Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Muse - by Stephanne

Today I had to think of something to put on a new bracelet a friend is having made for me... I kicked around many sayings, funny ones that I had coined, inspirational ones from historical figures... but in the end I wanted something I wrote. Its no secret to people in my life that my two favorite blogs I've ever written are Sanctuary (Dec 2013) and Old Man Appalachia (Jan 2014). In the end, I wrote a quote that some may see as... blasphemous? But I don't intend it to be offensive to anyone, I simply hope to relay that museful spirit of Sanctuary...

So to that end, my own quote for my own bracelet:

"Nature is my cathedral; the mountain, my altar; the raging river, my baptismal."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Flavor of Seasons

Seasons flavor hikes.

Something wonderful happens when you go to an oft-visited spot and the scenery morphs - completely changing in every facet - based on the time of year you visit.  Let's take my Snow Pocket.  In spring and fall its raging waters beckon to kayaks (and hikes).  In summer, the cool, deep pools call to casual swimmers, whisper of picnics, and sooth hike-weary feet.  In the winter, the shades of water capture blues meant for far-off seas and the landscape transforms again into a stark and crisp reflection of itself.

It was fitting that the sky was spitting snow as we traversed the Snow Pocket.  This hike - my longtime favorite - never fails to enchant me with childlike wonder.  Its hard to not feel small and inconsequential when walking among the fallen titans of rock that still stand like great monolithic scars of bygone eras.  This area is magical... an outdoor cathedral of

contrast. The scars of man-made walls, black coal-dusted soil, concrete foundations for long rotted bridges and open arches of mine shafts forcibly nudge reminders of an industrial area not long ago.  But nature perseveres.  She has taken back the land and slowly... methodically... she unmakes our "progress" and deconstructs our obsession for dominance.

The freezing temperatures provide new sights.  The innocuous, normally unnoticed seeping trickles transform into spires that catch and hold the imagination as efficiently as they do the water.  The far-flung spiked seeds of a sweetgum beg to tempt agony from less-protected feet.  How can the same place - a place I know better than any single stretch of wilderness - have so many facets?  How can her personality shift so eloquently?

My point - yes, I do have one! - is that you can't (or shouldn't) simply check places off of some proverbial "to do" list.  Nature abounds with surprises... a good rain on a summer day can alter an entire landscape.  Yes: Seasons add distinct flavors. Life isn't always about a "been there, done that" mentality.  If you limit your experiences in nature to a single visit, you limit your scope of understanding and appreciation.  Nature is like a dear friend... one that must be seen in different light, under varied circumstances, and having different temperaments to truly know her, to see her, and to allow her to share the depths of her splendor.

See more imagery from this trip:

Stephanne Dennis is an outdoor enthusiast extraordinaire. A highly skilled backpacker and apex predator specialist, she shares her love of the outdoors with her unrivaled writing skills and her faithful companion, Bandit McKaye, her Anatolian Shepherd. She is currently studying Wildlife Biology at Oregon State University and dedicates her time and skills to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.