Under the Desert Sun
Abbey was born in 1927 on a family farm in the mountains of Appalachia, in western Pennsylvania, but before he was 20 he had travelled to the American south-west and fallen in love with the ‘implacable indifference’ of the red rock desert and labyrinthine canyons of ‘the four corners’, the point at which Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado converge. It would forever speak to his heart. By the 1950s he was working as a park ranger, and in 1956 he began two seasons at the Arches National Monument in south-east Utah, now a national park. He was home. It was a time of ‘pure, smug, animal satisfaction’. He began to keep a journal that would later blossom into an elegiac memoir: Desert Solitaire (1968).