We were half an hour down the road at 10 to 15 mph except for crawling over black volcanic boulders. The Dakota’s V-8 chugged happily enough that in the smoother stretches, I had the brief sensation I was piloting a boat at low speed in the vast high desert sea. And then we saw the cliffs.
The route out there was utterly unmarked. I’d researched it online, however, and found a hiking website with an entry by a fellow who’d measured the distance to each turn: .3 mile, 4.5 miles, and so on. Dead accurate, as far as I could tell. No way in hell would I have ever made it on my own.
I pulled off the road—not to get out of the way of non-existent traffic, but to turn the truck 90° to face the river. We ate lunch in the cab and marveled at the quiet and the intensity of the sun. The wind was brisk, the temperature 58°F (14.5°C). I had to walk about 100 feet to find the view you see above.
The wildness, though. The terrible beauty that doesn’t need you. The “emptiness” is crazy wrong. Of course you pay attention. Why else are you here except to be burned up with spiritual fire?