October 31, 2007

Desolate Solitude

After dinner we pass through a region of the wildest desolation. The canyon is very tortuous, the river very rapid, and many lateral canyons enter on either side…piles of broken rock lie against these walls; crags and tower shaped peaks are seen everywhere, and away above them, long lines of broken cliffs; and above and beyond the cliffs are pine forests, of which we obtain occasional glimpses as we look up through a vista of rocks. The walls are almost without vegetation; a few dwarf bushes are seen here and there clinging to the rocks, and cedars grow from the crevices - not like the cedars of a land refreshed with rains…but ugly clumps, like war clubs beset with spines.  
We are minded to call this the Canyon of Desolation.  
          -John Wesley Powell, 7-8-1869


To travel through wild country solo, under my own power, gives the wilderness a reverence that I've not found on any other type of trip. A trip with even one other person, doesn't have the tranquility that solitude offers. The tranquility I have found in solitude doesn't come easy to most people. The fine flavor of solitude was an acquired taste for me. Most people, even the people I've met that want to do a solo trip, just don't do it for a number of reasons. Some people that go through with beginning a solo trip are driven nuts by the solitude. Below is a quote that rang true with me when I was first starting to come out of my challenges with solitude. 
I was aware from previous experiences that a breaking point occurs a few days into such solitary journeys; it is best to proceed through this barrier because on the other side there is some measure of increased tranquility.
      -Philipp L. Franklin from Sagebrush Country
I used to be driven nuts by the solitude. I'd busy myself with everyday chores and my trips were usually less than 4 or 5 days, as a result. I couldn't sit still or be happy with the notion of, what most people refer to as, "nothing to do". To me, the essence of solo travel is found in the moments of stillness.

There is something to be said for the ability to be at ease with ones own company, to just exist and be happy about it, instead of being driven nuts by it. To be happy with ones own company for days at a time, I don't think is what a hermit is. Although, I envy most hermit type people, for the level of reality they are able to deal with. That level of reality isn't something I'm attracted to. Heres another quote that rings true for me.  
-There is a pleasure in the pathless woods There is a rapture on the lonely shore; There is society where none intrudes, By the deep sea and music in it’s roar: I love not man the less, but nature more…  
      -Lord Byron

The following pictures were taken the on last nights of various seasons on Deso. Usually in October. A week of introspection is the perfect way to end a season working in Desolation Canyon.


May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous; leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
       -Edward Abbey

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