Friday, March 28, 2008

The Gila

In wildness is the preservation of the world.
- Henry David Thoreau

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.
- Edward Abbey

One of the many dramatic oxbows cut by the action of the mighty Gila over ages.

After the climb from Gila Hot Springs to the overlook at Copperas Peak - 2,500 ft of climbing in only 7 miles! With 60 lbs of camping gear and food lashed to my bike, slogging up this climb during the mid-day peak of the psychadelic New Mexico sun redefined for me the concept of "relentless"!

I spent plenty of time exploring the Gila - looking for, and finding, hot springs, looking for, and not finding, arrowheads, surveying flood damage, identifying plant species here and there, rockhounding, etc.

Moonlit cholla cacti (Opuntia spp.) - living specimens and skeletons of dead chollas.

Cholla fruits.

Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora).

Thin-leafed yucca (Yucca glauca); its many uses by the Pueblo Indians of the region include making soap from its root, hence its common name "soapweed."

Any idea what this is? The brilliantly textured and colored bark of Pinus ponderosa, up close and personal.

The claw of a great horned owl. This venerable creature seemed to have died in the air and dropped right out of the sky - cause of death unknown.

A view from above the Sapillo Creek Canyon. Notice the dramatic variation in vegetation on the south facing (right) versus north facing (left) hill slopes.

I felt a deep reverence and awe among the grave sycamores, denuded by winter, that lined the floor of lower Sapillo Creek Canyon.

Cycling to the Florida Mountains, southeast of Deming, NM; road's eye view.

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it. Without any remaining wilderness we are committed wholly, without chance for even momentary reflection and rest, to a headlong drive into our technological termite-life, the Brave New World of a completely man-controlled environment. We need wilderness preserved--as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds--because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. It is important to us when we are old simply because it is there--important, that is, simply as an idea.
- Wallace Stegner, 1960

Friday, March 14, 2008

On retreat

Taking a much needed break from project work and "civilization" in camping in New Mexico's Gila Wilderness.

Will be back in action in early April, based in Raleigh, NC.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Aqueous Solutions 2007 Annual Report online

The 2007 Annual Report is now available for download from the Aqueous Solutions website, Resources page.