Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado // Here's one from our rainy hike up to the Devil's Causeway, back in the Flat Tops. The Alpine Sunflowers were going crazy up there, making for a bright contrast to the moody clouds that filled the sky and even surrounded us a few times. On this trip we were bringing along a close friend who'd never been up into the flat tops, and even with the weather her reaction was pretty appropriate: "This is probably the most beautiful place I've ever been."
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana // Violence and valor are not the sole ingredients to lionhood. Our third day in Moremi treated us to an intimate (if public) interaction between two male lions, probably brothers, who had formed a coalition. Due to offroading laws in Moremi we weren't able to follow them long enough to find out whether they had a pride or were just drifters. But we were able to spend about an hour with the duo, following them from when they reunited, across to a watering hole, and finally to a sunny hill where they laid out together for a mid-morning nap, briefly more-or-less cuddling.
My friend made the astute observation-- it was most surprising how little violence we witnessed out on Safari. We seemingly saw a lot more friendly and affectionate interactions than angry, murderous ones. That could easily simply be a sample bias, but I don't know. I think nature might be a little less cruel than many give it credit for.
Mad Creek, near Steamboat, Colorado // This is Mad Creek, running tirelessly near Steamboat Springs from the peaks we hiked with its eyes firmly on the ocean. It will eventually flow into the Elk river, then into the Yampa, and then the Colorado. This water will go through the Horseshoe Bend and through the Grand Canyon. But by the time it reaches the ocean it will be reduced to just a trickle. And that's why this image is the first one up, because if this trip had a theme it was water, its beauty and its scarcity. The wildfires in Idaho, the lush forests in Washington, the sculptural peaks, crystal lakes, and even dunes all owe their existence to the forces of water on this planet, and that is incredible--and scary, considering how much we are changing things.