White Rim: No Exit

Posted by on Apr 28, 2009 in Moab | 3 Comments

INEZ [struggling and laughing]: But, you crazy creature, what do you think you’re doing? You know quite well I’m dead.


[She drops the knife. A pause. INEZ picks up the knife and jabs herself with it regretfully.]

INEZ: Dead! Dead! Dead! Knives, poison, ropes–all useless. It has happened already, do you understand? Once and for all. So here we are, forever. [Laughs.]

ESTELLE [with a peal of laughter]: Forever. My God, how funny! Forever.

GARCIN [looks at the two women, and joins in the laughter]: For ever, and ever, and ever.

[They slump onto their respective sofas. A long silence. Their laughter dies away and they gaze at each other.]

GARCIN: Well, well, let’s get on with it. . . .

~Sartre, No Exit

The very thing that makes the White Rim so beautiful and terrible is its enormous, unending, eternal nature. For mile after mile the scenery, while spectacular, is unchanging. One ancient, improbable, precarious stone monolith looks as much like another ancient, improbable, precarious stone monolith. And everywhere stand towers and ledges and embryonic arches, patiently waiting for time and wind and water to erode them into dust.

With audacity and ignorance we dawdle on underneath the ruins of the soft rock, as the sand is blown and tossed into the wind. We pass along the road as it contours and weaves and winds its way through the eons of erosion, as witnesses to the great masterpieces of the Colorado and the Green – a joint effort of creation by destruction.

As I rode through the landscape on Friday, ever aware of the clock ticking away, I was burdened by the monotony and the gluttony. That is, I knew that I was spending capital that I did not have and that the usual ceaseless amazement at the very presence of this temple of temples, the veritable holy of holies of the Church of the Blue Dome was somehow absent. Or, at the very least, awry. And yet, onward I pedaled. At times begrudgingly, but forward nonetheless. After all, it is really the only way to complete the route – sometimes that “dark cloud of progress” is the only way to get home again…

However, it did not take long to feel isolated and remote. Those feelings come easy on the White Rim. Even the inevitable passing of fellow travelers, of whom there are few (relatively speaking) seems out of place and is so short lived that one wonders if the encounters were ever actually real at all.

The only tangible tether to reality was the occasional glimpse, or unexpected regrouping with Kenny and Bart and Jared. But then it would not be long until they to would soon disappear into the rock and canyons and nothing of the the vast and empty world around me, leaving me once again to wonder if anything I saw was nothing more than some sort of hell, an amaranthine labyrinth of beauty, and pain – the sublime and the ridiculous.

Afterward, I sat with my head between my knees on a slab of slickrock. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to sleep. I wanted nothing to do with the White Rim, or the canyon country or Moab or sand or wind or dust. I especially wanted nothing to do with riding the same route again the very next day.

But dammit. That is exactly what I did.


  1. Rick Sunderlage
    April 28, 2009

    It’s amazing what a couple of brats will do for your recovery.

  2. Keith
    April 29, 2009

    You know, some people listen to reason. Others?, well they torture themselves for their own, and others, amusement. It’s both impressive and slightly disturbing at the same time.

  3. Joel White
    May 12, 2009

    That is a superb pic, love this one and the “Sweet Relief” photo as well. Without reading a word, they tell a great story.

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