Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hidden Valley

Early in the morning, I walk round Hidden Valley in the Joshua Tree National Park. A bowl of rocky hills gives the valley a slightly more benign climate than the surrounding country so the vegetation is more abundant and the air softer. It is perfectly quiet - the only other person I encounter is a large lady sitting on a rock and staring, the appropriate activity. It is a place of very rare perfection, the Garden of Eden. I lie on a rock for an hour and, apart from the wildlife, I hear only one distant plane. As I return to the narrow entry to the valley I hear human noises. A group of 20 or so young climbers in yellow helmets are assembling. A girl carries a huge bundle of purple rope on her shoulder and the boys are laughing and spitting. Their adult leader appears and begins to direct them. The large lady will soon be disturbed. Climbing is such an impiety.


  1. It was a magical evening, walking down the track from Montenvers, through the pine trees, in the distant west, the sun slowly setting over the Jura, silence in the Arve valley accompanied by the sound of rushing water on the Mer de Glace, three days of climbing in the most perfect weather, only Dave and I and the Bonnati route, few other climbers, one rope of Austrians, one of Russians, seven people at peace with the world. Halfway down the track, coming up from Chamonix, a bunch of tourists, gawping uncomprehendingly at the majestic scenery, four of them on cellphones describing loudly to friends back in Amsterdam their experience, none of them aware of the lure of the peaks, living creatures, the Dru, the Grande Jorasses, the Tour Ronde, the Requin.
    Fuck all tourists, and skiers.

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  3. Christ said wherever 2 or more believers are gathered, there will be the Holy Spirit. One could invert this and say that wherever there is a group there is a loss not only of quietness, but of all that is good in humanity, as the bestial urges - to shout, to mob, to throw beer glasses - rise up.

  4. A large lady your perfect Eve - you know, I can appreciate that.

  5. Things are getting desperate if you're starting to publish old diary entries for your blog posts.

    As for the broken reverie, well...Life will do that. Personally, I never fully understood the meaning of the phrase "Silence is golden," until I had my first child.

  6. Wending our way across the Allee Blanche to the Midi cable station we came across a bloke sitting down, head on chest, deceased, dead, mort, todt, German, about 18 stone, tourist, his friend was hurrying up to the station for help, we stopped him and phoned ahead. on our way along the ridge to the station we were passed by a English party descending, they asked us for directions to the Italian Torino refuge,down the ridge we said, then veer right just by the Dead German.
    Mountains hate tourists.
    Tourists hate tourists, the circle is unbroken, unlike tourists who venture into the mountains.

  7. You've aptly and accurately described one of my favorite places. I've visited and camped at Hidden Valley numerous times in the past 5 years, and some of my best Joshua Tree photos are from there.

    For example:


    Thank you for reminding me that I need to stop in there on my next trip West, later this year.