This was something I wrote up on Myspace once upon a time, after coming back from a river trip, and I had to post it over here.
To start off with, a little bit of Katie Lee. If you don’t know the name, you should. Quit reading this puny excuse for desert prose, and my thoughts, and go read some of hers. Better yet, listen to her songs. If they don’t get you up in arms, you are a diseased person, at the very least.
The Giants Once Among Us
There’s a canyon in the desert
There’s a river in the canyon
There’s a spirit on the river
And her song is my companion ... when I’m free
She’s the eagle with her children
She’s the feather of the eagle
She’s the stream that floats the feather
On incredible and regal ... mystery!
Come with me ... come with me
Where the water’s gone or going
Where the children do not know
Of the giants once among us
I am singing soft and low
LISTEN TO ME!
Once the river was a warrior
Dressed in golden spume and tearing
At the granite round the Temples
Where the water God were daring ... destiny
Came a breed of men, undaunted
By these rapids of the ages
Now their burning eyes are haunted
Mystic journeys are for sages ... Majesty!
Follow me ... follow me
(same as above)
Now the river lies in drowned arena
Coiled and waiting for the spilling
Mighty serpent of the legends
Stream of Life beneath the filling ... Treachery!
And the Giants, unforgiving
Jealous lovers of the Spirit
Be they lost, or drowned, or living
Know my song and when they hear it ... Liberty!
Liberty! ... Liberty!
Where the water’s gone and going
Where the children do not know
Of the Giants still among us
I am singing, not so low
Listen to me ... !
Set him free ...!
Set him free ...!
Set him free ...!
Song by Katie Lee
Now for a bit of a backstory and the events leading up to all of this. I returned last night from an extended trip to Abbey country. My country. Your country. This trip started with a trip down Cataract Canyon, which is the Colorado River from Moab, UT to Lake Foul, World’s Largest Cesspool and Sewage Lagoon. I got there a day early, before we left for the river, and bummed around, going wayyyyy back into the Amasa Back area, up the four wheel drive roads back there, getting back in touch with the desert. The river trip was amazing, but that is not really the purpose of this particular blog. No, this one is more for what I wrote in my time down there.
I do not pretend to be anywhere close to the eloquence of Abbey, or Thoreau, or any of the great literary minds, I just observe what I see, and what I feel, and try to compose some sense of my thoughts into words. The following passages are all taken straight from my journal, on the way down, and while I was just sitting around in unknown and untouched places. There have been some minor modifications, when things get a going a little too far away on their tangent, or where I don’t necessarily think everyone needs to know some things I wrote. That is for the good friends at campfires on sandy beaches, with a tamarisk fire burning hot and bright, and a bottle of good whiskey being passed around.
Another damn dam:
The dam was just this (Cody) side of Grand Junction. It was definitely a diversion dam, and a new one at that, still in construction, with the sole intent of storing water for people living in the Desert. Interesting dichotomy. Those of us who love and know this desert, surviving by with what Mother Nature give us, yet those dams are put in for people who claim to love the desert. Someone, not me, but someone, should make a road trip. Starting at the head of the Colorado, and another team at the bottom, and blow every goddamn dam between the ocean and the headwaters. meet in the middle at THE dam. The one that flooded a million side canyons I will never get to see... If others decide a direct action must be taken, I will stand by them in their times of trials and tribulations. However, I will not be responsible for their action. Time for a bit of philosophy. The characters Edward Abbey wrote about have inspired us all, I do believe. They take the extremist stance that so many of us wish we could. Let’s face it. We all have a part of us that says we preserve ourselves. Somehow, petitioning and writing in this book do not equal decisive action, which is required. I can only hope more people step up to this maniacle, people eating, concerned about profits machine. Luckily, people are, somewhat. I abhor violence, yet it seems to be the only thing the machine understands. Violence and loss of profit. But, I digress. This red dirt gets in your soul, and moves you. I have been absolutely giddy since leaving Cisco. Yes, it is cold at night, but the desert, somehow, by power of inspiration, makes the cold less bitter.
Arches National Parking Lot, and other ramblings:
*This was after I got back from the river trip, bumming around the desert around Moab*
Today, as I write, I sit on the rim of one of the more amazing slot canyons you will never find on a map, at least not the official government issue Arches National Parking Lot map you get at the visitor’s station. I am somewhere in Arches, yet I am off the Willow Springs 4x4 road, and weaved through a maze of slickrock to get here. It requires too much work for most people. Getting their cars dirty, having to find a route, having to jump, dip, duck, and dive. All very hard for our genetically modified beef fed overweight population. If it can’t be drove to, it isn’t worth it. If the government hasn’t labeled a trail, and said it is mildly straining, it can’t be done. I sit in the middle of Abbey Country. Your Country. God’s Country. My Country. Enjoy it. Love it, and for God’s sake, explore it!
There is no church as beautiful as this cove, nor any architecture as perfect. I am going to call this place Roost Wash, since there is no way to be seen from any road. And that is the allure. Whist there are throngs of people at Delicate Arch, I sit here along, in my own little Eden. I hate to leave, but I must continue on my journey, a journey ripe with losing way, losing faith in our species, losing sweat, blood and tears. But never will I lose hope. I know this place will be here, always, until the three inches of rain a year carries it all into the sea.
The New Deal:
The New Plan for Arches National Parking Lot. *This may sound somewhat like Abbey, in Desert Solitaire, probably for good reason. This was simply what I was feeling after I got to where I could see the plumes of dust from parking spots on the main road, and felt a need for a change.*
First and Foremost: There is an amazing place at the bottom of the hill to park. Do that. Do that now. When visitors pay, don’t give out crappy maps of the arches. Let them be found on their own. Give them a topo map and compass for twenty five bucks. It can be returned when they are done, in full functioning order, for a full refund. Remove the phrasing in the guide, "If you want to hike, don’t go here, go to Canyonlands", and replace it with "Hike all you want, off the beaten path, whilst being mindful of footing. Be not afraid to find your own route and explore, that is what we at the National Park Service encourage." Have clinics educating people on how to find water, find their way, find God, find Nature, treat sunburn, live with flaky skin, dig catholes, fix cracked hands, eat plants, drink beer, scratch their asses, and shoot pool. At this point, they will be ready to go into the Great Unknown. For those who we seem to have sympathy for, they can ride the shuttle bus from the entrance to Devil’s, twice a day, while we take people into the park to be dumped off for their hikes. It may not be fair to ask everyone to hike the breadth of the park, so we will have shuttle busses.
More from today:
I explored quite a bit of the Professor Valley today. Onion Creek up towards Fisher Valley is certainly a sit to behold, and to hold, very near and dear to the heart. It is a very narrow chasm, with room for a road, and not much else, aside from the creek. I am not such a fan of this side, though. You can never get away from people, and truly explore. There should be limits over here too. No one can come over unless they possess a willingness to hike. Close the road close to Moab, and at Cisco. As I wrote that sentence, two cars drove by. At least they are climbers at this campsite on Big Bend. But, they are more of what I had on the river. Loud college kids. I go back to the San Juan River trip and remember that night at Odjedo Canyon. Early morning, but such a completely serene experience. That is the way the world should be. No sound except the pen touching paper, a crackle from a fire, and the words and thoughts and powers of wonderful observation that roll though the amazingly calm night, deep in a slot canyon, where even the moon has no power to penetrate.
Tonight, I read Katie Lee’s Eulogy to Glen Canyon tonight. It is a very bone chilling and thought provoking book. One that I put down only to write, tend my small fire, and contemplate the stars, the clouds, and the way the moonlight illuminates the patinas on the canyon walls surrounding me. I pour heart and soul into these little journals, and by doing so, all troubles, fears, hopes, dreams and doubts fade away with the dieing of the flames. It brings a sense of transcendence, a higher level of Being. And, it also allows my mind to wander to things that I do not like to comprehend in moments of less conciousness. The Green River Dam cannot go through. The words and thoughts of K.L. ring a bell. The law only works until those who want something decide to change it. The river is only consideration for Wild and Scenic, which I already call bullshit on, since it cannot be truly Wild and Scenic. Contact has been made with other like minded individuals, including the Sierra Club. They knew nothing about it, yet. Which is why now is the perfect time to strike. We as a society, cannot allow the ideologies that brought about Lake Mead, and Lake Powell (what a cruel, crul epitaph, for a man who truly found love here) to damn another river. The scenery is different in Jackson, but that does not mean that the effects and consequences will be any less severe.
If you made it this far, I congratulate you. Thank you for trying to make sense of my ramblings, which I understand how hard and incomprehensible it can be sometimes. Hopefully this may make you run away to your favorite out back of beyond, and enjoy it while you can. Run free into the wilderness, and never look back.