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Hiking

Badlands

We wake up in the badlands when the sun begins to rise. It was a mistake to keep walking in the dark last night. Every pathway the same, we could have walked in a hundred circles. We put our hands on the ravine walls and used the planets and the stars to orient ourselves. Walk south. We said it, “South, south, south, please, south.” But the planets and the stars, they shifted themselves. Venus, the North Star, Orion’s Belt, they hung themselves in different places each time we looked up. The moon set and the ravine walls became black as the sky and the stars were so bright and close we felt as though we were wading through the dark matter the universe is made of. We had to lie down, we had to sleep.

Michael O. Snyder

We All Travel the Milky Way Together

The Pizza Deck in Yosemite National Park sells beer for $30 a pitcher—a rip off in almost any situation, and I candidly told the bartender as much. Back at the tent site, my wife, brother, sister, and her boyfriend packed their gear in preparation for the next day’s hike. This was, admittedly, an odd choice for a honeymoon. Rather than doze on a beach, I’d asked my siblings to join my wife and me on the John Muir Trail, one of the most remote and challenging sections of wilderness hiking in the US. Named for the father of our national parks system, the trail crosses only one road in its 215-mile course through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Muir called them his “Range of Light.”