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Winter’s Sounds of Silence
Article by Sara Melnicoff
Photos by Ginny Carlson

Like a favorite special treat tucked away in the fridge or hidden away in a cabinet, I await the start of winter with keen anticipation and joy. I love spring, summer and autumn—they are full of charm—but late autumn and winter have that something extra that just does it for me: peace and exquisite quiet.

My partner David and I spend many blissful hours enjoying the muted solitude of the region’s well-loved trails as the tourist season takes a short break and Moab becomes a small town again. We walk in areas that are so pretty and so quiet that the silence creates a sound. In the fullness of that sound, we find we’re able to reconnect to ourselves, each other, and the earth once again. We soak in the silence and the beauty, like a rock soaks up the sun’s heat. We shake off all the busyness of other times of the year and try to match our lives to the rhythm of winter’s restorative pace. We can almost feel the slumbering earth beneath our feet as we walk along.

We love to visit places we avoid when it’s too hot or hectic. We feel so fortunate to live in a place where the variety is endless: Dragon Fly Canyon and Corona Arch, Sand Flats, Ken’s Lake, Fisher Towers, the La Sals, and the Kane Creek area’s diverse trails like the Rim Trail and Moonflower Canyon, the Jackson Trail and Hunter Canyon. Many times we just walk along the Kane Creek Road, marveling at the towering rocks above us. There is a special quality to a cold and sunny hike, watching blue skies mirrored in the Colorado River. Being really cold and seeing your breath getting so warm as you walk that you have to strip off a layer or two. Hearing the air fill with the strong whoosh, whoosh of a raven’s wing in flight.

Then, when we’re lucky, the snow comes. We enjoy being outside when flakes start to fall, making beautiful patterns on the plants and rocks around us. Fields of snow stand out below the golden glow of the rocks in the late afternoon sunlight. As snow transforms the landscape with its soft, white blanket, it makes our normally thin air thick, so that the silence is even more complete. Snow-coated branches touch the water just enough to form little ice balls. What a visual treat! And the ice itself is magical and artistic, making wavy patterns on the creek’s frozen surface. Glub, glub, glub the water sings out as it travels under the ice on its way to the Colorado River. And you make that dare to yourself, “Can I make it across without cracking the ice and getting really cold feet?” It is awe-inspiring to stand at the nearly frozen Powerdam waterfall and look downstream at the snowy and icy bridges below. Another advantage to winter hiking is the ability to take multiple walks in one day. Unlike in summer’s brutal heat, winter allows for a late-morning walk and a warmer afternoon walk.

There are other special wintertime treats, like finding the places where water seeps out of rocks and makes icicles, or visiting a canyon in the early dark of the season to watch the stars light up the night sky, or taking a hike on the concrete paths in town. The quiet streets are peaceful, and the warm glow from cozy homes makes everything feel right. Yes, winter is the perfect time to slow down and experience the peaceful, extreme beauty of our desert home.

Sara Melnicoff is founder of Moab Solutions and Friends of the Parkway and is an active member of Trail Mix. She is passionate about protecting the earth, treading lightly, recycling, and is involved in numerous restoration and cleanup projects. Through the Partners Program, she also encourages Moab’s homeless to help with various “green” projects.

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