Monument Valley is what most people in the world think when you talk about the desert southwest of the United States. Colored plateaus, tumbleweeds, and endless plains. While the area contains several National and Tribal parks, the vast area allows for solitude. Home to tribes of Navajo and Anasazi Tribes, the area has been inhabited and cherished as sacred land for centuries. Once sitting at the bottom of a basin, it was the repository of erosion debris that built layer upon layer. Now, in addition to being a national monument, it is also a sacred land for the Navajo tribe. It is filled with holy spots and burial grounds.
Stark and beautiful, it also reminds the hermit or seeker that nature can, by its very makeup, be dangerous as well as beautiful. Snakes, scorpions, and coyotes are only a few of the dangers present. The environment itself can alternate between freezing cold and scorching hot within a few minutes. Taking precautions is absolutely necessary before any kind of long term hike or camping pilgrimage. This is doubly so during the hot summer months where the local fauna is at its height and the weather is dry.
Humans, even as creatures of tribes and communities, sometimes seek the solitude of nature. It is places like this that our ancestors roamed in search of food and resources to feed and cloth their families. Away from the movements of others, nature comes into focus. You, as the seeker, become a part of it…sometimes alien…sometimes familiar… watching as birds circle and a lizard sits on a rock sunning itself.
The Retreat and myself have both been products of the American Southwestern Desert. It was here that looking towards the horizon and wondering how the world spun became a long term quest for understanding. Other deserts in other countries have fostered the same appreciation for the starkness and silence of the sand dunes, mountains and brush lands.