Saturday, October 25, 2014

Epaulet Mountain - A Remote Sanctuary

Epaulet Mountain

I've been here before, up at the top of Mount Evans Road. But on this day, I'm not sure which way to go. Wasting no more time, I've made up my mind. It's Epaulet Mountain that I'm going to climb. Here I go again on my own.

In the shadow of Evans and Bierstadt, Epaulet is a humble hill that's always been outshone. During this lonely trek of dreams, I'm miles above treeline and totally alone. Across the way there's lovely Rosalie. Pointed peaks pierce the sky like remote islands in a vast, blue sea.

After a solitary scramble to the summit, the extraordinary view is impossible to measure. Hiking the natural pathway out to a farther point is an absolute pleasure. Overlooking a deep abyss of solitude, it's a remote sanctuary where I've gone. I'll keep searching for an answer. Oh Lord, I pray you give me the strength to carry on.

I've been here before

Not sure which way to go

Mount Bierstadt and Evans

Above treeline all alone

Lovely Rosalie is across the way

Islands in a vast, blue sea

The summit of Epaulet

Extraordinary views

An absolute pleasure

A deep abyss

A remote sanctuary

Give me the strength to carry on

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bull Elk - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Bull Elk" Colored Pencil Drawing

The Rocky Mountain Elk is the undisputed symbol of Evergreen, Colorado. I see them almost every day so I've become very familiar with their ways. The elk's predictable, seasonal behavior provides me with some comfort during these uncertain times. There is a rhythm to their life that influences our own.

The elk seem to tolerate our intrusion into their habitat as they go about their routine seemingly oblivious to the human activity happening all around them. From a close distance, this drawing depicts an agitated elk during the annual, fall rut.

Mud-soaked and lathered into a frenzy, this bull is in his prime. He bellows loudly to other rivals and cows as a signal that he is defining his territory and claiming his harem. Evergreeners have learned how to live with the elk by developing creative techniques to protect their trees, gardens and bird feeders, and by driving cautiously, especially after dark.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Antelope Island - A Paragon of Uniqueness

Antelope Island's Frary Peak

In a state known for its unusual landscape, Utah's Antelope Island is an underrated paragon of uniqueness. Surrounded by a shallow sea of salt, the parched ground is a desert isle hydrated by a few freshwater springs. From the highlands, a panorama of natural scenic beauty is described by prominent peaks, points and bays.

Historically, explorers John Fremont and Kit Carson are credited with discovering the extraordinary environment in 1845. For the next 100 years, domesticated animals were restrained by a seaside ranch. Today, all creatures are allowed to move freely in safe seclusion from the busy mainland.

A curious causeway connects the wildlife watcher with a prairie paradise where buffalo roam and antelope play. Bighorn sheep scramble across the island's mountainous spine of ancient rock while down at the shore, wandering waterfowl feast on a buffet of brine shrimp.

After a full day of sand, surf and turf, the light doesn't last. As we head back towards the Wasatch Mountains under a setting sun, the surreal scene fades away like a murky mirage. Doubts begin to cloud a weary mind, was that place for real or just a dream?

Surrounded by a shallow sea of salt

A desert isle

Buffalo Point trail

Natural scenic beauty

Bison move freely on the island

A prairie paradise

A place where buffalo roam

and antelope play

The island is composed from ancient rock

Evening light on the island

Back towards the Wasatch Mountains

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Great Salt Lake - A Miserly Warden of Water

The Great Salt Lake

Lake Bonneville was a prehistoric, landlocked basin that covered most of western Utah. During the last Ice Age, its banks were breached and a catastrophic flood ensued. Still lingering in the high desert, Great Salt Lake is a last remnant of that ancient ocean.

The covetous Great Salt Lake is a miserly warden of water. It's an endorheic basin, a terminal drainage where streams go to die. Channeled by three major rivers, aqua pura flows in freely but immediately becomes trapped in a saltine prison.

The Pacific will not be reached because outflow is not allowed although some fortunate fluid is permitted release through evaporation or seepage. After thousands of years, this egotistical effect has transformed the lethargic lake into a mineral stew.

In a region influenced by the Mormon religion, the rebellious reservoir remains defiant as it is virtually uninhabitable. Even though this destination is distinguished by turquoise water and white sand beaches, the place is not a tropical paradise. Wading into the warm water through a swarm of brine flies is sticky, stinky and strange.

Such a selfish nature is due to its extreme shallowness combined with a dangerous drought. Sadly, the Great Salt Lake's water level is in a dramatic decline. So, please don't judge our American Dead Sea. I, for one, hope this Wonder of the West lives for all eternity.

Landlocked in western Utah

Still lingering in the high desert

A last remnant of Lake Bonneville

An endorheic basin

The terminal lake is a saltine prison

It's a rebellious reservoir

The place is virtually uninhabitable

White sand beaches and bright blue water

The lake is extremely shallow

The American Dead Sea

A Wonder of the West