Like Isak Dinesen, I believe that places leave an imprint on people. I lived outside of Escalante in a tent for 2 months during my archaeology field school 6 years ago. Revisiting the place was like visiting a piece of me. It’s odd how at home you can feel in so many places other than your house.
I remembered where I played hackey-sack on top of the slickrock in our old campsite and where my tent was, and where we washed and labeled artifacts, where we studied, where we shared our dreams from the night before around the water, brushing our teeth. When we saw the pygmy rattlesnakes in the slot canyon I remembered how rattlesnakes waited each morning underneath the tarp covering the pithouse we were excavating. Usually Don would get a shovel and scoop one up at a time, throwing it over the cliff edge, only to see it there again the next morning. Sometimes others would do it. When we hiked to Calf Creek Falls I remembered how the weekend April and Bill and my brother Dave came to visit me we all raced to make it to the falls before dark and how having forgotten a flashlight we hiked back by the light of a cigarette lighter.
This time around we stayed at the State Park campground, where I used to take my only running shower of the week--$2 for eight minutes. Mid-week showers were taken every-other day by hanging your bag of water, letting some out to get wet, plugging it up, soap & shampoo, and then rinsing off. This helped a little with the buildup of dirt and sweat.
I was so happy to finally share this part of me with the HB, and even happier that he thought it was a beautiful place too. There’s such a wide variety of landscape in the area. In the book The Little Prince, the character says: “what makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.” It’s amazing the things hidden in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. From the road you would never know there were tiny slot canyons to squeeze and wind your way through; you’d never know there was a beautiful waterfall deep in the canyon. I love being able to experience these things, to touch the canyon walls, to feel a part of the earth.