Learning How to Slow Down in the Desert - Adam McKibben

Learning How to Slow Down in the Desert

Nearly six months had passed since our last camping trip. I know this may sound like a relatively short amount of time to some, but for people who enjoy spending as much time outside as we do, that six months felt like a decade to Chloe and I. The past winter had been a season of challenges for us. From family members facing difficult diagnoses to our dog relearning how to walk after a head-on collision with a truck, we were ready to head to somewhere wild and press the reset button.

For a few months the southeast corner of Oregon regularly put itself in front of us. From various social media posts popping up, to a full feature in Patagonia’s catalogue, it seemed this sparsely explored corner of the state was nudging us to come and see it for ourselves.

After a few weeks of research and trip planning, we packed up the truck and ventured into one of the last truly wild places in the country. There were promises of free roaming horses and cattle, unparalleled solitude, and roads that had the potential to not only chew up your tires, but leave you stranded in one of the most remote places in Oregon. I’ll let the photos and video do the talking as far as what we saw, but let me assure you, we were not left disappointed.

As jaw-dropping as the scenery was, this trip was about something more for me. I find myself talking a lot about perspective, and finding new ways to see the world that surrounds you. Up until this past winter and this trip, my perspective on time and gratitude was that of someone who never felt the need to think twice about either. But all in one season, I watched a pet I love so much nearly die in front of me, and then I lost a grandfather who lived out the definition of determination and hard work and helped mold me into the person I have become, and my perspective shifted. I now feel like I have a whole new understanding for a list of clichés.

I’ve always been one of those people who wants to do it all. I want to help people, I want to see everything, I want to learn every single lesson of how the world works and why people act the way they do. But this trip has started to change that desire in me. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be the person who wants to do as much as he can, but as I was sitting in the desert one night on this trip, the world around me dark and quiet, Chloe peacefully writing in her journal, I realized I no longer want to be someone who feels the need to do it all, but instead someone who does what he can and doesn’t discriminate for that which he is grateful. This trip was more than just a quick escape, it was the beginning of a very long lesson in learning how not to sprint through life.

The Owyhee Canyonlands is an immensely special place. It evades the reaches of cell phone service and is predicted that in one decade it will be the only place in the Lower 48 that you’ll be able to see the night sky with no light pollution. However, this area is not yet protected. There’s pressure from oil and gas companies to begin mining in this region. I have taken a stand, along with thousands of others, to protect the Owyhee area. I urge you to join us and go to http://wildowyhee.org/ and sign the petition, and also make the time to go see this place for yourself.

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