Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nature Corner

Redrock Canyon in the Mojave Desert (click to enlarge). William Manley, the first 49er to cross Death Valley, passed through this canyon and recorded in his memoir that it was a small, spring-fed paradise. Manley arrived there in December, so he didn't know that in April, ferocious, freezing 60-mile-an-hour winds rip through this otherwise idyllic desert canyon, often for days at a time.

I camped there in April, of course, and learned about the murderous gales first-hand. In the middle of the night, I dreamt that an enormous, desert-crawling whalething had swallowed my camper. It rocked and tumbled through the whale's tumultuous gullet, with me inside. ... I woke up to a fierce windstorm thrashing the camper to and fro, and was immediately sea-sick, turned on an LED and sat up the entire night, rocked like an infant in a demonic cradle, praying for it to end.

I put on my headphones and listened to music until the ipod battery was drained to shut out the satanic howls of the wind through the canyon's moonlit conglomerate trellises. An infinity passed.

The winds finally let up for a few hours the next day around noon, and I set out on a hike to explore the painted desert.

I returned to the camper as the winds kicked up again, and spent another sleepless night in the Mojave, praying to God knows who to pull through this horrific experience in a sandblasted corner of Hell ... See Redrock Canyon, but never, never in the month of April.

- Nature Hunter

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