Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bells Canyon Lower Falls - A Hellish Endeavor

Lowers Falls in Bells Canyon

Deep in the Wasatch Mountains, Bells Canyon Creek begins its long descent from a remote reservoir. The spirited stream rushes through an infernal gorge where it cascades into a glorious waterfall.

In order to attain the lower falls, you must ascend an unmarked trail that’s been worn through dense foliage. During the summer, a sweaty scramble up to the sheer overlook is a hellish endeavor.

Upon arriving at the demonic destination, you are showered with cold water and a deafening roar. You must proceed with caution near this treacherous torrent or risk being swept into the steep abyss.

Despite the danger, it’s a wish-list destination where angels undoubtedly land. During this difficult journey you may fall into despair but don’t sell your soul to the devil, use only God-given strength to get you there.

Bells Canyon Trail

Deep in the Wasatch Mountains

A spirited stream

A glorious waterfall

The trail is cut through dense foliage

A strenuous scramble to the overlook

Showered with cold water and a deafening roar

A treacherous torrent

A steep abyss

A wish-list destination

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Green River - A Wild Spirit

Green River, Utah

The Green River is a muddy waterway that flows through the desolate desert of eastern Utah. Its steep banks are lined with lush vegetation and yellow wildflowers.

Everywhere around the verdant stream, waves of dry heat rise into a steamy, blue sky. Beyond the pale cliffs, purple storm clouds promise moisture for the parched landscape.

Born in Wyoming's Wind River Mountains, the Green is wide, deep and powerful. Most of its route occurs through the Colorado Plateau where it has carved some of the most spectacular canyons on earth.

During Westward Expansion, most of the main emigration routes had to cross the Green at some point. Because of the river's ferocity, ferry crossings were established to enable pioneers to continue their transcontinental journey.

Conquered by American Progress, the resilient river still retains much of its rugged beauty. Today, the tributary appears to be tamed but as it meanders into the remote Canyonlands, the Rio Verde arrives filled with a spirit of the wild.

A muddy waterway through the desert

The steep banks are lined with lush vegetation

A verdant stream

Storm clouds promise moisture

The Green is wide, deep and powerful

The river appears tamed

The Rio Verde

Filled with a spirit of the wild

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Chavez Trail - It Soothes the Soul

Columbine on the Chavez Trail

Down in Beaver Brook it was a sunny day on the Chavez Trail. Traversing a north-facing slope the dense forest was deep, dark and damp.

The little known out and back starts with a steamy descent and you'll finish in a sweaty mess. The strenuous hike is a weekend workout.

After such a wet spring, a profusion of Columbine has collected on the moist mountainside. The pretty perennial is Colorado's state flower.

Swaying in the summer breeze, these wildflowers appreciate sunlight but prefer cool shade. They're usually seen settled up against a tall pine.

Always in the foreground, green grass carpets a cathedral of arched aspen. The altar of open air is a perfect place to commune with nature.

If you're searching for silence, Chavez Trail will fill the bill. It's a great place to exercise the heart and soothe the soul.

Little known Chavez Trail

The forest is dark and damp

A strenuous hike

Colorado Columbine, the state flower

Swaying in the summer breeze

The wildflowers prefer shade

Green grass and aspen

An altar of open air

A place to soothe the soul

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mount Rushmore - A Magnificent Monument

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Concealed in a celestial wilderness of rock and pine, Mount Rushmore is a magnificent monument sculpted from smooth granite. Commissioned by the Federal Government to create the massive memorial, artist Gutzon Borglum began blasting in 1927.

Borglum chose to depict the featured presidents because of the unique ideals each seemed to possess. George Washington represents the struggle for independence while Thomas Jefferson the idea of government by the people.

Abraham Lincoln was included because he believed in equality and the permanent union of the states. Theodore Roosevelt appears due to his progressive thoughts on the role of the United States in contemporary world affairs.

After Gutzon Borglum’s death combined with a lack of further funding, the project was declared complete in 1941. The work looks unfinished but rough hewn edges give the piece a certain sketchiness that blends into the environment.

Upon entering the complex, a grand boulevard leads to an overlook where the sculpture can be contemplated. As an attraction luring tourists to South Dakota, the structure is certainly a success but some believe the triumph is bittersweet.

That stretch of land is sacred to the Lakota Sioux and in 1868 the Treaty of Fort Laramie granted them the Black Hills in perpetuity. Later, the United States seized the area from the Lakota Tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876.

Native Americans believe the spiritual mountain they know as the Six Grandfathers has been desecrated. They believe there is an unclean shroud over the presidents’ faces which will remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled.

There is no doubt that Mount Rushmore exudes patriotism. Visiting the place makes you feel proud of what this nation has become but if you’re a student of American History, you may also feel some regret for how we got there.

A wilderness of rock and pine

A massive memorial

Washington represents independence, Lincoln equality

The sculpture blends into the landscape

The grand boulevard

The structure is a success

The Black Hills are sacred

The Lakota Sioux were granted this land

Mount Rushmore exudes patriotism

You may also feel some regret

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Elk Meadow - A Melancholy Mood

Elk Meadow twilight

“Here comes the rain again. Falling on my head like a memory.” ~ Annie Lennox

Since it has rained almost every day, this spring has supplied us with a silent calm before the sunny season explodes with activity. Currently composed from an everlasting arrangement of cool coloration, the meadow is in a melancholy mood.

There’s not even a peep from the ruckus normally raised by the usual profusion of feathered friends. Under a watercolor sky, the only sign of life in this interesting landscape is a scattering of mule deer.

Marching up the muddy trails in such tranquility is like sleepwalking into an eerie atmosphere. During the storms, dense fog descends from a steel sky and a veil of steamy mist rises out of the soggy earth.

This season, being immersed in the dark beauty of low light is like waking from a fading dream. Enjoy it because a sizzling summer will begin soon and the rain will be just a hazy memory recalled by the fragrance of abundant wildflowers.

It's rained almost every day

A melancholy mood

A watercolor sky

A scattering of mule deer

An eerie atmosphere

Another storm over the meadow

A veil of fog and mist

The earth is soggy

Dark beauty of low light

The rain will be a memory

Abundant wildflowers