An Escalante Mesa

 Centered in vast wild expanses of Utah rock and sand, I lie supine in deepest sleep on hard limestone, arms outstretched in profound solitude. I have become the rock and the chill. My eyes slowly open as I sense the thankful, soft hiss of thirsty desert welcoming a cold, misty rain. My lean frame is wet and dangerously hypothermic, but purest rainwater is bathing my soul.

I arise, scree slide down from the mesa top, and scramble into a warm, dry wind cave. Its low ceiling is black from the smoke of ten thousand years of cooking fires. While hunting rabbit, coyote, fox, and bighorn sheep, my ancient brothers and sisters found sanctuary in this protected place. I settle back into the cushion of dust, surrounded by stillness. Hours later I awake in shadow.

I come to the Escalante to feel detached from a fast-paced world – to experience the priceless peace of space and silence. Beyond the cave entrance is a moonlit, crystal-clear spectacle of hundreds of square miles of mystical, primeval canyons. Losing myself in this wonder, I’m aware of only two soft sounds. A distant coyote calling to its mate, and my slow, relaxed breathing. . .

Will Walsh ©9/27/14