Monday, January 29, 2007
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
After about two weeks of gray, dreary weather, including the worst ice-storm in Austin history - 3 days of temps below freezing and the city literally shut down under a coat of ice (yes, 3 days of temps in the 20s and an inch or two of ice is considered an “ice-storm” around here…. Gotta love winter in Texas :-) – I wanted to read about somewhere warm and sunny. What better choice than reading about the desert and canyonlands of SE Utah - one of my favorite spots on earth. I read Desert Solitaire years ago, while on a 4-week backpacking trip in that part of the country, and - while there’s something special about reading a book about wherever you are - I enjoyed it (almost) as much this time around. Abbey says that his intent is “not imitation but evocation” and in this he’s very successful. He captures the slickrock desert and canyons beautifully, including a great chapter about rafting down Glen Canyon (which was drowned when Glen Canyon Dam was built.) He writes that “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit…” and while he’s somewhat excessive, he’s not entirely wrong in his railing against the “improvements” that the Park Service has made - but which diminish the wilderness. Definitely a great read.