Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness


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Hailed by The New York Times as “a passionately felt, deeply poetic book,” the moving autobiographical work of Edward Abbey, considered the Thoreau of the American West, and his passion for the southwestern wilderness.

Desert Solitaire is a collection of vignettes about life in the wilderness and the nature of the desert itself by park ranger and conservationist, Edward Abbey. The book details the unique adventures and conflicts the author faces, from dealing with the damage caused by development of the land or excessive tourism, to discovering a dead body. However Desert Solitaire is not just a collection of one man’s stories, the book is also a philosophical memoir, full of Abbey’s reflections on the desert as a paradox, at once beautiful and liberating, but also isolating and cruel. Often compared to Thoreau’s Walden, Desert Solitaire is a powerful discussion of life’s mysteries set against the stirring backdrop of the American southwestern wilderness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780671695880
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 01/28/1990
Series: Literature of the American Wilderness Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 182,078
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Edward Abbey was born in Home, Pennsylvania, in 1927. He was educated at the University of New Mexico and the University of Edinburgh. He died at his home in Oracle, Arizona, in 1989.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


This is the most beautiful place on earth.

There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the fight place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there's no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment. Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from up above, in the cold black outback of intersteller space.

For myself I'll take Moab, Utah. I don't mean the town itself, of course, but the country which surrounds it — the canyonlands. The slickrock desert. The red dust and the burnt cliffs and the lonely sky — all that which lies beyond the end of the roads.

The choice became apparent to me this morning when I stepped out of a Park Service housetrailer — my caravan — to watch for the first time in my life the sun come up over the hoodoo stone of Arches National Monument.

I wasn't able to see much of it last night. After driving all day from Albuquerque — 450 miles — I reached Moab after dark in cold, windy, clouded weather. At park headquarters north of town I met the superintendent and the chief ranger, the only permanent employees, except for one maintenance man, in this particular unit of America's national park system. After coffee they gave me a key to the housetrailer and directions on how to reach it; I am required to live and work not at headquarters but at this one-man station some twenty miles back in the interior, on my own. The way I wanted it, naturally, or I'd never have asked for the Job.

Leaving the headquarters area and the lights of Moab, I drove twelve miles farther north on the highway until I came to a dirt road on the right, where a small wooden sign pointed the way: Arches National Monument Eight Miles. I left the pavement, turned cast into the howling wilderness. Wind roaring out of the northwest, black clouds across the stars — all I could see were clumps of brush and scattered junipers along the roadside. Then another modest signboard:


The wash looked perfectly dry in my headlights. I drove down, across, up the other side and on into the night. Glimpses of weird humps of pale rock on either side, like petrified elephants, dinosaurs, stone-age hobgoblins. Now and then something alive scurried across the road: kangaroo mice, a jackrabbit, an animal that looked like a cross between a raccoon and a squirrel — the ringtail cat. Farther on a pair of mule deer started from the brush and bounded obliquely through the beams of my lights, raising puffs of dust which the wind, moving faster than my pickup truck, ought and carried ahead of me out of sight into the dark. The road, narrow and rocky, twisted sharply left and right, dipped in and out of tight ravines, climbing by degrees toward a summit which I would see only in the light of the coming day.

Snow was swirling through the air when I crossed the unfenced line and passed the boundary marker of the park. A quarter-mile beyond I found the ranger station — a wide place in the road, an informational display under a lean-to shelter, and fifty yards away the little tin government housetrailer where I would be living for the next six months.

A cold night, a cold wind, the snow falling like confetti. In the lights of the truck I unlocked the housetrailer, got out bedroll and baggage and moved in. By flashlight I found the bed, unrolled my sleeping bag, pulled off my boots and crawled in and went to sleep at once. The last I knew was the shaking of the trailer in the wind and the sound, from inside, of hungry mice scampering around with the good news that their long lean lonesome winter was over — their friend and provider had finally arrived.

This morning I awake before sunrise, stick my head out of the sack, peer through a frosty window at a scene dim and vague with flowing mists, dark fantastic shapes looming beyond. An unlikely landscape.

I get up, moving about in long underwear and socks, stooping carefully under the low ceiling and lower doorways of the housetrailer, a machine for living built so efficiently and compactly there's hardly room for a man to breathe. An iron lung it is, with windows and venetian blinds.

The mice are silent, watching me from their hiding places, but the wind is still blowing and outside the ground is covered with snow. Cold as a tomb, a jail, a cave; I lie down on the dusty floor, on the cold linoleum sprinkled with mouse turds, and light the pilot on the butane heater. Once this thing gets going the place warms up fast, in a dense unhealthy way, with a layer of heat under the ceiling where my head is and nothing but frigid air from the knees down. But we've got all the indispensable conveniences: gas cookstove, gas refrigerator, hot water heater, sink with running water (if the pipes aren't frozen), storage cabinets and shelves, everything within ann's reach of everything else. The gas comes from two steel bottles in a shed outside; the water comes by gravity flow from a tank buried in a hill close by. Quite luxurious for the wilds. There's even a shower stall and a flush toilet with a dead rat in the bowl. Pretty soft. My poor mother raised five children without any of these luxuries and might be doing without them yet if it hadn't been for Hitler, war and general prosperity.

Time to get dressed, get out and have a look at the lay of the land, fix a breakfast. I try to pull on my boots but they're stiff as iron from the cold. I light a burner on the stove and hold the boots upside down above the flame until they are malleable enough to force my feet into. I put on a coat and step outside. Into the center of the world, God's navel, Abbey's country, the red wasteland.

The, sun is not yet in sight but signs of the advent are plain to see. Lavender clouds sail like a fleet of ships across the pale green dawn; each cloud, planed flat on the wind, has a base of fiery gold. Southeast, twenty miles by line of sight, stand the peaks of the Sierra La Sal, twelve to thirteen thousand feet above sea level, all covered with snow and rosy in the morning sunlight. The air is dry and clear as well as cold; the last fogbanks left over from last night's storm are scudding away like ghosts, fading into nothing before the wind and the sunrise.

The view is open and perfect in all directions except to the west where the ground rises and the skyline is only a few hundred yards away. Looking toward the mountains I can see the dark gorge of the Colorado River five or six miles away, carved through the sandstone mesa, though nothing of the river itself down inside the gorge. Southward, on the far side of the fiver, lies the Moab valley between thousand-foot walls of rock, with the town of Moab somewhere on the valley floor, too small to be seen from here. Beyond the Moab valley is more canyon and tableland stretching away to the Blue Mountains fifty miles south. On the north and northwest I see the Roan Cliffs and the Book Cliffs, the two-level face of the Uinta Plateau. Along the foot of those cliffs, maybe thirty miles off, invisible from where I stand, runs U.S. 6-50, a major east-west artery of commerce, traffic and rubbish, and the main line of the Denver-Rio Grande Railroad. To the east, under the spreading sunrise, are more mesas, more canyons, league on league of red cliff and arid tablelands, extending through purple haze over the bulging curve of the planet to the ranges of Colorado — a sea of desert.

Within this vast perimeter, in the middle ground and foreground of the picture, a rather personal demesne, are the 33,000 acres of Arches National Monument of which I am now sole inhabitant, usufructuary, observer and custodian.

What are the Arches? From my place in front of the housetrailer I can see several of the hundred or more of them which have been discovered in the park. These are natural arches, holes in the rock, windows in stone, no two alike, as varied in form as in dimension. They range in size from holes just big enough to walk through to openings large enough to contain the dome of the Capitol building in Washington, D.G. Some resemble jug handles or flying buttresses, others natural bridges but with this technical distinction: a natural bridge spans a watercourse — a natural arch does not. The arches were formed through hundreds of thousands of years by the weathering of the huge sandstone walls, or fins, in which they are found. Not the work of a cosmic hand, nor sculptured by sand-beating winds, as many people prefer to believe, the arches came into being and continue to come into being through the modest wedging action of rainwater, melting snow, frost, and ice, aided by gravity. In color they shade from off-white through buff, pink, brown and red, tones which also change With the time of day and the moods of the light, the weather, the sky.

Standing there, gaping at this monstrous and inhuman spectacle of rock and cloud and sky and space, I feel a ridiculous greed and possessiveness come over me. I want to know it all, possess it all, embrace the entire scene intimately, deeply, totally, as a man desires a beautiful woman. An insane wish? Perhaps not — at least there's nothing else, no one human, to dispute possession with me.

The snow-covered ground glimmers with a dull blue light, reflecting the sky and the approaching sunrise. Leading away from me the narrow dirt road, an alluring and primitive track into no where, meanders down the slope and toward the heart of the labyrinth of naked stone. Near the first group of arches, looming over a bend in the road, is a balanced rock about fifty feet high, mounted on a pedestal of equal height; it looks like a head from Easter Island, a stone god or a petrified ogre.

Like a god, like an ogre? The personification of the natural is exactly the tendency I wish to suppress in myself, to eliminate for good. I am here not only to evade for a while the clamor and filth and confusion of the cultural apparatus but also to confront, immediately and directly if it's possible, the bare bones of existence, the elemental and fundamental, the bedrock which sustains us. I want to be able to look at and into a juniper tree, a piece of quartz, a vulture, a spider, and see it as it is in itself, devoid of all humanly ascribed qualities, anti-Kantian, even the categories of scientific description. To meet God or Medusa face to face, even if it means risking everything human in myself. I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a nonhuman world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock.

Well — the sun will be up in a few minutes and I haven't even begun to make coffee. I take more baggage from my pickup, the grub box and cooking gear, go back in the trailer and start breakfast. Simply breathing, in a place like this, arouses the appetite. The orange juice is frozen, the milk slushy with ice. Still chilly enough inside the trailer to turn my breath to vapor, When the first rays of the sun strike the cliffs I fill a mug with steaming coffee and sit in the doorway facing the sunrise, hungry for the warmth.

Suddenly it comes, the flaming globe, blazing on the pinnacles and minarets and balanced rocks, on the canyon walls and through the windows in the sandstone fins. We greet each other, sun and I, across the black void of ninety-three million miles. The snow glitters between us, acres of diamonds almost painful to look at. Within an hour all the snow exposed to the sunlight will be gone and the rock will be damp and steaming. Within minutes, even as I watch, melting snow begins to drip from the branches of a juniper nearby; drops of water streak slowly down the side of the trailerhouse.

I am not alone after all. Three ravens are wheeling near the balanced rock, squawking at each other and at the dawn. I'm sure they're as delighted by the return of the sun as I am and I wish I knew the language, I'd sooner exchange ideas with the birds on earth than learn to carry on intergalactic communications with some obscure race of humanoids on a satellite planet from the world of Betelgeuse. First things first. The ravens cry out in husky voices, blue-black wings flapping against the' golden sky. Over my shoulder comes the sizzle and smell of frying bacon.

That's the way it was this morning.

Copyright © 1968 by Edward Abbey

Table of Contents


Author's Introduction

The First Morning


The Serpents of Paradise

Cliffrose and Bayonets

Polemic: Industrial Tourism and the National Parks


Cowboys and Indians

Cowboys and Indians Part II


The Heat of Noon: Rock and Tree and Cloud

The Moon-Eyod Horse

Down the River


The Dead Man at Grandview Point

Tukuhnikivats, the Island in the Desert

Episodes and Visions

Terra Incognita: Into the Maze

Bedrock and Paradox

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Like a ride on a bucking bronco . . . rough, tough, combative. The author is a rebel and an eloquent loner. His is a passionately felt, deeply poetic book . . . set down in a lean, racing prose, in a close-knit style of power and beauty." —-The New York Times Book Review

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Desert Solitaire 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Hack More than 1 year ago
This book should be read to understand the thinking of one of the most important figures in the modern naturalist movement. Edward Abbey is a unique individual with strong opinions. This book allows the reader to understand Abbey's perspective which was gained by personal experience in some of the most remote areas of this country. The reader should try to understand how someone so connected to the land felt about the intrusion of the modern world. Whether you not you agree with Abbey's opinions, try to understand his perspective. This book is insightful to a time and country that no longer exists. I recently went to Arches National Park to learn that the NPS let the trailer that Abbey lived in deteriorate and they disposed of it. There is nothing left to mark the spot unless you read the book and can find it from Abbey's description. Perhaps that is the way that Abbey himself would have wanted it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Edward Abbey¿s Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, is an autobiographical account of Abbey¿s stint working as a park ranger at Arches National Monument in Utah. At once this book is philosophical and poetic, yet at the same time, sardonic and polemical. Although the author would probably scowl at such pigeonholing, this book is also a significant environmental statement, as well as being a great piece of literature. In Desert Solitaire, Abbey identifies and adeptly defines a common frustration shared by many writers; the annoyance of not being able to adequately express one¿s self through the medium of words. He states, ¿You cannot get the desert into a book any more than a fisherman can haul up the sea with his nets. Not imitation but evocation has been the goal.¿ However, even through his self-styled ¿evocation¿, he successfully and intimately enfolds his readers within his unique experience. A reluctant naturalist, Abbey blames the human inability to discern the true meaning of nature, on a tendency to always project our own expectations on the natural world. These are tendencies that exasperate him, and yet when he does achieve a near-true communion, as he describes in his experiences in isolation in Havasu Creek, he finds the encounter more disturbing than ecstatic. He describes losing the power to distinguish between himself and the natural world, creating in him a fear that his sense of self was ¿ebbing away.¿ In addition, throughout his career as a writer, Abbey refused the label ¿environmentalist.¿ Nevertheless, his books are useful instruments with which to measure our progress, or lack of progress as the case may be, in our relationship to our natural environment. In this book¿s chapter entitled, ¿Industrial Tourism and the National Parks¿, he lays out his philosophy that ¿growth for growth¿s sake is the ideology of the cancer cell.¿ Looking today at the corruption of the wilderness areas that he warned readers about three and four decades ago, it is plain to see how correct he was in his estimation and condemnation of policies pertaining to our National Parks. Whether he admitted it or not, Abbey set a tone of uncompromising environmental advocacy. In looking at Edward Abbey, the reader is also confronted by contradiction. He passionately argues for the importance of untamed wilderness and against the danger of industrial tourism. He declares he would rather kill a human than a snake, and then casually bops a rabbit on the head with a rock, just to see what his own reaction will be. He beguiles us with his description of Arches, and then chides us for wanting to go there. These passionate paradoxes are the tools he uses most effectively to lure us away from our complacency. Most importantly, Abbey¿s work his work serves as an inspiration to new generations of Western writers and historians, making us realize that wilderness really is a necessary ingredient of civilization.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Still relevant today. We need to start saving our Earth before it's too late!
nkrastx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautiful tribute to the desert landscape of Utah.
circlesreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I only got through half of this one. Was Abbey trying to write about his experiences at Arches, tell historical cowboy stories, or write a treatise on the evils of developing national parks? I couldn¿t tell. I got bored.
kellymaliawilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderful memoir by the quintessential ecology author, Edward Abbey, of his time in the starkly beautiful Arches National Monument
isetziol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A classic by the one of the giants of environmental writing. Irreverent, funny, and beautifully written. Look for a hilarious essay on his stint with the National Park Service.
YogiABB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Desert Solitaire" published in 1968 is a nonfiction work by Edward Abbey mainly describing his work as a seasonal Park Ranger at Arches National Park in Utah in the 1950's. It is considered a classic in environmental literature and one of the best books describing the deserts of the southwest. He can wax poetically about the idea of wilderness and the silence of the desert but he is a hell of a story teller as he describes some of the misadventures of the uranium miners and ranchers in the desert and some of his own adventures in the nearby Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon. He lives alone but pines for the company of a "good friendly woman."Abbey was not very politically correct and lashes out in all directions. He bashes all the major religions of world including atheism. He is a very lively writer. He is considered anarchists. He is a fellow graduate of the University of New Mexico. He was the editor on the school newspaper until he posted a quotation from Louisa May Alcott, "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." Whereupon he was fired.I give this book four stars out of five. I bought it for a quarter at the Central Library. It is a quite yellowed paperback. If you want it, you can have it. Just let me know.
readermom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think they will let me stay in Moab now. I now have read the patron saint of Moab, Edward Abbey. Actually I read The Monkeywrench Gang a long time ago, but Desert Solitaire is about Arches, and the desert area around here.It is interesting to read something that you love and empathize with half of and strongly disagree with the other half. I love the desert, I always have. I love the red rock, the sun (though I burn horribly), the lack of people. When I was in college we came down all the time. It is one of the reasons I love living here. Just walking out my door is beautiful.But I also think that a human presence in the desert doesn't automatically ruin it. And though Abbey tries very hard to refute the inspirational feelings the landscape inspires, I welcome and cherish those thoughts. I once read something, can't remember where, that there is a reason the world's great religions came from the desert. The solitude, the clarity of the desert gives your mind an opportunity to hear all that is to faint to hear through the radio, kids, bills and worries of the indoors.Abbey was a ranger in Arches before the paved road comes through. He is unhappy about the change and equates one road into Arches with the eventual paving over of all the beauty in the west. He also wrote this book as Glen Canyon Dam was being built and Glen Canyon being drowned. I think he would be appalled about a lot of the changes, but perhaps relieved that Canyonlands, at least is still mostly accessible only on foot. The book is a lament for what he thought would soon be gone forever. It is still here, perhaps harder to find, but solitude is still possible in the desert and I love it.
Polaris- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favourite books.
TakeItOrLeaveIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Edward Abbey is basically the sober version of Hunter S. Thompson. However, instead of drug expertise and counter-culture, Abbey understands the recreational park system and the state of Native Americans in the 1960's. He knows a great deal about the environment and his appreciation for it is powerful. Abbey's lust for life is enviable and his sense of humor is my favorite thing about this book. Abbey lives the life of a true outsider and is one of the most authentic authors I have come across. yes, he definitely does get "sanctimonious about wilderness" but I found the majority of what he said meaningful but mostly hilarious, because he admits how outlandish some of his claims are. you gotta remember, this guy was out their living it.
Erica_W on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I realize this won't be the most helpful review, but I couldn't get over the fact a ranger kills an animal just to see if he could survive in the wild and then rants about other peoples' lack of respect for the wilderness. He also irritated me with his arrogance about believing that he had solved some social issues through extreme means. I wish I could see beyond these things, but I just couldn't.
mldavis2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Abbey was a desert nature lover and outspoken curmudgeon on most other topics. He had an M.S. in philosophy and, like Thoreau, lots of time to explore and think during several years working in the deserts of the American Southwest. Some may take offense at his sarcastic wit, and while he shows his hypocritical side on occasion, Abbey is nevertheless a fierce opponent of overpopulation and recreational tourism that causes governmental destruction of our natural resources. While certainly written with more 'spice' than Leopold, speaking out on such diverse topics as organized religion and 'monopoly capitalism,' Abbey gives us a biological and philosophical tour of some of the most remote, beautiful and dangerous land in the U.S.
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Abbey's classic environmental work, which established him as a leader in the growing environmental movement. Abbey tells stories and reminisces about his days as a ranger in the modern American west, and rails against a society that isn't able to appreciate the world as we find it, but must bend it and twist it out of shape.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First read: Desert Solitaire is one of those books that I've seen a million times---on other people's bookshelves, at gift shops in national parks, at library sales---but that I've never gotten around to buying or reading. When it arrived in an armchair travel bookbox and after I recently read The Secret Life of Cowboys, somehow I was "spurred" toward reading this book. And these two books (Secret Life and Desert Solitaire), in truth, have a lot in common: a common setting, the American West, and a common narrator, fellows burned out on life in the city and itching for, well, something the West has to offer. Edward Abbey is a surprising guy, happy in his summer job as a ranger at Arches National Monument in Utah, relaxing in the outdoors, ranting a bit about the encroachment of cars upon the wilderness, and then, suddenly, out of nowhere, picking up a rock, flinging it at a rabbit, and killing it (literally). I never knew what this fellow was going to do next. Abbey seemed to be an odd mixture of tree hugger and Texas good ol' boy (though he was originally from Pennsylvania, he'd have fit right in here). Every page, every paragraph, is full of Abbey's opinions and philosophizing, but it makes for a good read. Favorite Quote: (from the Introduction) "It will be objected that the book deals too much with mere appearances, with the surface of things, and fails to engage and reveal the patterns of unifying relationships which form the true underlying reality of existence. Here I must confess that I know nothing whatever about true underlying reality, having never met any."Second Read:A reread. I had to find and read this book for a very silly reason. Here¿s the story: I found a green hiking hat that I had to buy when I was in Utah. On the hat were three pictures with labels: Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches. We went physically to Zion and Bryce while we were in Utah, with no time for other stops, so I had to visit Arches through a book. Thus, Desert Solitaire.I liked it even better than I did last time. I was surprised to see Abbey as such a rebel; I didn¿t remember that.
drjvrichardsonjr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author must have been an English major: in the first thirty pages, I encounter the following words new to me: demesne, gelid, pismires, and usufructuary. A strong condemnation of industrial tourism in "the most beautiful place on earth"--Arches National Monument in 1967.
Mrs.Stansbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you have ever read "Walden Pond" by Throeau you need to read this book. Desert Solitaire celebrates nature in a modern world, shares stories of man communing with nature as an equal, and opens the readers eyes to environmental issues. Nature lovers will fall in love with this book.
dele2451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A "must read" for anybody who loves the desert, hiking, and/or Moab. Alert to animal lovers: Abbey starts his book off with a harsh incident involving a furry friend. It may offend some, but I recommend pressing on with his story--I think you'll be glad you did.
mbattenberg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Honestly, How can you really "rate" a book of this nature? I came in with no preconceptions, and read it in a flurry over a couple of days... as a Canadian with little experience with really hot places, I was pulled in and, ironically (or not) felt the urge to go on my own Odyssey to the Arctic. So, Solitaire went far beyond its mandate -- if it ever had one-- and moved a complete stranger. In my books, that is a literary success.
lieslmayerson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a gift from my friend Kim to give me a glimpse into some of the space she comes from. I enjoyed reading it and will reread it when I finally make it out to Moab. I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates the beauty of desert landscape.
KinnicChick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. I like to think of them as essays by a curmudgeon who truly celebrated the wild and being out in it. Alone but hardly lonely, here was a man who cared deeply for our wildest places and wrote about them as he lived in them: passionately. A true conservationist, we could all learn from him and his desire to keep the natural places as they are. Keep the motorized vehicles to a minimum in National Parks. Keep the paved roads out. Get out of our refrigerated boxes and breathe the fresh air and have a look around! Walk and actually see the beauty that surrounds you!Whether he was writing about rafting down the Colorado River before it changes forever due to the addition of another dam, or his "ownership" of the arches at the end of his first summer as a park ranger at Arches National Monument, you feel every bit of his fierce desire to protect the land coming through in every word. You feel his kinship with every tree, rock and tumbleweed that he comes across, every snake he brings into his camper to take care of the mouse population. I am grateful for his words, his many pilgrimages, his anger and his willingness to show it. It is the fierce protectors who are the guardians and stewards of this beautiful land. He is one minute cranky environmentalist and the next touching wordsmith. "If no one is looking for you write your will in the sand and let the wind carry your words and signature east to the borders of Colorado and south to the pillars of Monument Valley - someday, never fear, your bare elegant bones will be discovered and wondered and marveled at." This is a great collection of essays which I recommend. I look forward to reading more of his work. 4.5/5 stars on LT.
velmalikevelvet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I pick up this book again every 3-5 years for re-reading, and it never fails to disappoint. Wry, heart-felt, and imbued with the weathered, dry sensibility that is often picked up by those that spend any substantial time in the desert, it is a classic and should be read by all Americans before the environment that is described is eaten by developers, resource extractors, and nuclear waste repository proponents.
bobcity on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book to be savered, again and again. Esseys on the raw beauty of Arches N.P. And a point of view that was sooo un-politically correct in 1985.
kay135 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this as I was exploring and discovering Arches Nat'l Park. What a great novel. I read it again and again.
Pippilin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful memoir of the author's experience as a very young adult in the heart of Colorado River country.