Saturday, February 6, 2010


I go alone--'Where's Joshua Tree?'--the frequent response I get from flat-landers before I gear up for a trek.  Don't care, don't need anybody, prefer hiking alone so I can hear silence, touch  roughness.  
I'm the only one on the planet, the kind of isolated solitude I seek. 
Wildlife is scarce today.  Not their afternoon.  A coyote lurks near the park road leading to a dusty dirt track to the trail head.  The casual indifference of a critter that roams his land, knows his enemies, how much he needs to survive another day.  Scruffy brown coat blending to the park's sandstone palette.  Patches of snow gather in hollows ahead, leaking down-trail, mud splattering my cuffs, swallowing tips of my hiking poles.  Late afternoon, cool air and flat light in Joshua Tree, good hiking weather through sludge and moist earth.  Joshua Tree--after a burn-out fall season left singed residue I could smell.  Hiking grade towards Lost Horse Mine, I know the trail, but this time filtered sunlight and a breeze from the north puts a sad gray face on this wonderful, lonely and little-frequented desert park.
Joshua Tree, once a National Monument, now a National Park, sets up the transitional desert between the Sonora and Mojave, laying a welcome mat of wind-blown boulders and wild-armed Joshua Trees that thrive in harsh climate.  What's good for Joshuas, is even better for hikers who come here. It keeps many away.  Cool temps in the winter and spring give way to blasting hot sun and cloudless summer skies that beat out moisture from you like a throttled bota bag.
The first sign of burn, a blackened Joshua charred against white snow, an emblem of anguish--anvil-hardened spears, knife blades forged from some hell-hole blast furnace that ravaged the slope.  Its comeback certain, this land shadowed now in late light, a survival pattern rehearsed over millennium.  Land this tough takes scars, heals in time, licks it's wounds.  
It is cold and bleak and damp, it is rocky and scraped and hurt, I am lucky and alive.
We all survive.   

1 comment:

mendoman said...

Amen. Never look back.