This is perhaps not the most impressive mountain, or mountain photo, but it stands for the entire experience. Joseph Smith and I were huffing and puffing (to my defense, I was carrying the camera with three lenses and a tripod;-) up the hill that is called the “Domelands” area, and when you reach the top, the mud hills and Carrizo Badlands stretch out below, and with the clouds and haze of the rainy day, it felt like it’s going on right into infinity – it was hard to make up where the sky begins, and the land ends, somewhere in the distance.
This vast emptiness, the sheer size of the land, is humbling itself as your eyes sweep over it, but then you look down and see fossilized clam and nautilus shells, and you realize that you’re standing on what once was the bottom of an ocean (the ancient Sea of Cortez). And it totally and entirely crushes you.
Our existence is nothing but a grain of sand in this space, the wink of an eye in the stream of time. What worldly problems and sorrows we might have fades away because it is so completely, utterly unimportant, to the degree of ridicule. It is like the soul is getting cleansed, and all the rubbish in our heads is washed and swept away when we are in places like these.
And that’s why we must go out there. This feeling, this cleansing of the soul, is the essence of hiking in the great outdoors for me. I’ve felt it in the European Alps, and I feel it here, and I’m grateful that fate has put me here, and that I’m able to feel this.