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By Ann King
There are thousands of hiking trails around here, and I’ve explored a good many of them. My initial favorite was the canyon area a mile down the road, just past the Virgin River, until I discovered the chunk of wilds a mile and a half uphill on Highway 9.
There are several entrance roads that ATVs frequent. Just need to look for the little strips of pink plastic tied to trees. I’ve come to know those markers as the route to deer stands, but here they indicate public access to ATVs.
I began my adventure early in the morning, around 7 to 7:30 a.m., as it gets hot here by 10 a.m., near intolerable by noon. So, my excursions are usually limited to a couple of hours of exploration, so I’ll be home before the sweat really starts to puddle down the back of my shirt.
I take my backpack, which I had to mend the other day as it’s getting a little threadbare. I’ve had it since 2014. I’d say it’s lived an exciting life. The rest of my accruements include sunglasses, my favorite Badlands ball cap, compass, orange streamers, bug spray, Chapstick and of course, my camera with an extra battery.
The orange streamers are actually part of a two-inch-wide neon nylon tie-down I found on the side of the road several months ago. Up until then, I wore one of those orange workman’s vests to be visible to traffic. But when I chanced across those tie-downs – perfect!
I double the length and attach them through the straps of my backpack, so cars coming up from behind can see there’s a pedestrian walking here.
The first time I went “up the hill” as I refer to that particular hiking area, it was June. The flowers were just beginning to bloom. Desert wine cups in white and yellow. Scads of purple bottle-brush type blooms on waist high bushes. Red stars. Some Indian Paintbrush. The cacti were just beginning to bud. Down the trail in a little gully, I saw an explosion of color. Crisp yellows, deep blues, lime greens and delicate pinks. Too vibrant to be flowers. I had to investigate.
And then I found it. The Easter bunny’s stash. Plastic eggs. Dozens and dozens of eggs, squirreled away under a bush. Empty large and medium-sized woven wicker baskets lied scattered about on their sides. And boxes of candy tossed about willy-nilly.
Eggs, bunnies, jellybeans. The boxes were still there. Sun-bleached and unopened, but the ants had long ago feasted on the sweets that were inside. Cast here and there were sparkly blue, yellow and pink cutouts of eggs and bunnies along with a few butterflies.
I gathered as many plastic eggs as I could fit in my pack and collected all the sparkly adorned rubbery cutouts. Next time I come up, I’ll get the rest of the eggs. The baskets are nice, and the sun has yet to damage them, but I have no room. I’ll leave them to nature. Or perhaps the Easter Bunny can use them again next year.
As I left the area, I noted rabbit tracks leading deeper into the woods. Perhaps that is why no one ever sees the Easter bunny. He is but an ordinary rabbit, except for one special day of the year.
Contact King at firstname.lastname@example.org.