A Brief Detour in the American West

Waterpocket Fold with Henry Mountains behind

Waterpocket Fold with Henry Mountains behind


Becoming rock

Becoming rock

We are headquartered this week in Boulder, Utah, spending a spring lit break in a wilderness very different from home.

Every day we hike 8 or 9 miles of canyon wash imageor rocky outcrop in Escalante or Capitol Reef.

Silence defines. I hear only sounds I make. The shush-shush of my boots over pink desert sand. The creak of my pack frame. The zip of a pocket knife through an avocado we share.  The rocks make no comment. My mind grows more and more still.

If there is little to hear–blessed, blessed quiet–much is asked of my eyes. Here are layers of rock and time–massive landscape features with names like Red Slide, Waterpocket Fold, Straight Cliffs, Upper Muley Twist Canyon.  The skeleton of the Earth is revealed.

Wilderness sacred

Wilderness sacred

On one nameless outcrop we come upon a medicine wheel created of rock amongst a host of rocky cairns, a place for ritual some star-filled night.  That’s the sacred.





We see the profane, too. Everywhere but the national parks we see the despoiling of the landscape by cattle, and off road vehicles.   I’ve brought along a Harper’s magazine with a terrifying feature “The Republican Plot Against Public Land.”   But I’m going to save studying for the trip home.

First, there’s another trail or two we want to hike.




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A Brief Detour in the American West — 5 Comments

  1. Love getting your posts and your wonderful words, Sue, that take me to the places with you (even if the beautiful pictures weren’t accompanying them!).

  2. I could hear the quiet as I read this! Wilderness feeds the soul.

    I agree that there is a plot to steal public lands that belong to all US citizens and put it into the hands of the states where it is located. The result would be that states would not have the money to manage these lands so they would be unprotected or sold for revenue. It is outrageous that some leaders are working on this theft of our inheritance. We must protest loudly!