Archive for July, 2012

Clouds over Mount Olympus


Cow Parsnip

If it were to be growing in someone’s yard or along a fence somewhere, it might be referred to as a weed, but when we find it out in the wilds of the canyons and mountains, it is easy to see that it is anything but a weed…it is a beautiful wildflower, properly referred to as an herb.  It can reach over six feet in height and can grow in environments from sea level to around 9,000 feet in elevation.  If I tell you anything else about it, I’m sure it will sound like I’ve been reading Wikipedia…which I have….  It might not be a truly scholarly resource, but it is a readily available one…and thank you, too, Google….  🙂


End of the day….


Park bench….

For those of you having an unseasonably warm summer, I offer you an unseasonably cool place to sit and relax…to while-away your lunch hour…to rest after your evening walk….  🙂


Life on a Tree Stump….

There were blue and green and red and black lines on the map, the glossy finish reflecting the overhead office lights, the solid red light illuminated on the nearby phone telling me that a voice-mail message was waiting…and waiting….

…the sound of tires screeching and metal crashing into metal and the siren of a police motorcycle approaching with its loudness and then, a fan swirls the stagnant air and I can hear the beeping of digital keys unlocking the lobby door, the boss calls to a co-worker and the clock on my computer says it’s 4:55…and counting…

…rolling wheels on the plastic pad, truck keys pulled out of my bag…shut-down the fan and the computer and lock all the drawers…the work week is over as my shoes tap down the stairs…onto the carpeted hallway and out through the double glass doors…evening and morning and another one, too…chores finished…

…and the mountains are calling me…twelve miles away…eleven…ten…nine…the moments passing, the canyon is enveloping me with its rocky arms, forest and green and a rocky, rumbling stream…

…hit the alarm on the key fob, put the keys into my backpack…adjust the camera around my neck…step into the gravel…and beyond onto the rocky trail…

…mulch and pine needles and earth and the soft, sweet smell of wet and rot and decay and the greening of life in the canyons away.  It’s called Days Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon…

…there’s a mine at the end of the trail, a part of Utah’s history that’s already been made…and it’s not going anywhere soon…

…so I stop, I tarry, I look and listen, sit and stay a while…there’s so much life between here and the end of the trail…and I found this little micro-cosm…a world unto itself…teeming with life and death and rot and rebirth…

…life on a tree stump….

Thank you for visiting with me…for staying a while…sharing my world….


The Reading Room….


Follow me….


To have drifted like these….

These photographs were taken somewhere between one and two miles up into Little Cottonwood Canyon along the shore of its very own stream or creek.  The running body of water actually begins about nine miles east of where these pictures were made…up into the canyon, just past the ski town of Alta, at a small-ish alpine lake called Cecret Lake…with that spelling.  The lake is situated at about 11,500 feet in elevation…and eleven miles down from there, at around 4,500 feet, the stream enters the Salt Lake City metropolitan area….  So, these pieces of wood may have traveled all of those miles or only some of them…and maybe came from around 7,000 feet higher than where I found them…at any rate, I think they’re rather pretty…rich in color the way the earth is…from whence they came…and where they shall return in their elemental forms….


After the Rain….


and away….

The moment’s rain fell in soft drops on the light gray earth, each tiny globe of water making a slightly larger wet crater in the dirt of time that had filtered and sifted from mountain streams and into the great rivers and lake on the western horizon.  Men had brought it in by the truck-full to build the bank on which they sat…on which they sat and deep into the waning light as dragon flies and mud swallows dipped and lunged across the water’s upper edge, seeking a dusking meal against the long night….

Mama’s gonna wonder where I’m at, you know….

Bobbi…

What?

Ever since you’ve been grown enough to leave the yard, Mama’s known that you’ve been with me.  You ain’t never been nowhere else.

I know…

Then why are you saying she’s gonna wonder where you’re at?

Cause she’ll still wonder.

Well, she’ll find out when she normally does, then, won’t she?

I guess…

A fish jumped in the darkling water, making ripples spread into the long grass and reeds along the shore, tiny water molecule waves carrying the gray dust that slid and fell from the bank beneath bare feet and sneakers pushing and moving stones and sticks out of the way for legs to stretch into their powdery nests.  The fish caught nothing in his flight and swam further downstream, gliding with the gentle current, fish eyes looking up from the sides of his fish head, looking for something that wasn’t there now that the sun was gone and gone and brightening someone else’s day.

The rain left a smell of wet dust and nothing more as its bedtime clouds thinned and fled in the blacking sky.  Stars appeared in their distance between the cobweb lattice-work of the bridge’s girders and supports and beams and ties and double rails, specks of light glimmering against the earth and her slow and silent spinning, flickers and hope, torches of wonder falling into the tucked-away recesses of ancient time and the enduring heaven of space.

Tam…?

Yeah…?

We ain’t goin’ back, are we…?

That’s right, Bobbi…we ain’t goin’ back…I told him that was the last time….

He reached over to tuck a strand of straw-colored hair behind her ear, gently touched a purple-blue bruise on her cheekbone, leaned and kissed her forehead…and lingered a moment to smell her dusty, little-girl hair….

…but we’ll let Mama know we’re ok when we get where we’re going.

Where’s that gonna be?

Ain’t figured that out yet, but I think we’ll know it when we get there….


Gothic Clouds

You may remember this building from my earlier post, Salt Lake City County Building.  It is part of my morning skyline when I look to the north from my workplace in downtown.  This photo is untreated…and the building still looks awesome, especially with the powerful clouds.


Broads Fork – Part II

This post literally picks up the trail where the earlier post, Broads Fork – Part I, left off.  You can click on the highlighted name of the post to go back to it if you’d like to see where we are in reference to it….  I took this photo standing next to the beaver pond that those two people were walking past in photo #8 of the last post…looking toward the west where we now see both of the Twin Peaks….

This is another backward perspective from the middle of a scree trail…we’re actually going the opposite direction, still heading toward the cirque at the end of the trail…maybe this photo is supposed to be after the next two, but I’m not sure…maybe, though….

You might remember this one…but now it has a wider/larger view of the mountainside beneath the loving cloud….

This is where we make the final ascent into the cirque at the end of the trail.  Given that it’s the first week of July and it’s been rather warm down in the valley, I’m not too sure about walking across the remaining snow…don’t know how deep it goes…don’t know what’s under it if I fall through…so I went to the right of the snow field, up over the rocks….

…and found that the trail kept going up, up, up….  I discovered on my way down, by talking with a couple of people you shall see shortly, that the trail would have eventually taken me up to the saddle between Sunrise Peak and the western slope of the Twin Peaks.

But this is where I stopped, you can see my backpack in the lower right corner of the above photograph.  You can also see the ascending trail in lighter rocks….  I didn’t research the hike the week before, as I usually do when going on a new trail.  I had actually looked into it about a year or so ago when one of my sons and I went up to Lake Blanche (and two other lakes nearby), which is situated in the canyon to the east of Broads Fork and has it’s trailhead on the opposite end of the same parking lot as Broads Fork’s.  So I already knew where the trailhead was located and knew that I’d be hiking for a bit more than four miles up into the mountains…but had forgotten most of the rest of what I had read over the intervening year.  If I had remembered the rest of what I had read, I would have known that I could have hiked a bit further, switchback by switchback, up to that saddle, and then went up to either Sunrise Peak or to the western summit of Twin Peaks.  But I was hiking alone and wouldn’t have attempted that on this trip anyway…so it doesn’t really matter that I had forgotten….

This is another shot, below, that I’ve provided for perspective’s sake…that’s actually a 57yo mother and her 25yo son crossing the snow field, with mom behind the son.  I had turned around again to see my back-trail and noticed them at the top left of the snow field…and it took me a few long seconds to get the camera set enough to zoom in and capture them before they left the white background of the snow…so please forgive the uneven shot with the top of the peak missing….

There is a story in one of the religious texts or holy books that details an incident where the people’s god tells their leader to speak to a particular stone and it will bring forth water…the leader was angry with the people for being disobedient, so he struck the stone instead…and it still brought forth water…but he had to pay the consequences later by not being allowed to enter into the land that the god had promised to his people….  I think of this story whenever I see water coming out of the ground like this…sometimes I see it seeping directly out of a hillside and forming a tiny little stream that flows down that hill until it reaches another and larger stream…other times I have seen larger streams, again, seeping out of a hillside.  This is the first time, though, that I have seen such a stream flowing directly out of the mostly flat ground…and appearing almost to come out of a rock.   When I examined the spring more closely, I found that the water was not seeping from the rock field above it…the ground above the spring was not waterlogged…there was no water flowing from the rocks above, nor seeping or flowing down from the large snow field seen above…so either the snow is melting and draining into a natural cistern below all of those rocks and then pouring out of this spring, or this is a true spring with water flowing up from the ground…at over 8,500 ft in elevation.  I don’t know which it is and I suppose it doesn’t really matter for our purposes here…but I thought it was rather fascinating…and beautiful….

These next two photographs are especially for Allen from New Hampshire Garden Solutions…another blog friend who knows and loves wildflowers….  I want to say that the flowers in the first photo are Pygmyflower Rock Jasmine, because that’s what the flowers looks like, even though the stem and the rest of the plant don’t….

…and we have a definite match with this second one…it’s called a Green Gentian, or Monument Plant…the coloring rather looks like a lizard’s skin to me…but maybe that just means that I lived in the desert for too long….

And now a final “Thank You” to the gentleman hiker who caught my camera before it hit the ground as he was changing the camera’s position from landscape to portrait orientation for this last shot….


Paving the highway to Hell…?

We never know what we’re going to encounter on a road-trip.  I found this determined individual on US Highway 89 just north of Panguitch, Utah, a few months ago…kind of tucked him away and forgot about him…suppose it’s time to let him go ahead and do what he’s gotta do….

This is the original photograph if you’re interested….


Two years and two days ago….

The Remove

I sat inside the steel and glass monstrosity and watched the people walking past.  Everyone was going somewhere.  They were returning or leaving and found themselves all there, as I did, waiting or having waited.  We were dressed in our fineries, or not; we were in a hurry, or not.  Our faces held an eagerness or impatience with too little time, or we were in a set and staid complacency, as we had surrendered ourselves to wait.  Patience was no longer needed.  We just were and our time would come as it had for the rest.

I looked out through the large windows and beyond the technology that was in the foreground, beyond and beyond the miles between here/there and the object of my gaze.

A few hours earlier, I was out and among the mountains and streams, walking down earthen pathways that were wet with life and rich and gray and sandy and mulched and fine, and trees of every and sundry sort shaded my walking and allowed, too, the sun to shine on my pathway, to illuminate the great undergrowth and broad leaves and needles, nettle-like weeds of slight and fine stalk and stem and little branches and huge, fallen and leaning and upright in their rotting and decay.

Life was full and birds drifted and alighted sometimes and not, and the stream/river crashed over rocks and boulders and ran into side pools in their clean-ness, the large mess of aquamarine and clear and green and blue and white in its rushing and crashing in tons and gallons and my heart and soul wanted to stand there and stay there forever, being fed as they were with a food or nourishment so strange and beautiful and foreign to my desert-living self.

The greens were rich and lush beyond the holding of our dreams and the air was fresh with some kind of natural perfume, a fragrance wrought in the heady blooms of wildflowers and shrubs that found their anchors or homes in shaded caves and coves beneath large and tall pines and firs and oaks and cottonwoods and aspens.

I don’t know if I had ever seen streams or rivers running down the sides of mountains before that day, but I had now, or then, on that day, twice even, in their similar crevices or ravines among the rocks and tree-lined and covered mountain, a green sheet or blanket of trees covering that rich and fertile whatever with those ribbons of white and clean ice-cold foaming and bubbling tide that crashed over hundreds of yards from their beginnings in the craggy heights above.

If this land were to be my home, would all of this cause me to be happy?  Would it continue to nourish my soul when I was pressed and oppressed by life and money and the nothingness of work?

Would all of this add meaning to my temporal existence and make-up for areas that I felt were lacking?  Would I be fulfilled, or would it make me want to escape that much more?  Would its nearness make me yearn to leave hearth and home to be among the boulders and trees and rivers and deer and snakes and squirrels?

Would I crave their company more than others’?  Would I be drawn inside and away from those in my surround, seeking the company of myself over them – seeking the company of myself and away over them?  Or would they seek this hideaway from the everyday and nourish their arid souls here, too?  Would they treasure this natural sanctuary as I would and want to be in its raging stillness as I would and be so comforted in their awe and treasure it beyond words, taking refuge, as I would, in its splendor and remove?

I hope they would….

This is a Favorite Re-post from July, 2010…written after a visit to Salt Lake for a job interview in preparation for our eventual move to the area.  The words are from exactly two years ago today…and the photographs are from two days ago….  Thank you for visiting and for sharing in the natural beauty of my “new” home….


Broads Fork – Part I

I would guess that there is some historical significance to the name, but I haven’t been able to identify it yet…but Broads Fork itself is located about four miles into Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is just south and east of Salt Lake City, and is one of the three or four main canyons that lead into the Wasatch Mountain front that is the eastern border for the Salt Lake Valley.  The trail is reported to be just over four and a half miles in length from the parking lot to the cirque, or bowl-shaped meadow at the end, and gains just over 2,000 feet in elevation.

I’m not sure of the exact length of this portion of the trail, but it starts out as something resembling a logging trail and then turns into a single track that winds through very thick brush that is often waist to shoulder high….

I haven’t been able to identify these flowers in any of the sources I have at hand, but they look like a variation of hops to me….

UPDATE: While I was out hiking yesterday, Sunday July 15, I met Knick Knickerbocker from the Wasatch Mountain Club and gave him one of my blog cards.  He emailed me this morning after reading this post to tell me that these flowers are called Mountain Horsemint…and the taxonomic name is something like Agastache urticifolia…if anyone wanted to know that.  Thank you again, Knick.  🙂

This was the first view of what the on-line literature calls the “lower meadow” in Broads Fork.  After climbing through old-growth pine forest and then a thick stand of aspen and the brush that I mentioned above, the trail makes a sharp turn around a rise in the terrain and this panorama is suddenly in front of you…it is so unexpected…breath-taking, jaw-dropping, however you want to describe it.

This is the view looking to the left of the above meadow….

The trail proceeds through the meadow and immediately into a stand of aspen and pines, again with the thick brush on each side…slowly climbing higher and higher as it makes its way out of this lower meadow and on toward the upper meadow.

When I’m hiking, especially when I’m on a trail for the first time, I frequently stop and turn around to take a look at the trail coming from the opposite direction…it helps with orientation on the way back if I will be taking the same route.  It’s amazing sometimes to see what’s behind you as you come out of the woods, arrive at the top of a ridge, or otherwise gain a dramatically different view of your surroundings than you had only moments before….  This is the view I encountered upon leaving the thick aspen that covers the side of the bowl where the lower meadow is situated.  I stood on the rise in the trail as it makes its entry into the upper meadow and turned around….

Here’s an infrequent “people picture” offered to demonstrate scale….  It’s rather difficult to feel significant or important out here…the notions of “Self” and “Me” seem to disolve somewhere between the first few steps on the trail….  This photo was taken near that rise in the trail mentioned above, but a little further down and facing into the second meadow, and with a nearly full view of the rest of the fork or gulch.

And this is a wider view that encompasses more of the area to the right of the location in the above photograph…I understand the peak in the middle to be Sunrise Peak, the one on the left to be Dromedary Peak, and the one in the upper right of the photo to be the western peak of the Twin Peaks set.  The western summit has been measured at 11,330 ft and the eastern summit at 11,328 ft in elevation.  These peaks are reported to be the tallest of the Wasatch Mountains that border Salt Lake City.

More to follow…in Broads Fork – Park II.


The Gardner’s Son

This is a “story about what’s on the other side of that door….”

There is a new lock on my door again.  It is my door, yes, as I’m the one inside and the one who keeps removing the locks every third day or week or month or so, whenever a new one appears.  I hide them, tuck them away, attach them to a chain, actually, that is hanging from the rafters in the hidden recesses of the loft, back where the roots from the ancient roof-top garden have pushed through the wood and seek the ground that isn’t there, back where the water from the soaking rain drips in blackened drops of soot and earth and anguished souls.  Light hits them sometimes, the locks…at certain hours of the day and in the middle of the night, too, as the full moon shines through the crumbling mortar cracks in the wall.  Their absence causes minds to wonder and worry, quickens steps from my doorposts and into the hedges and beyond, out into the gardens beneath the palms and evergreens, among the rolling hills and moss-covered stone-work walls where I used to play with…where I used to play.

I don’t receive many visitors here, just the feeble-minded grandmother of the Earl who claims to hear footsteps in the straw.  It must be my rasping breath or the whispering echoes of my fading heartbeat that she hears, for I dare not move when she’s near.  Years ago, I rattled a can to scare her away, but that only brought more visitors in the form of the Earl and his wife…and the magistrate, too.  They conferred, as wise ones will, and sought the company of the parish priest.  He sat and wondered and mumbled against the aging bricks beneath the post…and he thought he heard a nothing that was really something as it brushed against his shin.  It’s nothing, said the friar to the Earl, nothing but the wind and a…maybe…..  Yes…like that, it’s nothing.  The Earl and his wife remained distressed and the grandmother remained convinced that it was footsteps in the straw.  They sought those above, as those above will do, they sought those above the parish priest and then the bishop after that.  I touched the friar’s robe, when they visited, and scoffed at the bishop’s crown as they offered their hollow words to the Miasma that faded into the ether at Galileo’s waking.

Children know I’m here, of course, as children will know such things…as children will know such things and remain away, and remain away or seek me out on the darkest nights with torches out against the shadows and webs of fright that hang in the corners.  They know without knowing sometimes and feel my breath upon their cheeks as I whisper and tell them to go, to leave, and to leave me alone.  I don’t want to hurt or scare them, but I want them gone.  I don’t want their light tread upon the straw to remind me of other little ones who used to do so before the blazing night…I want them to be away and away.

It was a frosted night and achingly cold with a withering moon when red flames licked the slow-moving clouds.  I stood there shivering, only steps away from the oven of my misdeeds, away from the murderer’s weapon that it became within quick seconds of rage and regret in the spilled and boiling blood of those hidden away unknown.  Nigh unto three centuries hence, I still hear their short and tiny cries, the hairs on my neck and arms rise with only a thought.  So I hide here and away, a stone’s throw from the still standing crematory of an ancient and vine-covered castle.  It is a crypt and a memorial, a living nightmare of anguish that still smolders on an icy night as little bones crumble into the dust of time and away, forgotten and missed in grief, they are embers in my eyes and scalding irons on my heart…for I never confessed what I knew.  It wasn’t the laundress who caused the blaze…it was me, the gardener’s son.

***Photo used with permission by John M. Smith at Life, Photography & Other Mistakes.  The photograph was taken at Castle Kennedy & Gardens in Dumfries, Scotland.  Please visit John’s blog to share in his beautiful photography…and the website for Castle Kennedy & Gardens to learn more about their true history.


Try to contain yourself….

Certainly they’re not the most compelling of photographs, but I was struck by the symmetry and lines….  On second thought, maybe there is some beauty in there…somewhere…maybe….structure, order, geometric shapes and colors…ok, maybe no beauty…..

.


Walking on the Sun….


A Gull for Gunta….

I still think it’s odd to have Sea Gulls flying about…in the middle of the mountain-west…but I guess they enjoy living in proximity to The Great Salt Lake….  They also seem to enjoy hanging-out at the pond in Liberty Park.  My friend Gunta has an affinity for Sea Gulls and frequently shares photographs of them in her blog “Movin’ On.”  If you haven’t yet walked the sandy beaches of Gunta’s Oregon coastline, I heartily recommend a visit…beautiful sea-scapes, sea-lions, seals, and many other Pacific Northwest wonders…including Sea Gulls….

I don’t know how this particular specimen compares, or is related to the gulls that Gunta finds out on her pacific coast, but I think he’s kind of cute…I wonder if she’ll recognize him….


Millcreek Canyon in Green

I have tried not to love this place as much as I do…

…but each time I go out, it becomes that much more difficult…

…and you may know that I lived in the desert of Arizona for more than 20 years before moving here to Salt Lake City…

…but I spent much of my childhood exploring and playing in forests similar to these…

…so it’s like returning to my origins to be in this type of environment again….

You might remember the bridge from an earlier post….

This is as beautiful with snow and ice along its banks…but in a much different way….

There are many places along the road in Millcreek Canyon where the trees envelope the road with a canopy of green….

These photos were taken the last weekend of June, which means that the canyon would be opening in a few days…and the road would be bustling with cars and motorcycles…so I relished in the quiet, hearing only my footsteps…and the stream and birds…and the slight wind in the tree-tops….


Windows and Wood – Part II

In a comment on my earlier post, Windows and Wood, Andy (from LensScaper) suggested that I treat some of the photos with a gritty B&W finish and see how they look.  I think it was an excellent idea….


Collage

It was hard to decide…so I didn’t….


Did I love it…?

I went hiking today…it’s Sunday, and that’s typically what I do on Sundays….

And you might ask me…did I enjoy myself out there, did I have fun…did I like it…and maybe even, did I love it?  Well…I couldn’t have said it better myself….


“Smile for Papa….”

Shortly before taking this photograph…

…which I processed with Picassa…resulting in this beautiful portrait…

…which I shared in yesterday’s post “Innocence…?”

my daughter asked her little one to “Smile for Papa…,” and this is what she gave me…

…hence the question-mark in reference to her innocence….  She is precious, though.  🙂