Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kings Canyon, Australia

I open my eyes and the alarm clock says 5:40. There are days when I bound out of bed eager to see what the world has on offer, but this isn’t one of them. Gray light filters through the blinds and I ask myself, not for the first time, “What am I doing here?”

I drive the trailhead at Kings Canyon for my morning death march. Eight kilometers of rugged hiking over sandstone that glows with a furnace heat in the morning sun. I climb and sweat and swat at flies. The pictures I’m making bore even me. I am so completely done with this place.

My old girlfriend had a name for me when I get like this. Mister Miserable.

I overhear bits of the tour guide narration. Blah blah 330 million years...Sandstone....Tectonics....blah blah...I can see for myself that rainwater, when it comes, collects in the canyon pools, sustaining an oasis of life. I read somewhere that the Aborigines who hunted this valley hold its headwaters sacred. A nearby line of hikers take a more secular approach.

Descending toward a verdant pool dubbed the Garden of Eden, the hikers merrily chatter, eat their breakfast and some strip down to go swimming. A group of German girls emerges laughing and dripping in lacy brassieres and panties.

Even that doesn’t cheer me up. I climb out of the gorge alone, away from the merriment and back toward the parking lot miles away.

But every once in a while, when I deserve it least, the world offers a gift.

I glance down and see a smaller pool, still as glass. Framed by ancient sandstone, it forms a perfect mirror, reflecting the palms, the vertical canyon walls and the deep blue sky. I climb back down and frame, then re-frame the scene. The youngsters pack up to leave, and one of the Germans offers me the last of her chocolate chip cookies.

I stay for a long while, watching the play of wind and light on the water. Mister Miserable will have to go on ahead without me.


marco said...

Reading your blog I'm learning English, you use unconventional words :) but I have to often consult the dictionary (google).

HandE Graphix said...

Sounds like you are finding joy in the small parts that you would normally miss. I find myself doing that when boredom sets in. Guess it's kinda nice to get down to the basics and the small things that intrigue us.

woody said...

i went here when i did a rather rushed glance of aussie with family.. we stayed in a little place that seemed the only place round kings canyon... totally in the middle of nowhere, but at night! if you have seen the sky its a totally different thing, you can actually see the milky way, loved this place your a lucky guy 2 be goin round aussie.