Madison Pettersen-Bradford: Paradox


We all live in paradox. That’s what our instructor Joe said at the beginning of this section as we rode all together in the van to Escalante, Utah. That statement confused and saddened me. It left me wondering about why we live this way and how I might live like this in my life. So, as this section went on, the meaning and role of paradox in my life became more clear. Starting with our journey to Glen Canyon Dam and then to the Hopi Reservation, paradoxes were illuminated in our studies of these places. I explore this topic as a way to deal with that conflicting feeling in my gut, and discuss possible solutions based on some of the topics explored throughout this section.

In the dictionary, paradox is described as a person or thing displaying contradictory qualities.

Glen Canyon Dam was our first stop on our search for knowledge in our front country section. This dam is widely appreciated and respected for its clean energy production. During the production of hydropower there are no CO2 emissions. However, there is important information missing in this clean energy assumption. Building the dam was extremely energy intensive and has had unfortunate ecological effects. For example, it prevents species of fish which rely on migration upstream to spawn, and it changes the fundamental processes of the river, like flooding, which requires energy intensive management downstream. So, standing there looking at what I once would’ve viewed as a great structure, I felt that paradox feeling. Something that is supposed to be beneficial to the environment has many costs that may or may not be worth it.

Similar arguments could be made for other “clean” energy sources like uranium. Extraction and enrichment of uranium is damaging to ecological systems above the ground and is also very energy intensive. Additionally, the radioactive waste resulting from the production of electricity from uranium poses a risk for the health of humans and other species. It’s paradoxical that in our search for better resources we end up using a lot of energy. And despite the proven problems that arise from overconsumption, we continue our search for resources instead of reducing our consumption.

So much of our American culture is based on material wealth which we can only get by using resources. Barry Lopez hits the nail on the head when he says, “There is not the raw material in the woods, or beyond, to make all of us rich. And in striving for it, we will only make ourselves, all of us, poor,” (15). That’s a paradox in itself. In this search for wealth, we realize it’s not sustainable so we turn to “clean” resources. But this isn’t helping the problem, only postponing it.

The next part of our journey led us to the Hopi reservation where we studied the culture of the Hopi people. Dorothy Denet, our host, and Bucky Preston, another community member, gave us some insight on their way of life and thinking. They both emphasized the value of treating the land with respect and humanity as well as local community being vital in holding up their values. During these discussions I found myself with another one of those gut wrenching feelings that I couldn’t figure out what to do with. Isn’t it funny how I traveled so far away from my home to hear about the importance of community in holding up the environmental values I possess? In addition, all of this traveling I have done, flying from Minnesota, and using a van to travel in the Four Corners area in order to learn how other people interact with the Earth has added an extensive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Isn’t using all of this fuel for travel going against my very goal of reducing my footprint on this Earth?

It is hard to navigate these paradoxes that are apparent in my life, especially as I have been immersed in a culture that directly contradicts some of the values I possess. How does one deal with these feelings, this duality, that we face everyday? I’d like to do my best to treat the Earth with respect but I find myself acting in ways that don’t align with my beliefs. I suppose the way I deal with this is trying to counteract the things I have done, that I may not have been able to avoid, with more environmentally friendly choices in the other aspects of my life. Here is where I turn to a concept introduced to me by Donella Meadows in her article “Dancing with Systems.” She emphasizes the expansion of time horizons. This idea encourages me to think beyond the short time frames we focus in on as a society, most commonly a couple of years or a generation. Therefore, it becomes important to look both further into the future and in the short-term. So then, my emissions now will never be counteracted unless I take the same amount out of the atmosphere. But using the tools I have learned on the course I have the ability to add to the “good side” of my paradox, working with another system in the future. In this way of thinking, every little bit counts until large scale change can be made and potentially reduces the paradoxes I face in our society.


Sierra Deimling: Feeding Spiritual Hunger


If there are two things that have my heart, it’s quality food and sustainability. Industrial agriculture is riddled with such a vast array of environmental and social justice problems I could combust simply typing about it. Issues include, but are not limited to, inexcusably low labor wages, storms of pesticides and herbicides on the loose, monocultured land that diminishes any chance of biodiversity, monstrous overuse of fossil fuels, and desertification of already arid land. Though America is dominated by these nemesis farms, I have found salvation in unsuspecting corners of the desert. My agricultural heroes of the Colorado Plateau include a 66 year-old organic farmer with the vibrant energy of a small child and a 76 year-old Hopi woman with a garden rooted in ancestral spirituality. These two have taught me that a spiritual approach to farming inevitably leads to sustainable farming.

If you ever find yourself on the outskirts of Hanksville, Utah, do yourself a favor and stop by the Mesa Farm Market. Within the market dwells owner Randy Ramsley, sporting a gray ponytail as he creates culinary masterpieces. “Food is important to spiritual development,” he explains as I feast on the salad he picked a few minutes prior. Randy’s philosophy on farming goes as such: by putting his love and energy into the crops, the crops will grow full of high-quality energy, which gives the consumer high-quality energy, who can then return that love and high-quality energy into the “collective consciousness” of the universe. Randy is asked if he thinks his farm adds to the resiliency of the land, to which he responds yes, because when birds fly by the farm, they say “Look!  Randy doesn’t spray crap! We can hang out here!” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Randy’s farm is about so much more than making money. I ask about his financial situation, and he answers “I barely make enough to stay afloat, and I’ve never been happier.” For Randy, the satisfaction of growing and cooking food that nourishes the land, the body, and the spirit is all the reward he could ask for. I walk away from Mesa Farm Market feeling physically and spiritually full from the fresh-baked bread, salad still flecked with soil, and yoghurt made from the goats I see happily munching on invasive cheatgrass in the backyard.

After our visit with Randy, we travel to the Hopi reservation to meet with Dorothy Denet of the Butterfly Clan. “We Hopi are two things. We are peaceful, and we are farmers,” she tells us. I scan the plateau and see no sign of farms or land that could have enough water to sustain a crop. Dorothy disproves my assumptions at her desert oasis of a garden, tucked back in the juniper scrub hills away from the village. “It’s simple, and it’s complicated.  It’s complicated, and it’s simple,” is her answer to nearly everything, particularly on how she can sustain a garden full of life amidst a drought-stricken desert. The simple answer is that there is a spring which provides irrigation for the garden, a rare luxury in this country. This spring has provided water for Hopi farmers ever since the 1400’s, leaving Dorothy’s crops to grow in culturally significant soil. Terraces of ancient gardens crumble down the side of the hill, allowing the imagination to run through what it might have looked like when it wasn’t just Dorothy’s garden, but the gardens of a whole village. For Dorothy, gardening is about keeping cultural traditions alive. “You must care for the seed as you would care for your child.” It is about love, and it is about faith.  In the valley below where springs are absent, Hopi farmers rely on nothing but faith in rain to irrigate corn and bean crops. Singing and dancing to encourage storms replace the task of hauling in water.

I don’t run an organic farm.  I am not Hopi. I do not have access to land that has been cultivated by my ancestors for centuries. I do, however, deeply resonate with Randy and Dorothy’s spiritual approach to farming. I am not religious, but have found spirituality in connecting to land. For me, spirituality is acknowledging my place in the world. It is seeing the inseparable connection between myself and the Earth. Growing food is a powerful tool in finding that spirituality, a tool I discovered from working on an organic farm in Montana. Eating the food I grow with love nourishes my body and spirit – a feeling that is impossible to achieve from eating an apple off the shelf in the grocery store.

The connection between spirituality and sustainability is clear when looking at Randy and Dorothy. “We can’t find a proper, sustainable relationship to nature, each other, or the institutions we create, if we try to do it from role of omniscient conqueror,” writes Donella Meadows in her essay Dancing with Systems.  Randy and Dorothy embody Meadows’ point.  The low price of industrial produce has blinded many of us from the reality of the system we are a part of. Land, food, and people are within the same system – you cannot separate one from another. To diminish the quality of one is to diminish the quality of all.  My heart is warm knowing that people like Randy and Dorothy are honoring these relationships with gardens and farms that protect our land, and in turn, our bodies.

Brianna Rykken: A Day Behind Glazed Eyes

Bri blog 2 photoWith this piece I am portraying two of the values of the wilderness; accessing the concrete, physical attributes that surround you and the reflective thought that they provoke. Some choose to see value in what is before their eyes whereas others find value in the opportunity to explore what goes on behind them. I have found the two to be more connected than one may think. Here is a day in the two intertwined realities that wilderness inspires.

                The day began heading down into Woodenshoe Canyon. The crisp morning chill was still in the air but the hot desert sun was making its way into our skin. This canyon is immediately different than the previous trips. There is a cleared, single-file trail for one! Also, a new rock layer is present, the Cedar Mesa Sandstone. It switches back and fourth from a deep red to a muddy white. It is home to many more tree than we have seen before. There are so many trees! Ponderosa, Pinons, Junipers. Everything is so green. It feels so alive.

Everything is green. It feels so alive.
I haven’t thought that since I was back home in Minnesota.
I wonder how everything is back home. I haven’t had much thought
of my family, we have been so busy. How are my parents? My sister
graduates soon. I am so excited to see them again.
Everything is green. It feels so alive.

                Camp is finally in vision. Hips are red from where packs rested all day. The wash near our site is dry but walking upstream, a vibrate swamp comes into vision. There are scattered pools throughout. The water is covered in a fine layer of pollen, but for tonight it will have to do. There are little flowers everywhere. The Naturalist Guide says they are Carpet Phlox. Nearing camp, there are tracks in the mud. There are bear prints! They have five short toes. This one must have been huge! It is so nice to be back in the wilderness.

It is so nice to be back in the wilderness.
What exactly is wilderness? Thomas Fleischner think it is where we
fall in love with the world. Wallace Stegner thinks it is simply an idea that
keeps him going. Funny how he sits at a desk and thinks about the
wilderness whereas I sit in the wilderness and think about him.
Its so nice to be back in the wilderness.

                Class begins in the late afternoon. The canyon walls rise high above us, forming the boundaries of the Dark Canyon Wilderness. The reading for today was The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature by William Cronon. “Wilderness, in short, was a place to which one came only against one’s will, and always in fear and trembling.” Why did they see things so differently?

Why did they see things so differently?
It’s a fair excuse, they didn’t know any better. I wonder who it is in
todays world who is so unable to see. Is it the miners? Or the environmentalists?
Or is it me?
Why did they see things so differently?

                The buttes around us glow under the setting sun, signaling that the day is coming to an end. A chill is creeping back into the air. Its smells of fresh pine. It is time to start tonight’s reading. Land management of Bears Ears National Monument is the focus. The administration justified this change by stating that the Monument was not “confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected…” as the Antiquities Act states, although this matter is still in litigation. It also stated that “Public lands will again be for public use.”

Public land will again be for public use.
Does this mean the workers who want the land for its resources?
What about the Native Americans who revere the land for its
sacredness? Or simply the hikers who love the land for its beauty? Is it
crazy to imagine that one day we could all see eye to eye?
Public land will again be for public use.

                The night has gone cold. One by one, the illuminating lights of headlamps are turned into darkness. The silence is only occasionally broken by the wind blowing through the trees and the deep breathes of the slumbering creatures who fill Woodenshoe Canyon tonight. The world is lit by a sliver of light brought by the infinite number of stars.

Keagan McCully: Of Time and Energy

CottonwoodI sit perched on a sandstone ledge overlooking a bend in the wash of Larry Canyon. From here I can see the white salt deposits from the stream, blanketing the dry regions of the wash beneath the luscious green cottonwood leaves. A light breeze keeps the gnats from buggin me. Occasionally the breeze picks up, rustling the pages of my journal, allowing my gaze to drift upward. I’m surrounded by red cliffs, reaching hundreds of feet into the air. The visual differences between the rock layers—boxy and jagged darker rock and the lighter, smoother, tafoni-filled sandstone—symbolize the different environments that this landscape has seen throughout history. Every few moments, the overcast sky gives way to an expanse of blue. The bold contrast of the blue against the red rock is unlike anything I’ve seen. Here you hear the wind before you feel it. A brief period of silence is interrupted by the distant howl of the breeze flowing like water through the canyon. It rustles the cottonwood leaves and then it reaches me, wrapping and warping itself across the contours of my body, raising hairs on my arms as it passes.

Each element that fills my senses does not aid in helping me grasp the complexities of the concept of scale. Scale of size, magnitude, distance, time. I am miniscule compared to the canyon walls that surround me, yet I tower in comparison to the sand grains whose intricate crystalline structure allow the cliffs to tower above me. A gnat comes and lands on my hand. Curious, it crawls around for a few seconds before returning into the air. In a few days its life will have passed. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time to me. I wonder if the canyons feel the same way about me. My lifetime is but a heartbeat to them. Here, time seems unfathomable.

If you look closely enough, you can read Earth’s history from the layers and composition of rocks. Their near-permanence has harbored billions of years of knowledge, embedded in minerals, crystals and their chemical composition. One story told by these ancient beings is about the Earth’s climate. On geologic timescales, rocks exert a great amount of control on the climate. The chemical weathering of carbonate rock (as well as volcanic outgassing of carbon dioxide) has provided life on Earth with carbon—which helps keeps the temperature of the atmosphere relatively warm and is perhaps the most essential elemental ingredient for life. But rocks also take in carbon from the Earth’s surface, and recycle it back into the asthenosphere. Carbon-clad organisms that fall to the sea floor eventually become part of new rocks and are brought into Earth’s interior through the subduction of oceanic plates. For billions of years, this system has been one of the main drivers of climate on Earth. Now global climate has begun to shift on a rate never seen before as humans fill the atmosphere with carbon that has been naturally sequestered in rock layers over the past hundreds of millions of years. This is happening all over the world, Utah is certainly no exception.

The sun was fading, hiding itself behind the western cliff above Angel Cove, our first campsite along the Dirty Devil River, as we settled down to begin class. Our topic for the day was energy—primarily fossil fuels and their extraction in Utah. Our discussion recalled several points from the day before, when we met with Sarah Stock, a WRFI alumna and current environmental activist in Utah. Sarah described to us how the state’s geological landscape has allowed for the extraction of petroleum and uranium, and another non-conventional oil source known as tar sands. Similar to petroleum, tar sands are the remains of organic material that has been chemically transformed into a thick substance known as bitumen. Unlike petroleum deposits, which tend to concentrate into locations known as traps, this substance is spread throughout layers of sand. Extraction methods vary by location, but in many areas in Utah steam extraction is used. In this process, steam is pumped into deep holes drilled into the deposits. This heats up the bitumen, making it less viscous, and then it is sucked out of the rocks. Before the oil can be refined, it must be separated from the sand. The whole process is extremely energy intensive—it has been estimated that tar sand mining produces five to ten times more carbon dioxide than conventional oil extraction (already a very dirty process), and requires copious amounts of water, a resource which is very limited in this landscape. If this were to happen on a larger scale in Utah, the environmental effects would be immense. Luckily, due to the relatively cheap price of oil, tar sand extraction is uneconomical. But if the global oil market were to shift, it may make this process financially appealing to US energy companies. Sarah is working to combat the industries which still seek to extract these tar sands, engaging with local and statewide communities fighting for the health and future of the planet. Her stories were inspiring to us, as we have learned and recognized the severity of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on local and global socio-ecological systems.


A few miles down the river, we settle into a quiet cove. Perennial shrubs and invasive annual grasses spread across the flat valley. Scraggly oak trees stand rooted in groups along the eroded slopes where the canyon walls meet the ground. I dodge the cryptobiotic soil and settle down in an open spot facing the south canyon wall. These must be the biggest cliffs that we have seen yet in the Dirty Devil. The warm evening light kisses the red canyon walls as the sun sinks below the horizon. There is an intoxicating stillness here, interrupted only by the sound of the wind rustling the oak leaves and the occasional laugh of one of my friends, echoing off the varnished walls. Deep in thought, I am able to contemplate my purpose here. I look to the Earth for guidance.

These canyons have stories to tell. Tales of cultures, of ecosystems and of a landscape that we will never see, of times so far from our own that they seem otherworldly. These canyons are our cathedrals. To me, they harbor a sense of infinite wonder, spirituality and sacredness, and allow my curiosity to fill every pore, crack and void within their surface. They represent but a taste of the Earth’s beauty and history, yet are now so deeply embedded in my story. For this moment, we live here. Beneath the cloudless, starry desert sky, we fall asleep in the softest sand. We are nine unique souls, each searching for something different, with the privilege to experience firsthand the unrivaled beauty and tranquility of this magnificent landscape.

Renne Baldwin: A Land of Little Water

dirty devilPeering over the rim of Horseshoe Canyon, I sifted through shadows of boulders, junipers, and pinyon pines for evidence of water. I knew there must be some, as it would be our drinking water for the next week and a half, but no water was in sight. As we descended the steep sheep herding trail, and I could clearly see the bottom of the wash, I began to question whether we would find water at all. But our instructors were not surprised at the lack of water. They simply headed up the canyon, following some sign I did not yet know how to read.

That sign was a deep alcove about a quarter mile up the canyon. As we approached and turned toward the rock face, I noticed a different collection of plants flourishing: cottonwoods, wild rose, and willow. I eventually spotted the water, trickling over a rock before disappearing into the sand.

In this land of little water, places with moisture have been foci for humans for centuries.  Native Americans left their rock art on the cliffs, ranchers brought their cattle, hikers explore the landscape, and politicians vie for rights to the water for the cities and industries they represent. One of the most visible impacts of humans in Horseshoe Canyon is the presence of cattle grazing. Approaching nearly every water source, there is a cattle trail. Some of the trails are evidence of feral cows, uncatchable and still residing in the canyon, but other trails are leftovers from permitted ranching decades ago. Once a trail is made it remains for hundreds of years, until the biological soil crusts are able to recover. The soil crusts are like two-inch tall villages, made of mosses, lichens, fungi, and algae; all of which help fix nitrogen, retain soil moisture, and provide habitat for seed germination. When trampled by humans or cows, the soil crusts die, thereby affecting nutrient cycling and plant regeneration.

Luckily for the soil crusts, cattle grazing in the region is on a downhill trend. During our resupply in Hanksville, we met with Mrs. Ekker, a local rancher, whose family began their ranch in 1909, amidst the maze of canyons known as Robber’s Roost. The canyons had sufficient water to sustain the family’s herd of over 10,000 cows, but as the biological soil crusts died and perennial grasses gave way to grazing-resistant, but drought intolerant, annual grasses, livestock productivity diminished. The federal government stepped in, a move counter to the individualist spirit of the West, and established a permit system that restricted grazing areas and the number of cattle a rancher could graze. The Ekker family was given a permit to continue grazing in Robber’s Roost, but many other ranchers were not able to obtain permits because they did not own land nor have access to water. Nonetheless, the Ekker family’s permit limited the number of cattle they could graze on the land, and the land was able to support fewer and fewer cattle, despite grassland restoration led by the Bureau of Land Management. By the 1970s, the Robber’s Roost herd was down to 440, hardly enough to make a living. Today, much of the water that sustained the herds is being protected for native species and for human recreation, and water is trucked in for cattle in the area, adding to ranching’s downward trend in the West.

Another major consumer of water in the West is the growing human population. Water from the Colorado Plateau joins the Colorado River and travels from Utah to California, supplying water for drinking, irrigation, recreation, and industry along the way. Water is piped from the river to distant cities such as Las Vegas and San Diego, and some of the nation’s driest landscapes are used to grow food.

Already, water from the Colorado is over allocated, and the area is in an extended drought. Snowpack is minimal, and aquifers are not able to fully recharge. The Dirty Devil River, through which we are now hiking, is lower this year than it has been in the past, and potential tar sands mining operations threaten to claim more water from the river. How long will it be before the Dirty Devil runs dry and the human populations relying on it can no longer sustain themselves? Perhaps Mrs. Ekker will be right that, “When we build a pipeline from Alaska, it won’t be for oil, but for water.”

Sarah Bartz: Layer by Layer

layer by layerAs our group sits beneath the glow of the evening sky, the smell of a warm peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, veggie, and rice noodle feast wafts around us. It is our first night back in the wilderness after a quick resupply in Hanksville, and I am happy to be immersed in the backcountry of the canyons once again. This section will allow us to take a deeper look into some of the different rock formations we journey through during our time on the Colorado Plateau.

“What is something you all feel a strong connection to,” asks Bri. Savoring our first few bites of dinner, we contemplate the question. Tonight marks our 16th dinner together, and each night the cooks of the day have come up with a new topic for the group to discuss while we eat.

“I have always felt a deep passion for music,” says Keagan. “Good things always seem to come my way when I’m out of my comfort zone,” states Madison. “I feel most at peace when I’m outdoors,” adds Sierra. Around the circle we go, revealing the things our minds are drawn to and gaining insight on each other’s lives.

Beginning our journey down Horseshoe Canyon, and now continuing it through a section of the Dirty Devil River Canyon, through dinner chats (serious and light hearted) and by experiencing this landscape together, we are slowly exposing our inner selves. As we discover more about one another, we are also building our knowledge and observations of the ancient rocks that surround and intrigue us.

The WRFI trailer shudders around us from the force of a 50 mph sandy wind storm. Unlike anything we have experienced before, there is nothing to do but huddle together and take in the power of the Colorado Plateau. On our breezy descent into the Dirty Devil River Canyon, we begin a more in depth identification of the different formations of sandstone we see. Dave points out the top layer we will be studying. This dark, reddish-brown cap rock (being harder than the rock below it) is known as the Carmel Formation, and is the youngest of the rocks I will be discussing. It was created around 160 million years ago during a time of shallow seas transitioning from marine to continental landscape. Similarly to the way in which the Carmel layer holds and protects the layers beneath it from the elements, sitting upon this first layer’s crust brought us closer as we protected and comforted each other from the elements of a desert wind storm.

The Carmel Formation is much thinner than the rest of the layers and we quickly spot and discuss our next type of sandstone. Making our way down the remaining sloping cliffs to the river below, we trek across gritty slickrock and over ledges of vegetation.

Upon reaching the base of the canyon, we wade into the cool, cloudy river beneath smooth, tan cliffs of Navajo Sandstone. Distinct groupings of lines travel along the walls with us. These markings, known as cross bedding, tell us this rock was formed by the compression of ancient sand dunes. The particles of sand that formed this layer are said to have blown all the way from the ancient Appalachian Mountains and were likely part of the largest dune field in the history of the planet. Erosion of this layer creates many amphitheaters and alcoves with beautiful acoustics, which gave me the confidence to push past some of my self-consciousness and sing from my soul for the group.

Slowly making our way down the river, feet occasionally getting stuck in the gooey sediment, we start to notice a new geologic formation emerging beneath the Navajo. Darker reddish-brown tones sparkle amongst chunky, box-like walls with layered, ledgy swoops and curves. The Kayenta Sandstone that unfolds around us originates from the deposition of perennial rivers flowing from the ancient Rocky Mountains. Its erosion in uneven patterns creates many small shelves for vegetation. I enjoy this layer because with some imagination you can pick out figures and faces in the sides of the old, textured rock.

After a long day of hiking, we set up camp and spend another night sleeping amongst the stars. The morning sun of another cloudless day leads us further down river, exposing us to the vast cliffs and alcoves of the Wingate Sandstone. Similar to Navajo, this layer was also formed by ancient sand dunes, except these geologic masterpieces hold compacted sand from past North-West American regions. Tall, sheer, reddish-tan walls showcase a key feature to this layer- sporadically placed and grouped swiss cheese-like holes known as “tafoni.” Wingate’s tafoni are caused by the high porosity of its interior particles, allowing water to seep through and erode small to large, varying shaped caverns on its face. These holes remind me of miniature, mystical elven cities carved into the side of a hill and make this my favorite layer of sandstone we’ve seen thus far.

Desert varnish is also very visible on Wingate Sandstone. Its black/grey streaks down the cliff wall result from the minerals manganese and iron oxide mixing with water, and can be seen throughout nearly all the layers of rock I discuss.

Nearing the end of our 7th day on the Dirty Devil River, Chinle Sandstone begins to reveal itself. This geologic layer varies widely in texture, shape, and color. It holds reddish brown boxlike layers with edgy grooves (similar to Kayenta) to purple, green, grey, yellow, blue crumbly walls mixed with conglomerate rocks. Its wide range of formations and differential erosion is attributed to its varying depositional environments, including marshes, rivers, and seas. We found an abundance of petrified wood while walking through this layer, and its uranium stores have been of great mining interest throughout the years.

As we continue the rest of our way down the canyon, we encounter additional formations of Moenkopi and White Rim Sandstone. These are the oldest rock we have seen, formed around 250 million years ago. I run my hands along their surfaces and can feel the immense natural history and wisdom they hold.

Similar to the particles that form the ancient rocks around us, each of us on this journey come from a variety of landscapes and histories. The more time we spend together in these canyons, the greater understanding we have of each other and the environment around us. By immersing myself in the many layers of geology here and the people experiencing them with me, I begin to discover the different layers that form myself as well.