With and Without Hair

Imbolc                                                                    Anniversary Moon

Triglav     Andrejj
Triglav Andrejj

From my growing up and adult years in the Midwest mountains had a rocky, bare faced majesty, perhaps covered in swirling fog or partially covered in new snow, but always jagged and austere. Yes, I’d been to the Smoky’s and driven the Blue Ridge Highway, even seen the Appalachians in Pennsylvania and New York, not to mention the ancient Sawtooths along the North Shore in Minnesota, but somehow they didn’t change my archetypal image of what it meant to be a mountain.

Now, though, having lived in the Rockies for over two years, I know that mountains are diverse, even in the same range. Some are bare and austere like the Tetons, but most of the mountains I encounter on a daily basis have hair, above 8,000 feet lodgepole pine and aspen, below that ponderosa, blue spruce, some oak. Of course, above the tree line, there are no trees, but at the treeline, krummholz trees predominate. They are, as the German word makes clear, stunted and windblown, crooked, bent and twisted.


Even after some reading and a lot of observation I’ve still not figured out how to tell where one mountain begins and another ends. Of course, this is not a mountain’s problem; it’s a problem of the human need to analyze and dissect. A peak of Black Mountain, for example, is visible through my loft window as I write. I photograph its beautiful changes as the sun rises and posted some of those below. But Conifer Mountain begins somewhere to the south of Black Mountain. They’re connected, joined at the granitic hip, so they’re not really distinct entities, but inventions of the mind.

This move has had many implications for our lives, none more constant and enthralling than this chance to know the mountains.


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