Okay. This is a bit of a rant. You are thusly forewarned.
I have loved the wild spaces since I was very little, and I have done many things in the mountains and deserts over the years. Ogle great views. Nap under pine trees. Camp for days at a time. Cook. Clean dishes. Attend to bodily functions. Now, this latter can be somewhat horrifying to those city folk who must have their toilets and flushing conveniences, but for those of us who wander at will, the great outdoors becomes a comfortable place to do what a bear does naturally in the woods.
This is a situation to which I have been accustomed. Need to go? Find a private spot, dig a hole, and there you have it. Certain rules are followed (don’t leave tp behind, cover it up, don’t do it near water), of course. And honestly, I’d rather use a clean natural spot with a gorgeous view than a stinky, disgusting pit toilet, as are commonly available at the outdoor places frequented by humans.
But I digress.
This summer, people have descended upon Wayne County like flies. In some respects, this is of course a good thing. The local economy needs them. My tips depended on them. But wow–were they everywhere! I felt surrounded by my kind as never before. On one day off, Pippin and I went exploring up on the Velvet Ridge, this gorgeous redrock cliff that runs east-west to the north of Hwy. 24 between Torrey and Bicknell Bottoms. We drove up early in the morning, midweek, and had a fabulous time marching across the land, looking for arrowheads and the like. I found an old, dried deer shed and, of course, petrified wood. We took in the view. We avoided a few ATVers. On the way in, a boy who appeared to be approximately 12 was driving a tractor behind a truck as they tooled up a two-track road, presumably to grade areas flattened by rushing waters after all the rain we’d had. Folks, that’s a lot of people out there.
And back at the truck, I stepped behind a bush for a pee.
When I was done and stood up, I heard someone walking along the ATV track on which I’d parked. Someone walking nearby. Someone walking away from me. As in, the person had passed by me while I’d been peeing. Apparently, peeing visibly.
Okay, you say. You were a little too close to the road, Julie. Got what you deserved, if someone saw you peeing and quickly walked away!
I politely disagree. First off, it’s not a road. Second off, who the hell are all these people invading my land? (Grr, the adoptive local snarls.) Third, what the hell in general? I leave for about two years, and this place is overrun.
Can a person not pee, poop, or whatever in peace out here anymore?
I know, I know. I am ranting, as warned. And of course there are miles of areas where no one roams, and people poop outside often. But I like, need, and crave the open spaces here. I’m a southern Californian by raising, one who took to this area with an eagerness that likely befuddles most who live in the smoggy area my family still calls home. I want it to be open, empty, little travelled, private.
Things change, of course. And look at me–this summer, I work for an outfitter and actually take people out there to the sacred, secret spots. (Well, not all of them, that’s for sure!) But even so. The wide spaces seem to keep shrinking. I know more people will visit here, and more people will live here, and that’s fine. That’s expected.
I just ask for a little more space, a little more privacy, a little more solitude. Especially when I’m out answering the call of the wild, in all its forms, out in the deserts and mountains I call home. And that’s all I have to say about that. (For now, she says in dire tones…)