I have a lot of thoughts on this place. Too many, apparently, because I can’t seem to crystallize them into something worth saying. And so I will turn to one of the great poets of the American southwest, Edward Abbey.
Abbey spent most of his life around the areas of Moab and Arches National Park, adopting it as his home. Out of his years as a park ranger came his musing, wandering book, Desert Solitaire. Often compared to Walden, the book sheds a beautiful light on the strange, wonderful landscapes of the Four Corners region. He was a staunch supporter of the environment, though many of his admirers are put off by his slight misanthropic and anarchist tendencies. His books remain well-loved because they are simple words and stories reflecting a stunningly beautiful land.
Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.
My love of the Utah deserts (often called the Colorado Plateau) was nurtured long ago. When my mom asked the first time I remember coming to Utah, I said, “Since forever.” Before I moved away from Colorado, I couldn’t remember a year when we didn’t pack our camping gear and drive to the desert in search of a challenge or a good time. A huge part of my soul grew up here, hiking and exploring among the sandstone.
So it was incredibly exciting to me that I could go back with Jesse and show him the red sand that forever stain your socks, the peekaboo world of slot canyons, the cairns, those piles of rocks to mark the trail. The way the earth moved oh-so-long-ago to push up this plate here, that fin there, and then the sandy rock slowly eroded away to leave a strange sculpture that looks like something you made once in pre-school but is far too sophisticated for that. The discovery of finding an arch hidden away behind the next corner. The physical challenge of pushing your body to hike, bike, climb, and survive the heat, things it normally doesn’t want to do. The exultant and strange feeling of finishing a challenge and thinking “Wow, that was miserable, I loved it!” I showed him all that and more.
We had a wonderful time in Moab. Now, when do we get to back?
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey, 1927-1989