Walk completed August 28, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ron's Secret Place

While enjoying my morning coffee yesterday, I received a telephone call from my good friend, Professor Ron. Ron is a living guidebook to hiking in southern Utah. “Ken,” he said, “I would like to hike to a secret place today – a place of such outstanding natural beauty that I was sworn by the person who discovered it never to disclose its location. Can join me?”

“Am I required to wear a blindfold?” I asked.

“No, but you must promise never to disclose its location to anyone,” replied the professor. “You know what happened to the Wave.” [Note: See the video embedded in the top pano of http://www.utah.com/playgrounds/the_wave.htm  for a report of what happened to the Wave.]

“Ron, I’m a highly trained lawyer. Preserving confidentiality is my stock in trade. Of course you can trust me to never disclose its location.”

“Good,” he replied. “I’ll pick you up in 30 minutes.”

I’m not only a trained lawyer, but also a trained hiker, so my backpack is always ready. All I need to add is a liter of water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Thirty minutes was plenty of time for me to finish my coffee and assemble the sandwich.

It was also plenty of time for me to telephone my English friend, Dr. George, who happens to be vacationing in Utah. You may remember that Dr. George helped me search for angels on Halloween, and he is going to help me search for pubs in northern England. How could I hike to a secret place of outstanding natural beauty without including Dr. George?

“George,” I said, “Professor Ron is going to guide me to a secret place of outstanding natural beauty. Would you like to join us?”

Ever the gentlemen, George responded, “Well, unless Ron actually invited me along I don’t think…”

“Now, George,” I interrupted, “you know how absent-minded the professor can be. Had he thought about it, he certainly would have invited you. You’ve got to see this place before somebody spills the beans and the crowds discover it. Oh, and bring your GPS so we don’t get lost. Just be sure the professor doesn’t know you’re bringing the GPS, because he might be insulted if he thought we doubted his route finding ability.”

And so off we went to see the secret place of outstanding natural beauty, George carrying his GPS, I carrying my PB&J sandwich, and Ron carrying his secret.

There was no trail. Our route took us across the Utah high desert, where recent spring rains had brought out desert flowers
and the distant mountains were still displaying their winter snows.

In due course, we arrived at white petrified sand dunes, known as slickrock, created long ago by ancient seas. As we continued on, the slickrock gradually changed from white to red, evidence of staining by leaching minerals, probably iron from ancient volcanic flows. Candy-striped layers of rock are ubiquitous in Utah, but these were different. Normally the stripes are simply the result of layers of different sands deposited over time. Here, the candy stripes were stains, apparently caused by ancient iron rich streams and evaporating seas flowing over the white slickrock. Combined with the cubic fractures of the sandstone, the stains were a tiled mosaic – nature’s art. No wonder Ron wants to keep the place secret. Thousands of boots treading on the painted slickrock would quickly erase the marvelous swirls left by nature.

Awestruck by the beauty of Ron’s secret place, George and I reassured Ron that we would never disclose its location, despite the fact that the precise grid coordinates were captured by George’s GPS – the very same GPS we’ll be carrying when we walk together in northern England.

No, George and I will never, ever disclose the location. Our lips are forever sealed, and can never be pried open. Not even if you bribe us with a pint as we walk together in northern England. Not even for two pints. I dare you to try.

© 2011 Ken Klug


  1. Professor Ron might be on to something, unfortunately the ....not so secret place is becoming a favourite spot, at least for locals. Except for some random British Dr or Mauritian transplant, the place should remain tourist free for a while longer.
    Keep the stories coming, Ken, we love them!

  2. Ahh, Danielle... That's the oldest trick in the world. "Everybody already knows the secret, so you might as well stop trying to safeguard it." It wouldn't even work in Mauritius. I'm not falling for that one.