Desert Simplicity

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January 18th 2010
Published: January 20th 2010
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By Melisse.
We find great satisfaction in the simplicity of life while camping. The desert reduces things to even purer proportions than camping in other terrains. It is important to have what we need, yet not be cluttered or burdened with much more.

Water is essential. We use it ever so sparingly as refills are many miles away. We reuse the water in which we’ve boiled our cooking pouch and discard only that tiny sip used for brushing our teeth. We need the most of it for drinking so our bodies don’t dry like raisins in the hot sun and moisture-free air. I enjoy a nightly “cocktail” of water in a wine glass infused with the juice of a fresh key lime. Quito’s tiny bowl of water left on the ground quickly becomes a mini oasis, drawing in birds from far away.

Opportunities to bathe while camping are often rare. Hence, they are spectacularly invigorating. In the future, these bathes or showers remain memorable, like some particularly delicious meal you’ve had the pleasure to enjoy. Yesterday we had one of those showers. We filled our black four-gallon solar shower bag with water from the Visitor Center 10 miles down the road and bungied it to the Ruby Grace’s roof to gather heat from the desert sun while we hiked. Upon returning to our camp, since we had no tree limb from which to hang it, we each held the water bag high while standing on a large boulder while the other of us wetted, soaped and rinsed as quickly as possible. Success! Now we feel clean and have a gallon of water to spare! The birds are momentarily thankful for the ephemeral puddle of water we created on the ground.

We’ve started this three-week camping trip supplied with a full larder of food. We whittle away at it in tiny increments. We eat just enough but no more, three times a day.

We spend a portion of each day hiking along one of Organ Pipe’s desert trails, allured by our curiosity of what lies beyond the next rock-jutting curve, what grand vista unfolds from the next perch. Out of its own necessity the vegetation is tuff and spiny, something to avoid touching at all costs. At all times we carry a comb and pliers for removing a spiky cholla segment we may have had the misfortune of brushing up against or stepping on.

I can only imagine how difficult the journey must be for those people who walk across this expansive desert from Mexico to the US. Whether they are drug runners or people just seeking a better life or both, one and the same, how strong their motivation must be - to BRAVE this inhospitable environment, especially knowing the US Border Patrol awaits them here in formidable numbers, helicopters and intimidating sensory equipment.

The desert magically makes me feel a sense of calm. It is still and quiet with stark long shadows and little other movement, except the occasional flitter of a bird. It is simply enchanting. The rocks are red, the sky bright blue, the ground is pink with a layer of dusty green plants scrubbing it’s surface and vertical shafts of rhythmically spaced saguaro and organ pipes piercing skyward along the broad expanse. At sundown our eyes feast. We sit silently watching the show, the really big show, of oranges, blood reds, and yellows juxtaposed with purples and a milky blue ever darkening sky as the world turns and night falls. We eat a simple yet delicious dinner and bed down for the long and scrumptious, dream-filled night, protected from the cold and wind by our down sleeping bags and the thin nylon shell of our beautiful tent.

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21st January 2010

I'm jealous!
Lovin it all...thanks for my vicarious thrills! Now, are you at the only place where it isn't raining at the moment? We've been soggy for days!

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