Noise Free, Visually Enhanced

Last Saturday my friend Jose Saldana, who was passing through town on his way to Yosemite, hiked with me up to the saddle of Cathedral Rock near Sedona. We arrived right around sunset to catch the shadows playing off the red formations. Engrossed in our mission, I gave no thought to the precipitous four-mile hike back to the parking lot in the dark. I also gave no thought to the fact that Jose is deaf. But he’s a photographer, a filmmaker, and a mountain climber who has summitted Mount Adams, climbed 12 Colorado Fourteeners, and trekked in the Italian Alps, so I figured he’s taken a few night hikes before. If Jose was freaked out on the way back to the car, he didn’t show it—at one point he was hiking so fast that I had to run to keep up, tripping over rocks and misjudged space.

Jose isn’t completely deaf. He can hear airplanes, a door slam, a sneeze, the rev of a motorcycle, and deep bass. But he’s never heard the crash of a wave, the sound of the wind in the trees, or music. I assumed that if Jose could, he would choose a life of sound over a life of silence. But when I asked him—via scribbles on legal pad, since my sign-language skills are nearly non-existent—his answer was no.

“I feel peace! I have no annoying noises,” he told me. “And a deaf is born sensitive to vibrations—if you put your foot on the ground I can feel it. We’re also highly visual.”

That explains Jose’s stealth navigation in the dark. It also explains this photo he took from Cathedral Rock.

Photo by Jose Saldana


9 Responses to “Noise Free, Visually Enhanced”

  1. 1 Mark Lindner April 11, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Is there a place to see some of Jose’s other photographs?
    I did a google search, but let’s just say the Jose Saldana that comes up first is clearly not the man you went hiking with.

  2. 2 Stephanie Pearson April 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Mark, Jose doesn’t have a website yet, but he does some filming for Deafnation. Look up Deafnation, No Barriers: Israel, China, Jordan. His bio is also on the Americorps site: It’s at

  3. 3 Mark Lindner April 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Thanks, I’ll check that out. Did you, by chance, google his name? The person who came up is a dangerouos felon. Just my opinion, but I don’t think you want to interact too much with that Jose Saldana!!!

  4. 5 Mark Lindner April 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    You’re welcome; just trying to watch out for a fellow Minnesotan – no matter where you may be today. lol

  5. 6 Catherine Hynes April 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Mark Linder- you had me cracking up. The Hatford resident Jose Saldana is NOT the same Jose that she went hiking with. In fact, I met Jose in college and he is one of the sweetest gentleman I know. I don’t think he’d even hurt a fly.

    Stephanie, Thank you for a beautifully written blog! You had me beaming with pride just reading all about his accomplisments as well as the hike you both experienced together. Jose and I both share love for photography and it’s just awesome reading up on somene I know and his accomplisments. I’m awfully proud of the guy.

  6. 7 Stephanie Pearson April 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    HI Catherine, Thanks for your kind words. I’m proud of Jose, too!

    • 9 Mark Lindner April 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Thanks Jose; I certainly hope no one ever assumes you are the alleged felon (and no, I didn’t think that either – but I did find it somewhat humorous when I googled your name to see other photographs, that up pops “the other” Jose Saldana. Methinks that had Stephanie hiked with him, she would not have been around to write that blog entry – she should probably stick with you…lol

      Your photographs are tremendous!!

      PS – Catherine – glad I could add some humor to your day!!!!

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