Temple of Erosion

The low-hanging sun painted distant cliffs deep orange, and Aspen Rain Weaver jumped out of the rig and headed toward a monolith on the horizon via splitboard. Bode Merrill dropped the truck into 4-low and ripped back up the road, viscous earth flying everywhere as he powered through deep mud puddles. We didn’t have much time, so we’d split the crew to reconnoiter the area more efficiently. We parked and began our hike across a stream of frozen mud, meandering through sage and juniper toward an imposing wall of red rock with a single crack—a hallway into its bowels. A psychedelic pyramid rose into the tangerine sky beyond the buttress. Although spines and ledges on its north face still held snow, its southern aspect was nearly dry.

Last winter was especially generous to many parts of the American West, but the real star of the snow was the southern United States. Arizona was firing, and the side effect was a couple of storms that hammered the Martian desert terrain of southern Utah. On the back end of a late-February storm, I had to go. It took a few calls, but Aspen, who’s from Arizona, was down. So was Bode. We’d packed his truck in Salt Lake City for the four-hour drive south, arriving late in the day…

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