Earth & Sky

Above, light from the rising sun illuminates large boulders on a hilltop in the Davis Mountains of western Texas.

The oldest entry in my blog was posted five years ago today, and tells of a spot in the mountains which is very special to me. The Pontiac and I have enjoyed five tours of these beautiful and peaceful mountains during the past 30 years; I’ve no doubt we’ll be visiting the area again.

Speaking of, here are links to a few archived blog posts about our most recent trip to the Davis Mountains in 2015…

The long-awaited return to the spot mentioned in the post linked above, including some photos of the incredible night sky:

Deep in the Heart of Texas

And a couple of posts featuring photos of the area’s wildlife:

Raptor’s Delight

Acme Little Giant Do-It-Yourself Rocket-Sled Kit

Carl’s Library: Hammond’s Nature Atlas

I’m no bookbinder, but I’m pretty handy with a roll of black cloth tape. While going through some of my books in storage, I came across an old favorite which has seen better days. I used that roll of tape to reattach the front and back boards, and now the book is shelfworthy again.

The book is Hammond’s Nature Atlas of America (1952), and this copy has been with me longer than any book in my collection; I still remember turning these pages as a kid. As then, I love looking at the colorful paintings by Walter Ferguson and John Cody.

There’s no doubt that this book fostered my lifelong fascination with nature and science.

~

Illustrations and text: Copyright 1952 by C.S. Hammond and Company, Inc.

(Posts about my library are archived through this link: ridingwithcarl.wordpress.com/tag/library.)

Trees & Leaves

That didn’t take long. Today’s post includes the last few photographs I have to share from my recent excursion through eastern Canada. This trip generated far fewer images than past adventures of similar distance or duration. There’s a reason for that…

On most road trips, I’m winding my way across the wide-open prairies, deserts, badlands and high country of the American West. Roaming under the Big Sky is, photographically, very stimulating; each turn of the road or the trail presents a new look at the marriage of land and sky. I return from every western journey with hundreds of photos.

Driving or hiking through heavily forested regions is different; though still quite satisfying, it’s more of a relaxing, contemplative experience rather than a photo opportunity. When I’m immersed in the forest, I don’t reach for the camera nearly as often.

Am I anti-tree? Certainly not. I greatly enjoy hiking in the woods during fall and winter, as well as taking long drives through Canada’s vast boreal forest. However, to me, nothing is more enjoyable than watching the sky. When I’m boxed in by a multitude of trees (or hills or mountains, for that matter), I’m missing out on sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, moonsets, interesting clouds, soaring birds, approaching storms, the beautiful colors of twilight. Having an unobstructed view of the horizon is something that I treasure. My preference is to appreciate trees in smaller doses—a stand of aspens marking the path of a stream that snakes across a broad Colorado valley, for example. A solitary tree standing guard on the prairie is one of my favorite sights; on many occasions, I have visited this lonely old cottonwood that lives on a South Dakota ranch…

I find that spending time with a single tree, or with a small grove, is more rewarding than a journey among countless thousands of trees. Even so, the larger forests do have their charms, and I’ll keep on driving through the wilds of Canada, hiking in silent woods carpeted with freshly fallen snow, and visiting all of my favorite trees. As for day-to-day living, I hope to be doing that on the Great Plains someday…preferably, on a piece of land that has one tree within hiking distance.

Ranch Dreams

A transequatorial double-exposure collaboration with my friend John, who lives in New South Wales, Australia. This roll of Rollei Ortho 25 black & white negative film was first exposed during my most recent visit to the Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park, Colorado; the frames below feature Jay, Sarah and my shadow. The film was then shipped to John, who went shooting near his home with an eye toward light and texture. We’re quite happy with the way the roll turned out.

Survivor

A scene from my final day of driving in South Dakota (until next year). And whenever I pull over at this spot in Badlands National Park, I like to visit this ragged little cottonwood tree, hanging on beside a pathetic trickle of water that winds through the rocks and dust.

Free Range

Meanwhile, north of Colorado…
I’ve yet to share any of the photos that I shot in Wyoming back in September. Last autumn’s epic 8448-mile road trip brought me through central Wyoming for the first time; a shame it took me so long to visit the area, as this part of the state is a showcase of natural beauty. I hope to explore this region often in the years ahead.

I was able to spend one sunny day hiking across scenic BLM ground located in the western foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. As is the case with most land held by the BLM, only motorized vehicles must remain on marked trails; hikers and those riding horses may roam freely.

Certainly, more than 99% of the miles that I have hiked to date were logged on established trails. But I have been fortunate enough to walk through a handful of places in the world where off-trail travel is permitted, and those experiences bring a deeper level of satisfaction, as did this trek. It was quite special to be so close to these big, beautiful rock formations, and to be able to immerse myself in the silence and solitude to a degree that I could never attain in a crowded national park. In places like these, far away from the visible reminders of civilization, you can really sense the timelessness of the landscape.

I think I was being followed…

So Many Trees

During my final day in the Northwest Territories, I pulled over and parked on this piece of high ground to gawk at the sprawling and seemingly endless boreal forest. These shots were captured with my infrared DSLR.

My trip as a whole was virtually bug-free, with the exception of the area around Fort Providence. When I stopped to photograph the narrow forest road seen below, the sand flies came after me with great enthusiasm. Fortunately, I was prepared with gloves and a mosquito-netting hat. The dark blobs you see are just a few of the hundreds of sand flies swarming around my head. They didn’t get my blood, but they photobombed every shot taken in this area.