Colorado - Borrowed Paradise | Photography by Will Crites-Krumm
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The Chinese Wall

Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado // When you're standing at the base of a 1,000 foot cliff in a vast wilderness area, you start to think. Being in wilderness, to me, is not about "going back to nature," whatever that means. It's about remembering that I've always been there. To climb up among the crags and pines and chipmunks and stones and stumps and grasses and deer and foxes and clouds and flowers and death and life is to realize (again) that I am but one little element of this grand dance of physics and chemistry and minds. A single infinitesimal element among the singular elemental infinite. And to me, this isn't a sad feeling, it's happy: no matter how many mistakes I, or we, make, the universe will still be beautiful - even if there's no one left to think so.

The last light of sunset illuminates the 1,000 foot cliff that is the Chinese Wall. The massive formation is in the Trappers Lake region of the Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado's third-largest Wilderness Area. The valley around Trappers Lake suffered a massive fire in 2002, and while pioneer grasses and sapling aspens have finally taken hold, the charred pines still dominate the rocky landscape.

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