By Kern Ducote
It is incredible when you stumble around a corner to find the most lovely pool of dark shaded water towards the back of a slot canyon. You cannot help but be overcome with gratitude and happiness. When I stumbled on this particular pool, it had been 50 hours since the last time I filled up my 10 liter carrying capacity. As I approached, I considered jumping head long into the delectable water, but when I grew closer and my line of sight shifted, I slowly came to realize that I had been deceived. What looked like a nice pool of water were only the marks that water had left long ago. The shadows were playing tricks on my eyes. Until that point, I had never seen a mirage. But that, indeed, was a mirage. I was seeing exactly what I had so longed for.
So there I was, in the desert, parched and disappointed. It was the moment of hope being dashed out that really got to me. After so long without a water source, that precious commodity that we so often take for granted, I had come to expect it. I thought, “Surely we must be getting closer to water somewhere. We have covered so much ground that has long been forsaken of such goodness. We are getting nearer thanks to the process of elimination. We must be!”
One of the most beautiful places you could ever find yourself is in the desert where there is water. The amount of life that flourishes off of so little is undeniably remarkable and efficient. I eventually found myself there, at the base of a small waterfall that came from underneath the surface of the rock flowing cool and clear. After filling myself with more water than I should have (considering the sheer number of times I went to the bathroom in the next 12 hours) and finishing a water battle with my compadres, I fell where we were standing and nearly went directly into an afternoon siesta in the shade next to the falls. I was so content and relaxed that drool was flowing freely from my mouth. I was care free. There was water–and at that moment, water was all I needed.
Take caution when going into the desert. You will certainly learn some things–some of which you will not be ready to learn. The best thing you can do is plan ahead and prepare (Leave no trace is principle number one), but there are some things that sneak up on you, take you by surprise, or catch you off guard. Enjoy the lack of bias that the desert and wilderness offer, and immerse yourself in creation. Take your experiences and learn from what you have gone through.