Stomping Grounds

Stomping grounds—the areas where you spend most of your time, the accessible places from your home base, your most familiar territory. For most of my life, my stomping grounds consisted of the humid southeastern temperate forests, the wet earth. It’s lush, ethereal, and enveloping. The air is dense, the landscape is verdant, and the scent of humus permeates every cell along the length of your nasal passages. In this setting you are part of the landscape, immersed in it.

Now my stomping grounds are northern Nevada deserts, a stark contrast to my experience in the southeast. The places I now get to explore on a daily basis are arid, expansive, and rugged. It’s a land of rapidly changing weather and landscape. Here the view extends for countless miles—mostly dusky tones dotted by green. It’s weathered, older mountains flanked by younger, rougher Sierra Nevadas off in the distance. Sunsets explode the evenings here on a regular basis. The land soaks in the glow and reciprocates the sky’s effort.

And the smell that dominates my senses now is sagebrush. After a rain, the fragrance seeps into every molecule of air around you. It drops deep into my lungs. Even during the drier months, when I return to civilization after exploring the backcountry, that smell is embedded in my clothes and boots.

There is peace in that smell. The smell of home.

rawe peak - val in real life
My new stomping grounds, the territory I get to explore practically in my backyard.