Note: The recordings featured here are “3D binaural soundscapes”. Please wear headphones for a profound listening experience that will make you think you’re actually out there, immersed in the natural world!
This is the trip I had planned for 2020, but had to cancel due to the pandemic. It will take me to the Hill Country of Texas where I’ll visit Lost Maples State Natural Area, a wonderful wild area that sports a healthy population of land-breeding Barking Frogs. Then on to Kickapoo Cavern State Park, home to around a million Mexican Free-tailed Bats. After that … a week or longer in Big Bend National Park, where Elf Owls and Cactus Wrens will be in full song. Oh my, will that be fun!
After Big Bend, I will travel to Arizona, where I’ll spend the entire month of April exploring the Sonoran Desert and associated canyons and mountains, perhaps with a side excursion into California for Mojave Desert recordings. What’s in store for the month of May I do not know for sure. I might very well spend more time in the Southwest and then slowly saunter home. Or, quite possibly, I’ll head to the Prairie States and then travel northward, maybe ending up in North Dakota or even Manitoba.
But what I look forward to the most, what I’m dreaming about day and night, is my visit to the Aravaipa Canyon, which is located about ninety miles southeast of Phoenix, at least as the crow flies. I discovered this fascinating spot during my 2017 expedition, and I simply cannot wait to be there once again:
But there is a caveat. I would consider Aravaipa Canyon to be “heaven on earth” were it not for one big downside for the nature recordist … JET OVERFLIGHTS! I consider them to be the “Curse of Aravaipa,” the one thing that disturbs my experience of this incomparable wild area. Unfortunately, the canyon lies along the flight path between Phoenix and El Paso. As a result, during the day and well into the night, one passenger jet after another pass over the canyon. Even though flying at high altitudes, the rumble of each jet is quite audible and definitely disturbing to one’s sensibilities. It can be so maddening … sometimes one is lucky to experience just ten minutes of silence, before the next jet arrives. Aarrgghh! Jets shouldn’t be allowed to fly over designated wilderness areas!!!
Fortunately, the overflights rapidly dwindle after 10pm, and by midnight nature’s quietude reigns supreme. The calm lasts all through the rest of the night and into the first light of dawn, making it possible for me to gather pristine recordings until the jet activity starts up again, not long after sunrise. Were it not for the jets, I truly believe I would experience “Aravaipa Nirvana,” and perhaps become so transparent and infused with Zen no-mind that I would literally vanish into the ether of the place, never to be heard from again. So maybe it is fortunate that the jets pull me back from my immersion, forcing me to remain here in the ordinary mundane human world, where I am compelled to share occasional peak experiences with others. Life could be worse, I suppose.
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The sounds of nature warm the soul. Enjoy your visit, Lang. I hope the weather cooperates.
Lovely soundscapes Lang and so nice to hear on a still winter day. Glad that you will be back on the road and creating more beautiful nature recordings. Good luck on the road.
Re airplane noise we had a brief pandemic caused reduction in noise here in NE PA but notice now that the flights are picking up.
Hey Lang, I consider Jets as Part of our ecosystem. In my Zen courses I tell the participants, that they should Look on the “artifical” soundscapes made by man without prejudice as Aliens would do. They would not separate our species from the others, so Railways and Highways would be regarded by them as well natural as an Ant line. Take e.G. the beginning of the Album Substrata by Biosphere, where there are a Lot of noises incl. a Jet flying by. Trains and Plains can invoke feelings of yearning and width. Humans are also Part of the ecosystem, things… Read more »
Such exquisite recordings. I can understand how being there would nourish the soul. Are these part of any of your recordings for sale? Good luck on your journey, will look forward to what it produces. And I truly understand the crazy frustration of intrusive noise when attempting to record. I’ll never forget the many hours I tried to get a segment of thrush song in patuxent river park near DC
Aravaipa is a magical place. Visited there back in 1990 on a desert ecology field course on a two day hike through. This was our first stop in the 3 week class and where we were introduced to the Sonoran Desert, where we also visited Organ Pipe National Monument, Mount Lemon (outside Tuscon), and the Grand Canyon. On your return through the Midwest, if you are passing through Illinois, consider visiting Nachusa Grasslands – definitely another bucket list natural area. Looking forward to your posts Lang.
I can imagine how distracting the jets can be, but you apparently found a window for this wonderful recording. Thanks for sharing it. I live in Eugene, Oregon, near the flight path of both commuter jets and flocks of Canadian geese. One is somewhat irritating, the other is always a pleasant reminder that nature is holding its own in one small way, even when we have to hose down the “fuel deposits” from the geese on the car. Looking forward to your future shares.
Geese are a bit of a bane for the nature recordist. Due to the overwhelming success of state breeding programs many decades ago, the previously endangered Canada Goose came back in spades. The problem, however, is that many lost their urge to migrate and instead became year-round residents, their alarm honks overwhelming other marsh sounds during their spring and early summer breeding season. I would rather hear them only as they migrate northward in the spring and southward in the autumn. Now, virtually every decent marsh has a breeding pair or two and my lord are they vociferous. The slightest… Read more »
Consider the jets as predators. Just lay low and let them pass over. I have been told it makes you more aware of living to have the threat of death present. That might take you out of your Zen State for a little while and make you really hyper aware . Very different from the threat of the cancer.
One of the drawbacks of being a nature recordist is that one ends up hyper-aware of extraneous human-created noises … high-flying jet whoosh, the distant barks of dogs, or the incessant low-level machine-related rumble that occurs most everywhere, at least in the lower 48. Most people just don’t notice these intrusive sounds and thus can have a pristine wilderness experience, even a short distance out of town. Quite often, when I first meet someone and tell them what I do for a living, they invite me to come record in their favorite “quiet” place, which is sometimes their backyard or… Read more »
Hi Lang. I look forward to your aural sojourn to the desert Southwest! It is a beloved landscape for me as well – as I lived for a time in Albuquerque and traveled several times to northern AZ & southern UT. A special fondness for the Grand Canyon region. Safe travels & happy listening! ~ Lisa from CA
I also love that you go to out-of-the-way places that most of us will never visit. It truly nourishes me just to listen to your soundscapes and imagine I am there. Thank you again for sharing your journey & gifts with us.
You’re welcome Lisa!
Yay Lang!! Excellent adventure ahead and thanks for sharing your love and connection with our natural world through photos, posts, and recordings; truly magical and much needed in reaching a more balanced and healthy relationship between us and mother earth! Go with our support and enthusiasm sir!
Thank you John!
Sounds like a fantastic trip Lang. I do hope you enjoy your travels and can’t wait to hear the recordings!
Sounds like a great trip Lang. Even though I live in Phoenix, I’ll have to add Aravaipa to my to do list – I’ve never been! That recording of the Chat singing at midnight with the crickets is INCREDIBLE! One of my favorite birds… hearing a lone chat at midnight over a bed of crickets is now definitely on my to do list. Thanks for sharing.
Parker: Glad to know that you appreciate that recording, which I think is supremely sublime. The Chat is just at the right distance, fairly close but not at all loud and jarring. A perfect mix I would say, created by nature. And I got it largely by chance. I set my soundscape mic in the dry stream bed of the Turkey Creek tributary and left it for the night. At first, the crickets were way too loud for my liking. But by midnight they had mellowed to a really nice level, from which the featured recording was drawn. And I… Read more »
music of nature indeed. pristine & beautiful recordings, Lang. can’t wait to hear more…… btw, i’m curious, on these trips are you camping or rv’ing or what ?
Mostly camping, with occasional motels. I’ll be traveling in a Subaru Forester, which is not big enough to sleep in. And I hate hauling a trailer; I go down too many narrow back roads and then have to turn around in a tight space. So just a small tent, sleeping bag, etc. Roughing it for sure.
understood completely. great to know and to be able to visualize the journey……..
Please enjoy every moment of your trip but while away know that you are travelling daily through areas where the deadly rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV2) has exploded, extremely high mortality rates among all wild lagomorphs and domestic pet rabbits. The disease is extremely robust and travels on transit vehicles from state to state. There is no outbreak of this killer in NY state yet, but it will reach here, decimating wild and domestic rabbits in all the states between. Hardship extends as well to the predator populations who depend on wild rabbits, mother nature’s ‘free lunch’ to so many. Not… Read more »
Wow … yet another reason to cultivate a Thoreauvian approach to nature appreciation, and just stay close to home.
Well, clearly that won’t work for you! It’s just another something we have to live with. RHDV2 is in AZ, CO, NM, NV, TX (UT and WA not on your loop this time).
I just looked at the map. The Southwest is certainly a hotbed for the virus. If I stumble across a dead rabbit, I’ll keep my distance for sure. Plus I’ll avoid driving over any roadkill.
Thanks for your awareness, Lang. State wildlife agencies also request being advised of dead rabbit sightings; helps them in mapping the spread.
Safe travels. I look forward to hearing the recordings.
These recordings are wonderful!
Have a great trip, Lang. With jet travel still reduced due to Covid, let’s hope that perhaps you’ll have better luck with your recordings.
Jet travel doesn’t look reduced at all. Check out flightradar24.com. I look at it all time. Phoenix is cluttered with planes. And there’s quite a number going over Klondyke (to the southeast of Phoenix), which is were Aravaipa Canyon is located. It doesn’t look encouraging, except after 11pm or so.
Yes … rats!
Wait ’til you hear the recordings and photos I plan to capture and share!
Sounds like that area ticks all the boxes.
That it does, though I hear there’s quite a drought in Arizona, so water noise may be subdued. That’s actually OK with me because I have more than enough waterscape recordings from my 2017 trip to the Southwest.
Yes, there is something too easy about recording streams.
Mike … I wish you the best in getting out of the lock down. I’m lucky for sure, though still will be quite cautious with regard to the pandemic.
Well this is an enviable trip Lang! Safe travels and I look forward to hearing and listening to parts of your adventure. Gail
Thanks Gail. I plan to do a lot of sharing. Mainly I hope to send regular “audio postcards”. It’s got to be dead easy to pull off, or else I won’t have the time to do it. I learned my lesson in 2017. Producing full-fledged podcasts took way too long and I ended up burning out on it.