OUTDOORS: The value of cottonwood trees

A small grove of cottonwood trees makes stand against eroded cliffs at the mouth of Dominguez Canyon at the Gunnison River. The beauty of spring-green leaves contrasts with the cliffs of Wingate sandstone in the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. (Courtesy photo)

Sunlight silently inches down a canyon wall to shower its warmth on a clump of cottonwood trees stretched along a gushing Dominguez Creek. Only a few trees have brought out their leaves – it’s mid-April. They flutter in a breeze though they are tiny.

A snack always tastes better on the trail; I’m propped up against the impenetrable bark of one of the trees. The cliffs, colored a dark cherry, rise starkly against the tree’s greenery and indigo sky. Here the robust trees, whipped by wind and scorched by the summer sun truly match the character of the craggy canyon walls.

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