Saturday, September 5, 2015

Evergreen Mountain - An Inconspicuous Incline

Evergreen Mountain Summit

Evergreen Mountain is an inconspicuous incline cloaked by a dark forest of lodgepole pine. The secluded trail to the top provides plenty of squirrels, shade and solitude.

Without a soul to be seen, a series of steep switchbacks climbs a rocky spine to the crest. Surrounded by a variety of big, blue peaks, the scenery from the summit is sublime.

The open-air overlook offers an array of unobstructed views. Spectacular Mount Evans Wilderness unfolds to west where it’s bookended by Bergen Peak and Black Mountain.

Energized by a bit of rest, the easy descent flies by as fast as the sunny season. Before long, we’re back down at the bottom where summer is over and so it begins.

An inconspicuous incline

A secluded trail

Plenty of squirrels

Steep switchbacks

Surrounded by peaks

The summit is sublime

An open-air overlook

Spectacular Mount Evans Wilderness

Bookended by Black Mountain

Summer is over

So it begins

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Northport Canal - A Fleeting Journey

The Northport Canal

On a warm summer evening in western Nebraska, wandering along the Northport canal is simply wonderful. Cut through an infinite prairie of yellow grass, the winding waterway satisfies thirsty crops.

Drifting by unnoticed, storm clouds pass silently over the vast Sandhills. Still standing in the secluded pasture, an abandoned homestead seems like an idyllic place.

The rickety windmill looks like it works but the rest is in ruins. Grazing on the neglected grounds, cattle are curious about our unexpected appearance but mostly they’re content to chew cud.

Western kingbirds hold court in the blue grasses that border the slow-moving stream. Around the bend, a great blue heron is startled by strangers and vanishes into the distance like a grey ghost.

As the setting sun drenches the landscape with golden light, this glorious day comes to an end. Like the fleeting journey in Pilgrim’s Progress, so perfect is this peaceable kingdom that it must be a dream.

Though we walk in the darkness of that shadowy valley, we are not afraid. Hopefully, Heaven will be just like this because I could definitely stay here for all eternity.

Cut through an infinite prairie

Storm clouds pass silently

The homestead looks idyllic

The windmill works

Western Kingbird

The landscape is drenched in golden light

A peaceable kingdom

A shadowy valley

Just like heaven

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Zion Canyon - A Pleasant Pilgrimage

Zion National Park

Carved out of the Colorado Plateau by powerful erosive forces, Zion Canyon is difficult to describe with words. Luckily, I found out that the lovely landscape is photogenic from every possible angle.

Insulated from the surrounding desert, the deep corridor of rock towers and hanging gardens is enriched by the Virgin River. It’s a long pilgrimage to get there but reaching the righteous ravine is a religious experience.

Early settlers must have agreed as they labeled the most impressive landmarks with biblical names like Court of the Patriarchs, Altar of Sacrifice and Angels Landing. No wonder the place is a Mecca for hikers from all over the world.

Well-worn trails are woven throughout the National Park but at the north-end Narrows, wading through water is the only way. Splashing through the slot canyon is wet and wild but keep your fingers crossed for no flash flood.

Being there on a bad weather day, really brings out the best. If the astonishing beauty doesn’t take your breath away, then climbing up to the rim in the rain certainly will.

Obtaining an overlook above the clouds demands a maximum effort. Standing on that perilous edge soaked and cold may dampen your body but absorbing the surreal atmosphere from the top will ignite your soul.

Zion Canyon is difficult to describe

The landscape is photogenic from every angle

A deep corridor of rock towers

The Virgin River

A righteous ravine

Court of the Patriarchs

Angel's Landing

A Mecca for hikers

The Zion Narrows

Wading through water is the only way

The gorge is wet and wild

A bad weather day

Astonishing beauty

Soaked and cold

The atmosphere will ignite your soul

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Salt Lake Temple - An Uplifting Experience

The Salt Lake Temple

Fleeing from religious persecution, Brigham Young gathered his followers and led an exodus of Mormons into the American desert. They wandered over the Wasatch Mountains and settled in the isolated Salt Lake Valley (July 1847) where they hoped to build a New Jerusalem.

Upon their arrival, the pioneers promptly began construction of the Temple (February 1853) and it took almost exactly 40 years to finish. The pious palace is designed to be a portal to heaven and a place where believers can communicate with the Lord.

Salt Lake Temple is the centerpiece of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah and it’s an international symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The actual Temple building is closed to the public and LDS Church members may only enter if they’ve earned a special certificate called a Temple Recommend.

The square, however, is accessible to all and visitors are encouraged to thoroughly explore the rest of the gorgeous grounds. The sacred site features a fascinating mix of exotic plants, dazzling fountains, bronze sculptures and ornate architecture.

Clear light is filtered through a translucent canopy of fragrant maple trees and the allegorical water features are simply wonderful. Meant to be a peaceful place for strolling, resting and meditating, the Temple Gardens are filled with colorful flowers from all over the world.

Missionaries at the Temple Square were gracious hosts and they offered special insight into the church’s distinct history. Regardless of your religious affiliation, you’ll discover that visiting the Salt Lake Temple Square is a unique and uplifting experience.

A pious palace

The centerpiece of Temple Square

An international symbol of the LDS Church

The grounds are accessible to all

A mix of exotic plants

Bronze sculptures

Ornate architecture

Colorful flowers

A peaceful place

Visiting the site is an uplifting experience

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Bison Trail - That Damned Canyon

Toadstool Geologic Park

Banished to the remote northwest corner of Nebraska, Toadstool Geologic Park is a land that time forgot. Treking through these rugged badlands is treacherous, tiring and hotter than hell.

Bison Trail begins at the Hudson-Meng archaeological dig site and gently traverses a vast, grassland prairie. A hidden entrance into the gorge appears suddenly and the steep descent is like a gateway to Gehenna.

Once inside the abyss, a maze of sidetracks, slots and secret passageways will tempt the explorer to stray from the true path. Continue on this journey to the center of the earth and the scenery becomes even more spectacular.

Down at the bottom, you’re surrounded by a devil's playground of balancing rocks, sandstone spires and perfect pyramids. It’s useless to resist some slight wanderings but a successful escape from this lonely planet depends on a hasty retreat.

It’s an uphill climb all the way and the battle begins with your first step back. During the strenuous stretch run, you’ll have to dig deep and huff and puff to reach the elusive rim.

Once on the outside, thoughts of comfort will flow freely. God may have forsaken this place long ago but after our intimate encounter with it, we’ve come to cherish our everlasting memories of hiking in that damned canyon.

A remote corner of Nebraska

A land that time forgot

Rugged badlands

Hudson-Meng dig site

A vast, grassland prairie

A gateway to Gehenna

Journey to the center of the earth

The scenery is spectacular

A devil's playground

Sandstone spires and perfect pyramids

A lonely planet

The battle back begins

Cherished memories

That damned canyon