Lauren Lee - Desert Life

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Desert Life

By Lauren Lee

On my first trip to the desert my senses were dull and oversaturated by the convoluted style of city life. It would take quite a bit of time and awareness to fully appreciate the wonders of Southwest Utah. Over the next decade I gradually came to understand this foreign environment in all its majesty and to eventually call it home. It calls to me, drawing me ever nearer to the roots of my existence and the quiet within.

Like all places of grandeur, there is always the easily observed beauty of a blue sky that stretches across the horizon and the lay of the land. This Southwest corner of Utah is a unique combination of four distinct environments: the Colorado plateau, the Great Basin, the Sonoran desert and the Mojave Desert. This has created some of the most unique areas in which to live and recreate. It is in these crevices, within the skin of the earth, that I lose myself on a regular basis.

Most people loathe, or should I go so far as to say are terrified, of getting lost. However, this is a normal way of life for me in the great empty. Reveling in personal growth and understanding, when nothing is ordinary or calculated. In the beginning, I spent most of my time close to home bouldering on a home wall and occasionally climbing at our local bouldering area in Saint George called Mo’s Valley. This was the launching point for this city bird to grow some wings.

Although I didn’t catch the thermals right away, I soon honed in on the skills and was quickly on my way. There is no shortage of climbing around this place, and there is always something new being developed. Since my approach has been from the boulders to the ropes, the adventures have only increased in size, further expanding my ideals of time and space, and personal limitations. Fear, like for most, has been my most limiting factor, but, to learn it, understand it, and know how I’ll react to it, has refined me as a climber and as a person. After years of competing and climbing remnants of bigger cliffs, I was led into the most character defining climbing of my life, the big bold walls of the Virgin River Gorge. You lose virtually all contact when you embark up these routes. Whether it is the incessant whine of semi-trucks braking or accelerating depending on direction, the howling winds, or the lack of visual contact between you and your belayer, you are left to your own solitary devices. I imagine that this is a sensation I will feel many times over on the grand walls of Zion or some other Cliffside where I’ll end up singly negotiating the challenges at hand.

In recent times I’ve found myself requiring a little more adventure and a deep rooted need to acquaint myself even more with these endless stretches of land and sky. This is where my love for my bike “the sliver bomber” began to flourish. At first it was just another way to spend more time with girlfriends, but quickly I realized that I was journeying into the desolation where I seek comfort and strength. I fondly refer to this as seeking out the shaman, for it is only when my mind is quiet that the harmony in all things can co-exist.

It is in these lands that the dinosaurs once walked that my life borders along fantasy and reality, just like climbing is to the majority of popular society. I may remain forever misunderstood by the greater whole, but by the few that can relate to the desert solitude I’ll be just another desert rat. I’m not like the many that have come in conquest of these lands. I appreciate them for what they are and only hope that these precious places will be protected so that anyone looking for this connection to the earth and sky can find it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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