Wahweap Toadstools

21 June 2012 in Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling


Today we ventured to a set of toadstools that was both stunning and remote. After visiting with our friend at the BLM again we were redirected from our original, long dirt road route to a shorter dirt road route with a longer hike in. It turned out our original route was an authorized personnel only road. This was not mentioned in our guide book.

Walking on EggshellsWith a 4 mile hike up a shadeless wash we got as early of a start as our vodka and iron blood would allow. Mine was apparently a more concentrated mix which took its toll on me for the first three and a half miles. The sun was high in the sky and sweltering already at 8:30 am. My brain baked and my stomach boiled as we trudged through patches of loose sand, dried clay beds resembling the flaky skin of the giant head of mother earth, and stealthily concealed, wet mucky clay. Two hundred steps across a barren landscape so void of moister you can almost feel it sucked from your body via osmosis and then one step onto a stretch identical to the rest and your sliding in thick, gray clay slick and sludge-like.

Wahweap ToadstoolsThe sides that directed us up this wash were featureless for the most part and spread far and wide. A hundred feet high or so with no identifiable markings to dictate any passage of distance. But we lumbered on and eventually spotted a tall, thin spire of rock. Nothing of much beauty, but something to acknowledge our steps and remind us of our goal. Shortly after this pinnacle of inspiration our perspiration paid off as we arrived at the first set of toadstools.

As previously described in this blog, these columns of soft rock support the bulky masses of their top heavy, harder brethren. Its a strange, but sensical phenomenon whose visual result is striking and a slap in the face to layman’s physics. How some of these oddities remain standing through wind, rain, and storms, year in and year out, decade in and decade out, century in and century out, millennium in, ah, you get the point. Its a natural miracle that leaves one with an unwarranted sense of luck to have caught such a magnificent natural wonder at just the right time. Walking under them you also experience an irrational sense of trepidation. They look as though they could fall at any moment and the ground around is littered with the fallen, but one would have a better chance of winning the lottery than of perishing beneath these precarious looking towers. Its almost funny, what man would struggle to do through trial nature has done through chance.

All that's left is the stems.The first set was similar to other toadstools we had seen before. While they are all unique and wonderful, they were chocolate colored stones perched atop irregularly eroded columns of chalk white sand stone. The second set we’d reach looked more like plaster cast replicas of the originals played up and perfected for a tourist trap, but there was no ticket booth in sight. Here it seemed as though water was continuously dripped directly from above rather than washing around the columns. Vertical grooves formed in the columns and their shape was regular and almost symmetrical. It was like another world. One of fantasy, dreamed up by some sci-fi illustrator. We took a break in the small shadow of a domed rock here which provided us with a perfect view of this small wonderland, tucked in the middle of nowhere. It made us question how many other hidden nooks held secret places like this.

While we rested, other homo sapiens approached from around the corner, taking a different route than we had. Wishing to make the most of the long hike in we followed their tracks in the opposite direction and discovered another little hollow of stone mushrooms. This place never ceases to amaze. While these rock wonders could easily be interpreted much like we interpret clouds—seeing a turtle as we have or a flying saucer—one needs little imagination to spot the phallic spire amongst the crowd. From every angle and distance this rock was R-rated. I’m a little surprised it hasn’t experienced censorship for some closeted, right-wing homophobic member of congress.

The walk back was surprisingly better, I believe I’ve found a new cure for a hangover. One that may even surpass hair of the dog. And that’s a hike amongst the natural wonders of this world. The baking brain, the boiling stomach all vanished upon reaching our destination. The walk back, despite a sharp, seemingly impossible increase in both temperature and the intensity of the sun, was pleasant and serene.

Tags: , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a comment