I really hate city parks. Though they seem like a good idea on the surface, further inspection reveals that they are the antithesis of what our species, or any species, truly needs. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the protection afforded what little is left of the natural world. However, I despise the idea that these little islands of nature be protected whilst we allow industry and “progress” to destroy the true wilderness.
I am hiking with my lab, Chianti, through South Mountain Park in the heart of Phoenix, AZ. We started early in the hope of achieving solitude and silence. It started peacefully enough. It was only once we’d begun to rise above the valley that I heard the noise. As we climbed, our peace was gradually eroded by the rising cacophony of airplanes, automobiles, barking dogs, horns, traffic, factories, whirring electrical cables, and engines clashing together in a flash of unnatural white noise; the eerie symphony of industry, progress; the sound of impending death.
Like the smog that smothers this valley, the pollutant cannot be witnessed by those within the belly of the beast. Atop these desert mountain peaks, where one would expect to hear the sound of solitude, one is instead confronted by the incessant howling of the gates of hell. I desperately need to get off of this cursed mountain, out of this valley, and into the arms of the deep mountain wilderness. Until then I will have to invest in some ear plugs to couple with these smog filtering sunglasses.
As we make our way back to the demon valley we are confronted by a well meaning but under informed park steward chastising us for cross-cutting out of bounds of the established trail. I somehow resist the urge to remove his voice-box and simply apologize for our transgression instead. I can’t blame the dog; she is only doing what comes naturally. As we walk away I consider to myself the problem of our eroding natural world. I strongly suspect that this erosion has more to do with the encroachment of housing, industry, mining, nuclear reactors, the Chamber of Commerce, the BLM, and “progress” than with my habitual cross-trail cutting.