Hiking with a New Friend in Wonderland

31 May 2012 in Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling


As previously stated, “Wonderland” is a code name for a place I don’t wish to advertise. If you want to see it ask me personally or better yet, come and I’ll show you. It’s not a real big secret in this area, but it does fly below most people’s radars and I’d like to keep it that way.

Anyways, waking early, we drove out towards Wonderland. And after a long drive down a gravel road we turned off and apparently entered an off road race, the likes of which you see numbered dune buggies compete in on tv. I’ve been “off road” before, but never at such speeds. My companion, a mild mannered older man, turned into a furious madman wrestling with the steering wheel like it was a wild animal as the truck bounced and swerved up, down, and around a road that really should require a special license. 25 mph felt like 80 and nearly every corner felt like it was sure to leave us overturned and hanging from seat belts. But this was not the careless and risky driving of some teen, but the careful, calculated driving of an experienced off road driver (or so he told me). The problem with the road and the reason higher speeds are required is much of it is deep, loose sand. If you slow too much or stop you dig in and you’re stuck. So the wild ride was required, but I was thankful when it ended. I’ve been on a lot of roller coasters and thrill rides, but none compare to that!

When we finally came to a stop the reason for our dance with death was hard to rationalize. From where we parked you could see a few clusters of domed rock here and there, but nothing special. I mean, I guess I would get to explore them closer up, but I had seen similar formations before. As we walked towards one distant cluster I was still fairly unenthused. Then we entered through a gap and I was almost knocked over by the strange and wondrous landscape before me. Had I hit my head? Was I hallucinating? Before me lay a basin overflowing with surreal formations of rock the likes of which I had never seen and I’ve been around. These rocks and buttes seemed more at home in the fantasy art of some sci-fi comic where the astronauts took acid before landing on some distant planet, than they did here on planet earth. They are simply impossible to describe. I attempted to return with photographic evidence, but they do no justice. This place was amazing, maybe the coolest place I’ve ever been. Certainly top 5.

And there was no one out there. The entire time we were there I saw the top of someone’s head for a split second before it dipped over the hump of a butte. That’s it. The whole day we were free to explore and discover. There are no trails inside the basin and almost everything is just a reasonable scramble or hike away. We found domes with strange flat tops like the roof of some Dr. Seuss hut. We wandered into basins, red as fire with sloping, curving lines fluidly marking their surface. There was rock that almost looked melted like lava and dripped from the heavens. And rock twisted and gnarled as if it were attempting to replicate the hearty bark of a desert tree.

The variety, beauty and oddity was almost too much to handle. And we only had the chance to explore a small portion of it. We ended up spending five hours or so in this strange and glorious place, but I could spend a week here. It’s only a few square miles of land, but it’s packed with some of the most amazingly rock you’ll ever see.

It’s crazy to think, had Lindsay never gotten this job and had we not had all this time to explore this area I may never have seen all the amazing places it has to offer. They certainly weren’t on my radar before we arrived!

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