Leadville (Colorado V)

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That little town you can maybe make out to the left and behind the lake up above is Leadville. At just over 10,000 feet, it is the highest incorporated city in the US, and used to be a bustling mining town, as the name hints at.

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There are attempts to cash in on the town’s history, like in charming Jerome.

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But while the drive-through city center is well kept eye-candy, the mining area tells another story.

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It doesn’t take long until things fall apart beyond repair…, but fortunately, sometimes they do this in style.

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The aesthetic appeal is enormous, maybe because a true relic conveys a stronger message than a fake facade. 

 

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Green is a Difficult Color (Treescapes III / Colorado IV)

Getting to higher elevation in late spring is a problem in Colorado, not so much because of snow, but because of the streams with hip deep and ice cold water that one has to crossDSC 8735

After a while one resigns into not reaching that peak or lake, and finds consolation in the contemplation of the trees on the other side of the stream.

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I have written twice about treescapes: First about the fall at Red River Gorge State Park in Kentucky, and then about the winter in Brown County State Park. So now it is time for a spring version.

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Green is a difficult color. When I make 2-colored surface images, I usually have a hard time picking a second color that complements any sort of green nicely. On the other hand, I find the natural shades of green in these landscapes positively overwhelming. My theory is that green goes well only with more green, or shades of gray.

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These images are from an attempt to reach the Flat Tops Wilderness. There will be another time.

Crossings (Colorado III)

You need to cross the stream three times until you reach Bridge One…

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Crossing a stream is a well-worn pattern, at least in Western culture: we think of Hades, Lethe, and all that. This post is about the pattern of multiple crossings.

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I was hiking No Name Trail (near Hanging Lake), when I met the hiker who informed me as above. She continued:

 Bridge One is awesome. You should go there. 

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And so I went, crossing the stream three times. A single crossing is like a terminal step, irreversible. Multiple crossings are like a dialogue: Hey, here we meet. We both have changed. Let’s meet again.

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When switching from one side to the other, we accept a change. On No Name Trail, this might be perceived as a change from pine and oak to birch.

…From Bridge One you can go on to Bridge Two…

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At Bridge Two, there is a violent waterfall. Bridge Two itself, broken.

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…You can go even further, to a place I call The Top of the World…

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Will I ever get there?

Hanging Lake (Colorado II)

Last week’s post was a bit of a cliff hanger, and so is Hanging Lake.

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It is precariously sitting on top of a cliff, with waterfalls in the back as a bonus.

 

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The emerald green water creates an eery play between underwater world and the reflections of the upper world behind.

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What more could one wish for? Well, there is more. A very short hike up above is Spouting Rock, a single, taller waterfall that by itself is worth a visit.

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Long time exposure doesn’t do it much good.

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In this case, I like the dramatic spattering or the quiet drip-dropping much better.

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It is a wondrous place. Remember, come early.

Hanging Lake Trail (Colorado I)

Hanging Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Colorado. In the summer, the daily 1000+ visitors don’t hike the trail anymore, but stand in line all the way up and down.DSC 8523

I avoided all this by getting there at 7am, which gave me time to enjoy the trail itself.

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It climbs up steeply among trees and rock cliffs. On a crowded day, it would be impossible not to overlook perfect sceneries like this one.

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The semi-vandalized hut below hints at how much work it must be to maintain the trail and keep it in its almost pristine condition.

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What to do with an incessant stream of visitors? Let it grow, or cut?

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It all depends, of course, what is at the end of the hike. We’ll learn that next week…

First Times (California ’93)

My little series with  pictures from 25 years ago continues with my first hiking trip in California. The idea was to drive up to the trail head of White Mountain Peak, and hike the dirt road to the peak.

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We drove through Yosemite at night (which I hadn’t seen before) and camped at my first hot spring in Owen’s Valley. Soaking in warm water while around you everything freezes and the sky is full of shooting stars convinced me that this had been a good idea. We made it past the Bristlecone Pine Trees, but the car didn’t make it to the trail head (my first car break down).

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We didn’t give up though but continued on foot. The landscape up there (above 10,000 feet) is high elevation desert. 

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After two hours or so we reached the observatory and the actual trailhead. Hiking appears very easy: You just follow the dirt road.

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What is not so easy, however, is the high elevation. Two of use got altitude sickness, including myself (first time!). That was interesting. It started off with gradually worsening headache.

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After a while, my vision got blurry, and me and the other victim turned back to the observatory. While we waited for the two others to return from the summit, we chatted with the friendly personnel. By 10pm, the two other hikers had returned, and we were lucky to hitch a ride on a pickup truck back to our car.

The next morning we stopped for my first visit at Mono Lake.

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What to keep…

My first visit to Dresden took place in the early 1990s. It was a foggy day in December, and one of my lasting memories is the enormous pile of rubble in the city center. Dresden331

The ruins of the Frauenkirche hadn’t been touched since the bombing at the end of the Second World War, but after the reunification of Germany, a decision to rebuild was made quickly. This summer I became curious how things looked like today, so I visited Dresden a second time.

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What may we forget, and how should we remember? Some of the temples and monuments that have been destroyed in the Middle East in the past few years were intended to last until the end of time by their creators. Arrogance, or trust in a protective higher power?

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We live in volatile times. A carelessly written email can haunt us for the rest of our live, while a mouse simple click can erase decades of work stored on a hard drive.

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If only we could attach an expiration date to everything we do, it would be easier to decide what to keep and what to let go.

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