A mellow night.

“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”

 

Edward Abbey “Desert Solitaire”

 

A strange thing to be looking at the white and blue light of the webpage while listening to the wind in cottonwood trees. How strange to hear the click-clack of the keyboard keys paired with the snaps of the fire. The darkness pairs well with my fire and my van is making for an excellent wind shield, while still letting me get my fill in of wood smoke. A fire, much like water on a hot day, has become a nightly necessity for me on the road. Each time I’ve bent to make one my technique has changed, usually ever so subtly. I’ll change some minuet detail, only one thing will differ from the nights previous and tonight’s fire, and usually every time the fire burns a little hotter, a little longer, and starts about 10x faster.

 

Today was really quite the quiet day for me, had a bit of a down day yesterday, and so today I kind of kept the trend alive, went for a hike down Hunter Canyon about 7.5mi down Kane Creek Rd. I followed up my six miles with two Johnnies IPAs from some joint in town. And straight to camp for me. Once at camp I proceeded to eat two large sandwiches and enjoy one large chocolate chip cookie. Now, this oh so relaxing day comes after about four days of hanging out with a crew of kids from SLC. The crew, made in part by a one eyed counter part, welcomed me into their midst, shared their beer, their food, and their adventures. I even picked up a few new ideas as far as living in my car goes.

 

One such idea was a larger propane tank with an adapter for my Coleman stove, which ran me just about $75. Upon purchasing said new attachments for my stove I was eager to cook dinner that night to say the least. Almost as soon as I had parked at camp for the night, I was out and setting up my kitchen. In my haste, I dropped my stove. Not a large drop, just a small slide from the table seat to the ground, a distance of about 1.5 feet. Brushing the dust off the green and already scratched and dirtied exterior of my proven tough stove, I thought nothing of it. Setting up my stove with new accessories for the first time proved to be a bit of a battle however.

 

The first issue I ran into… I didn’t have the tools I needed to attach the adapter to the tank. It required a wrench, which I conveniently left at my sister’s house. But I was determined to cook and to cook with my new rig! So like any good person would, I jimmy-rigged the fuck out of it! Taking a large climbing hex, an old one I had found in a rock face and been using as a review mirror decorator… I took several large pieces of cord and shoved it into the corners of the hex. Placing the adapter in just the right way, I was able to create a tight enough hold on the bolt of the adapter to turn the hex with the cord and tighten the bolt sufficiently. Proud of myself for my resourcefulness, I quickly felt my elation fading as the stove would not lite. There was not the sound of gas nor the smell of propane.

 

Before I could do much else besides letting out an aggravated sigh, some dude around my age came looking for a lighter to solve his own stove related issues. Upon hear my predicament he offered up a small propane tank to test the stove to rule out the propane system. I quickly agreed. When Matt, as I later learned he was called, returned with my lighter, he held the propane tank as promised, and as expected it didn’t help. My stove was indeed broken from its tiny fall. But alas! All my tools are back in Mancos with my sister. So no hope of fixing it tonight. So I’m eating cold cuts and cheese dipped in Dijon mustard. But hey at least I have a fire.

 

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Desert of Wilderness.

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Big Bend: Buttes near the Colorado River 6:45am 2/18/17

I was recently taunted by a great friend of mine, “Find something beautiful outside of Utah, you son of a bitch.” In addition to Axel’s barrage of motivational comments I’ve also been reading a fair number of outdoor odysseys were more often than not protagonist die in pursuit of an ideal nature, an ideal man, an ideal world. In the case of Chris McCandless whose tale is told by Jon Krakauer’s, “Into the Wild” 1996, or the story of Everett Ruess, both these young explorers and adventures went in search of something much larger than themselves in the natural world. Both of them were well read and overall well educated by my standards. These to vagabonds if you will, also seemingly had a knack for people, however at the same time there seemed to broud in them a deep disgust for the majority of people who walk the earth. The two men mentioned above specifically travel to some of the, at the time, wildest places in America, where ultimately they die, and tragically usually with having made a realization that what they want to be happy is companionship, people.

I’m sitting in the public library in Moab, Utah typing this collage of thoughts, knowing full well that perhaps the single most important thing to me is human interaction. However, I’m on my present adventure in search of isolation. To be removed from the comforts of other people. I’ve spent several weeks with my dad and my younger brother and sister. A few more weeks were spent with my older sister in Mancos, Colorado. I’ve reconnected with my family in a way I did not think possible six months ago. Which is interesting considering the pretense for the trip. I’ve now also spent about five days road tripping with a few friends and have arranged to meet more friends here in Moab for random fun for the next few days.  While looking to get away, I find myself desperately seeking out human interaction.

But this idea of human interaction has been embodied for me in several different ways, I’m reading more now than I ever have. I’m soaking up everything thing I come into contact with. Currently I’m listening to Keith Richards memoir. Even though I may never know, speak, or even see with my own eyes Keith Richards, the connection I find myself developing to such a legend is strange. But it’s this connection that then pushes me to continue to explore my own musical goals. There is almost a dialogue between the experiences of someone who came before and the pursuits of my life. It is in this pho dialogue that solitude goes from hard to deal with, to being equally as pleasurable as working a crowded bar or having dinner with my family.

In America today it is rare to say the least to find true wilderness. Which as a young man in search of wilderness is slightly discouraging. There are very few places left unexplored, there are very few sites left unseen. However, I’m not seeking something that has never been seen, I’m not looking to climb the routes that no one has climbed, I’m not in search of anything really beside to better understand myself. Of course I’m looking for adventure! Of course I want to discover something incredible, but ambition has many forms.

We all learn who we are through different channels. Often times it is through our dedication to one specific pursuit that allows us to finally grasp at the many intricacies of who we really are. In the words of professional snowboarder Travis Rice,

“Experiencing the world through second hand information isn’t enough. If we want authenticity we have to initiate it. We will never know our full potential unless we push ourselves to find it. It’s this self-discovery that inevitably takes us to the wildest places on earth.”

And sometimes the wildest places are often times just wild to us. Go find your wild, find yourself. Currently I’m finding me.

 

Until next time!

 

James