In Arches National Park, Misha uncovers the pain and the healing power of the land.
In Arches, Misha uncovers the pain and the healing power of the land. She listens to the soil crust with Ranger Erik Jensen and the arches with scientist Riley Finnegan and Navajo nation and Hopi tribe member, Angelo Baca. Then, she heads on a hike with Canyonlands Field Institute’s Michele Johnson, and talks about what it means to have lived through the last few years of pain and how nature has been a source of solace.
Arches is the land of Pueblo of Zuni (or A:shiwi), Hopi Tribe, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe - Uintah and Ouray, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah and the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.
More about the podcast:
Hello, Nature host, Misha Euceph, didn’t know about the National Parks until she turned 21. But after an experience in Joshua Tree and watching 12 hours of a national park documentary, she sets out on a road trip to answer the question: if the parks are public, aren’t they supposed to be for everyone? In this podcast, she goes out to see America and tell a new story of our national parks.
Hello, Nature can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
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Misha: Hello Arches! Hello! Hello, Arches.
Misha: Helloo Arches National Park.
The land of Pueblo of Zuni (or A:shiwi), the Hopi Tribe, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe-Uintah and Ouray, the Paiute, Indian Tribe of Utah, and the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.
You’re listening to Hello, Nature by REI Co-op Studios brought to you by Subaru.
I’m your host Misha Euceph.
Misha: Holy shit, holy shit… holy shit. Wow.
As we drive into Arches, the world starts to turn red.
Like everything. The rocks- red. The ridges- red. The roads even!- red.
At first it’s just smooth, like one shade with hues of maroon. Then, rusty amber. And as we drive deeper into the park, closer to the actual arches, there are layers- shades of white, and black and brown mixed in with rich reds.
And the arches themselves-- they look kind of like when you’re driving up to a roller coaster park. And you can see the rides, the roller coasters from far away. They’re just these openings in the rocks. Like portals into magical lands, like you’d walk through and end up somewhere else.
Also ‘cause like the light of the sun starts filtering through the arches and changes the color of all the things that you are seeing in front of you.
Misha: They're kind of similar shades to what we saw on Yosemite it's just that instead of granite as the backdrop the backdrop is red so it just looks completely fucking different.
Jonathan: It is called the Great Wall.
Misha: This is?
Jonathan: Yeah on our left side.
Misha: Yeah, it looks like the Great Wall on our left side.
You know, when we drove into Yosemite, it was like the height of my imagination. The most beautiful place I could think of.
But this whole part of Utah-- Moab, the city Arches is in-- it’s like beyond my capacity.
Like maybe what a kid raised on Mars imagines earth looks like.
And, it feels alive.
Misha: Wow. It's alive. It's alive. Along the trail you must notice the pot patches of black crust on the ground known as the cryptobiotic crust. It's a mixture of cyanobac -- cyanobacteria? Mosses, lichens, fungi and algae.
We’re meeting with a park ranger, Erik Jensen.
As we hike to meet him, I imagine what it must be like for the soil. I mean, it’s a living organism, and I’ve been trampling on him, all day -
BENNY: It doesn’t feel great. Also you said it wrong, sweet-feet - it’s pronounced CYAN - O - BACTERIA. No one gets it right the first time.
Jonathan: Can I readjust you? I’m trying to get higher but you do have a beard so...
We’re trying to find a place to clip Erik’s microphone without it getting tangled up in his giant, brown-ish beard.
Jonathan: So right. So I was trying to think it'd be good.
Erik: Right. Okay. Yeah.
Erik: My name is Erik Jensen. I'm one of the lead park rangers at Arches National Park.
Erik: The type of bacteria. We call it cyanobacteria. It’s also called blue green algae and it's actually one of the very oldest life forms on the planet. You know, when life was just originating in the oceans, before there was any life on land, you know that is one of those ancient, very early organisms. It's present pretty much everywhere. It's just that in these really dry desert environments where we don't have much organic material, holding the soil together, it just plays a much more visually noticeable role here than it does in other environments.
So, everywhere I go, I see these black and beige signs. They aren’t like street signs. They’re more like those signs you see at an arboretum identifying the kind of plant you are looking at. Maybe 6 inches off the ground, about the size of a shoebox. They say - your steps matter, stay on the trail, protect park soils.
BENNY: Ugh, a lot of people don’t listen and trample on me anyway.
Dude, that's awful.
BENNY: Wait, can you hear me?
I mean, yeah you are my imagination so like, I am you.
Erik: The messaging about soil crust, we try to put out in as many ways as possible. We have tons of signs throughout the park, talking about it in varying forms, from, you know, in detail explanations to just small signs saying your footsteps matter, please stay on the trail. In places where we can't fit a larger sign. We as park rangers try to talk about it with people. Pretty much as often as we can work into a conversation, we do.
And a lot of these signs tell you why soil crust is so important.
Misha: These remarkable plants provide seed beds for other plants, absorb moisture, produce nutrients…
Benny: You see that! I’m a big deal.
I keep erosion under check because I keep the soil together as a crust. I protect the sediment from rain and even Uncle Gusty, which, by the way, is what we call the wind around here.
Thanks to me, you’re not dealing with intense sandstorms. Because, I, Benny, don’t let the Colorado Plateau’s desert turn into loose, sandy dunes.
And YOU, human? You literally wouldn’t survive without me out here. Not to brag, but there wouldn’t even be a desert.
Um, should I be worried that I am projecting an entire personality and voice onto dirt right now?
BENNY: Wow, hurts. I’m literally soil crust but, yeah, you might wanna double up on therapy.
Misha: The crust is so fragile that one footstep can wipe out years of growth...
Benny: Look, just be mindful with those steps, baby. There isn’t one right way to do nature but there are A LOT of wrong ways. And this is one of them. Just - don’t bust my crust. Ok?
Don’t bust the crust. Got it.
….don’t bust the crust, Misha. Don’t-bust-the-crust…
Ok so, we’re hiking with Erik and we’re taking an off-trail path. Because we’re going to see something that the park doesn’t advertise.
Angelo: A petroglyph is, basically a rock carving.
Angelo: So much of indigenous culture, reflects and celebrates art.
Angelo Baca grew up near here, on and off the Navajo reservation in Utah.
Angelo: I would like to start to introduce myself with our traditional Navajo introduction with my clans. So I would say (speaks in indigenous language). So my Navajo clans from my mother and father’s side identify who I am, and who I belong to. I’m also Hopi as well. So from both my Navajo side and my Hopi side, these are clans that are coming out of and connected to the Bears Ears region.
The Hopi, the Navajo, the Ute Mountain and the Southern Ute reservations are all near Arches, around this part of Utah and bordering Arizona.
This area is also full of national parks. There’s Bears Ears National Monument, Canyonlands National Park, Rainbow Bridge National Monument and so many others. You can literally get a just Southeastern Utah parks pass.
Misha: How normal is this wind *wind* like are we gonna be blown away today?
You can probably hear the wind is WHACK.
Misha: What do I need to hold on to?
We’re on the side of a mountain, facing traffic. When I look down, I see big trucks and cars driving 80 miles an hour.
It’s the strongest wind I’ve ever felt. I’m 5’3 and ¾ on a good day, and I’m scared it will blow me onto the road.
I can feel myself getting nervous.
But Erik is talking to us about something really important, and I want to pay attention. So, I try to play it cool.
Misha: There is, it’s so interesting, ‘cause you can see kind of like carved animals. I don't know if I'm just like...
Erik: Oh, no, they're there. Absolutely. This isn't just capturing just one static moment in time. This is capturing practices of, and the presence of people throughout 1000s of years in this area.
So I’m looking at this reddish rock in front of me. It faces the outside of the park, like an entrance to Arches. The rock itself is flat and smooth, like it was made to be painted and carved on.
And on top of it, there are these dull figures painted and carved with darker, blacker inks. There are human-like creatures with pointy chins and claws for hands. All kinds of drawings.
Angelo: But I'd like to remind folks, especially when you see a petroglyph that's, you know, like a carved image, there's essentially an intense contribution of energy in that, because you have to remember back in the day, you didn't have readily available food, water, shade transportation. If you were making the effort to etch something into stone, that was a lot of work. You were burning calories, time, effort, energy, like you were focused on doing something to make a statement, to have a message communicated.
These petroglyphs, that took so much out of people to make, they can tell you a lot of things-- stories of who was there, what they were thinking, even what kind of food they were growing.
Angelo: I see some plants sometimes on the wall that remind me of corn. And I think about how early the introduction of corn must have been, and how far and how wide, they must have traded it. Art can be so many things. And it can hold a lot of significance, or it can hold none. And I think that's really more of an apt description of what's on these rocks. It’s like, yeah, there's a lot of really cool, intricate, complicated stuff on the rock. But some of it could just as easily be, you know, a young artist from a generation that was inspired to capture a scene and that, that was all.
What sucks, though, is that just like the soil crust, the petroglyphs are also in danger.
Erik: And we do have, unfortunately, tons of graffiti, being etched into the rocks pretty much every day.
Erik: So when we're out in the park, you bring some extra water and a brush to scrub graffiti off with. So it is, unfortunate.
And I've seen going back to people just maybe not realizing the impact that it has both on the rock itself, you know, physically scrubbing away the varnish that takes centuries, not 1000s of years to build up on there.
And I've seen graffiti that literally said, “I love arches.”
Angelo: These places, these resources are finite. And the amount of people coming into these places without proper education or, you know, introduction to indigenous culture and respect in history, finding out ways that they could be part of the solution rather than the problem is a major issue.
When we go into Arches and write over these petroglyphs, we’re not just erasing a work of art. We erase a piece of history.
A little bridge that connects someone today to their ancestors. And it’s not even like we can heal it over hundreds of years, like the soil crust. Once we lose it, we lose it.
And of course, native people here would love to take care of the petroglyphs. To protect them from vandalism and ignorance.
But they already have so much to deal with. So much trauma they’re still unpacking.
Angelo: We don't often understand the demands on indigenous communities to keep going, to stay in balance and to be healthy. We're always rushing to take care of each other, because we have to. We're only thinking so much about today, and not so much about tomorrow.
Angelo: This is a byproduct and a symptom of settler colonialism, of capitalism, impacting our communities disproportionately, of having, you know, the historical traumas of removal and racism and genocide, and, you know, appropriation and boarding schools, and so on, and so on, you know. The injuries of generations before us, and we're still in recovery mode. We're trying to recover.
So those of us who have the luxury to think about tomorrow, to plan for it-- I think it’s our responsibility to protect the resources around us.
Because wherever we are, our footsteps matter.
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It’s so hard to listen in this park.
In Yosemite, there was silence. Birds chirping, a gentle wind rustling through the dogwood trees. I could hear my own breath.
But in Arches...
I’m trying to take it all in-- this sacred-feeling place.
I’m trying to listen.
But it feels like the sounds of the city are still in my way.
This is especially ironic, because I’m on my way to meet someone who is an even bigger sound nerd than me.
Riley: I’m Riley Finnegan.
Riley studies arch vibrations at the University of Utah. Her big thing is figuring out how humans impact rock arches.
Who decides as a little kid that they want to do THAT when they grow up?
Riley: This is insane. I've got stale bread now. It's been like out in this desert for like, 10 minutes. ANd it’s a crouton. And it’s amazing.
Misha: Does it taste like toasted or stale?
Riley: It’s a little toasty.
Riley and I are gonna take a hike together so I can see her measure vibrations on a bridge.
But, but but… before Riley met us, she was looking for a campground to sleep in tonight. It took so long that she accidentally starved herself until 2pm. So before we head out, she’s gotta finish the stale PB&J she just made.
Riley: I grew up in Oregon. So stale, there's different than stale here. It's just very, it's dry.
Here are some of the things you’re going to see in Arches National Park.
There are bridges, which are not like driving bridges. They are earth-made, not man-made. They happen when a series of rocks start to shape into a bridge. I don’t even know how else to say it.
Then, there are alcoves. Which are kind of like holes that form inside rocks. They’re open in the front, but then closed in the back. Kind of like a small cave. Dead end.
And my favorite, arches.
An arch is when the rocks or the earth open up like a mouth. A mouth you can walk all the way through.
Misha: I'm kind of curious about like, the formation process of an arch. Like, how does one get made? How long does it take? Is that something that like, you can even figure out?
Riley: Yeah, I mean, in terms of how like one gets made, um, that process pretty much requires a fracture, to be in a rock. And then for that fracture, to grow into an opening. And once that opening reaches three feet, the Natural Bridge and Arch Society determines that it is an arch. And here, it's, it's really easy to have arches form, because we have lots of different layers of sandstone, and some of that... some of those layers are really weak. And so they're more like prone to erosion and being weathered.
Here’s the coolest part.
So normally, all these things --bridges, alcoves, arches-- have a vibration. Actually, everything does. You have a vibration. I have a vibration. Riley has a vibration.
Riley: So like an atom is resonating, a table is resonating, a bridge is resonating, your bones are resonating. So like, if you think about a guitar string, this is like probably the simplest example. You pluck the string, you're adding some energy to it, and it vibrates and you hear this tone. And that tone is the frequency that it resonates at. And so if you just pretend that an arch is like a guitar string, and it's being plucked constantly by wind, by vibrations within the earth, by trains going by, by cars going by, there's this energy being added...
Misha: Hello, nature?
Misha: I think it’s the Arches. Landscape Arch, is that you?
Misha: Excuse you. Double O Arch, what did you say?
I can’t really talk right now, I’m right in the middle of an interview. Can I call you back later?
Riley: And so, rainbow bridge…
Riley’s measuring these vibrations because they show how much impact people are having on the arches.
Riley: We record these vibrations with seismometers, and you can speed that up, and it becomes audible so it's not sound that the arches are creating, but we are making audio out of the vibrations and so you have to speed it up depending on the arch like you know, 20 to 50 times faster, but then you can hear the vibrations.
Angelo: People think of the desert mentally as a place where nothing exists. But in actuality, when you're there, like it really heightens your senses to make you feel like you are a part of a really dynamic, living, breathing place.
Angelo: Many people don't really understand how much they impact the landscape just with sound. Whether that's with people camping in these very delicate, ecologically fragile places, or there's airplane noise coming in, helicopters, ATVs RVs, like, you know, just big mud bugging, kind of huge four by fours. Like that echoes off of the walls, and it actually does damage to some of the really delicate spots that have already, you know, rock fragility and start sliding off of the side, you know, and and make these little rock slides and impact the land.
So indigenous people have been concerned about the impact on the Arches for a long time.
This indigenous committee, The Native American Consultation Committee, they keep telling the National Parks Service-- hey, we’re worried that the cars, trains, helicopters and other noises are hurting the natural arches and bridges in this area.
They’re worried about Arches National Park, Canyonlands, this whole region.
But it all comes to a head at Rainbow Bridge National Monument. 100 miles away.
The committee has been saying that Rainbow Bridge is vulnerable to all the noise.
I mean they’re heard but nothing happens until Riley's research group comes to the same conclusion as the Native American Consultation Committee. Her advisor actually. He is like... oh hey, the noise from the helicopter tours is affecting Rainbow Bridge.
Riley: It took until a white guy with the science bucket came in. And, for you to believe that these these arches are living. They have this voice.
It took a white guy with a science bucket? You might be wondering what a science bucket even is? It’s just a normal bucket that says science on it.
No, I’m just kidding. It’s just a bucket.
Basically, scientists are still exploring the long-term effects of arch vibrations. That’s why Riley comes out here to Arches all the time and measures them.
But, what the scientists, parks service and indigenous people in this area all agree on now is that sounds are affecting the bridges and arches.
And because this test at Rainbow Bridge showed the impact of noise pollution scientifically; because it confirmed indigenous concerns, the parks service has started to do something about the noise.
Not just at Rainbow Bridge, but throughout the region. At Arches National Park.
They’re working with the helicopter tour companies nearby to keep the vibrations low.
And they’re making sure that visitors, people like me, know that the Arches are delicate.
Angelo: You know, When we're speaking about the landscape, is that we are we see ourselves as a part of it, and it's a part of us. So it's all relative, we don't see it separate from us, even though we're human beings. Essentially, if you look at it, even from a scientific point of view, we're all made up of minerals and earth and water and electricity. We’re elemental, you know. We're part of the world. And we see our relationship to the landscape as something that can never be separated.
In Arches, I’m feeling the weight of my own footsteps.
They are heavy and they have an impact.
And that impact is magnified because I’m not stepping on pristine and untouched land.
I’m coming to Arches after years of noise pollution, accidentally stepping on the soil crust after people have broken it over decades, looking at petroglyphs that have been vandalised and washed hundreds of times.
The land carries this trauma. And it has carried trauma long before this.
From the industrial revolution, from the genocide of natives, from slavery.
But my footsteps are heavier because like the land, I am carrying pain inside of me.
Remember when I saw that Pakistani family in Yosemite? I keep thinking about why that made me cringe so much.
Misha: Oh my god! And there’s people in Shalwar kameez, and full Pakistani outfits right in front of me. What are the odds?
Why did I feel so embarrassed?
And I think it’s because I feel like there is a way to do nature right.
Like there’s an American way to do nature. And that I, an immigrant, with my fear of bears and wind, and anything that moves -- I’m doing it wrong.
You know, I read this book about a year ago. It’s all about how trauma lives in the body. That, when we go through something, something emotional or mental, it leaves little remnants in our bodies.
A little tightness in the shoulders, a pain in our stomach, a migraine that shows up when we experience a trigger.
A panic attack on the road.
I guess a part of me thought that being away from LA, being in nature, I wouldn’t be weighed down with that day to day pain.
It’s day two in Utah. And it’s so much more windy than the day before.
The kind of windy that makes you feel like there’s a God of wind.
Michele Johnson: Come on Uncle Gusty. Give us a break. Give us a break. Go to sleep. Go to sleep.
Michele: Hi, I'm Michelle Johnson, and I work here at Canyonlands Field Institute.
Jonathan and I are meeting Michele Johnson to go for a hike in her literal backyard, which overlooks Arches National Park.
And Uncle Gusty is not having it. It’s disorienting.
Michele: To orient you, that's the direction that's north. And that's the direction where Arches is. Okay? And then this is the Moab Rim. Up along here.
Let's keep going.
She is an incredible hiker. And, I feel like a kite.
Misha: Are we going to go down this?
Michele: No, we’re just gonna go down here
Misha: Okay, I was like… ahhhh.
Michele: No, we're just gonna go right to here. No,I won't do that to you.
My HIGH KEY drama doesn't phase her. Because Michele is a pro at dealing with people like me, people with little experience in nature. She works at Canyonlands Field Institute.
The point of the institute is to take kids from all walks of life out into parks like Canyonlands and Arches. To help them feel like they belong in nature. Something I clearly need to work on.
Michele: Because black brush, rarely, it's just a certain time of year that it actually blooms. It has a great yellow flower, but --
Misha: Wow this is the most beautiful weed I've ever seen.
Michele: So a weed, it's just a wild flower in a different place. George Washington Carver quote, not mine.
Michele: We're just going right to here. Are you okay?
Misha: Yeah I’m good.
Don't walk on the slick rock on the dirt.
Oh, really? Yes. So that maybe there's chert there. But yeah, just Yeah, because it's raining. That's That's why more slippery? Yes, it is.
And you know, I trust Michele because she grew up with the outdoors. She used to go fishing with her dad as a kid.
Michele: Just, just being out and fishing from the shore, and my dad having the patience to teach me both how to cast, as as well as how to take a fish off of a hook, how to put the worm on the hook. I do remember that. And I remember one... I do remember one time, when my sister came, and we just couldn't get her to touch a worm, and I was like, get over it.
But it wasn’t until she was in college that she really started to think about the outdoors and nature as a career.
And it all started for her with Rachel Carson.
If you, like me, don’t know who that is… Rachel Carson was a super cool, very famous American conservationist in the 20th century. If Michele could have had a poster of her, she would have. But you know, they don’t make posters of conservationists from the 20th century.
Michele: And I never knew what she looked like. And I didn't even realize that I didn't know what she looked like.
And I think that's what didn't stop me.
She just identified with Rachel Carson ‘cause she was a woman, like her.
Michele: And then to discover that she looks like Debbie Reynolds a bit, I was like, oh. And that was at 50. I was in my 50s, when I discovered that. I think that not having a face, I was able to just think about the what, not the who.
I would like to get to the point where I could go to our field camp, for instance, and just say hi to the kids out there, ‘cause you never know how alienating it might feel, for a kid that may be coming from a small town in Colorado, for instance, that has never even seen Black people in person. And so to have that face, that presence all the way to having kids of color that may be feeling a little uncomfortable, and just kind of scanning the room for who may need a little touch, or just a smile.
It kinda makes me wonder what it would have been like for me to have met a Pakistani ranger at my first National Park. Or any National Park.
It makes me think of Yen Yen and Tai Sing…
Michele: So, we’re gonna go straight, but I typically, on my daily hike that I try to get in...
We’re hiking up this hillside. There’s sandstone all around us, slippery, washed by the rain.
Also, Uncle Gusty? He has not taken a nap. He’s up in my face. ZERO chill. And now, he’s picked up some rain, hail like stuff and is slapping it onto my face.
Every few feet, we see the green and pink of a prickly pear peeking out from the earth. It’s like a short cactus, with a cup shaped flower poking out.
Michele: You know, when, when we were shut down last year, the landscape got a rest. And it was amazing to watch. It was, I can't even describe how fortunate I feel that I live here. And so many of us that do live here. To have been a place like this, where you can get so much nurturing from the landscape.
Michele: Being here in Moab, at this stage, and age in my life has been just a blessing of discovery of who I truly am, in my inner core. And as a Black person in nature, it is unique. And an oddity. And why my passion...
The sun’s starting to come out finally. We move over to a rock so that it can shield us from Uncle Gusty. And Michele tells me she needs the desert, this land to escape the pain that she feels sometimes.
Michele: You can see exactly all of the hurt, and pain and fear that's out here, in our nation. And to watch what was predictable, from a person of color perspective, as far as the January 6 insurrection, the short memories that go along with that. That there's still so much fighting to do.
Michele: And so coming full circle to places like this, you have to escape, in my opinion.
Misha Euceph: But it's more than escape, right?
It's like, it's also about taking ownership of the land as ours.
Michele: Yes, yes.
Misha: ‘Cause I mean, I'm an immigrant, like I moved here when I was 11. And I think that I didn't have the right shoes, I have the right clothes. I don't even know there were national parks.
Like, I remember the first time that I went, and I was like, oh, I didn't even know what patriotism was because I didn't, I didn't build a connection with the land until now, you know.
Michele: ‘Cause it’s painful.
Misha: Yeah, and it takes so much effort to keep pushing and pushing. When, sorry, why am I crying?
Michele: Please don’t apologize. That's what this does to you. I like to say it's it's the landscape. It kind of forces you to…
Misha: but it's just it takes so much and I can't even begin to imagine what it's like for you know, Black people who've been like, the victims of slavery, but even as an immigrant, like, not knowing how to interact with this land and then being like ridiculed or judged for not knowing is such a hostile space. You know, even, even like going on hikes with friends, I now think back to it, or with partners, like where they're like, come on, like, go faster, like, why can't you do this. Like, there are little things that, like, in in, like, the grand scheme of enjoying an experience like are not significant, but it takes so much effort to push past that, you know, over and over again.
So yeah, I don't know, I think it’s about ownership.
Michele: Ownership and also courage. It takes courage to do this. It takes courage to do the job that you're doing. This is healing, it's painful, but it has to be on our terms.
because there is a lot of fear in the landscape. And I think again, as far as Moab and, and, and the surrounding areas and the red rocks go, it's not forest.
Misha: You can see pretty far out.
Michele: You can see from a black person's perspective, all of the scariness associated pretty much all of it is there's woods and there's forest, right? You know, you cannot see the danger that might be ahead of you.
And then to be able to grow to the point of, hey, I get you out here. You can see the beauty of Fisher towers, Professor Valley, Castle Rock, and then at some point you'll get comfortable with either going back to your own place where you live, and finding a space that's comfortable for you to get out and enjoy, and you'll be able to overcome some of that, like what you're carrying.
Like just now, you probably let go of some stuff you didn't realize you did. We have to, seriously Misha, we have to have those moments.
I have never, I had an anxiety attack last summer. I didn't even know that that's what I was, I was having but it was after it was... There was a rally here for George Floyd. And it was the kneeling for eight minutes for him.
I could not stop crying, came home and cried a whole lot more.
Driving down the river road and crying more. and letting it go into the river.
Again, it's a means. Lots of people have different tools, whether or not, it's a belief that we have and a higher being or it's a friend that is really close to us that we feel we can say anything to, or it's out and about and you just let it go into the river or into the landscape.
I’ve been treating nature like a church, something you go do once a week, or a thing that happens in a specific place.
In a way, it was reverence. But it was also an escape.
Even when I was talking to Michelle, I said ownership, instead of access.
I mean, I’ve always expected something from nature. Maybe that’s why I’ve come out here over and over again, even when it feels hostile.
Because I expect nature to heal me.
To fix me.
But like, I’ve never thought about the trauma in the land itself. But a real relationship with nature-- true healing-- goes both ways.
Until Arches, I never thought about what nature needed from me.
That my footsteps matter.
But I want to.