Words and Photography by Emily Klarer
“Belief? What do I believe in? I believe in sun. In rock. In the dogma of the sun and the doctrine of the rock. I believe in blood, fire, woman, rivers, eagles, storm, drums, flutes, banjos, and broom-tailed horses…”
What is it about the desert that keeps me coming back for more? It’s hot and uncomfortable most of the year, nearly every plant you walk by makes you bleed if you come too close, and water can be very, very hard to come by. In short, it’s harsh.
This environment is rocky and dry and seemingly empty. But that’s just it: the emptiness. Here you have nothing to save you, nothing to protect you from the blazing sun except for a lone juniper impossibly hanging onto the edge of a cliff.
It is vast and huge and seemingly vacant of life. Looking off into the distance you see mostly sky, wide open sky, with nothing but a thin line of scarlet on the edge of the horizon.
In the desert it seems as though everything is working against you, everything wants to tear your skin, shred your clothes, starve you, and burn you.
But the emptiness… You cannot hide from yourself in the desert.
You won’t find comfort under a grove of redwoods, the company of which seems to be incredibly soothing. You won’t get lost in the sound of the ocean’s waves crashing onto the shore, spending your time searching for seashells and driftwood and sea glass.
There’s nothing here to distract or dissuade you from looking anywhere but in.
Here I can breathe. I can battle my way up rocks and blast my way down trails that are mere feet from hundred-feet drop offs. I am exposed, ripped open, and I feel alive. Vulnerable, I can push the limit of what I think is comfortable and come out the other side stronger, better, smarter.
I recently was able to spend five days out in my backyard, in a place I had never been. There was a lot of time for thinking and climbing and hiking talus slopes that definitely did not want me and my heavy pack anywhere near them, but I did squeeze in a couple photos.
If you don’t live in the desert, I hope you get the chance to spend some time out there. It’s magic.
Photos (C) 2016 Emily Klarer
Have you experienced the magic of a desert?
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