Wandering Home

Wandering Home: Naomi Ridgeline from the Mt. Magog Summit Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Naomi Ridgeline from the Mt. Magog Summit
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
There’s a map in my head lined with the topography of memory and time. The landscape has a rhythm, the cadence of muscle memory when enough boot prints have been tracked across it. Earth’s geometries are as familiar as my own. Wandering Home

Annapurna region of the Himalaya; Nepal
Annapurna region of the Himalaya; Nepal
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
George Mallory, when asked in 1923 why he would attempt to climb Mt. Everest, replied, “Because it’s there.” Those now immortal words have been uttered by nearly every adventurer seeking some sort of tenable logic for their quests big or small. Mallory’s words rattle in my brain when I endeavor to do much of anything outside; but those words are only half the answer. Yes, we climb mountains, paddle rivers, and explore canyons because they are there, but also because we are here. That, I think, is the most tenable logic of all.

“…[T]he living world is the natural domain of the most restless and paradoxical part of the human spirit,” wrote E. O. Wilson. “Our sense of wonder,” he continues, “grows exponentially: the greater the knowledge, the deeper the mystery and the more we seek knowledge to create new mystery.”

Blue John slot canyon, Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Blue John Slot Canyon
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Everett Ruess was still a child in 1931 when he began wandering the red rock canyons of southern Utah with a burro and his art supplies. He scaled cliff bands and steep canyon walls with alarming abandon, and I thought him reckless when I first read his letters and journals. I still wouldn’t follow his lead; but I wonder now if I had judged him too harshly at first. Mysteries are known and knowledge is gained through perspective; and some perspectives are acquired with requisite risks.

They say there’s a gene that separates the restless wanderers from those more content. Perhaps that’s true; or perhaps it just identifies the tendency with which we gain perspective. I’ve often wondered if I have that gene; but I don’t think it matters in the end. We all wander—into the backcountry, the hinterlands, the backyard. I think it’s the mysteries we seek that are different, and, therefore, the knowledge gained—of ourselves and the places we call home.

Jardine Juniper trail, Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Jardine Juniper trail
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
So, I wander my home range: the valley floor with its winding, braided, willow-choked streams; the hills adjacent to my neighborhood; the glaciated peaks of lime- and dolostone that stand sentinel in the alpenglow. A decade ago, it would have been for the rush of adrenaline and the surge of blood in my veins, for the same perspectives sought by Everett Ruess. Now I do it for the deeper mystery of unknown corners of places I once thought I knew—for the knowledge that lies within.

There’s a map in my head, lined with the topography of memory and time, shaded by the knowledge gained and the mysteries still yet to be revealed.

I’m Josh Boling; and I’m Wild About Utah.

Cache Valley from Naomi Peak ridgeline. Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Cache Valley from Naomi Peak ridgeline
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Josh Boling, Photographer
Sound: Courtesy & Copyright Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio
Text: Josh Boling, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Lyle Bingham

Sources & Additional Reading

Edwards, Mo, Top 10 Slot Canyons in Utah, Utah.com (Utah Travel Industry Website), July 26, 2017, https://utah.com/top-10-slot-canyons-in-utah

Mount Naomi Wilderness, Wilderness Connect (University of Montana) https://wilderness.net/visit-wilderness/?ID=378

Mount Naomi, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, USDA Forest Service, https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/uwcnf/recreation/wintersports/?cid=fsem_035454

Hike Mt. Magog, The Outbound Collective, https://www.theoutbound.com/utah/hiking/hike-mt-magog

Ohms, Sarah, Sinclair, Jim, Logan Canyon Hiking, Bridgerland Audubon Society/Cache Hikers, https://logancanyonhiking.com/

Cache County Trails, Cache County, https://trails.cachecounty.org/

Hiking Trail Guide, Cache Valley Visitors Bureau/Logan Ranger District, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, https://www.explorelogan.com/assets/files/brochures/hiking.pdf

Cache Trails, A hiking guide for the trails of the Cache Valley, Bridgerland Audubon Society, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/our-projects/publications/