a good hike, we headed out together down a trail leading us through a grove of molting yellow Aspens.

The hike was maybe about six miles and I savored every minute. I was able to share a hobby I loved with two of my friends, watching and listening as they chatted and became friends with each other; my cup was overflowing. By the time our hike came to an end, they had shared contact information and we extended our time together with a celebratory coffee back in town.

We all have such limited time in the world, I think it should be shared with people we enjoy being with, in ways that uplift and inspire us as much as possible. For me, friends are special people and the woods, my special place. I’m so grateful to have shared in both.

 

 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  – A Few More Pics From Our Hike Are Posted Here!

Previous Posts:

When You Find My Body- REVIEW

AZT Weekend