I awoke to bright pink cotton candy clouds on the northwestern horizon and steely blue ones closer in, a dramatic Christmas Day sunrise. I stayed in bed for a long time, reading and watching the light come up. When my mom and Frank got up, we put away a feast of fruit and oatmeal and eggs and potatoes and spinach salad, and after packing up a bit of lunch, we set out for Black Rock Canyon at the northeast corner of the park. We planned to walk to the top of Warren Peak and then decide on the way down whether to take the roughly three-mile Panorama Loop extension. At the start of the trail, I wasn't convinced this walk would be anything special. But as we continued, the landscape started to take a hold of me. The granite in this section of the park is black and veined with swirling pink, giving lie to the massive heat and pressure put upon the stuff underground so many millions of years ago. Rusty iron and green neon hued lichens spot the surfaces of the rocks, with the occasional yucca or prickly pear improbably bursting forward from cracks here and there.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Eventually, the guitar player and leader of the band said, "Well, I guess we might as well play a few songs, since we're here and all... ", and they kicked up a swinging rendition of "Hey Good Lookin'". One or two songs later, we were led to a table at the opposite side of the dance floor, right at edge of the stage. We ate fire grilled steak and catfish, drank tequila and beer, and watched kids and old folks and everyone in between dancing to the music. One song the Shadow Mountain Band played has stuck with me since. It's a traditional, and they did it in a rousing bluegrass style with four- or five-part close harmony:
I’m goin’ up on the mountain / And I ain’t coming down til the morning / I’m goin’ up on the mountain / And I ain’t coming down in chains
My spirit lives inside of me / And all I have to do is set it free / My spirit lives inside of me / And all I have to do is set it free
I’m goin’ up to set my my soul free / And I ain’t coming down til the morning / I’m goin’ up to set my my soul free / And I ain’t coming down in chains