Standing on top of a mountain is an exercise in imagining infinity. You're confronted with not just the expanse of the earth around you but the intricacy of its detail. You can look down and see dozens of rocks, each different in its shape, texture, composition, and in a billion other ways that you can't detect. You can see that each blade of grass, each patch of moss is the same way. You then see how that's not just around your feet, it's in every direction as far as your vision holds out. And in that moment you experience the radical variety, the boundless wonder of the earth, the universe, existence. It exceeds your brain's capacity to process, your mind's ability to comprehend. You're completely overwhelmed and, of course, you've never been happier.
//Predawn in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, Colorado
Mt. Cruiser before dawn on an August Morning, with clear views to the heavily-glaciated Mt. Olympus looming in the distance.
Big Bend protects a desert landscape that tends to be described with terms like: barren, waste, wasteland, a-whole-lot-of-nothing. In our first twenty-four hours in the park, we met: a bobcat, a ground-owl, jackrabbits, raccoon, bluebirds, mice, bumble bees, two bear, countless deer; sotol & yucca with flowers ten feet tall, cholla, ocotillo, mesquite, juniper. In the free fenceless desert, life overflowed. There is no such thing as a waste land! (John Locke be damned!) Every living thing we saw was thriving exactly where it was. The desert is not a place where life evaporates before the pale sandy face of death, in some horrible death-sunshine, it's where "life on earth" shows its true extent: The Whole Earth.
The world isn't empty, it's full!
//South Rim, Big Bend National Park, Texas