"Nature is the medium in which life transpires,"
Scott Russel Sanders on Wendell Berry.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 11: Red Rock Canyon State Park (No, It's not on the list)

13 June, 2011

On my way to several parks located in San Diego and Los Angeles counties, I stayed at Red Rock Canyon State Park. Don’t panic, it’s not on the list. I chose to stay at Red Rock because it is an hour closer to home than Saddleback Butte State Park, I love red rock, and this park has been on my list for a long time. This turned out to be a good choice, because I got a late start. As it was, I set up camp in the purple timbre of late evening and gusty winds.

The drive down 99, like I-5, is bleak; it is filled with industry, monocultures, and very little that would qualify as nature or culture, or perhaps more accurately, the relationship between nature and culture here creates the dismal and unimaginative landscape; it is an ecological condition created by the culture living inside that landscape.

As I neared the golden folds of the Tehachapi’s I felt my body relax, and I began to breath smoothly. Despite the harshness of the desert, the experience of the Tehachapi’s feels less stark than the dusty industrial and wholly manipulated valley. The place still maintains a tangible pulse.

Just around the bend of the first few hills, however, a giant wind farm scarred the spine of the mountains as far as I could see. I am a proponent of green energy, but must admit that wind farms construct a colossal and menacing scene. As I sit in my air conditioned house, under my electric light, tacking away at my computer, I question whether we really need to use so much energy. It seems that with all the talk of zero emissions energy that conservation never becomes a serious part of the discussion.

Additionally, so called green energy might be better called zero emissions energy. Green or eco-friendly or any other such terms imply that the technology is actually eco-friendly or at least maintains a neutral effect on ecosystems as a whole because it is zero emissions. This approach and terminology is narrow sighted; it behaves as if climate is the only factor in ecosystem health. For example, dams are on the whole one of the most destructive forms of energy I have come across, yet they are zero emissions. They disrupt the migration of anadromous fish such a salmon and thus destroying fish populations as well as the cultures dependent upon them. They permanently saturate habitat, disrupt vital nutrient and sediment cycles, and interfere with natural pollution filtration systems provided by healthy watersheds…but I digress.

Red Rock Canyon is gorgeous. Although I will not spend much time talking about it since it is not on the list. The night was gusty, but my tent held up—unlike my last trip to Death Valley where my devoted tent fell victim to70 mph gusts. In the morning, I did yoga in under the rising sun and wrote in my journal before breaking camp and heading south for Saddleback Butte.

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