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"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells...."

From "Benedictio" by Edward Abbey, in THE POETRY OF EDWARD ABBEY

If you're a fan of the artist Georgia O'Keefe, you may recognize this scene. It's the Chama River in Abiquiu, New Mexico where O'Keefe lived and painted for many years. I wasn't trying to duplicate her work - in fact, I didn't even know she had painted the scene until after photographing the river early one morning last spring. The morning was overcast and the light wasn't ideal, but somehow the mood matches the lazy way the river winds through the valley.

"There may be people who feel no need for nature. They are fortunate, perhaps. But for those of us who feel otherwise, who feel something is missing unless we can hike across land disturbed only by our footsteps or see creatures roaming freely as they have always done, we are sure there should be wilderness."

Margaret Murie in TESTIMONY: Writers of the West Speak on Behalf of Utah Wilderness

mud curls
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Think of an elegant chocolate cake with freshly-shaved chocolate gracing the top and sides. That's what comes to mind for me each time I see the "mud curls" shows in this photo. I have no idea what they're really called but "mud curls" seems to fit. When it rains in the Southwest, the combination of a lot of water in a short time followed by heat and low humidity creates these formations on the floor of canyons and in washes. They have fascinated me for a long time because their delicacy and shape is so out of character with the rest of the desert. Next time you see one of those chocolate cakes, think about these "mud curls."

If you are interested in excellent landscape photography, take a look at NATURE'S AMERICA which captures images from around the US, or Muench's book PLATEAU LIGHT which contains images from the Arizona-Utah redrock canyon country. Both are reasonably priced for photography books of this type, and you'll find them endlessly enjoyable. And if you want to see what a truly professional landscape photographer can do with the same Gunsight Butte image, look at Michael Fatali's photograph in the "Indian Country" section of ARIZONA: THE BEAUTY OF IT ALL. I have been fortunate to be able to take a couple of photography workshops with Michael, and his work is outstanding.

If You'd Like To Explore Some More...

There are several nature writers whose work I really enjoy reading, including Edward Abbey, Barry Lopez, Joseph Wood Krutch, and Henry David Thoreau and Everett Ruess. To see a list of their writings, please visit the Natural Escape Writer's page, and spend some time browsing through the titles.
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