Sandstone on my fingertips

“I am pleased enough with the surfaces – in fact they alone seem to me to be of much importance. Such things for example as the grasp of a child’s hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of a friend or lover, the silk of a girl’s thigh, the sunlight on the rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind – what else is there? What else do we need?” – Edward Abbey


Sandstone on my fingertips, a feeling once unknown, I have become personalized too. So different from any other rock: distinct, soft, grainy, and texturized.

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There isn’t a cloud in the sky as I walk from the dry sand where the sun is baring upon me, into a cool moist alcove. I rub my hands around the sandstone attempting to find hand holes as to assist in climbing from the saturated sandy bottom into a slot canyon. I climb out of the darkness, and into the slot that’s only about a foot or two wide. Gazing upward my mind attempts to digest the magnificent reds, oranges, and layers of deposited sand. My eyes continue to drift even higher through all the layers until my head is stretched vertical through a small window at what appears to be the bluest sky I have ever seen. The color of the sky so vibrant it clashes with the sandstone wall making words useless to explain the true depth of this blue.


I begin to realize I’m feeling cold air on my face, and moisture in the air. The dampness of the air is a feeling so distinct and common anywhere else I have traveled, but here it has long been lost to the hot, dry desert air. Moisture; a feeling my whole body knows, from my feet sinking into the saturated ground, to the cushion on my ankles and knees, to the hairs standing up on my stomach, chest and neck. Breathing in and out my mind begins to remember what moisture feels like. Even my tongue can even feel it. With the use of friction on my back, butt, and quads I travel through the tight canyon walls. The surface feels familiar, even upon my back, where individual grains of quartz grind across it. Only now do I begin to comprehend how water has a mind of its own, to architect, create, and carve into the sandstone shapes, and curves. I then walk out of the shade into the sun and my perceptions alter, a new consciousness overcomes me. It’s like the desert air, sand and sun rob you of complex emotions, only to be replaced by heat, swelter, aridity, and sand, so much sand. Experiences like this brief moment in time, allows one to realize how the beauty, delicacy, and allure of the Colorado Plateau can genuinely encompass your being.