Ranger Kathryn's Arches

November 14, 2011

Cataract Canyon 7: Concord

Photo title: "And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day." (Sunrise at Waterhole Beach.)

(Continued from Cataract Canyon 6: Big Drops)

Leaving all the mayhem upstream, we cruise toward the backed-up waters of Lake Powell. I do not know where the river ends and the lake begins; it all looks the same. The current slows, allowing its cargo of silt to fall to the bottom, turning brown water green. The wide expanse of packed sand that is Waterhole Beach absorbs my footprints as I disembark at our third and final night’s camp.

I’m becoming enamored of this lifestyle in which existence is pared to the basics. My nails are dirty, my lips chapped, my face dry, my fingers cold. It is an honest feeling, known to cowboys and sawyers and seafarers. We work. We eat. We relax. We sleep. We think. We can feel the earth under our feet: boulder, trail, quicksand, cobble. We can feel the water beneath our boat: rapid, eddy, riffle, flat. We sense our connection to the canyon, to each other. Our movements, our choices, become simpler, more efficient.

A simple pleasure of Nov 3: cottonwood leaves

Comfort — “a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants” — does not describe this trip. I wouldn’t want it to. Simple pleasures are enough: steaming cup of tea before dawn, raven pair in synchronized flight, cozy driftwood fire to stave off the omnipresent chill. Deep satisfaction comes with small delights. Bodily wants? Negligible in a setting where every known adjective falls short, where every inner need I have is sated.

A metamorphosis has been happening gradually for three seasons; the outer skin that I used to call “normal life” is being stripped off, revealing underlying musculature of soul and spirit.

I’m so pleased to make the acquaintance of the real Me.

(Next episode here)


  1. I’m sensing a book lurking somewhere down deep in those newly discovered regions . . .

    Comment by Leroque — November 14, 2011 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

    • I ought not be dissuaded by the magnitude of such an undertaking, but I must admit that I am. Daunting! It could yet happen.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — November 14, 2011 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

      • ‘Daunting’ would mean that you were confronting one of your ‘edges’ – the exact (and often uncomfortable) place where life is best lived.
        Have a great ‘daunt’ !!! ;-?

        Comment by Leroque — November 15, 2011 @ 6:24 am

  2. Awesome. I admire you being able to share all of this so freely- it’s very inspiring.

    Comment by Nathaniel Blood — November 14, 2011 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, N. Every cell in my body resonates with this particular post — such an oddity that I can’t ignore it. Deep stuff, true stuff, important stuff. Writing helps it come to the surface.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — November 14, 2011 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

      • To experience . . . to write . . to teach . . .
        To be.

        Comment by Leroque — November 15, 2011 @ 6:29 am

  3. I like your writing and it makes me want to be there. At a minimum, I am going to have to pick up Desert Solitaire sooner than usual. I read it every year beginning April 1st. But your descriptions remind me somewhat of Abbey’s writing and make me want to read it again now.

    Comment by Davis Middlemas — November 14, 2011 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

    • Thank you, Davis. Being mentioned in the same paragraph as Mr Abbey is a high and undeserved compliment. Desert Solitaire changed my life when I was 20 and I re-read it whenever I need to remember why wilderness is not optional in this life. Thanks for commenting.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — November 14, 2011 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  4. Know thyself! Why is that so hard? Yet it is, sometimes. It’s been amazing seeing you evolve since the beginning of this blog, and watch where your life is taking you (physically, spiritually, emotionally). You ARE an inspiration!

    Comment by rjcquilt — November 14, 2011 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

    • And you, sister, are on your OWN parallel path… also wondrous to behold. Keep on!

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — November 15, 2011 @ 10:33 am | Reply

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