My friend and mentor Dave Foreman, author of Rewilding North America and other critical works, advises wildlands advocates to think of rewilding landscapes as an effort akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You see the final picture, the vision, on the box cover. You put it together with friends, piece by different piece, over time, not quite sure how it will all fit together but remembering what is the final goal.
The western Colorado ranch was fairly glowing with romance. Being of New England academic heritage, I could not help but blush, as flowers, willows, rose bushes, bees, hummingbirds, and nighthawks did their wild things.
Half way through TrekWest, 2500 or so miles into a journey we expect will be about 5000 muscle-powered miles, I enjoyed a welcome rest at the capacious and comfortable High Lonesome Ranch in western Colorado.
People are tribal by nature, and though it’s incumbent upon conservationists to reach beyond our comfortable community to others who do not yet see the value of wild places, a week among friends in some safely wild place is a most welcome rest.
When Kim Crumbo suggested that diving a hundred feet down into a Calf Creek plunge pool, here in the heart of spectacular Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, could create a fine photo opportunity for TrekWest, with videographer Ed George and writer Ray Wheeler hovering about, I averted my glance and asked Jim Catlin to tell us more about the importance of water in desert ecosystems.
When Island Press and Wildlands Network kindly agreed to help me write up an account of TrekEast, I suggested the title Shy, Sensitive, and Wide-ranging, as I thought that befit my own character while, more importantly, pointing to the types of wildlife for whom we should show special concern.
Panting from the exertion of pushing and carrying my mountain bike through miles of heavy melting snow at 10,500 feet, I understood why the Aquarius Plateau was so named. Photo: Ray Wheeler
When Joshua Porter and his Wild Rockies Field Institute class joined Jim Catlin of Wild Utah Project and me in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, we went looking for proof of past occupancy by people who understood how to live with aridity. These included and still include in this region the Paiute people, who prospered in environments where many of us newcomers grow sun-burnt and thirsty within hours.
The Arizona Strip and southern Utah Canyon Country extend the grandeur and geology of the Grand Canyon well to the north, and are key parts of a once and future Western Wildway. Cores in two of the Southwest’s great wildlands complexes, Grand Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, are linked – though not as solidly as they should be – by the Paunsaugunt wildlife corridor. Photo: Ray Wheeler
Certain obstacles simply must be overcome if we are to protect a Western Wildway, a Spine of the Continent Conservation Corridor. This is true also for the Eastern (Appalachian/Atlantic), Pacific, Boreal, Great Plains, Gulf of Mexico and any other continental wildways we hope to restore. Most often, these major obstacles will be roads.
Canyon explorers Kim Crumbo, Kristin Caldon, and Larry Stevens disabused me of the naïve assumption that the time of palpably inane proposals in universally revered places is past. Kristin and Larry showed me the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers, where absentee developers conspire to build a resort and tramway from rim to river. Photo: Kim Crumbo
While Kristen Calden boldly scales the heights and records the utter beauty and grace of this place, ecologist Larry Stevens, the older guide on our hike, continues to discover and speak eloquently for the Canyon’s smaller residents and habitats, from beetles to butterflies to springs. Whereas Kristen stops every hundred miles or so to re-tie her shoes, Larry stops every hundred yards or so to catch an insect, identify a plant, review the geology, or otherwise better understand and speak for the Canyon’s natural history. Photo: Kristen M. Caldon
Were I to try three main qualities for distinguishing the West from the East, I’d likely choose aridity, spininess and angularity. Photo: Kristen M. Caldon
Enigmatic micro-flora and fauna are themes of Day 1 of our hike across Grand Canyon. Two weeks ago on the GTS (Grand Canyon River Guides, Guides Training Seminar) raft trip down part of the Colorado River, we’d been thrilled with sights of some of the Canyon’s charismatic megafauna; but this bright spring day, little things run our world. Photo: Danny Giovale
Peter Warshall passed away in late April, finally yielding to an incurable cancer, peaceably resting at his southern Arizona mountain home with family members. The world would seem dimmer with his passing but for the wealth of wisdom, knowledge, and goodwill he passed on to family, friends, and followers.