Series In Production Sneak Peek: Shells

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), it’s always our self, we find in the sea”

EE Cummings

conch3

Shells are a lot like people. Some of them look alike, but no two are truly the same. A perfect specimen, is almost impossible to find; the broken parts, make the whole even more beautiful, the surface scars, marks of character, a life well lived. They change over time, grow, adapt. Some move with the tide, others travel freely. Strength on the outside, vulnerable within. If you hold them close, they’ll whisper you their secrets. Every shell, has its own story, a unique past and an uncertain future. Shells are a lot like people.

scallop_1

swirl1color_1

Photographing a shell is a lot like photographing a person. They do the work. They’ll talk if you’ll listen. The job is to capture what they have to say.

 

These shells were quite the talkers, look out for the completed work coming to the online gallery soon!

Western Rises: Mt. Evans

JONBW2 “The goal of climbing big, dangerous mountains should be to attain some sort of spiritual and personal growth, but this won’t happen if you compromise away the entire process.”

– Yvon Chouinard

Stand among big mountains, and you’ll feel small. Stand on top of a big mountain and you’ll feel big. Its a paradox. In order to become big from small, you have to grow and in order to grow you must go.  bwmountainscape

The thing about big mountains is that they are all unique, with private personalities that only reveal themselves once you’ve spent some time getting to know them. They’ll tell you secrets if you listen. Mount Evans is unique in its own way. Unlike all but one other of Colorado’s famous fourteeners (Pike’s Peak) to summit, you don’t have to climb. Boasted as the highest road in North America, throngs of fanny pack laden tourists can make their way to the top of this giant, and never ever leave their car. If you’ve never experienced it, its a truly sensational experience as a mountaineer to climb a mountain crest over the summit and stumble upon families, and giggling teenage girls, snapping photos for their Facebook page. It’s a catch. Yay, for accessibility. Boo, for effort.

MountainEd Abbey, American environmental essayist once said, “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”  Abbey would say, if you can’t make your way to the top of the mountain on your own feet, take your feet elsewhere. Thoughts?

altitudeStanding at the base of the North Face Route at 12,850 feet, the massif of Mount Evans is impressive. 2 miles and 1,475 vertical feet above you stands the snow capped summit. Cold air blasts around you, even on a June day, 30 degree temperatures at the base are common occurrences, and the air is remarkably 30 percent less oxygenated than at sea level. At this height for the average person breathing can be tough without any physical exertion, combine that with climbing and you’ll soon find that air is in limited supply. Make it to the summit and you’re breathing air with only 65 percent of the oxygen at sea level.

Climb slow, move fast. The weather on top of Mount Evans is notably unpredictable especially in the summer months, the peak of climbing season. If you don’t make the summit by noon, the chances of getting caught in a thunderstorm are frighteningly high, and incredibly dangerous given the exposure of the high alpine environment. As kids we’re taught lighting strikes the highest point, on Mount Evans you are the highest point. Get up, get down, avoid the weather. In  the words of legendary mountaineer and climber Ed Viesturs ,“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” Its true and high up, that kind of advice keeps you alive.

carinbwMount Evans offers climbers eight routes to the summit ranging from class two to class three climbing, relatively moderate as fourteeners go. The route up the North Face, is class three climb and requires crampons and or micro spikes year round. This route though shorter than others, offers some of the most technical, and exposed lines on the mountain, as well as stunning views of neighboring Mount Biederstadt (14, 060 ft) and the twin peaks of Torrey’s (14, 267 ft) and Gray’s (14,270 ft) and their connecting saddle.  Line selection is key on the final summit push, take a wrong step and its a bad day.

For a (relative) quick escape down the mountain, the Northeast route offers up lots of glacading, and a steep descent for a fun ride down the hill. Take the reward, have some fun. If you’ve never glacaded before, think Bear Grylls sliding down a snowfield. Wahoo!

Treking, climbing and scrambling to the top is arduous, but the journey is worth the transformation. People often ask climbers, “Why”. There is really no answer. Like love, its hard to explain. Experience it and you’ll understand.

Want to climb a big mountain? Learn more about Colorado’s classic fourteener routes at: http://www.14ers.com/routemain.php?route=evan7&peak=Mt.%20Evans

Western Rises: Garden of the Gods

 

Geology is cool. I wish I had thought that when I was taking my core geology classes for my undergrad, and maybe I would have if instead of scratching pennies on tiny little hunks of granite, I had taken a visit here.

If you go to Colorado, and don’t expect to see mountains, then clearly you’ve never seen Cliffhanger ( if that’s the case, we’ve got bigger problems…) what you don’t generally expect to see are red rock spires, that would appear more at home in Zion or Canyonlands National Parks, then sitting adjacent to Colorado Springs, home to Ft. Carson, one of the largest Army bases in the country.

GardenSignThanks to the amazing powers of geological upheaval these Sandstone Conglomerate towers, offer recreation for the masses. Popular for trail running, hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding; wander the Garden on a busy summer day, and you may think you’ve landed in an outdoor Disney Land. Its not terribly far fetched to believe that this spot, was once deemed by an early surveyor as the perfect location for a beer garden. But thanks to the generosity of the Perkin’s family who purchased the land, and then later donated it to the city of Colorado Springs, this National Natural Landmark can be viewed and enjoyed by all, fee free.

Visible from the Garden 14,115 ft. Pike's Peak looms in the background
Visible from the Garden 14,115 ft. Pike’s Peak looms in the background

Ready to play? Check out the park’s hours, maps and more at: http://www.GardenOfGods.com/home/index.cfm

Western Rises: Lost Lake, Roosevelt National Forest

Answers-and-Questions

” Follow the road through the valley to the town of Eldora, where the pavement ends…” directions  compliments of the US Forest Service, custom made for me.

riverbedSpend enough time in Colorado’s Front Range, and you’ll find that where the pavement ends, is more ubiquitous than where it begins. There’s lots of jokes about going “hiking in Colorado” especially now with the new changes in regulations on marajuana use. But jokes aside, hiking in Colorado, is some of the best. Much like the European Alps, trails are easy to come by, the American West has something long gone in the East. Space. Space for the wilderness. That’s not to say that Eastern outdoors doesn’t have its virtues, it does. Ever hear of a little thing called the Appalachian Trail? But the vastness of wild public lands in the Western US are of staggering proportion.

The Roosevelt National Forest is part of a contiguous chain of federally managed lands that include the Arapaho and Colorado State Forest, all together covering over a million acres of wilderness. Nestled in the heart of the Roosevelt is the teeny tiny town of Eldora, Colorado. Not Truckeven large enough to be recognized by the government as a town ( but rather a CDA- Census Designated Area) Eldora boasts an impressive population of 200 people.  cabin

Drive through Eldora’s single street to where the pavement ends and on any given day you’ll find more cars parked on the roadside than there are people in the town. A hugely popular trailhead, get the the Hessie early, or you’ll be adding at least a mile to your hike. From this main trailhead hikers can access beautiful alpine lakes, dispersed backcountry overnight sites, and stunning views of the peak’s of Colorado’s Mid Range. trail

Roosevelt National Forest, and The Hessie Trailhead is a trip well worth it, any time of year. Offering beautiful hiking in the summer, and pristine snowshoeing in the winter.  So go, get out, and follow the road to where the pavement ends…

Want to know more? For additional info on Lost Lake, the Hessie Trailhead and Roosevelt National Forest, check out the Forest Service’s Website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/

Western Rises: Rocky Mountain National Park

Enos Mills

Signed in as a National Park by President Wilson Woodrow in 1915 Rocky Mountain National Park is one the Nation’s oldest and most spectacular natural treasures. It’s  majestic peaks, valleys and meadows  were carved by ancient glaciers, the remnants of some can still be viewed today. Surrounded on three sides by the Roosevelt, Routt, and Arapaho National Forests the abundance of wildlife, dramatic landscapes and recreational opportunities rivals that of any of the other Western Parks.RMNP12

Unlike many of the large Western Parks, RMNP has never boasted its own rail system. Many of the early visitors to the park toured by automobile, a commodity at the time. In response to the Great Depression, under the New Deal Act, the Civilian Conservation Corps put in great efforts to create what is now the central attraction of the park; Trail Ridge Road. Trail Ridge Road allows visitors to experience a glimpse at the various ecosystems of the park, rising a staggering 12,000 plus feet above sea level.  Similar to the roads to the tops of neighboring Mount Evans, and Pike’s Peak, Trail Ridge Road allows visitors to experience  high alpine environments, that many would never experience otherwise. Wildlife viewing is abundant throughout the park, Trail Ridge Road offers visitors the opportunity to view nearly every major species to include; Elk, Mule Deer, Moose, Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goats, and Black Bear.

MOOSE7

Visible from almost any location within the park is the impressive outline Longs Peak, clocking in at a staggering 14,259 feet in elevation Longs is a mountaineer’s dream and is the only one of Colorado’s impressive fourteener’s ( mountains taller than 14,000 ft.) to be found within the park boundaries. First summited in 1868, by the surveying party of John Wesley Powell, Longs has become a premier mountaineering destination in the lower 48. Technical skills are required above the Key Hole Route and altitude demands that climbers be prepared for winter like conditions, and drastically changing weather even in the summer months. If high altitude mountaineering isn’t your thing, no sweat. Even day visitors to the park can experience the majesty of Longs, several day hikes are available below the summit area, but do require some level of fitness preparation, as exertion at higher altitudes can be extremely strenuous.

RMNP12

Want to know more, or see the park for yourself? Check out the National Park Service’s website at: http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

Can’t get to the park but love the views? Images of Rocky Mountain National Park in all its splendor will be included and for sale in the Western Rises Series coming soon to: rebellephotographie.smugmug.com

Western Rises: Seeking Desert Solitude In The High Plains


Jack Kerouac, beat generation novelist, wrote about the travel. Every time I crack open a Kerouac, I’m instantaneously compelled to throw random belongings into a bag, put the key into my ignition and never look back. Tomorrow our suitcases will be piled high, and the road will call; after all, according the Kerouac, “The road is life”. Continue reading Western Rises: Seeking Desert Solitude In The High Plains