“We lie in the sunshine, on the warm grass, and stare at the mountains, the endless snow-covered mountains, range after range, standing beyond the dark forest. The glaciers wink and glitter, running with streams of melted ice. Flowers and ice, sunlight and snow.
On this bright afternoon, in a field of flowers, Alaska seems to me a cold and somber land. After thirty-four years in the American Southwest, after too much time spent dawdling about in places like Grand Canyon, Death Valley, the Maze, the Superstition Mountains, the San Rafael Reef and the Waterpocket Fold, the San Juan Mountains and the Gran Desierto, Baja California, Glen Canyon and the Dirty Devil River, Desolation Canyon and the Pariah River, the Book Cliffs and the Kaiparowits Plateau and Big Bend and White Sands, the Red Desert and Black Rock and Barranca del Cobre, Factory Butte and Monument Valley, Slickhorn Gulch, Buckskin Gulch, Thieves’ Mountain, Montezuma’s Head, Cabeza de Prieta, Cabezon, Telluride and Lone Pine and the Smoke Creek Desert, Moab and Upheaval Dome, White Rim and Druid Arch – to name but a few – and seeing the full moon rise over the 13,000-foot peaks of Sierra La Sal, while the setting sun turns watermelon pink a 2,000-foot vertical wall of sandstone in the foreground, then – and I’ll admit I’m spoiled – then by comparison Alaska seems, well, sort of . . . banal. “ -Edward Abbey (1927-1989)
What’s interesting about this passage is that many, if not most, of the places that Abbey mentioned lie just outside our backdoor. In fact, you can visit a bunch of them, including Telluride, Moab, the San Juan Mountains and the Sierra La Sal, by joining one of our North American hiking tours. If, for instance, you dream of “seeing the full moon rise over the 13,000-foot peaks of the Sierral La Sal, while the setting sun turns watermelon pink a 2,000-foot vertical wall of sandstone in the foreground,” then sign up for our Arches & Canyonlands hiking tour. (Hint: You can experience this view virtually anywhere within the vicinity of Moab, Utah.)
While we won’t go so far as to say that Alaska is “banal,” we do agree with Abbey that some pretty cool stuff lies just outside our backdoor.
Image: Stream hopping in Negro Bill Canyon | Moab, Utah
By: Chris Pranskatis
*Note: The weather was 75 degrees and sunny when we shot this photo. The desert is the perfect cure for the wintertime blues.