Our second camp site was perched on Cedar Mesa overlooking Monument Valley thousands of feet below. The view was so stunning it seemed unreal, and I had to repeatedly tell myself I wasn’t looking at a post card or a television screen, but a real, vast expanse of land carved by wind and water.
A SCOUTING RUN
09.09.18 – Elise joined me for my first run at this site. After 1.5 miles she turned to make her run an even 3 miles. I continued out to Muley point, catching a view of the giant curve in the canyon, like the edge of a bowl, which wasn’t visible from our camp. I was able to cross 7 miles of dirt and get back in time for breakfast. Later, I rolled out a few feet of my canvas in the shade of a cedar. The day was heating up quickly and the others were scattered around the canyon with their separate projects and adventures. I thought maybe I’d paint the massive landscape spread out in front of me, or maybe attempt to map out the morning’s run… but as I sat in the dappled light of that cedar I decided to paint the shadow of the tree. I didn’t really paint the shadow though, I painted the line that delineated shadow and light. I got sap on my hands, butt and tools. I painted quickly as the light was shifting fairly quickly. After capturing the shadow directly on my little unrolled section of canvas I called it quits. I needed to sit in a breeze and try to cool of my face and head. Being too warm for too long just leads to heat exhaustion. Reading and sketching in my field notes and trip journal was all I managed for the rest of the day. A bad headache set in around 4PM and was with me all through the night.
From my Land Arts journal (hand-bound art book)
A LONGER RUN
09.10.18 – The following day I woke with the same headache as well as an ear ache and swollen eyes. There were so many good reasons to stay in bed. It was 5:30 and the site was silent. I decided I should at least try to run. It was quite the production collecting all my gear in the dark and setting out. Still incredibly drowsy, I left my tent, rounded it and headed towards the vans and kitchen to fill my water reservoir. After a few minutes of walking and looking at my feet by the light of my running waist lamp I stopped and looked around… and around… my light only lit up dirt, shrubbery and rock. I looked back towards the tents, but my lamp didn’t stretch far enough to illuminate them. We’d been warned that this was an isotropic landscape: a landscape that is the same in all directions. I chuckled at myself. Seriously? I just got lost in the 100 yards between my tent and the main camp? I didn’t really want to walk off the edge of the cliff so I just kept spanning my surroundings with the light. Then I remembered the compass clipped to my running vest and took a look. A quick correction led me immediately to the road and then to the two vans. Seeing as I was clearly capable of getting incredibly turned around in the dark, I stuck to the main road this run and put in 5 miles before breakfast. They were hard miles. My head ached, my sinus passages were on fire and my ear throbbed. I struggled up the hills and sought out the shallowest patches on the sandy road.
HOW MANY BREATHS DOES IT TAKE YOU TO MOVE ACROSS A LANDSCAPE?
At 7AM I put back two pine nut pancakes and some pain killers for my persistent headache. After dining and doing dishes I felt slightly better so this was my cue to try for more miles. This time I wanted to try something I had been thinking of for quite some time but hadn’t the patience to execute. I decided to count my breaths for the entire run. I made the following map to summarize some observations made during this run:
Map of the “Breath Run”
The day continued with a great group hike out to another point and finished with sketchbook work and some watercolor painting. A very productive day.
Map of group hike and sketch of cliff from campsite
Rock formations from Muley Point as well as the Moon House, a cliff dwelling created by the Anasazi or Ancestral Puebloan peoples between 1150 and 1300.