Badlands, SD

"This road trip around the West was something that I knew I would want to remember for a long time, so I decided to keep a running journal to tell a story about every park I visited. It was just a pen and a notebook in my tent, by a lantern at times. So, depending on the day, some of my entries were ecstatic, and others were a little sour. I would say this day was a bit sour."

Wind Cave, SD

"The trail spun outward into infinity, and I followed. Into the gently waving horizon, nothing and no one surrounding me. I slowly spun in the middle of the rich emptiness, just breathing. My sun-strained brow relaxed, my shoulders loosened. I let down my final guard, and I stared."

Rocky Mountains, CO

"I slipped. I landed on my butt at the top of this hill in the snowy rut, legs out in front of me, hiking pole somehow managing to lose contact with the ground. I started sliding. 'Well,' I said out loud, defeated and irritated as my wet ass gained speed on the damn slope."

Black Canyon, CO

"Black Canyon was unbelievable. The sheer steepness of its painted walls, the finger of the Gunnison River down there at the bottom. From the overlook, all you can hear is the faint roar, and the rush of the wind pushing you back from the edge."

Great Basin, NV

"The alpine air could be bottled and sold for millions. It was light and clear, icy cold pine mixed with petrichor and glacial, running water. It woke me up, invigorating and purifying, cleansing my lungs. I would return to this park just to breathe the air again."