> jumping into life.

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The photo in this post makes me want to move North and West. (Everything I said earlier about wanting to stick around for the summer? Well, I am large, I contain multitudes.)

In the brief respite between school and school this August, we went to Washington for two weeks. It was something like a dream to be in the midst of all that moisture, to start hiking in the morning with only one liter of water between us without even a hint of worry. We would take our boots off when we hit camp and jump around barefoot just because we could.

If you do not spend much time in the Southwest, you may not understand this. When I lived in Monterey and would visit cousins in Oregon, I was impressed by the growth of ferns and redwoods and all, sure. But two years in the desert, and a forest dripping moss and elk musk and oxalis becomes something bordering on the surreal. You cannot walk barefoot in the desert, not without regrets.

I find now a fissure in my heart. I have come to love this landscape, and deeply. There is hardly a trail in this county that I haven't strolled down at least once; there is hardly a plant in this state that I couldn't identify to genus. There are places that I know well enough to walk on a moonless night. I have learned myself well here, and grown to appreciate the dance of adaptation: the metabolism of the kangaroo rat, the hunting behavior of Harris hawks. CAM photosynthesis, for god's sake. I love the moment just past Sunset Point when you round a road-cut corner and bam! there you are in the desert proper, saguaros reaching for the blank blue sky. I love the scent of creosote and the loose, cool flavor of prickly pear fruit. In some ways, I think I love this place more thoroughly than any other.

And yet. Something in me tugs with guilt: this is not a place to live. Not like we live, at least. There is certainly a long history of human presence in the desert Southwest, though it is a history wrought with its fair amount of tragedy. Phoenix is built over the top of one of the most extensive irrigation canal systems in the world; Chaco Canyon was the center of a network of trade that extended into South America. Some of the stories are still unfolding: the Hopi still plant their miraculous corn, after all. But golf courses and swimming pools are not irrigation canals, and even the irrigation canals are not what they were. Desert cities don't seem to like to behave like they are in the desert. Closer to home, the municipal strip mall next door is proud to call itself the fastest growing community in Arizona. My little town is still a little town, but who am I to begrudge someone their development when I just moved here myself?

But we all have to live somewhere. That being what it is, and given that I can't afford to move back home, perhaps it makes sense to go someplace where at least there's enough water to go around.

Well, let's plan a Big Basin Redwoods hike sometime. Maybe that'll give you what you need.

Hiked on the crestline above Big Basin a year ago, from Castle Rock to the headwaters of the San Lorenzo River. I need to hike there again. Wanna go?

Sounds nice. My cousins are having a reunion in Jed Smith in a few months, too - depending on how the summer pans out, I'm thinking I might take another week up thataway and do some soloing.

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