Saturday, February 1, 2014

Elk Ridge - A Peaceful Resting Place

Elk Ridge rises out of Elk Meadow

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone." ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Elk Ridge is an earthen pyramid rising out of a meadow of lush grass. The mountainous monument is a breathtaking prelude to the grueling ascent of neighboring Bergen Peak. A series of steep switchbacks lead up to the top where a pedestal of evergreens overlook most of the park.

Great herds of elk are indisputable proof, confirming the landmark's distinct name. The familiar call of a red-tailed hawk is heard from above. Below, nervous ground squirrels search for food while a lazy lizard suns itself on the warm, gray rocks.

Situated in the montane zone, the ridge crest is teeming with life. A red squirrel is the forest's quick-tempered lookout and imperial magpies are always making a ruckus. Meanwhile, mule deer are silent sentries moving discreetly between the woodland shadows.

There's also an unexpected reminder of death. Tucked away beneath a limber pine, a single grave is positioned to spend eternity in paradise. One solitary soul has chosen this peaceful setting to be a final resting place. Cradled by wilderness, the touching burial site is perfectly integrated into the landscape.

Hopefully, as darkness descends, there will be no regrets. The rocky summit of Elk Ridge pierces a starry night and the indigo sky is an unforgettable display inspiring wonder and awe. Heaven has never seemed so close.

Elk Ridge and Bergen Peak

The ridge is below Bergen Peak

Steep switchbacks lead to the top

The montane zone

Rocky Mountain elk

A nervous ground squirrel

A red-tailed hawk soars above

A lazy lizard basks in the sun

Red squirrels are quick-tempered

Black-billed magpies are always making a ruckus

Mule Deer are silent sentries

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