Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey is an 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. This book showed how trying and difficult it can be to live in nature, but it also showed immense reward through beauty and personal reflection. Ed Abbey is a gritty man and showed fearlessness in his desert experiences, something that not everyone is apt to do. He does acknowledge on the first page that everyone can appreciate the ‘most beautiful place on earth’ and that it means something different for everyone.
Through his short-lived experience, we get his lense into the park. He seems to enjoy the experience and loves the park very dearly, even getting annoyed at campers when he thinks they may damage the ecosystem. He does not like the expansion of paved pathways for cars, and would much rather have bikers and pedestrians use them, he learns the park very intimately, recalling Native American history, a few deaths, and even his own experience being close to death.
While I found this book very calming, I don’t think it was because of the man, but rather the land around him. The descriptions vividly paint the desert in a very raw, powerful way. I also found his stance on flashlight usage very interesting. Light pollution is something people rarely think about. And not using one seems to be one of the most vulnerable things one can do alone at night.