Coyote's Corner

Field Lessons and Games, Insights and Resources

Cooling off with Llamas

by Jessie Cubberly

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Most desert enthusiasts are familiar with the works of Edward Abbey. But, did you know that Abbey loved llamas as much as we do here at CFI? 

“Late in August, the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, get bit by a mosquito, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, dip in an alpine lake, put on a cozy jacket as the sun sets, explore the craggy peaks, and all the while have my camping gear carried by a pack of dignified, wily llamas.” 

Desert Solitaire

My second summer in Moab, I discovered the secret to surviving and thriving through the “everlasting sunfire” of a red rock August. Ok, I’ll tell you as long as you keep it a secret: escape to the mountains. That summer I spent all of my free time wandering the La Sal Mountain range near Moab, Utah. The mountain creek water was a balm to my sun-seared soul. 

But it wasn’t until I wandered bit further east, to the edge of the Plateau and into the San Juan Mountains, that my mountain escape became an exhilarating re-charge, a re-awakening of the wonder that I had felt my first spring in the desert. Flowers I had never seen bloomed across lush mountainsides, mountain air cooled my lungs as if quenching a mighty thirst, and evenings were spent cozied up by a fire amid tall pines. Everything I had been missing in the desert was right here—just a couple hours away from my Moab home. 

The whole experience was made more comfortable, and certainly more humorous, by the addition of a few sassy-sweet llamas who thanklessly carried all of our gear and seemed (if possible) even more joyful than we were to be there.  

I have been living in Moab for a bit longer now, and have learned a few more tricks for surviving the August heat, but I still relish these trips to the San Juan’s every summer. If anything in the world can heal a tired soul, excite an inquiring mind, set free a deep buried belly laughter – it’s a trip to the mountains! 

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