Granite Mountains, Mojave National Preserve, Friday 2/15 thru Saturday 2/16/2013
One of the harder desert XC solos I’ve done. Scrambling up and down canyons choked with boulders and brush, traversed a ridgeline with a good deal of class 4. A total of about 25 miles over 24 hours; home with bloodshot eyes, plenty of cuts, holes in my pants, and cactus spines lodged in my feet.
Walking in the footsteps of ghosts-
the footsteps of those yet to come.
Generations of us- animals, people,
all flowing through the land
behaving like water
ever seeking the smoothest path
to wherever it is
Everything is hardened here-
Created to repel the impatient,
to protect hidden fragility from those
too hurried to look.
Beneath the land’s defenses:
the delicate trickle of a spring
into an ancient basin,
wind in the rushes
beside a blooming pool.
-The Desert Song.
We may have cast off ancestral knowledge
of the land from which we come,
traded our animal skins, locust
and wild honey
for packs, shoes
salami, bread, and cheese
-but I cannot cast off the desire
to walk alone
into this timeless beauty, madness,
of rock and sand and sun.
Thirsty, rationing water,
turning a swollen tongue
Admit it, you’re lost.
Is this what you come here for?
Exposed, traversing knife ridges in the dark,
scrambling downward towards the protection
of a Juniper tree.
Making a bed like an animal,
scraping at the soil
scooping a depression for my hip
in the duff at its base.
On my back now, staring skyward,
the Juniper’s limbs spread out
like giant hands, cupped and shielding me
through the night.
There were lucid dreams,
waking and watching the branches blow in the wind,
moonlight on boulders
faint clouds drifting across the sky behind them,
Slipping back into sleep, turning to my side
vaguely aware of the stars of the Dipper
hanging on the horizon before me.
This is what I come here for.