Pat Watson: Desert Solitaire

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey is an intensive personal account of his months working as a national park ranger at the Arches National Monument. This book is almost a memoir of his experiences, showing both the good and bad of the wilderness. The truthfulness of this story shows both the beauty and the harshness of nature, the desert specifically. For me this book showed exceptional balance between the positives of experiencing and being out in nature as well as the negatives of mistreating or underestimating the great wilderness.

I found this book exceptionally relatable because of the short amount of time he spent at the park before having to return home. Especially as students, we have so many opportunities to go explore and see different parts of the world in a very educational way. In my experiences exploration with the combination of knowledge leads one to greatly appreciate and love the intense yet fragile ecosystems in nature. These trips or experiences can truly open your mind to so much more going on in our human society because we can see the past effects humans have had on the place of interest. In the Arches National Monument Abbey was concerned about humans touring and camping in the park because of how they destroyed it, which was true. In the reading you could even sense his annoyance or frustration with how people simply do not understand nature.

Integration back into society also shows a whole new perspective on human society. Abbey was of course excited to return home and to his life however the bittersweet mentality is one that was easily shared by the readers. I could feel his feeling of leaving the arches, the unsureness of whether he could return, the understanding that his perspective of his normal life would never be the same. Overall this book reminded me a lot of reading Walden in high school, they both have a deep appreciation for nature but also an understanding that as a society we will never be completely one with our wildernesses.

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