The first time I went to the desert was January 2017. It feels like a lifetime ago.
In the intervening time my mind has been crammed with weird facts, a plethora of plant and animal knowledge, desert survival stuff, lessons learned. I have Paiute and Shoshone friends, I know people who live in ghost towns. I sat in a cabin late at night with a gun on my hip while a family fed me ice cream and pie and we traded tales of the wilderness. I stayed in a secret cabin with a man who’d been quietly maintaining it for over two decades. I’ve gotten stuck, I’ve scared myself, I’ve scared other people. I rode out a 7.1 earthquake on a mountain. I can recognize birds by their song or at a glance at them on the wing.
I’ve discovered archaeological sites and plunged into the ethical and moral ramifications of knowing where vulnerable things lie, I’ve walked in the memories of ancient people. I’ve learned how to keep secrets and how to cope with stresses I couldn’t imagine, been face to face with a stallion intent on protecting his mares.
It’s a little over two years but it feels like I’ve been here forever.