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Ben: With each balmy day that passed in the canyon the skiing became progressively worse.  Lucky for us all national parks were free over the weekend so we had easy access to Bryce Canyon.  

The canyon was a total muddy mess, with the last of the snow desperately hanging on only to have swarms of people grinding the slush into the sandy soil, producing a sticky, red concoction that sucked our shoes in and wouldn’t let them go.  It wasn’t until we veered off onto the horse trail that we really began to feel the isolation that so often accompanies us at Utah’s national parks in the winter.

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I have a long history of really not liking the desert.  The intense heat, dry air, and lack of vegetation used to give me near visceral reactions of disdain.  I would feel almost anxious to be trapped in the heat and the lack of moisture where things have to struggle so desperately for survival.


Ever since taking up bonsai, my disdain for the desert has been all but mitigated.  Southern Utah has some of the coolest trees I have ever seen.  I have always noticed the ancient, gnarled forms when spending time down there, but I now I’ve fallen in love with them.  It is petty incredible to see how these living things hang on in such a hostile environment.  I don’t have many super-awesome pictures of most of them, but I think that Bree and the kids were tired of me stalling all progress in order to gawk at just about every one.

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It was interesting to note the total transformation of my experience in the desert.  Where Bryce Canyon used to hold about an hour or two of interest I could now spend days down there.  It was by learning to appreciate very subtle details that the entire environment was transformed – whether it is the nebari of a tree that may be over a thousand years old, or the jin created by an ancient thunderstorm.  These primitive elements have truly made the place a testament to environmental adaptation and a place where good form and even art is easily come by.

What really is mind-bending is to know that if this place could be transformed so drastically, there must be other aspects of my life that I am completely oblivious to, which could also be reconstructed through the exact same process.  Either way, it gives me purpose in order to find detail and appreciate good form, wherever it may be.

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The hike was good, though – much better in February than July.  We had beautiful weather, awesome clouds, and the trails weren’t overly crowded in spite of the poor ski conditions driving all of the winter-festivalers into the park.

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