What I Wrote In My Kindle about A Hike Earlier This Month or, Still Trying to Reconcile Writing Technology and Nature

A few weeks ago, I went hiking down in Buckskin Gulch/Wire Pass in Southern Utah. We started at the Buckskin trailhead, and the first 4.5 miles, despite starting at 9am, were very hot. Because the summer has also been very dry, instead of wading through the occasional stillwater pools we would have encountered, we trudged through about 13 miles of soft sand. It was like the beach, but without the ocean.

But.

Thank the Lord for making geology pretty.

We walked for about 7 hours, most of that through the slot canyon’s shade, which was very pleasant.

And yes, of course, we ran into some French people.

I apologize for the blurry picture, but lighting was sometimes difficult, and my camera is broken because there’s probably too much African sand in it, and about halfway through this hike, Reilly’s camera broke, because of Utahn sand.

Maybe that’s also why I haven’t been blogging as much. Not a very good excuse, I know.

Here are some thoughts I wrote on my Kindle during the trip, because I couldn’t find my Moleskine. I wish I had some pen and paper instead, just for the whole natural experience. Also, forgive my frequent use of the words gorgeous and amazing and beautiful. I couldn’t help it:

We’re at a guest ranch, sharing a cabin. It’s gorgeous out here and not too warm. There’s a chance of rain tomorrow but I’m hopeful for nice weather and a beautiful day. This is already a lot of fun.

We’re pretty close to the Arizona border. Lots of red rock and striated formations. Eastern Utah, heading toward Page. Dad used to talk a lot about Kanab and Page when we were younger. It’s gorgeous down here. All this open space and big sky make me happy.

Checked out the trailhead where we’ll be starting in the morning. I’m very excited about this hike. The cabin is really cute and pretty big, considering. It’s quiet and a place where I could do a lot of thinking.

Sometimes I just really enjoy the emptiness I can find in my head, which is more abundant than I’m willing to admit. When this emptiness harmonizes with the quiet of nature, there’s  nothing like it.

It’s 8:20 pm and we just entered Glen Canyon. I can hear my dad’s voice telling some story about a roadtrip. The open road is jogging foggy memories.

Seven of us are on this trip: Cody and Hana, Reilly and I, Gavin, Travis, and Jason. We’re going to Page to get some cash to pay the ranch people for our lodging.

I can’t believe how beautiful the scenery is here. My dad wasn’t lying. Sagebrush. Red dirt. Mossy green. Gradients of blue. Pinking clouds stretching to the horizon, wherever it is.

Bats fly around the lone lamppost, and I hear foreign accents from the saloon or dance hall or whatever it’s called. We can fit all seven of us in this little room.

A little library has formed over many visits to this cabin. From Norman Mailer to foreign authors to Jodi (which the Kindle autocorrected to Iodine. Which may not be wrong) Picoult. The main focus is not to read, it seems.

It’s almost 1am, and we are waking up in six hours. Sleep and I will become close friends very soon, sooner than I can close my eyes.

I slept relatively well. We hiked like nobody’s business. We saw amazing rocks and squeezed through parts of the canyon. More sand got trapped in my shoe than should be allowed. We didn’t get to wade through any water because the summer has been too dry. We were probably the only party engaged in a food fight during the hike. We met Chad from Brooklyn and Angelie from San Francisco. We finished the hike behind a French party and I got to speak with them for a little bit.

Everyone is exhausted. My feet are tired and I might be really sore from all the pushing through sand.

We did not die from a flash flood.

The hike was fun and beautiful and I loved spending time with these people.

More photos here.

Because Smartphone Apps Are More Important Than Nature’s Majesty

Wind and water. One wonders if the air really stays still, but hot air rises and cool air sinks, and sometimes these phenomena occur at the same time and air actually begins to circulate. Then humans, after millions of years, come to certain places on earth to observe that this air doesn’t always stop when it collides with rock; there’s actual friction, which causes actual erosion. The evidence speaks for itself.

And, it’s not just air that does this. It’s water. Rivers and rain penetrate and seep into rock. They carve and sculpt, and one cannot deny the artistry. Sheer cliffs, curved, sinewy surfaces, molded like pottery then baked in the sun as if fired in a kiln, only to show glazes in stripes, in chiaroscuric striations and slick-black facades. Against a blue sky, against a low, grey backdrop; at high noon, in front of a sunset, from one minute to the next, the art shifts and continually transforms. Crying, possibly, comes closest to expressing the inexpressible. Or perhaps holding one’s breath. Pictures of our hike in Southern Utah yesterday are coming soon.

Then there’s a smartphone photo application that can morph pictures of two different faces into one. Reilly’s brother downloaded it after dinner this evening while the family played Ticket to Ride. So he experimented with different couple combinations, and everyone was quite shocked at the hybridized photo of me and Reilly. The wave of laughter built in the order of those who saw it: first, his brother, then his nephew, then his sister, then he turned the smartphone display to us, then to his other brother and sister-in-law, then his parents.

Laughter is like happy mouth wind: the very action etches happiness at the eyes and the corners of the mouth. It makes the eyes shine, it tightens the face, it works the abs. When I saw the app-generated photo, I started to giggle, then the laugh turned silent as I could barely breathe and tears slid down my cheeks. I looked around to see that I wasn’t the only one crying. I loved it.

Notice the breathing and crying comparisons between the two experiences? Is there any comparison, really? Is it too much to mention it?

The pictures of the others are very funny, too – even cry-worthy, but I will only post Meilly Ray. Thanks to Gavin for forwarding this to us. Plus, posting it first preempts any possible blackmailing situations.