With the heavy runoff clogging the streams, I took a break away from fishing over the weekend and did some hiking instead. I am not what anyone, including myself, would call an avid hiker. But the outdoors were calling my name. What kind of jerk would I be if I didn’t heed them? We, my daughter and I, were heading to 9 Mile Canyon, a stone’s throw away from the town of Wellington Utah. My daughter and I loaded the tent trailer, grabbed some Arby’s, and were soon flying down the I-70 freeway with Eminem blasting through the speakers. (Don’t judge). We were to meet my little brother and his fiancée there, along with their three dogs, and a duck. Yes, you read that right. A camping, fishing, hiking, duck. Who, strangely enough, thinks he is a dog, but is named Goose. But that’s a story for another time. We were meeting my brother and his fiancée, who are going to get married in the fall at a beautiful place called 9 Mile Ranch, which sits twenty-five miles from Wellington; a working ranch house that offers bed and breakfast, cabins, and camping.
The canyon itself is home to an innumerable amount of Native American history in the form of petroglyphs and the occasional dwelling or granary. Although the weather was a bit cold, and the threat of rain was real, we set up camp anyway on a stretch of BLM land. The next couple days were spent walking the paths of those that came before us. Each canyon, each rock told a story all their own. It seemed everywhere we turned there was another petroglyph waiting for my daughter and I to decipher. I’m sure we got them all figured wrong, but that’s the magic of this canyon, to take what you see and try to piece together what once was.
At one point, we had stopped to look at some worn and faded rock art when we got the sudden urge to climb above the petroglyphs to the plateau above. There were no discernible trails to where we were going, we were just blazing our own. Adventure at its finest. Once on top we had a great view of the land before us. Lost in the beauty of the canyon we almost didn’t see what was right in front of us. There in the ground was the remnants of what looked to be a pit house. A pit house was a structure dug partially into the ground then covered with a roof. Suddenly this high outcropping we stood on made sense. From this vantage point we could see for miles in either direction. All I could think of was, what an awesome bachelor pad. My sensible daughter figured it was more likely some type of look out. I like my idea better.
The rest of our time in the canyon played out the same way. Hiking and discovering. My brother and his fiancée were of course with us the entire way. Any time someone would make a discovery, the rest of us would charge over to share in the wonder, even the duck. We had a great time enjoying nature as family, and soon to be family. We talked late around the campfire, and woke early to the sizzling sound of bacon on the cast iron. We watched the wildlife move across the valleys nibbling the fresh greens that were now sprouting. We even stared, dumbfounded, as the duck tried to gnaw on a deer leg.(Still trying to figure that one out). As a father, I know times with my daughter are precious. If I were to ever offer any advice to other parents, it would be to take your family outside. Get away from the electronics and noise of life. Share with them the experiences that cannot be gained through a screen.