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Monday, March 28, 2016

Accidental Tourists, Wandering Around in Edward Abbey's Former Backyard

There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who's always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. … To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me. Edward Abbey

Sore of butt and shoulders, Bobbie decided it was time for a break from biking. I dug out a Rec Map and found a trail we had yet to hike in a place we had yet to explore, the "Fins," above Moab—a long drive from camp... right back through the muddle of Jeep Week gridlock.

Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top. Edward Abbey

Hadn't even gone a quarter mile before realizing I just wasn't feelin' it. Why the hell drive all the way to Crazy Town with all this remote red rock right out our back door? Bobbie agreed, so I veered off on the first lesser side road aimed at "The Bobbleheads." A sign read: "Four Wheel Drive Recommended." Sure enough, it wasn't long before we needed all 8.9 inches of Sue Bee's ground clearance, and her All Wheel Drive.

Say what you like about my bloody murderous government,' I says, 'but don't insult me poor bleedin' country. Edward Abbey

We reached a "pass" where the road dropped abruptly over a series of ledges. I was pretty sure I could get down, but coming back up, not so much. We parked and took off on foot, trying to stay in washes or on sandstone so as to not to "bust the precious crust." Yes "precious," at least when it comes to humans. Wildlife and livestock seem to be exempt.

Well excuse me!  It's just that I have a slight problem with Govie's zealous guardianship of "crypto-crust," and while I'm at it, their "If you must shit, bring a shovel and bury it" policy, while turning a blind eye and selling cheap-as-red-dirt grazing permits to cattle-lobbiest ranchers whose cows proceed to trample said "sacred soils," chomp scarce vegetation, and then shit when and where ever they damn well feel the urge, including inside remote western areas of Arches National Park where, instead of fences, signs read: "Park Boundary." Huh, last time I checked cows couldn't read.

Love implies anger. The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing. Edward Abbey

Nevertheless, Bobbie and I went out of our way to hike in washes and on sandstone, and to only pee on vegetation that looked like it could use a drink. The Bobbleheads grew larger and more fascinating with every step. I wanted to wander around and explore all those nooks and crannies, see what was in there. I'll tell you what, miles just disappear like potato chips at a picnic in such promising landscapes. Before we knew it we were at least four miles in. 

Walking is the only form of transportation in which a man proceeds erect - like a man - on his own legs, under his own power. There is immense satisfaction in that. Edward Abbey

Following random washes, making random turns, we went deeper into the labyrinth, at last scrambling up a narrow fin to get bearings, then down again, into the maze.    

You can't study the darkness by flooding it with light. Edward Abbey

Not that I recommend doing this, but wandering till lost in nature puts spring in your step. It's exciting and challenging to figure a way out without backtracking. You end up discovering the most interesting things wandering around off trail, like a large rock balanced on top of another rock. It catches my eye because it looks like it could fall any second, so I'm drawn to it... to see what's keeping it in place.

There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep. Edward Abbey 

Mystical Native Spirits, of course, before they were "saved" by well meaning Catholic Priests. 

The missionaries go forth to Christianize the savages - as if the savages weren't dangerous enough already. Edward Abbey

We followed subways to nowhere, our favorite place.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Edward Abbey

Wound up at Tower Arch, somehow, which we've hiked to before, but from the east side... and on a trail.

If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves. Edward Abbey

Then discovered a double arch not far away.

The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyong reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see. Edward Abbey

Fins and Bobbleheads, everywhere we looked.

Water, water, water....There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount , a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide free open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be. Edward Abbey 

And Far Views... 

When the situation is hopeless, there's nothing to worry about. Edward Abbey

More nooks and crannies...

Ah yes, the head is full of books. The hard part is to force them down through the bloodstream and out through the fingers. Edward Abbey

 Marching Monolithic Men...

It all depends on your point of view. From the point of view of a tapeworm, man was created by God to serve the appetite of the tapeworm. Edward Abbey

Desert Solitaire... 

There is beauty, heartbreaking beauty, everywhere. Edward Abbey


I am pleased enough with the surfaces - in fact they alone seem to me to be of much importance. Such things for example as the grasp of a child's hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of a friend or lover, the silk of a girl's thigh, the sunlight on the rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind - what else is there? What else do we need? Edward Abbey


Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul. Edward Abbey 

More Marching Men...

Of all the featherless beasts, only man, chained by his self-imposed slavery to the clock, denies the elemental fire and proceeds as best he can about his business, suffering quietly, martyr to his madness. Much to learn. Edward Abbey

A camel's head...

An empty man is full of himself. Edward Abbey

Lunch with a view... 

 Clouds for mood... 

 More far views... 




 We found a way out, eventually... found our car, found the keys I thought for a moment I would have to backtrack for. Only 9 miles.  

Mr Abbey was nowhere to be found. But his restless soul, his "Solitaire," haunts this strange and magical fantasyland. I couldn't hear it, but I could feel it... his words, his message, rising in the wildness from dunes, fins, and Bobbleheads. 

A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles. Edward Abbey


  1. Wonderful walk. Thank you for taking me along.

  2. Hiking in Arches and Edward Abbey, two of my favorites. Such an soul inspiring landscape -- "There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep." And a grown woman, too. Yes, indeed.

  3. The words of Edward Abbey, as illustrated by the postcards of Box Canyon Mark. The whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

  4. Magnificent landscape and oh-so-true words from Ed Abbey. Your comments on livestock grazing really rang my chimes. I couldn't agree more.

  5. Looks like you found a great hike there. We just got back from a 7.5 miler in Joshua Tree. So just how many rock photos can a person take??? I never tire of it.
    I really like Abbey's water, water, water quote.

    1. I do get carried away when the rocks are red... red dresses and little red Corvettes, too. :)

  6. I think of all things in the great American West, my favorite are the red rocks! Love Arches and Canyonlands and your photos are a part I have not yet seen.....awesome!!!!

  7. It seems a sacrilege for livestock to stain this magnificent landscape. Great hike and photos. I never tire to taking pics of the red rock.

  8. Nothing quite compares to Utah rocks! Beautiful hike....

  9. Just getting home to Indiana after spending the month of March in sunny warm Florida. I enjoyed the beach walks, swimming in the ocean and the lush greenery of Florida in March. But, I would much rather climb and hike in the beauty of Utah's red rocks as your pictures show. Not much elevation change in Florida hiking.

  10. find it amazing how much Abbey was influenced by Bcb!!! as we all are--- have you made it to Ft Liatikcuf ?? care on reading backwards-- great blog and pictures! finally----Walden Creek Rv steve

  11. Perfect. The words and the photos that illustrate why he wrote the words. Although I also love reading about Abbey wandering on foot through really flat desolate deserts, a bit like the ones you left behind in SoCal. My favorite thing is wandering somewhere and finding myself somewhere familiar, as you did coming to the arch. It always surprises me that I am as close to something known that I had no clue was nearby. Had that happen a few times as a field scientist...wandering for miles, thinking I was totally lost (in the days before GPS) and coming out 20 feet from my truck. I was blessed by 35 years of working mostly alone in the wild lands of the west. Lucky me, SCS and NRCS in the days before they thought people should map soils in pairs. We worked in solitude. You make me remember those solitary days.

  12. Love Edward Abbey - my favorite - Desert Solitaire...

  13. A great hike in a beautiful spot. Thanks for sharing it

  14. Wow. What a fantastic job you did of combining quotes and magnificent pictures! Thank you, Mark.

  15. OMG, I almost started packing our RV and be heading out to that beloved red rock south-western wonderland. If I just could....!

  16. O.K. I guess I'm in the minority..Who-what is this abbey?...And?...Nevermind.....
    The 1st time I saw a "Rattlesnake Area" was at Crow Butte in Wa. which the state decided they can no longer afford...Free land...anyways one camper got up in the A.M. stepped out of the camper..Buzz-Tail napping below his bottom step....
    Obviously as I thought they cannot read....This was not a rattlesnake area....It's up there...yeah rattle up there....
    Still have an Ice Cold "Flat Tyre" for you folks if we ever meet...
    Still trying to head South...Weather etc...Life...L-4-5-6...C-2-3-4-....
    Nice Postcards tho.....:=>


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