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.
Muddy Pass, Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado // Permanence is a tricky word when it comes to sand dunes. On one hand, the individual grains are endlessly buffeted by the unfettered desert winds, never resting for longer than it takes the wind to change directions. Yet, at the same time, at least in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the whole system is remarkably stable. You can look at photos taken there 100 years ago and it's easy to pick out the same dunes in the same places, unperturbed despite a century of storms. I suppose the same thing can be said about most things on this planet. Like the archetypal astronauts watching a nuclear holocaust from space, no matter the chaos and dynamism of life on the ground, the view from far away will be serene.