NatGeo: Explorer Moment of the Week

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“We Never Meant to Walk This High”

“I awoke at first light feeling the sun on my face and sleeping bag. There was something out of place— a sound like a vacuum cleaner— that drowned the typical wild melody of birds. I spot a pesticide tractor weaving a cloud of grey mist in the rows of grape vines, its mechanical whine echoing over the valley. I hate the sound and its control and dominance over a landscape I had come to see as free and wild. The group of hikers I joined agree that it is time to leave the valley. We walk through apple orchards with the trees transplanted in lines, their bodies restrained against posts and guide wire, their limbs trimmed, their buds sterile.

oil masked as vine
constrict, choke, and cleave the wild,
how sweet is our loss?

We leave the farm roads, dig our boots into the soil and quickly find ourselves walking through the bush again. Our erratic, spontaneous path takes us higher and higher until we are back walking the spine of the ridge line. We never meant to walk this high. The noise of the pesticide tractors is lost in the wind and the ground underfoot is now free from manicured perfection. Up here we find the scent of the clouds and the untamed inside us.”

**View on National Geographic’s Website