The four of us had traveled a thousand miles from New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and California to climb a thousand feet of Nevada rock. We met at the trailhead, loaded our packs with a flurry, stuffed headlamps in front pockets and started off toward the frowning sliver of setting sun. Soon we were swallowed. Endless Juniper Canyon walls cast silhouette shadows across the pebbled wash while frogs in the basin serenaded our trek through a maze of boulders and stiff Manzanita.
Like a rising tide escorts sea floor to seashore, after hours of approach we found ourselves perched with a panoramic view of black desert ocean. The distant, churning galaxy of Las Vegas lights illuminated the lean underbelly of neon grey clouds circling overhead. Slot machines clamored a vague stranger’s tune, but silence rang our familiar melody and we emptied a flask of whisky, settling in for night.
In a blink sunrise poured crimson down our martian sandstone neighbor and we swapped warm sleeping bags for cold gear, eyes drawn to the newly unmasked monolith that would pose so many riddles that day.
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