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  • It was another week without Internet access, a week of dehydrating days, cold windy nights, and uncomfortable cots in tiny tents for two. Blisters and bruises from 17-kilometer hikes just a week before were still healing. “Giraween National Park, you better be worth this”, I said to myself as I took my 3 minute shower on a timer.

    The week began with lessons in the field from the incredible professor John Hall about the natural world that was alive all around me. There was never a dull moment on the hikes through the bush, learning fun facts about the kangaroos, exotic birds, and the peculiar flowers I’ve never seen before. Most unforgettable, though, was the long journey to see a rock…but it was more than just a rock. It was The Sphinx.

    At any moment it seemed the balancing piece of granite rock would keel over and fall 900 meters off the pinnacle. As we stood on a cliff edge soaking up the magnificence of that piece of Australian landscape in front of us, John Hall recited a poem by Khalil Gibran entitled “Beauty”. “Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart.” Suddenly my legs weren’t so sore anymore, I caught my breath, and I wanted to take back every complaint I had the entire week. As arid and unappealing as it appears at a first glance, there really is true beauty in a desert, and how many people can say they had the opportunity to see and experience what I did that day? Not many.
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