3.19.2007,4:11 PM
Desert Solitude: Preface

Amazing desert
sweet solitude
to save a soul
like me
I was once lost
but now I'm found
to your heart
you have taken me.

Back from the desert canyons, the wild, the vast emptiness that is full and rich beyond any imagination.

I fell in love with the desert and canyons decades ago. Recently I was invited to spend a week in the deserts and canyons of Big Bend by one who grew up in them, and, in essence, is very much a part of them. I had a desert guide that shared some places where perhaps only cougars and rabbits have visited. And saw the life and death that is a part of that country.

Where a lost man slits his throat rather than die of thirst. Where morning dove voices fill the air at sunrise. Where you stand on the top of a mesa surrounded by warm breezes and your entire body and senses are overwhelmed with the rising or setting sun, or the colors of flowers from desert plants that seem unrealistically alive. You feel old beyond any human years and yet unborn.

Where any human sound is an intrusion. And human imprints fade away like a breeze blowing by. All that's left is time immortal. A time that we can't comprehend within the limits of our minds.

I didn't just ride the roads, but lived the week in the midst of the desert, surrounded by it. You are vulnerable like nowhere else. Where life is water, dried meat, a knife and pistol. Where the law doesn't reach those who hide like the trickster coyotes, and who could easily kill you.

You learn quickly.

Humans will never conquer the desert.

I can't adequately express what I saw, felt, smelled, tasted, heard...... All I know is I'm 'here' and I feel that tug; I want to go back.

Back Home.

I have nearly a thousand photos from the past eight days. It will take me time to go through them all, and do them justice.
Trying to capture the desert and canyons there with photos is like trying to fit the universe in a small box that fits in the palm of your hand.

It doesn't work.

I have so many images: the sky on fire in the light of the rising and setting sun, clouds caressing Nine Point Mesa like a lover's hand and fingers, the Chisos Mountain range ominous in the shadow of the setting sun, and aglow like a red angry god in the morning light, the snake of the Rio Grande crawling through the canyons and hidden by yellow bamboo towering above as if to hide it from view, the rich white, orange, brown and yellow hues of the talus and peaks along the western Rio Grande River corridor, the enchanted towering straight cliffs of Santa Elena canyon, where the magical pull is like the Ring: it draws you, you can't resist its pull. And engulfs you like a mountain over a pebble. The black jagged peaks and twisting stark canyons of Black Gap Wilderness area.

None do it all any justice. Even the eight days there was not enough time.

It's so full of magic there. And full of life and death on a scale few can imagine except for books and movies. But there it still exists.
It has its own timeline.

You can ride the roads but don't really see, feel, hear, smell, and be it unless you get out there on foot. Most riders don't experience but a tiny speck of what that country is.

I was on the roads only three of the eight days. The rest of the time was in the middle of it all. Most nights in a rustic small ranch house miles from paved roads. One night sleeping in a bag on the top of a hill with a 360-degree view. The night skies were indescribable. My star shots were unsuccessful. But the sunset and sunrise were like being on a magic carpet ride. You stand there in the midst of the night sky and quiver in the vastness of it all.

I called in sick today; I'm going through withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t want to leave that reality and return to this one.
But I did.

Whee is covered with Big Bend dust and it doesn’t want to leave us. I tried washing it off; it’s still there. The chain and sprocket were cleaned twice with kerosene and well-lubed afterwards. I’ll lube it again tomorrow night after I pick up another can (I used it all up).

Meanwhile, I will attempt to post a daily log with photos of my time there. If I can find adequate words.

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posted by Macrobe
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