The first time I ever went out to the desert, I hated it. I thought it was large piles of dirt pepper with overgrown bushes. It was hot. I got the worst sunburn of my life and I don’t know how I escaped without getting skin cancer. I drove through a lot of hail.
I remember being on the phone with one of my best friends, driving to Santa Fe to meet my mom. Above me was blue skies, to my left a big rain cloud pouring buckets of rain onto an unsuspecting grass, and in front of me, hail. A lot of fucking hail. I mean it dumped on my little Honda Fit as we trundled down the empty stretch of highway. That whole summer that I lived in New Mexico all I remember was watching ominous thunderstorms attack the camp I worked at and missing the big pines and oak trees of the South East.
Over a year later, I went back to the desert. Not to New Mexico, but to Indian Creek, Utah. I fell in love. I loved the canyon, the red dirt, the imposing cliffs that look like great, big, red waves. I loved the people I was with and the people we met there, even if it was briefly and I can’t remember any of their names. I loved the hot days and chilly night where I got snuggle into my sleeping bag or try and crawl under my boyfriend in an effort to steal his warmth (I just really like to snuggle ok!). I loved being new at something and forcing myself to just suck it up and keep climbing. I loved feeling alone from the world and surrounded by it at the same time. I loved the colors and the feeling of being somewhere alien.
Indian Creek is now part of Bears Ears National Monument. I’m planning a tattoo for it so I can always keep it with me. I’m eternally grateful for the existence and preservation of these wild areas. Adventuring through Red Rock National Conservation Area and even Yosemite National Park, solidified the love I have for the isolated areas. The areas that might not be the number one tourist destination, but are worth driving through anyways.
My car still has a layer of dust from my trip to Indian Creek over a year ago. I still go through my photos from my trip then and my trip this past November. I dream of lying in dirt and making dirt angels. I frequently wonder how many photos of the place I can hang in my house before I decide that I just need to move there. So here’s to the desert. Not just Indian Creek, but to all these areas that create life in places where it feels impossible. To the areas that house plants that are both resilient and fragile. To our great, wild areas.