I grew up in Chicago. One thing about Chicago. You can draw a line straight to the North Pole and not run into any mountains. You can drive to the Gulf of Mexico and it gets flatter and lower, if that’s possible. You can trek east through most of another time zone before you hit […]
Trails have reminded me to let each step fully absorb my attention, to look where I’m walking. Every step. When I’m hiking, it’s the small steps I’m not paying attention to that could turn the ankle, not the more dangerous negotiations. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu counsels that a warrior needs to treat […]
Riding south down 191 out of Canyonlands, the landforms undergo serial metamorphosis: from sweeping canyon to mountaintop with stiff stands of pine, to plains of beans more like something out of Iowa. As I crossed into the Ute tribal lands, the geology opened its wings even more. Azure peaks in the storm-halo distance; the Carrizo […]
Canyonlands NP, Needles District: I decided on a day hike from Elephant Hill trailhead. The trail ends about seven miles – or three to four hours later – at Druid’s Arch.
I passed by sandstone domes and open canyon, representative of much of southeastern Utah. The sandstone smoothed into blunted heads, stained with desert varnish in […]
I’d been broken up with my Four Corners girlfriend for six months or thereabouts. She’d been my second New Mexico girlfriend. That break-up dovetailed nicely into another depressed winter for my failed mission out west.
Every time I go west of the Mississippi, not only do the call letters of TV and radio stations change from […]
Along the lower reaches of the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail as it nears the Colorado, a door-sized portal seems carved into the sandstone, the shape of a mouse hole. Reminds me of what I’d imagined the tomb of Jesus looked like. Beyond the portal, impenetrable darkness against the sunny walls of the inner canyon. […]
In a rain soaked walk through the woods one Sunday afternoon, I encountered the tiniest of cocoons dangling from a branch. The thought occurred that there is no insignificant life. What if all the divisions you and I placed between life were just artificial screens that prevented life from getting to experience itself? And what […]
If you take the Grand Canyon for granted, you’ll take everything for granted.
I hike back from Ribbon Falls to Bright Angel Campground, through Bright Angel Canyon. I felt curiously disconnected from the side canyon which opened up before me. I pressured myself to enjoy and appreciate every moment, because I’d only be here a few […]
Treading beside a monolith of sandstone over a thousand feet high and miles long. Many times I stop along this barrier and feel the power bleeding off it. So much blood coursing through the stone.
The creatures that take refuge here—sand fills the wall’s smallest dimple, where a sacred datura harbors the dreams by which demons […]
I arrive back at Bright Angel Creek, to its infinite rush to feed some other insatiable hunger of a stream not itself, yet itself. I take off my shoes and examine my purple toenails as a skinny silver fox trots, stops, stares; trots, stops, stares, then meanders off. Each step is a decision. Each step […]