Missouri & Fancy Lakes Loop (Colorado II)

An excellent hike to warm up and adjust to altitude in the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado combines the Fancy Lakes and Missouri Lakes trails to a 8.5 mile loop.

The ascent via Fancy Lake is a steady climb without difficulties, and offers plenty of opportunities to contemplate nature, and the nature of loops.

There is the contrast to an In&Out, where you retrace your steps, an undoing — what remains is the memory of having been.

Towards Fancy Pass (at about 12,400 ft) we have climbed above tree level and the look back offers serene desolation, while the other side is an enormous open meadow.

Our non-human animal friends are surprisingly trustful here; maybe they haven’t left paradise yet.

From Missouri pass it’s a long but gentle descent to a chain of a dozen lakes with the same name. again offering time for contemplation.

Why do I like sad faces better than happy faces?

Aren’t they more beautiful, always?

Good loop trails don’t really close. They seem to leave a small gap at the end, like a broken circle, an unfinishing.

We will come back, and try again, and again.

There is beauty in that, too.

Let’s Deal With It

I have written before about Two Lake Trail in southern Indiana, a 13 mile loop.

Here we are at the end of summer, colors haven’t changed yet from uniform green&brown to the fall display of everything.

The safest way to deal with this is to ignore the colors. And, while we are at it, also to ignore sharpness and depth of field, as that might reveal how all this here really looks like.

If you remove color and use blurry images, it’s not so bad anymore.

Even the very smelly drainage from one of the two artificial lakes starts to look compelling.

And see, Indiana does have mountains.

What we see here is the esthetics of stuff. With open eyes, such pictures are possible everywhere.

All that really matters are contrasts. Is that what we really want?

Black/White, Vaccinated/Not Vaccinated, is that what we have become?

I had this trail all for myself. Except for the bugs and spiders, of course. Where are my fellow humans?

Maybe it’s time to open my eyes.

Up (Colorado I)

The standard route to Mount of the Holy Cross begins at Half Moon trailhead and leisurely climbs up to Half Moon pass.

Starting early (5am) gets you to the pass at dawn with magnificent views back.

The other side of the pass reveals the mountain and the prospect of a long and steep climb. Before that, you’ll have to descend 1,000 feet, losing almost all you had gained before.

Eat breakfast at sunrise among wildflowers on the north slope.

Despite its harshness, there is vegetation all the way to the top.

Then you begin an eternal climb on a well-maintained trail.

Just before the final & rugged ascent, there is a long and eery horizontal ridge. Nothingness can be beautiful.

The summit itself is a nice plateau with breathtaking views. If you have breath left.

From here, it all looks very gentle and easy.

On the long way down don’t forget to save some energy to climb up to Half Moon Pass again.

Borders to Canvasses (Devil’s Mountain III)

The interior of the four-story building that supports the domes of the former Cold War listening station on the Devil’s Mountain in Berlin is accessible only through two (new) exterior stairwells. Each has a long corridor (without any doors!), and open spaces separated by walls.

Most of the walls are decorated with the most wonderful graffiti in bright colors.

The entire building has become a piece of art.

Views through the ‘windows’ show more building-sized graffitis.

So in a miraculous way, one of the most secretive and locked up places from Cold War Berlin has become an organic landscape of open art.

If only we all could deal with our own borders like this.

Happy Birthday (Chanterelle, Again)

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Another day of heavy rain and warm weather did it, the chanterelles have come out, just in time for my daughter’s birthday, who, alas, just left again.

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My first serious harvest this year was enough for two toasts (with Phantasia, a wonderful local goat cheese, and aragula sprouts),

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as well as a small salad with roasted vegetables.

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Let’s see what else July will bring.

Winter in Summer

After all the spring wildflowers are gone, there is not much left blooming here. So these little flowers came as a surprise when I found them on my Pate Hollow Trail.

What we have here is Chimaphila maculata, or the Striped Wintergreen (an odd name for a summer wildflower).

Endangered, it says for Indiana.

This has been my first time with this rare misfit, and I hope it is here to stay.

The End of Spring

With the end of spring, the Brood X cicadas are finally gone, together with their song.

After 17 years under ground (17 years — a measure of life?) they have emerged for a final dance.

It’s precisely choreographed, and slow.

Who taught them all this?

Then, after a very long embrace, they rest. They now have all the time in the world.

Here are 30 minutes of cicada song, fading into rain at the end.

Correspondences (Badlands XI)

In the Badlands a natural focus is the horizon, a verbose border between sky and ground, between dream and reality.

But if we look carefully, there are more forms of dialogue everywhere.

The horizon seems to show the solitary visitor the limit of the inhabitable space, itself unreachable.

And these other dialogues seem so small and irrelevant, being mere events, they only constitute time.

But I think this is all misconception. Every dialogue takes place at a horizon.

Prairie milkvetch (Astragalus laxmannii )

And only this: inhabiting the horizon: allows to define each other’s position.

Northern Cryptantha (Cryptantha celosioides)

Palimpsest (Badlands X)

The little dark dots in the middle up above are a small group of bison, a universal presence in this part of the park.

When they noticed me from a distance, they wearily looked at me and moved on, maybe realizing that I was no threat.

During the day, the slowly walk on their tracks alone and in small groups, and pause to graze even more slowly, as if every blade of grass counts.

Their tracks crisscross the landscape like songlines, having a purpose of direction, but also a purpose of protection:

This way, the fragile ground is left unharmed.

Their entire existence seems to be an enormous effort of irrigation, eating only what they need, and fertilizing the arid places on the way.

Indeed, every blade of grass counts, like everywhere else.

At night, they gather as a larger herd, greeting each other, and telling about their dreams in eldritch voices.

I didn’t have a telephoto lens with me, but in the above photo is a small region with maybe a hundred little black bison dots.

So they write on this landscape as if it was an enormous palimpsest, being alive.

Border Districts (Badlands IX)

The mind is a place best viewed from borderlands

Gerald Murnane, Border Districts

After yesterday’s more technical description of my Sage Creek Valley flight, today an attempt of a second layer.

I think about photography as a dialogue — between the features of the subject and my abilities to perceive them.

The sparsity of the landscape and its contrasts call for black and white, and this is a good choice, because it also helps emphasizing the occurrences of natural borders.

Here the borders occur at different scales and in different contexts, in the texture of the ground, the vast horizons,

and in the transition between grassland and desert.