You can hike up to the top of this thing at 12,115 ft. In fact, there’s a trail up there that follows the ridgeline to high above the Taos Ski Valley. If you start in San Cristobal, you can hike in the wilderness for days. This is obviously something I need to do before I fall over dead. The reddish-brown color at bottom right is a big patch of scrub oak: actual oak trees, but tiny, maybe eight or ten feet high, in a thicket. The less saturated golden brown area nearby is—gasp!—grass… There’s nothing quite like these high-altitude meadows. I’ve been in some where you could lose an aircraft carrier. You’ll find they’re full of elk poop, too.
Unless you’ve actually been to places like this, you’ll never grasp that everywhere was like this once. That this, in fact, is what the living Earth is meant to be. That we have done a goddamn shitty job of stewardship. That cutting slits and digging holes and blowing things up is just a stupid thing to do. You might as well cut your own tattoos with a hunting knife, for all the sense it makes. I realize that Xian ideology pretends the planet is here for us to use up on our way to heaven, but that’s another reason why I never go to church, aside from the essential uselessness of it all. I get my soul battery charged from Source. That’s why the wilderness is so important. This IS the Source, not some abstraction in a metaphor your preacher thought up for his sermon. (You can experience “God” directly!) When the wilderness is gone, our species will have achieved peak ignorance of what it means to be a human being, and then we’ll know what hell is all about.
Beautiful pics, as always. I don’t think your naturalist’s quarrel is so much with Christianity as with secular man. The people who are doing the mining and building and drilling are servicing an economy which derives from 18th century century thinkers who for the most part were either unbelievers or tepid believers.
I myself feel that the human touch is necessary to make a landscape really come alive. The choice isn’t between completely pristine nature and strip mining. I like to see cabins in the woods, boats on the lakes, hedgerows and cultivated fields somewhere on the horizon. The sight of nothing but a series of mountains or a trackless desert or an empty ocean creates a frisson but also makes me feel lonely for the missing element – man. He who makes both a hell and a heaven. Each of us has the power to choose between them (or find something in between). Whereas with Nature there is no choosing. Nature doesn’t care about us. The frisson I feel when I look at these pics of yours, beautiful as they are, is this sense of the not-human, of the void that existed before our forebears climbed out of the slime, when there was no one to think thoughts about the beautiful and sublime at all. There’s terror at the heart of those pictures. Keep them coming!
Yes, there IS “terror at the heart of those pictures.” More spiritual energy than we can take. Believe me, it scares me too, so I know what you mean about having people in the landscape. It’s just that we alter it so easily with our presence, and I really need a fix of the straight stuff. I feel like I’ve been searching for it all my life, even if I don’t know what to do about it when I find it.
Yes, it is awesome to see something without the human mark. I like to imagine what places looked like, say 10,000 years ago without roads, permanent buildings, fences, telephone wires, etc. I’ve never felt lonely in places without the modern human mark, just more real. People had to cooperate more with each other then, just to survive. In a way we are probably more lonely now. As far as Church is concerned, I used to fear heaven more than hell. It was a city with jeweled streets and no animals. Doesn’t sound at all comfortable or friendly.