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I am embarrassed to admit that, after several years of living in Utah, dozens of weeks spent in the western desert, and many nights dreaming away under a shelter slung between two juniper trees, I somehow managed to avoid reading Edward Abbey's classic work, Desert Solitaire. That is, until a few weeks ago when, upon learning this fact, a friend demanded that I correct this travesty and made sure a copy found its way into my hands. As I lay in bed one February night in Montana, I began to read:

Off in the east an isolated storm is boiling over the desert, a mass of lavender clouds bombarding the earth with lightning and trailing curtains of rain. The distance is so great that I cannot hear the thunder. Between here and there and me and the mountains it's the canyon wilderness, the hoodoo land of spire and pillar and pinnacle where no man lives, and where the river flows, unseen, through the blue-black trenches in the rock.


# WORDS: 2550
# PHOTOS: 10

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