To say that the American desert southwest is an enchanted land with a rich ecological and cultural history is an understatement. I am only vaguely aware of its wonders, however, so I’ve set out to read some books on the area before my Hayduke hike. Here’s my reading list, lifted mostly from the reading list in Spiderwoman’s Hayduke tips (which is an incredibly informative read in itself).
House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest. By Craig Childs. All about the Anasazi! Told in a narrative style.
Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession. Craig Childs. The ethics of digging shit up!
The Secret Knowledge of Water. Craig Childs. Tales of adventure amongst desert extremes.
The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone and Sky. Ellen Meloy. Natural history and adventure.
Desert Solitaire. Edward Abbey. I was torn about this one. Although I love a good radical environmentalist narrative, Edward Abbey was a known misogynist and racist, and I’m not really into allowing more of that business into my brain, on top of what is already fed to us every day in the media. I feel like I should at least give this book a chance, however, as the Hayduke trail is named after a character in one of his books. I just feel like I’m not going to like old Ed Abbey. There are plenty of other quality radical environmentalist texts out there by authors who don’t spew anti-immigrant junk such as the quote below (from his book Confessions). Here E.A. is shockingly ignorant of the fact that the land he waxes so poetic about “saving” was stolen from people of color, who were living in harmony with it, by his own ancestors via genocide-
“According to the morning newspaper, the population of America will reach 267 million by 2000 AD. An increase of forty million, or about one-sixth, in only seventeen years! And the racial composition of the population will also change considerably: the white birth rate is about sixty per thousand females, the Negro rate eighty-three per thousand, and the Hispanic rate ninety-six per thousand.
Am I a racist? I guess I am. I certainly do not wish to live in a society dominated by blacks, or Mexicans, or Orientals. Look at Africa, at Mexico, at Asia.
Garrett Hardin [the author of Tragedy of the Commons] compares our situation to an overcrowded lifeboat in a sea of drowning bodies. If we take more aboard, the boat will be swamped and we’ll all go under. Militarize our borders. The lifeboat is listing.”
Actually, I loath Edward Abbey already. For his shortsightedness. For his lack of understanding about basic history. But hey, times were different in 1963, when Confessions was written. Maybe I can take the good from Desert Solitaire, and filter out the rest. It’s a classic after all. Or maybe not. We’ll see!
Books books books! I like books. Also!
I updated my gear list for the Hayduke. Notable changes:
-I got a Western Mountaineering Versalite 10 degree sleeping bag. I LOVE my feather-light zpacks bag, but I needed something warmer for the Hayduke, as I am the Coldest Sleeper Ever and this trail is going to be Cold as Fuck. So I’ll be carrying a two-pound bag! Woo hoo! I couldn’t be more excited.
-My hiking partner and I will be sharing a ten-ounce tarp. This is the first time I’ll have a dedicated hiking partner, and the first time I’ll get to share a shelter! Oh the luxury! The Hayduke Destroys All Zippers, and our tarp has no zippers, so that’s cool. It’s one of those tarps that’s open at the end, so I hope it protects us in the rain. I think it will!
-I’ll have an 8 liter water capacity, via two platypus bladders and two gatorade bottles. The water on the Hayduke is the most intimidating factor to me! Hopefully I won’t have to carry this much water more than a couple times.
-Layers. I’m bringing a thermal long-sleeve shirt and thermal tights, in addition to my rain jacket and puffy. Hopefully this will be enough. I might add gloves. Even though Haydukers are like “U need pants!” I am not bringing pants, just the tights and my usual shorts for warm days. I hate zip-off pants. Ugh, they are so awful! Will I regret this? We shall see.
-Even though my final base weight is 10.2 lbs, I feel like my pack always ends up being heavier. One of life’s great mysteries.
Peep my gear list here, or click the “gear” tab in the menu above.
More cool things I found on the internet!
Some of you have asked about ordering a print of the cover art on my book. The artist, Alejandra “Rocket Llama” Wilson, has just made the prints available for sale! Order a print and support an incredible comics artist! All money goes to her. And check out her other prints too, they are amaze. I hope she makes more!
Manic Pixie Nightmare Girls is a really, really, really good web comic. It’s dark and funny and centers around the author’s lived experience as a trans woman. So good! Also, the author has a patreon, you should probs support her so she can keep making the comic.
Hold Fast is a documentary about some friends of mine who fixed up a derelict sailboat and sailed it to the Dominican Republic about six years ago. I may have posted this before, but it’s a classic, free online, and v entertaining.