The Dugway

Moki Dugway

Do you know what a dugway is? I didn’t either, until I happened upon one. The photo above is taken from an outcrop along Cedar Mesa in southern Utah. It shows a long and winding road excavated by U miners in the second uranium boom during the Cold war. Driving up or down, it’s a lot hairier than it looks, though not the worst road I’ve inched over.

Moki Dugway tracks the southern scarp of Cedar Mesa as the mesa’s edge drops vertically down from Muley Point toward the Valley of the Gods and the Goosenecks of the San Juan. Where the road tops out, you can see Valley of the Gods, Alhambra Rock, and Mexican Hat in the Navajo Nation.

The lookout from the top at Muley sweeps across the Goosenecks, the lower San Juan and Comb Ridge. That view is just as supernal from the lower reaches at the base of the mesa. The way up, the way down, as the case may be for this coiling, dirty stretch of 261, is slow and difficult at points. You must take your time.  A good friend, courageous in all aspects of his life, wouldn’t take the trip down with me a few months ago.

To me, Moki Dugway is a metaphor. It’s as if a part of me stood at the top of Cedar Mesa, a future me, waiting for the me that’s in the present to make his way up the road. A part of me has already done this journey and he stands outside of time. He can see the whole road, all its twists and dangers, while the part of me that still lives within time makes the long, grueling trek up the Dugway. That part of me that lives outside time, that’s already completed the route, he can see all the winding and the cliffs and the rough spots. He’s completed the journey, so he can see the whole sinewy route. He knows that every twist and turn in the road is necessary; that every switchback, even though it seems to go back on itself and repeat parts of the road I’ve already been on, is necessary. He realizes that sometimes, a river needs to coil back on itself to make progress, because the shortest distance between two points along a steep rise is too much to handle. The part of me that’s fulfilled the journey, he knows there are no shortcuts.

This means that every twist and dip along the ledge is required. I can’t see the whole road while I’m traversing its serpentine surface. The part of me that’s already finished the voyage can see the bigger picture. Some days, Mondays especially, are like riding up Moki Dugway. I just need to remember that no part of the journey is superfluous, that no stretch of the ride is wasted, that it all happens just the way it’s supposed to. Times when I’m on the ledge and feel like I’m losing my balance and about to fall, I’m still being led. Trust my process. There are no accidents. A part of me stands at the rim, outside of time, and, having completed the journey that never really began, he leads me along the way. The outcome is assured.

When it ain’t easy, I need to remember this.

© 2022 by Michael C. Just

Mike’s novel, The Dirt: The Journey of a Mystic Cowboy, is available in softcover or eBook formats through Amazon.

You can purchase the book through this website. Or go straight to amazon at

Mike’s other titles, including The Crippy, The Mind Altar, and Canyon Calls, are available through this website or through Amazon at

Four of his short stories have recently been published online:

Lies, Ltd. has been published by The Mystery Tribune @ Lies, Ltd.: Literary Short Fiction by Michael C. Just (

The Obligate Carnivore has been published by the Scarlet Leaf Review @ Category: MICHAEL JUST – SCARLET LEAF REVIEW

I See You, Too has been published by the 96th of October @ I See You, Too – 96th of October

Offload, a short story about a man who can heal any disease, is now live and can be read at The Worlds Within at Offload – The Worlds Within