Pacia Purcell: Desert Solitaire

Desert Solitaire provides a new definition of the word wilderness. Wilderness is someplace where people go to appreciate the wonder and beauty of the wilderness; a place people go to get away. True wilderness is undeveloped by humans, but that does not mean that wilderness is without humans. Wilderness is a place where humans and nature are one. Wilderness is dangerous and exciting. It challenges humans in ways that their boring, mundane, normal lives can’t.

The author, Edward Abbey, explains his plan for how national parks should be ran and viewed by the public. With the paved roads not being used for cars, but biking tourists and shuttles for old people. The park rangers will actually be park rangers and help and direct tourists through the wilderness. Although this idea is one that better promotes the previously stated idea of wilderness, it would be almost impossible to do. People are lazy. They want to see the grandness of nature without working hard to do so. With the hard work of biking and/or hiking involved with seeing the beautiful wildernesses of the world many people will decide against putting in the effort. This means less attraction to the national parks, which the government sees as a bad thing because of the profits they gain from tourists paying to enter park, buying food, souvenirs, and other goodies from the parks. Although there are people who would be behind running the parks in the fashion the author describes, it would be hard to get the government on board with the idea.

Abbey also reports several instances of how dangerous the wilderness of the desert is. He describes several deaths that happen there and also his own close call with death. To me this is saying that true wilderness cannot be conquered by mere humans. We may explore and travel through the wilderness, but only if the wilderness wishes that we do so. It is only too easy for a fragile human to get lost or fall into some unseen crevice in the wild. They build barriers and roads so that humans may somewhat safely view nature. However accidents do happen and even this is sometimes unsafe. Abbey describes the death of one man found in the wilderness, as his ideal way to go. One on one with nature without any other human interference.

Abbey also describes the life of the Native Americans, whose ancestors lived truly and rightly with nature. Although, through the pressure of the white man they have been forced to give up many of their old ways. The Native Americans are the perfect representation of how humans should live and interact with the wilderness. The Native Americans only took what they needed from the land and for the most part they lived in harmony with nature. However, currently humans have overdeveloped the land and take in excess, which has caused a global environmental crisis. Modern humans could learn a thing or two from the Native Americans.

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