Out in the desert north of Fruita, Colorado, this cairn sits atop a hill. Whenever I drive out there, I notice it. I don’t know if I’ve ever photographed it before though, because I mostly focus my lens on the natural environment when I’m out in the desert. Anyway, this cairn is probably 5 to 6 feet high. Getting to the top of the hill is undoubtedly fairly strenuous, but not an impossible climb. I mean, the person or people who built the cairn climbed up there, right? In my mind’s eye, the view from the top of this hill is probably pretty amazing too. I’ll bet you can see the whole Grand Valley from up there. And then I wonder if it was built by someone who owns the land, and if it sits on private property. There is no sign that suggests that, but there are some people who live on nearby hillsides, so it’s not impossible to think that is the case. They may have a trail that leads from their house right up to the top of that hill where the cairn resides.
It could be that after trudging up the hillside, and after finally arriving at the top of the hill, and standing beside that cairn, that the owners would release the dogs. This doesn’t seem like my ideal outcome. Also, there is nowhere really convenient to park the car while making this trek, so I’d have to scope that out first and make sure I parked in a place that was both off the road, but not on private property, and not smashing the beautiful grasses and wildflowers that grow profusely here in the spring and summer. It looks like a few people may have tried to drive up there, but the tracks of their tires stop about halfway up. But then, some people don’t care if they’re trashing other people’s property. They figure they’ll take their chances.
For me, the top of this hill has become kind of aspirational, and not something I feel the need to conquer either on foot or on wheels. It’s kind of like when you had that high school crush and then you finally went out on a date with them and were disappointed. It’s not that I think I’ll be disappointed by this hill, it’s just that I prefer to admire it from a distance. This prevents me from having to wear knee-high boots to protect myself from snakes, or to worry about tumbling down the hillside, something I’ve done in the past in other locations. Sliding down a steep hillside isn’t as fun as it sounds when you don’t really have control.
This hill would be great for sledding, but we rarely get enough snow out in the desert to partake in sledding. Oh, maybe if it snows overnight and you get out there early in the morning, you can sled before it all melts, but it mostly melts quickly as soon as the sun comes out and we have a lot of sunny days here. Once again, you’d have the dilemma of getting to the top first before you could sled down.
So, my experience of this hill is one of aspirational distance, but not one of indifference. It’s true, I have an almost insatiable curiosity, and I’ll undoubtedly try to get up there one day. But in the meantime, my imagination is serving me well as I consider the possibilities.