Thursday, October 30, 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig

We went to the ocean.
We went to the city.
We went to the desert.
It was a magical, diverse, astounding, hilarious, memorable, astounding journey.
And boy, is this kitty happy to see us again.
If you don't like hiking, birds, and landscape photography you may want to tune out for the next couple weeks...

A Soul, A Body - Inspiration Thursday

"You don't have a soul.  You are a Soul.  You have a body." - C.S. Lewis

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Late October Poem - Inspiration Thursday

Late October  by Maya Angelou

the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
to black
for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
the we begin to stop
in order simply
to begin
Those final lines keep ringing in my head like a refrain:  "That we begin to stop in order simply to begin again."  Its pretty brilliant, I think, and apt.  It is the circular nature of time--the wheel of life.  It reminds me of a lyric from a pop song from my high school days which also used to get stuck in my head, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."  Its true.  Which is part of what makes impending change and nostalgia for the past so tricky.  Before each chapters starts the preceding one must come to a close.  Before the spring blooms new life everything must wither and die.  Its the ebb and flow of the universe.   Its beautiful and natural...and can still be bittersweet.   Oh, what a summer!  And oh did it go so fast!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wilderness Song - Inspiration Thursday

My Life Shall Be A Little Curling Wave by Everett Ruess

My life shall be a little curling wave
     Gaily racing forth from the great blue sea.
A moment it will sparkle in the sun;
     Jewelled and scintillating it will flash,
Then with a little tinkling tune
     It will shatter on the cool brown sand
And turn to bubbling, milk white foam.
     So, broken, slowly it will retreat, 
Leaving the beach a little smoother
     For the other waves that come.
Storm Point along Lake Yellowstone in Yellowstone National Park, August 2014
A bee and a peony in our yard, June 2014
Geothermal area along the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Yellowstone National Park, May 2013
Mountain Goat near Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park, August 2013
Snow accumulation on the porch railing, December 2013
Wilderness Song by Everett Ruess

I have been one who loved the wilderness
Swaggered and softly crept among the mountain peaks;
I have listened long to the sea's brave music;
I have sung my songs above the shriek of desert winds.

On canyon trails when warm night winds were blowing, 
Blowing, and sighing gently through the star-tipped pines,
Musing, I walked behind my placid burro,
While water rushed and broke on pointed rocks below.

I have known a green sea's heaving; I have loved 
Red rocks and twisted trees and cloudless turquoise skies,
Slow sunny clouds, and red sand blowing.
I have felt the rain and slept behind the waterfall.

In cool sweet grasses I have lain and heard 
The ghostly murmur of  regretful winds
In aspen glades, where rusting silver leaves 
Whisper wild sorrows to the green-gold solitudes.

I have watched the shadowed clouds pile high;
Singing I rode to meet the splendid, shouting storm
And fought it's fury until the hidden sun 
Foundered in darkness, and the lightning heard my song.

Say that I starved; that I was lost and weary;
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun;
Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases;
Lonely and wet and cold, but that I kept my dream!

Always I shall be one who loves the wilderness:
Swaggers and softly creeps among the mountain peaks;
I shall listen long to the sea's brave music;
I shall sing my songs above the shriek of desert winds.
Geothermal area in the front basin at Norris in Yellowstone National Park, May 2013
Red-winged blackbird on the plains near Roundup, April 2014
Juicy, red raspberries from the garden patch, June 2014
Sunset on an evening bicycle ride, September 2014
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from the south rim, May 2013
I recently finished a fascinating book about the spectacular short life and subsequent disappearance of the young artist, poet, and adventurer Everett Ruess.   It was called Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer by David Roberts.  It was quite a thrilling tale, particularly as it is a true one.  It was a intriguing blend of mystical nature writing and adventure with an unsolved mystery thrown in for a twist.  I am currently reading a second about him entitled On Desert Trails with Everett Ruess.  I don't know that a life of total solitude in the desert is what I'd like to do with my own life, but I do have to admire the passion by which Everett lived.  He had a dream and a vision and he lived it.  I suppose it is no surprise that have my own leanings towards the joy and revelation found through quiet, humbling communion with nature, so its no wonder, really, that Everett appeals to me.  His words and philosophy seem reminiscent of John Muir or Henry David Thoreau, both of whom I admire.  As a person who frequently sighs and swoons at the delights of sunlight on rocky cliffs or the miniature marvel of insects Everett's letters from the wild canyonlands of the American southwest fill me up with joy, wonder, and wanderlust.  They made me long for the trail.  There is so much beauty in the world to see.  So many cliffs and waterfalls and lakes and forests.  So many rainbows and leks and geysers and canyons.  I know that I will never see it all.  The world is too vast and my time in it too short.  But, I try to be diligent about noticing the beauty all around me each and every day--on our megavactions and on our walks around the neighborhood.  There is so much beauty, so much wonder.
A Lone Star Geyser eruption and two happy campers, August 2014 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hiking To Storm Point

Ever since we got our first Yellowstone hiking guide I've had my eye on a hike called Storm Point.  We've never done it before though because in previous years we made our visits almost exclusively in Springtime when the lake is still frozen and the trail not recommended due to bear activity.  When Matt and I decided to go to the park for Labor Day this year it was one of the first hikes I suggested.  I don't know why exactly,  but I just really thought it would be cool to stand on a rocky point staring out into the expanse of Yellowstone Lake. I just thought it would be a good hike.   Matt, who has less of an affinity for large bodies of water than I do--he really is more of a mountain man than a lake man--was more than happy to finally let me check this off my list, so to speak, on our autumn visit.

The hike to Storm Point leaves from right near Indian Pond where a small mixed group of shorebirds were wading.  There was a handful of leggy American avocets all in their sharply contrasting white-and-black winter plumage.   There were a couple bobbing, tottering spotted sandpipers.  

The Storm Point hike is almost completely a loop--just under 2.5 miles total.  There are a few hundred yards of trail along the west shore of Indian Pond that are traversed both coming and going, but the rest of the journey is a large loop.  I like loops because they allow you to see a wider range of landscapes.  We took the fork to the left following the trail out along some bluffs over the shore of Yellowstone Lake. 
The views just got better and better the closer we got to Storm Point.  There was a stretch of forested trail as well as a really lovely open meadow with the lake as a backdrop right before Storm Point itself.  Yellowstone Lake is the star of the show for sure.
There is a spur trail out on to the point.  I must say, it was not quite what I had expected.  Storm Point stands much higher over the lake than I anticipated from reading about it.  The elevated observation point made for sweeping views though so I cannot say I was disappointed.  I'd like to go back on a day that is more clear.  It was quite cloudy and misty from all the rain when we were there.  In a way this added a soft, romantic filter to the surrounding panorama, but I'd like to see in on crisp, clear day sometime as well.
It was also out on this rocky point that we learned about marmot latrines.
After rejoining the main loop we followed the shoreline of the lake once again--crossing paths with one of the resident yellow bellied marmots.   I felt compelled to break into a run.  The wide open sky and lake, the wind, the freedom...  I couldn't help myself.  My boots thumped the trail and my hair flew out behind me.  It was quite exhilarating.  And Matt caught up eventually.  (When I hit sand and running became quite challenging!)
This is Matt catching up after my spontaneous trail run.
At the portion of the hike where the loop turns northward and starts heading back toward the trailhead we found another point jutting out into the lake.  This one was much lower--pretty much at lake level.  This was sort of what I'd envisioned Storm Point to be, with the waves lapping at my toes.  So, it was great.  I got to have both!
This is the lake-level rocky point, as seen from Storm Point.
Closer up it was even more interesting as there were so many layers and ledges from the erosive action of the lapping waves.
In this conglomeration of rocks we found a tidepool, for lack of a better term, that was geothermally heated.  We could feel the warmth rising from the surface by holding our hands in the air above it.  Every now and then we'd catch a hint of visible steam.  The sheltered and warmed pool was loaded with tiny fish.  There had to have been hundreds of thousands of them, all an inch or less in length.  I am not greatly knowledgeable about the lives of fish, but it seemed a pretty superb nursery pool to me. 
The remainder of the Storm Point loop turns away from the lake shore.  It was perfectly lovely, but I think I'd have preferred to stay lakeside.  I was pretty enthralled with it.  As we passed Indian Pond on the return trip we again stopped to watch the party of wading birds.  The motion of a female belted kingfisher caught our eye as she came in for a landing on a limb over the pond from which to look for fish.  We enjoyed the avian antics a while before deciding that the increasing winds and rains meant we should call it a hike.  
And it was just as good as I'd hoped it might be.