Location: Sequoia National Park
Elevation: 13,000 ft
Note: I guess this is as good a place as any to talk about Fire. It was no mistake that at this point in my life I was brought to a Forest which is most ultimately and most intimately connected to Fire in the world. Even the smallest most myopic little spark can burn down the whole f@ckin thing. If that isn’t an aphorism for how even the smallest falsity to a loved one can lead ultimately to total distrust, then I don’t know what is. In this way, different lessons emerge in different forests, which is just another reason why some adventurers get hooked on the next hike; Reading a forest is more often like reading a novel, as experiences culminate you want to see more. It is eye-opening that the very existence of these exquisite and hallowed pillars of arbos depend upon a practically sentient process of distributing this most prophetic fourth Element. There is also another lesson, no less profound, relative to Fire here. If there is no fire the forest will inevitably stack its dry-brush and suffocate, blocking-out the sunlight from the soil. Too much fire and the forest will obviously be destroyed, and in the most drastic way possible. But finally, say a thresh-level, low-glowing, and slow-rolling fire begins crackling distinctly beneath the stellar Sierra night; Amazingly, this specific type of fire cleans out the waste. and the Forest is literally reborn.
Studies have shown that many of the trees, in a nearly human display of maternity, will not let go of their seeds until this specific thresh-level fire has taken place. The fact that Fire is scientifically the biological nemesis of any tree is just an incredible lesson on the subtleties of Nature’s relationships, and so our human relationships as well. We can’t go through life holding-on to our mistakes. At some point, to flourish, you must risk the burn, and leave all the waste, for the fire and wind.
And just look at the result. Here we have the oldest Forest on Earth, in one of the highest elevations on Earth, with the tallest trees on Earth. Many people in other parts of the world are not aware that this particularly rare and ageless Forest requires a quest into the upper elevations of the Sierra Mountains. Sequoia’ sits on the high rocky corner of a massive mountain rim (Image/Top). I myself have lived in the United States all my life, and never realized that Sequoia is literally a Forest that touches the clouds, not just the average woods that could be arrived at by crossing a mere stretch of common roads.
The approach to Sequoia National Park begins on the south-eastern edge of the massive Californian Valley. Porterville, Lyndsay, or Exeter are all classic Californicana’ overnight points for an early morning approach into the initial elevations of Tulare County, a small rolling region blissfully tucked into the golden foothills of the Sierra Mountains. Forests begin to emerge along Three-Rivers Road, Route 198, which is also known as General’s Highway.The entire world changes from gold to green in a matter of miles. This is the main labyrinthian route into the 10,500-foot heights above sea-level, leading ultimately into Sequoia National Park, and a supreme vantage of the Sierra-Nevada Rim at Moro Rock Trail. There are 39 additionally exquisite options to hike here at the most hallowed Forest in the world, and for a look at the largest and oldest Sequoia Tree, the General Sherman Tree Trail is here too. General Sherman Tree Trail: The most ancient and massive tree in the world is found here at Sequoia, known by the rather crass title of “General Sherman”. American Civil War General William T. Sherman is best known, ironically, for burning every major industrial center of the American South in 1865. ‘Fire’ as a historical theme emerges here as well. The stupidity in naming the most sacred tree on Earth (a Tree that is extremely vulnerable and threatened by Fire) for the name of a man who is known chiefly for burning half the country to the ground, is embarrassing. Whatever the real name of this tree is, I can guarantee you, it is not anything like “General Sherman”. Nevertheless, follow the signs along the Park’ road for several minutes until you arrive at the designated parking ground. The simple singular trail loops gradually down… through a grove of gorgeous Ponderosa and Sequoia, where “General Sherman” looms irreverently above all else. It’s a short looping walk around, before heading back up. It would be best to choose a secondary hike, a more significant one, through these woods. I chose to get back in the car and drive over to the main car-park, near the entrance, and have a walk up to the incredible vista at Moro Rock Trail.
Moro Rock Trail: The walk along the Forest road from the main car-park to Moro Rock is the first and most basic option for seeing the precious Sequoia glades here on the high south rim of the Sierra’s. Just a few miles of slightly elevated walking gives a marvelous glimpse of both the Jurassic scale, and serenity here. Soldier Trail can be found to the left along the lower road, or near the entrance at the top of the road, by Moro Rock. There are lavender rushes that run for hundreds of yards beneath the ancient wooden monoliths, so strong,. yet so vulnerable, as shown by the charcoal bruises of the bark. forever resisting the burn. Pathways weave beneath trees that are, in their own right, perhaps one thousand to several thousand years in growth.
If you follow the short Soldier Trail or the road, you will break through the Forest and come to the climb for Moro Rock. This is only a ten minute jaunt up some granite stairs and cuts in the rock. Aside from the grand overall viewof the Sierra Rim, it is also an opportunity to see just how rare, and skyward, this elevated Forest really is. A look at the Forest from here reveals the exquisite nature of this place; The altitude, the edge-of-the-Earth vibe, the familial feeling of this relatively rare corner of related giant glades, just takes your breath away. From above, nothing seems to be in jeopardy; But within the glades, we know full well about the battle taking place against the severe weather patterns of the last decade. Sequoia’ is so ancient, so connected to the earliest Earthly realm, that it is a wonder these timeless trees have not yet literally learned to speak. The Peak at Moro Rock is an opportunity to ingest all of this.
Mortality. Time. Grandeur. Family. Rarity. All themes that touch the heart here. The subtle relationship of the Elements to the natural world, and the naturals world’s relationship to us, is on massive display. You must sometimes extend yourself to find the rare places, and the ancient places, the sacred places. Try to understand that seeing a place like this is not important because of its raw natural beauty, or heavenly scale; Sequoia is not important because it may one day burn; It is important because it whispers to you, with every bending branch, that our time will be up in the relative blink of an eye, in the sight of these glades. Here is one of the most sacred scenes in nearly all incomprehensible Time. See it if you can. Stonestrider.com
Location: Sonora, California/USA
Prominence: 2200 ft
Note: It takes a single day driving east from the nightmare that is San Francisco to reach the dreamscape that is the Californian countryside. Sonora California sits about 130 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, amidst a set of small golden mountains, on the epic edge of a rising continental landscape. This classically Western country town, where Mormons still mingle wearing their 18th Century attire, among hikers, shopkeepers, bikers, and laid-back locals, is an ultimate jumping-off-point for the definitive hiking experience of the American West. Like a Californian version of Tolkien’s Shire, Sonora rests on the peaceful but ominous precipice of several mysterious mountain ranges and wastelands that rise thousands upon thousands of feet, both above and beyond into the east. The comforting colors, the cinematic warmth of the hills, is truly one of the most inviting regions one could ever imagine. (Image/Below)
Looming just beyond Sonora is a vast Sierra Nevada Range, encompassing Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest, Kings Canyon, booming with peaks reaching all the way down to Sequoia National Forest, some 300 miles to the south. When crossing the continent from the east in the 18oo’s, many settlers found crossing the Rocky Mountains to be much less of a challenge than the extremity of the Sierras, which should give you some idea about the intense ruggedness of this final American Range, before reaching the Pacific. (Image/Below) The town of Sonora sits atop an elevation 2000 feet above New Melones Lake. The incredibly scenic E18 highway runs down from town to a bridge- crossing. On the west side of the water, looming above the bridge, is a small but beautiful solitary Mountain known as Mount Zucca. (Image/Below)
Rumors of the “goldscape” of California were enough to bring minors, prospectors, and contractors all the way from Europe, and as far away as China. Mount Zucca is the perfect image of what was described to family and friends back east; a glowing, flowing, and beautiful scene of golden hills. It was as if the landscape itself, the very colors of the hills, were scintillatingly hinting at its valuable core. Two billion dollars worth of pure gold was literally pulled from the rivers of California from 1849 t0 1855, which is the equivalent of about sixty-seven billion dollars worth today. It was enough to bring the myth of American Manifest-Destiny into an undeniable reality in the newspapers of the Nation, even as the Native population was being brutally eviscerated. The Hupa, Wintu, and Yana tribes would’ve been found among the gorgeous hills near Zucca Mountain.
Some mountains are more like elongated ridges at their tops, running long, like Mount Katahdin in the State of Maine/USA. (Image/Below/Left) Other mountains cluster, like the Three Sisters at Glen Coe Scotland. (Image/Below/Right) Aesthetically, solitary mountains have a unique and special effect on the mind, like the Cross in a Church, or a Buddha in the Temple. Mountains that stand alone, like Errigal in Ireland, have a central peak. It doesn’t matter what size a particular mountain is, to have this quality, as long as it stands alone. That’s why, even though Mount Zucca is three times smaller than Mount Errigal, it still has the same epically solitary and stoic quality.
So when I looked at Mount Zucca for the first time I actually had a momentary vision of Mount Errigal, some three thousand miles away. Flashes like this are valuable; so I took notice and decided to Climb Zucca’ that very moment.
Trail: Californian small mountains have the cool Celtic quality of treeless sides. It is much easier to gauge the hike from below with mountains like this. It’s a good feeling. The trail here is absolutely clear from below; a slightly winding incline, with a fine path throughout. It looks to be about 2000 feet to the top, a perfect practice-hike for greater challenge of The Sierras, about an hour-and-a-half to the east. Starting out, about seventy-five yards from the bridge-crossing below, on the western side, you will see the trail head stones just above the road, for Mount Zucca. (Image/Left)
The lower path is lovely. Glowing rushes surround you as you float up the hillside. I chose to take this path a few hours before Sunset, so as to catch that Sunset, and still have enough light left to make the way down. You can take advantage of the long shade in the late day, cooling you down if you so choose to utilize it. The angle of the sunlight is cinematic, making for some really solid images.
Every mountain has a unique story to tell. If you heighten your senses, and move mindfully, you may start to see signs that someone may have lived here once. As someone who has climbed in dozens of peaks, I can say, with a strong amount of evidence-supported confidence, that those ancient cultural signs tend to have specific similarities, and are usually carved into the stones. Heading up this trail, those signs are abundant. Get ready for a sacred scene.
Mount Zucca would’ve been an ideal place of habitation, tucked into the overall Valley, and just above the River, where fish would be readily available. Several signs of ancient habitation appear in the qualities of the stones here in this beautiful place. It looks like someone else has noticed the somewhat distinct features of these fixtures of stone as well. (Image/Left)
Someone cut these stones to be noticed. Look at the fitted, subtle angles, quaint notches, fitting this setting together like a puzzle. This is not the product of any random natural process. Fixtures like this can be found in forests in New England by the thousands, on the other coast. (Image/Right) It’s a great sign. It would make sense that a valley as beautiful as this would sponsor Neolithic Culture.
Continuing steadily upward, the terrain is dry, and the air is breezy in the late light. The path slowly rises above some gorgeous forest on the northwest side of the Valley. In contrast to this wide open skyline a distinct Neolith appears. It is not uncommon to see large boulders in the heights, but it’s the cut angles in stones that are meant to pull us closer. Often times the cuts on these stones specify a vantage on the Sun, or the Moon. Interestingly enough, this massive protruding rock is cut distinctly on it’s face, and looks upward into the path of where the Sun would rise.
It isn’t just the stones that gives a mountain like this a special feeling. Many years ago now, I was hiking on a small Mountain in Kinnitty Ireland, similar to the size of Zucca’, and at the top of that small Mountain I found seashells along the footpath. It’s a cool feeling finding seashells in the heights. It seems that once upon a time, just like in the Celtic heights, this Valley was flooded. Why is it that National Geographic articles don’t cover the fact that there are seashells in the heights of so many mountains across the globe? Why haven’t we read about this phenomenon in our Highschool Biology books? Why wouldn’t they want yo to know about this obvious phenomenon? Halfway up the trail, Mount Zucca already shows many of the signs that the mythical Celtic Mountains do, signs of the earliest Culture on Earth, the Neolithic. The boulders in the heights are specific and angular. For many portions of this you don’t see any boulders at all; just a beautiful ultimately calming vantage of swaying dry brush and soft light. The specificity of where the stones are found is important.
As you make your way into the heights there are additional stones that have the strangest look, carven, cut, molded, all in one. And what a view. These redundant earthy mounds climb softly up and ahead, while the Sun looms behind. The temperature is pleasant, and the air is wonderfully clear up here. In the delightful heights of New England and Ireland we find similar strange stones guarding the upper heights, like small towers protecting the edges of a miniature empire. The special thing about stones like these is that they often contain a 3 dimensional surprise; looking from the front you find a unique expression of specially stacked stones, layered and fitted. But from above, looking down, you see an almost impossible X-cut straight through each level of stones! This precision cut, passing all the way through each layer of rock is meant to impress us. The delicate detail, combined with the brute force necessary to make a cut like this is mind boggling. And furthermore, this X is an international Neolithic symbol, used the world over. What a creative way to express it here! Take a look:
From the side it would be almost inconceivable to think that such a unique and impossible expression exists in these rocks. The straightness of these lines is absolutely modern looking, and yet we know it is not. Here are more X…
…sections near the sacred peaks of mountains across America (Images/Above); Clark Mountain C.O (Right), Hulapai Mountain A.Z (Middle) and Monument Mountain (Right). Are geologists or anthropologists blind? Do they even climb these mountains? I’ve never seen a single one up there. I’ve found enough X sections to write a study on them alone. But for the moment, in seeing this, the full realization that Mount Zucca is a sacred peak should sink in. What a gorgeous scene.Continuing towards the peak, you will work your way up around several small boulders to emerge to the peak. The full spectrum effect of the California vibe hits you in this place. To the north is a scene that looks more like Mexico, with brittle earthy toned shrubs and chocolaty-gold soil. Other peaks are not tree-less like Zucca, and perhaps that in itself holds some kind of meaning yet to be determined. It’s altogether heart warming.
To the south is a near perfect vision of the lake stretching along the Valley. This is a doubly advantageous height, with a clear line of sight on anyone approaching, along with access to the water.
If you look along the right-side line of the picture just above, you will see each stone fixture, each with unique characteristic, lining the trail to the top. It is not at all disheveled, but rather, super organized, as if someone put their particular mark all along this Mountain, a long, long time ago. From the highest point of Zucca, there are cut boulders settled into the peak that look like parallel cut stones overlooking the entire Valley. It’s a nearly perfect parallel vista. The Californian experience is encapsulated in this small Mountain. Just like in New England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and most likely the world over, there are signs in the stones of magical things. The reason they are magical is because many of them are nearly impossible. These signs are almost always in the most beautiful heights. Achieving a peak is rewarding on every level. This a spiritual zone, a place literally lit up with impossible things, mingled with panoramic natural beauty. Further up the valley, in the forests of the town of Sonora, there are stones with cut triangles embedded in the rock. It is hard to believe. Clearly this was a Neolithic haven. The equilateral triangle is impossible to miss, even at a distance, at the center of this massive fixture within this pristine grove. Of course, equilateral triangles are specifically carved into the rocks in New England on the East coast. This image on the left is just one of hundreds to be found in the forests.
It appears that Californian small mountains are as enchanted as the rolling heights of New England and southern Ireland. As opposed to the infinity of green in the Celtic parts of the world, everything here is sun-kissed, including any person who stays in this region for more than a week. This is a nearly flawless area for everything that hiking can be, sacred stones, gorgeous heights, clear paths, and Sun through the day. Come to California and discover the sacred aspects of this scene for yourself. Sonora is the perfect spot for small-mountain mystic experiences, and only an hour and a half away from one of the most massive mountain ranges on Earth. Seek it out! Stonestrider.com
Location: California/USA/Sierra Nevada Mountain Range
Elevation: 3,500ft to 14,500ft
Note: There are plenty of instances in history where people ascribed personas to mountains and landscapes. There are even instances where saints and sages believed that God literally resided within certain mountains, like at Mount Arunachula in southern India. This seems like the best way to introduce the experience of The Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. The best words to describe Yosemite have already come from an American sage, who also saw God in the mountains here. When gazing upon Yosemite for the first time, you can absolutely understand why. Although American naturalist John Muir was originally from Scotland, a place where the Highland Mountains blast out of the landscape with a most massive rugged intensity (Image/Left) it would actually be at Yosemite, many years after migrating to America, that the mountain-made anointing would find him, filling him with the inspiration to ascribe this place the most sacred Range on Earth. This is the Sierra Nevada’s of California. About the Half-Dome Mountain heights John Muir would write: “…it seems full of thought, clothed with living light, no sense of dead stone about it, all spiritualized, neither heavy looking, nor light, steadfast in serene strength, like a god.” (image/below)
This type of language, written about the Half Dome in this excerpt, would eventually lead the American populace to christen John Muir as a Prophet of the North American West, like a Moses of American mountain chains. Muir became a disciple of the landscape, almost a child in spirit, as he recognized the context of his life against this vast wilderness. And although John Muir truly is an example of what really can happen to us out there in the heights, or in the thick of the forests, it is important to realize (for at-least a moment) that there was an entire nation of Native Americans who were already disciples of the land. Natives were simply being destroyed, even as John Muir was announcing his ‘good news’ to readers back east. This was ‘good news’, of course, that the indigenous Ahwahnechee (Ah-wen-nahk-ee) Native American Tribe had not only understood, but utterly embodied, for God-knows how many thousands of years, at what would become Yosemite National Park. And who could blame them? Look at this place! Peaks here look like the Taj Majal, or the amphitheater of Dionysus, all seemingly carved by the clouds roughly 5000 feet above the Valley.
Yosemite is a near perfect enclosure, in terms of a potential indigenous living spaces. You don’t simply “look” here, like when when someone points out a new sky scraper in the city; here you cast your gaze upon the bright granite domes, 1000 foot waterfalls, and the vast central valley laid out like a pure earthen common. All of this is under ultimate protection by a massively-squared mountain jawline looming in the heights, all striking the senses in a dynamic cinematic ingestion. The image below is (Mount) El Capitaine, seen on the right, as if it were a crafted monument. There are 16 trails in Yosemite Valley, and every one of them has exquisite traits and value. Beginner level trails like Lower Yosemite Falls, Mist Trail, and Artist Point, are great routes for conversation and catching up with loved ones. Those who are taking it easy for the day, encamped in the Valley, enjoy taking advantage of the relaxing views. (Image/Below) Mid-level trails like Upper Yosemite Falls, Snow Creek, and ‘Four Mile’ are kick-ass romps along well defined paths and patios which bend through the forest, follow wide rolling streams along towering waterfalls, which reveal double-rainbows at certain hours of the day. (Image/Below) Amazing. The Hard level trails, like Pohono, and Half Dome, are expeditions that require physical and mental preparation. Pohono gets 5 full stars on All-Trails.com, and is loved for the brilliant vistas it climbs into, along with a beautiful scenic loop at the back end. Many hikers take-on Pohono with the intention to camp overnight, as the overall trail runs for about 20 miles of challenging inclines and rocky paths. The challenge of Pohono is well worth the reward, with once-in-a-lifetime photography happening, and great vibes throughout. Finally, the most challenging and famous trail is the Half Dome. The Half Dome is about 5000 feet of elevation cresting the entire Valley of Yosemite. The cut of the Valley from the west seems to emphasize the Half Dome, directing the eyes towards it like an ultimate centralizing fixture, sitting on the high mantle-piece of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. (Image/Below) On the left El Capitan is cut straight down, while on the right the Valley seems to lean away in order to let anyone coming from this direction visualize the shape at the dead center, The Half Dome. Half Dome Trail: Ok, let’s go for it! This is one of the most coveted and beautiful trails in the entire world. A few months before you go, there are a few things you will need to do. In a quick gloss-over, lets look at the essentials…
Half Dome/Preparation: In the months before you take on the Half Dome, you will need to purchase a small water purifying pump, and a water pack, filling it with at-least a gallon of water. You will also need a “sports drink”, or something with sugar, so you can keep your body wakeful while trekking up the Valley. Fill your pack with peanut-butter bars, energy bars, a sandwich or two, and some jelly-beans (but to celebrate only at the peak, and not before; The sugar is a an extra reward for your brain after a serious physical effort, but too much sugar along the way will burn too quickly in your digestion, creating less effective energy, and burn-you-out before the peak). Ingest food and drink strategically. Take bites and sips while you go, don’t eat or drink too much in one sitting on the way, or it will stifle your metabolism and physical rhythm, forcing your body to shift into digestional function, rather than the necessary motor focus…If you “down” drinks and food too quickly, fatigue will hit you hard, inducing lethargy. And last but not least, bring ITunes (headphones) that contain nothing less than the soundtrack to your life. Your favorite music during a tough climb can truly make the difference between making it, or feeling like you just can’t go on. Music is nutrition for your soul, and causes you to remember other climbs you’ve made, as well as good moments in your minds-eye, while you make your way. These are the basics of what you will need in your pack. Now you’re ready to rock-and-roll.
Half Dome (High Sierra): First and foremost, be inside Yosemite Valley just after sunrise to give yourself plenty of time to make the peak. Eat a good breakfast. Realize that during today’s climb you will be trekking a total of 16.4 miles, the first 8.2 of which is heading progressively up rocky stairs, misty cliffs-sides, and deep forests. Get a good last look at the Half Dome (Image/Below) before starting out, and then start towards the trail-head, which is a mile walk just beyond the main parkin- lot at Yosemite. One of the toughest parts of this endurance challenge that you’re taking on is having enough strength in that 8th mile, by the peak, to free-climb a vertical wire-staircase that runs straight up the side of the Half Dome. Only then will you emerge at the peak at one of the most beautiful Valley’s in the world. Be capable of a very strong grip, and enough strength to keep your footing on the rock-face along the side of the Dome. After you get your head around these things, you are ready. And the most important thing to realize is that you can do it. Thousands of people make it to the peak here every year, and the trek along the way is simply once in a lifetime.
High Sierra Loop Trail: The High Sierra Loop Trailhead, for all the trails running out of the main Valley, is just a short walk beyond the Yosemite Valley Parking Lot and encampment area. You can just follow the foot-traffic of people literally funneling into the mountain heights, where the sign sits just above the starting path above the river. This is the High Sierra Trailhead “Rubicon”, from here you can no longer purchase water, or any other supplies. You’re on your own from here, and you’re ready for it. But in a truly heart warming way, you can begin your climb among the company of families and seekers with the joy of an exodus, surrounded by that great vibe and assurance that each and every one of these people has left the office far, far behind. Fantastic domestic Rangers are also on hand throughout the trail to answer any questions, should any issues emerge. One of the coolest aspects of hiking through an Internationally acclaimed Park like Yosemite is that you can come across people from all over the world. In this excursion alone I spoke with people from at least half-a-dozen other countries. Another humbling realization can also come while speaking to Americans here. The North American continent is home to so many wonderful families and persuasions. Anyone who tells you that the American ‘moment’ has passed hasn’t gotten away from their television nearly enough these passed years. American families are wholesome, loving, caring, and truly wonderful down-to-earth people, of every creed and color; whether they be a large Latino unit from southern California, a Hindu-American couple from New York City, or a 7th generation European collective from the American Midwest; you can find them all here at Yosemite each and every year, soaking up beautiful and challenging Natural experiences, developing a deeper love for the Country in which they reside. And along the way, you might take a moment to realize that the Native Americans, the beautiful original caretakers of this wilderness, are for the most part, gone. This is a good place to let such a thought sink in. Let it sink in, then let it go; you have a mountain to climb.
So this is where your expedition truly begins. There is little concern about getting lost here; signs for the Half Dome are placed along the trail. Remember to stay within eye shot of the trail while hiking, and that this is a very real wildlife reserve, with emphasis on wild life. Black Bears (who are actually Brown in color), Black Tailed Deer, and a myriad of creatures are at play here at all times, so be aware, and don’t wander off. The first few miles of the lower trail is a comfortable and scenic concrete path, warming you up for the rocky incline bringing you towards the brilliant Vernal Fall, and then Nevada Fall running along the mighty Merced River. On this comfortable lower trail take the opportunity to put your head-phones on and get some music going before the incline begins. One of the most challenging portions of the overall hike is coming up; a towering set of stone steps that will lead you above both waterfalls, with an interval of Forest in between. Take several halts to appreciate the path you are on, and rest. This is a rare cinematic path that historically significant souls have treaded, drawing inspiration and peace-of mind with each bend in the trail. There are places for quiet moments and rest, as well as very public forums of interaction by the small lakes in the heights. Realize that you are entering an elevated wonderland. Leaving the lower concrete path behind, a new rocky path will take you towards the grandeur of Vernal Falls. The grand incline begins. You will need to watch your step, not just for your own safety, but for the other people making their way as well. The vibe starts to get a little crazy! Rainbows appear in the mist all over the place, and a view of the harrowing, yet enticing, heights emerge above and beyond.
The Rainbow Factory: Stepping up to Vernal Falls is a negotiation with other hikers. Share the narrow trail and keep your footing. In many places you will need to use your hands to lift yourself along. A cool mist begins to envelop everyone, giving a shimmer to literally everything you see. If the Sun is out the effect is supreme, and the Sun is almost always out. This is a drop the size of a vertically hanging football field. Here there is a bold geological contrast worth noting. The gigantic granite escarpment looks like a section of a modern dam, with linear parallel shafts sliding at a perfect 90 degree angle straight to the bottom. And at the bottom, a collection of boulders is sitting, precisely piled, at the point of impact of the forceful flow of water. It almost looks like a mechanized effect. In mathematical terms, the height of the waterfall determines the amount of acceleration the water experiences coming down; And the greater the acceleration, the greater the impact and size of the mist that will emerge. With an appropriate vantage on the Sun, Vernal Falls is literally a waterfall factory. Neolithic historians are able to see the possibility of design in a place. On this website alone are several waterfalls that seemed to be engineered in the Neolithic Era, like Bear’s Den Falls’ in New Salem Massachusetts, or the indigenous Falls’ of Donegal Ireland. Regardless if this, whether this is an intended Neolithic site or not, it is enough to sit back and accept the incredible beauty it has produced for over 12000 years. This is part of the Mist Trail Loop, and a lot of people at this point will head back down from here; in the upcoming forest you will feel an increased quiet. First, as you climb the narrow stair above Vernal Fall, you will come to a Lake that is the color of hard jade, radiating beneath the trees. Nevada Falls: The tranquility aspect of this expedition starts to set-in once you head into the forest just below Nevada Falls. There is something about the consistency in the granite, the white-grey gardens of stone that have been collected into steps, which is comforting. The mountain is what it is. The clean consistency of color and contrast, and the specifying your steps along these crags, creates a type of vindication for each and every hiker. There is no shortcut here. As the real work of the incline sets in, you are relating to the specific characteristics of this particular mountain, which is truly a touching, and at times refined beauty. Combine all this with the boundless foundational force beneath you, and you will be taking-in the energies of the climb of a lifetime. Getting above Nevada Falls is no small feat. You’ve climbed for about 3.5 miles, which means your total hike will be about 7 miles if you decide to loop-it back down. There is a crossroads up here. To take a right at the top of this Fall is to begin heading back down along the loop, but to take a right is to head towards the Half Dome. At this point you have expended a good deal of energy. It might be a good idea to take a few minutes and dunk your body in the cool of the Merced River, which runs along the base of the Sequoia Forest, before beginning the switchback inclines of the high glade. Cool yourself down before going on, it goes over like a baptism after the climb you just made (Image/Below) From here the amount of people you see dwindles into quieter singularity, yet again. Those heading back down will wish you luck as you take a right turn, and head towards the high Sequoia Forest trail which dreamily precedes the ultimate goal above. John Muir wrote of this glade: “The coniferous Forests of the Yosemite Park, and of the Sierra in general, surpass all other of their kind in America or indeed the world, not only in size and beauty of the trees, but in the number of species assembled together, and the grandeur of the mountains they are growing on.” This is where you are. Trekking among these Sequoias and Birches 4000 feet above the Valley brings on the sudden feeling of quietude. After moving alongside stretches of rushing and falling water for the last 3 miles of incline, you will feel a distinct and pristine stillness. Footfall here is light and padded among the one mile stretch of dry sand that leads into the forest; the trees roll-out a venerable carpet of soft pine-needles. leaves, and rusty moss, and feels almost hollow beneath the soil, compared to the previous impactful reality of the granite stairs. The vibe changes. The coolness of the shade, along with the sudden rustiness of colors, both above and below, re-boots your perspective. And you feel as if the Forest is listening, which in truth, it is, and in more ways than most of us realize. The effort to break the tree-line will carry you over huge root-kingdoms and boulders, all meshed together and mingled into a dry, but somehow lush looking fauna. Take advantage of the shade and snack a bit here. You may hear an owl, see a family of chipmunks zig-zagging just above the brush, or a deer drift by, soft and fair as a feather.
Breaking the tree-line at any mountain is a powerful experience. I was reminded of the distinct and abrupt breaching of the tree-line at Mount Katahdin in Maine many years before. It’s amazing how other moments can effortlessly appear in your minds eye, and combine to create a sort of Zen collage of similar moments and mountain ranges. In both vision, and sensation, getting above the Forest leads to that final approach you’ve been pushing all day for. And in the distance, in this particular instance, is the Half Dome, a solid granite semi-sphere kissing the sky through the trees.From here things get other-worldly. All of a sudden beneath your feet is what feels like a single ovular stone, from which trees are still growing, like the Moon if it had an atmosphere. Follow the impressions of footfall in the sandy rock face, heading towards the Half Dome. There is one last incline of stone stairs cut into the rock before you come face to face with the most monumental peak in the United States. After about a half hour of slow work stepping up through the stones, the incredible scene opens up. Step up and come about, and cast your gaze North. This is the roof of California.
As you do an about-face there is an exhilaration. On this massive stone porch laid out before you is a small collective of the most determined climbers on the West Coast. Just beyond is what looks like a line, even smaller than ants, crawling up a vertical stretch of monolithic stone, the one which John Muir described as “like a god”. Those ants, of course, are not ants at all, but people. This is the final phase. You’re about to climb the length of 1.5 football fields, straight, up. You didn’t come all this way to turn back now. Get a good drink of water, and your bearings, and off you go.Imagine free climbing a 150 yard vertical set of wires at 5000 feet, with people coming both up and down, while you make your own way. Your grip must be absolute, but also relaxed somehow. Adrenaline kicks in. You get that “How the f$ck did I get here” type feeling. But push up through the sections of wooden supports between the wires, and in about a half hour, you should make the peak. Try not to look down until the Dome starts to level off beneath your feet, and then the whole world will be beneath you.
And then finally, you arrive. There is no other purpose to be up here, save for the spiritual one. There are no trees, no water, no hunting game of any kind. There is a purity in this context, that all non-essentials, both in attitude and physical effort, have melted away. If you carry too much in your bag, or your heart, it will make the challenge that much harder. So if you make it, you will, for at least a few spectacular moments, have a more essential picture of yourself.
Now you can eat the Jelly Beans.
Spend some time to quietly celebrate up here. Take some photos, give thanks, but don’t wait too long, you have to make your way back down. The return trek might feel as if you are chasing the Sun. Light shifts along the Valley, changing the way the wilderness looks, with softened glows and down angles as you glide past with the benefit of gravity. Things cool down. The most important thing to keep in mind is your ankles. Be mindful of your steps, that you are landing flat, without obstruction. A stone or pine cone beneath your boot will roll your foot over, especially with the help of the extra bit of gravity. Use your back side and hands too, as you make your way down the winding stone stairs. Slide along where you can, and soon you will find you are descending beneath the waterfalls, with not even one fifth of the people that were trekking in the morning. You need to make good time here if you are going to make it back before Sunset. Hydrate, snack, and think about the well earned dinner awaiting you.
End of The Epic Day: Just yesterday MSN published an article about the 12 deadliest recreation sites in the world, sites that people just keep showing up for each year, due to their beauty and mystique. Guess what climb is number 12 on the international list? That’s right…Half Dome. Folks like John Muir or Teddy Roosevelt, back when, didn’t climb to the Half Dome in the same way we do; they perused the landscape, trekking with Natives or shepherds, slowly feeding their flocks along the way, or hunting quietly up the Valley. We are an ultra-modern culture these days, and to our detriment, speed is everything. The faster we do things, the more likely we are to be seen as innovative, and this definitely effects the way people hike in a place like Yosemite. Y0u can see it in the way people move, or lack there of. You need to have a focused and steady mentality here, one of respect for the landscape, and awareness of how you really feel. People literally die trying to make this climb, for lack of planning, or for lack of inner knowledge of what they are capable of. You’ve got to be ready for this place. It is one of the most challenging single day hikes on Earth. All the trimmings are there: ridiculous views…
…realizations, interactions, cool moments, everything; but make sure you come prepared. If you do these things, you will arrive, with your last reserve of energy, to the Valley floor just in time to see the Sun setting behind the Yosemite ridges. What you take with you from here, is the inner understanding of what you’ve learned about yourself; And believe me, one of those things should be that you have the juice to make an ultimately beautiful moment, out of even the toughest of climbs. Take that back into the world with you, if you take anything. Thanks everyone for reading, and please share if you enjoyed this experience. Stonestrider.com
Location: Jefferson County/Colorado
Note: Sometimes profound moments, truly kick-ass feelings can happen in sacred natural spaces. This is reason enough to get out there. These places can truly touch you. Don’t believe it? Look at the guy in the image above. In a single moment, there is a host of things to realize about what hiking, climbing, and achieving the peaks of mountains and forests is about. You can boast about how many dozens of mountain ranges you’ve seen, and climbed. You can impress everyone at the party with all your daring, and drive, for your past efforts. You can take credit for the beauty of an image captured, as if you created the landscape that produced it. But if you did all this, it would be obvious, that despite all that you’ve done, you haven’t understood even half as much as the young man featured in the image above. He is completely in tune. He’s in tune with that illusive peace-of-mind we all search for out on the trail, wherever that may be. All you have to do is look at him to know that it’s true. There isn’t even an ounce of distraction in his physiognomy. Everything about his posture says “thank you for my life”. It could take a lifetime just to reach this simple state, yet on this day, I turned a corner on the trail at Red Rocks State Park in Colorado, and there it was, right in-front of me.
To begin, it should first be noted that people coming from far away to the great South-West of the United States might be a little confused by the label “Red Rocks” when typing it in your search engine. There are actually two National Parks with this particular name. The larger, more exploratory ‘Red Rocks National Park’ is an exotic scene in Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is an artists and cross-trainers paradise, with massive ‘rock temples’, and Messas for miles. The second, much smaller ‘Red Rocks State Park and Auditorium’, (which is at present also a famous concert venue) is just south of Denver Colorado, a wonderful hiking park with a several hiking trails overlooking the surreal satellite-faced stones along a ridge of gorgeous small-mountains leaning over a dramatic valley below; and yes, both parks in Arizona and Colorado have ‘red rocks’. Red Rocks Colorado, this place, is where we found this epically tranquil young man in the image above, and the place that set me straight as to what real appreciation is.
The Scene At Red Rocks State Park: Welcome to an ancient geological center of photogenic oblong stone-slabs that seem to have been built into the mid-section of a small mountainside. The main trail here runs up through these stones, back down the face of the mountainside, returning to the trailhead in a sort-of ‘boomerang’ path back to the trailhead. The lower trail is clear, working away from the parking lot, lined with incredible wildflowers, super tough brush, and ridiculous views of the valley below while you begin a comfortable climb. If you are lucky there might be a concert happening while you hike, and you can listen to music booming-out all over the valley while you trek. The higher up you go along this singular Trail, the more obvious the uniqueness of the stones here becomes. Just about all of these slabs are facing the same angular direction, and this is something that should be noted. This place looks like a stone satellite center! How is it that these massive slabs are facing the path of the Sun in the sky, throughout the day?
The highest point of this relatively comfortable stroll, with a healthy incline, is a set of caverns and small cliffs of red stone. People are at play up here. I came across a couple having a full photo-shoot, complete with lighting and several photographers (that did not wish to be photographed), as well as the very “Zen” young man featured at the top image of the article. The path becomes a picturesque set of stairs leading you into this little world of colorful caverns, views, and people.The elevated scene here is a pristine and good energy just above the valley, where the wind drifts at you from really far away. It’s a quarky scene for those coming out of the experience of The Rockies’ to the North, with all its grandeur; but for every dominant scene, there are fascinating intimate scenes, of smaller scale, that are just as engaging and touching; Red Rocks is one of those beautiful and more eloquent experiences, where you don’t have to work so hard to sit and wonder, in a wonderful space. A surreal and significant ridge with several geological elements that look more magical than scientific, is unveiled up here. The trail sifts and continues through a small city of orange stones, before bending, and finally heading back down mountainside.
Reading these stones is a lesson in angular interpretation. The slabs are blatantly flat on their top-faces (Image/Below), and are situated towards the course of the Sun throughout the day. It just doesn’t look random at all, like the Easter Island Giant Stones, all facing one direction. You have to decide for yourself if you believe Nature flattened and angled these stones, or if it is the work of a culture attempting to capture the energy of the Sun, by crafting the stones. Take a look at the most iconic slab here at Red Rocks State Park; this Monolith sits like a keystone above everything; like an ‘example stone’ for all the other satellite style boulders on this ridge. There is clearly a cut-face on the top of this massive slab, made to face the course of the Sun through as much of the day as possible, and every other stone in the Valley is aligned and parallel to this “keystone”. The uniformity of these stones is almost mathematical in precision, and exacted to the point of complete parallels; how can we not notice this?
Aside from this angular interpretation of these cliff faces, there are also the free-sitting boulders. These boulders are provocative when considering that they are almost always found in Neolithic sacred zones, near Dolmens and Standing Stones. I say this having discovered hundreds of free-sitting boulders in New England and Europ. The free-sitting boulder in the image below even looks as if it was ‘fitted’ to other rocks set beneath it (if you look close); it looks slid into place, and locked-in by the use of the smaller rocks. And notice the parallel nature of the face of the free-siting stone and the rock slab sitting beneath it; both parallel and level. Did the last Ice-Age reach this far into Colorado? Do people really believed ice aligned these boulders in perfect parallels with the rest of the ridge? It seems ridiculous when given real consideration, in real-time. This pattern is consistent with free-standing boulders in hundreds of other places across the globe. There is almost always an orientation where they are found. The greater question becomes: “why do so many Americans NOT look… just a little bit closer?” It’s not just with Neolithic sites, but with so many other important parts of the non-material/spiritual aspects of life? #WTFisgoingonwithAmericans? I don’t mean to belittle Americans too much, I am American, but why don’t Americans care, in the same way that the English. French, or Irish do; about the Neolithic sites in their country? Why don’t we designate these sites in the text books of our high-schools? Just a few thoughts that might enter your thinking while trekking through this beautiful zone.
Just beyond this free-sitting boulder is an enclosure at the top of the trail; like a miniature canyon. This enclosure has the feel of safety, seclusion, and the comfort of a secret garden. There is a fissure in one of the longer rock faces, with a massive boulder sitting directly above that fissure. It feels ‘centralized’ here, like a good space for concealed fires and domestic action. It’s a good bet that there were ancient occupants living here, and for how many generations?.. we may never know. And within all of this scene, the massive slabs of stone, the free-sitting boulders, all facing and absorbing the Sun in exact parallels, throughout the entire course of the day.
Continuing your trek you will pass the half-way point of the trail, and turn a corner inside these loose-leaf rock caverns. The Valley rolls continually beyond, with a stellar view of literally tons of “stone-tables”, all facing the Sun along the mountainside.
Coming down, beneath these satellite-sized slabs, you can get a real feel for the massive flattened faces of these parallel stones. The orientation of everything here is towards the Sun, and it must have been a sacred place to the ancients, most likely seeing this place as a solar oasis.
Just a few hundred yards back down the mountainside, and you will arrive at the lower trail, then finally back along the road to the trailhead.
Following the lower trail you will complete a simple path that runs just over 2.5 miles, arriving back at the trailhead by the road. There is a real sense of serenity, a vibe that has existed for thousands of years before someone was eventually smart enough to build a music venue in this acoustic cavern. This place must be such a gem for locals living in Denver, and total joy to visit for those coming from other parts of the world. It is one of the few hikes in the West where you can go for a hike, and then unwind with a great concert. Anthropologically and mathematically there is more to understand here. The stones obviously have a specific orientation which should be analyzed celestially. It is entirely possible to do this in this age of digitalized research, and it would most likely yield relationships to Solar and Lunar cycles, as well as constellational connections. It’s a mouthful I know, but it’s substantial stuff like this that gives an area that extra something that less eventful geological areas lack. An overall look back reveals a gorgeous place. If you spend time in Denver, definitely take the day to hike Red Rocks State Park, and see a concert after you’re done! If you’re lucky you may even catch that great vibe that the guy in the top image of this article exudes. And most reassuring of all, is the knowledge that a very real and extra special vibe is totally possible, and awaiting you, somewhere along the trail of your choice. Next time, the person in the “Zen” picture, and moment, could be you! Red Rocks State Park is another opportunity for just this type of wonderful day. It’s Denver’s little rock-and-roll Disneyland. Thanks for reading, and please share with a friend if you enjoyed this review. Go strong. Stonestrider.com
Location: California, USA/Central-Sierra Mountains
Elevation: 1,300 ft.
Prominence: 14,490 ft
Note: So here we go again! There’s that crazy moment of “holy sh#t” here that makes the whole thing worth it, right from the start. At first glance, the raw ugly ruggedness with which this supreme scene has existed should hit you pretty hard. There is a cosmically harrowing vibe here, with a depth so broad that it seems to almost want to pull you in. Gravitas. On approach you will emerge from the beautiful Sequoia Forest heights, to be suddenly struck by an inestimable depth of imploding rock. Just driving here is no piece of cake either. First, the small mountains of Tulare County California, shimmering in dry gold (Image/Below) recline eternally as the dramatic ‘gates’ to the overall kingdom of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. You must crest the small mountain roads of Tulare, and reach about 7000 feet above the Valley, just to approach the secret singular road into Kings Canyon, and descend again into the 7000 feet you just climbed! This is the rocky naval of ancient California, with ‘heavy-weight’ mountain statistics that hold as many truly sacred secrets as it does mesmerizing statements of ‘size’ and ‘scale’. Welcome to Kings Canyon, God’s rocky deep pocket.
This is literally a secret rock-kingdom that suddenly appears out of the Sequoia National Forest, like a stone-age Lhasa, tucked-into the massive enclosure of the Himalayas. In ancient times, the Natives that first explored this place would’ve absolutely been the ‘rangers’ of their tribes, super tough, with a spiritual connection to the landscape that made them the most capable for the needs and challenges of this descent. Really try to let yourself imagine the gritty resourcefulness of the ancient peoples that took this place on. A wrong step here means your life. The supreme forces of Mortality and Nature are dramatically at play in this rusty eternity. Here, it’s about balance; it’s about centering yourself; it’s about the significance of each step. Accepting the lessons of this place puts you in touch with a more rugged, more balanced, more real version of yourself. When returning to the mundane world, sitting on some couch with friends or family, a voice in your mind may possibly echo, behind all the chatter: “Deeper, simpler, tougher, stronger…you”; and somehow, it’s the remnant of the voice of Kings Canyon National Park inside you.
Returning to the realities of the present day, Nature enthusiasts of today make their way down in a vehicle, of-course. Tune up, gear up, and then go. Don’t get stuck on the side of a highway that barely clings to 14,000 feet of gravity gone wild because you forgot to check the oil. Have the car and supplies ready. Eventually, after about an hour of ‘marble-running’ your way along the highway, you will come to the dramatic base of the Canyon highway. (Image/Below) Take this dramatic stretch of singular highway all the way to its very end. You will come to the circle of campgrounds, trailheads, a ranger station, and even a restaurant, which all serve as a fine oasis against the intensity and concentration that comes from finally surfing a vehicle all the way down here. The hardest trails, Like John Muir Trail’, or Rae Lakes Trail’ are steep treks out of the Canyon to elevated lakes that feel miraculous in such a place. Medium level trails like Paradise Valley Trail’ or Mist Falls Trail’ are river-hikes that take you to gorgeous Falls, and multi-colored pools. Roaring River Falls Trail, a relaxing mostly level forest trail, winds through the various channels to a gorgeous Waterfall, and is highly recommended for first time hikers. Roaring River Falls Trail: After the effort of reaching this sunken stone bastion, a trek along the Canyon floor on Raoring River Falls Trail’ is a good choice for a relaxing photogenic foot-path experience. The views of river-ways rushing and rolling also produce a breeze that sings through the trees, which seems surprising when surrounded by this stadium of stone. The miraculous channels of the Kings River, Scenic River, and Kings Wild River, all branch off, and then merge-up again, in various places throughout the base of the Canyon’. It must have been the shimmering blue of the canyon waterways that truly enticed the first Natives to take the chance of inhabiting this rugged scene. In some places the hue of the river is a deep green, while in others an icy blue, pushing the palette of your vision, and testing any assumptions about what could be around the next bend. Unassuming wilderness. The trailhead parking-lot is less than a quarter mile from the very end of the single Park’ road. It’s located just on the right of the road, passed the campgrounds and restaurant. Park, grab your gear, and cross the bridge to follow the path along the river to your left, and the massive Canyon wall. This is a hike along a gorgeous river oasis, complete with rare Redwoods, Birch, Ponderosa Pine, and Maple, all gathered in grand familial groves along the flowing water. Settling into the rhythm of the Trail here, where immaculate and utterly impervious stone meets a shimmering freshwater rush, you may consider the amount of profound ideas that have emerged out of extreme and contrasting natural spaces such as this; the Anointing of Jesus in the River Jordan, against the vast arid backdrop of the Shamaliyah Desert; The River Nile connecting, like a chord, to the Great Pyramids, rolling out of the Sahara; or perhaps the birth-myth of The Hopi Native American Tribe, said to have emerged from beneath the Grand Canyon in the beginning of Time, to dwell along what would be known as the Colorado River. There is extremity here, on many levels. It seems that beautiful moments and realizations have emerged in the harshest of places, which may very well be Nature’s way of saying that regions, even on the verge of burning, are capable of revealing something abundantly profound and beautiful. Roaring River Falls’ provides precisely this kind of heartfelt contrast. The Trail dips through tall glades of the toughest trees you’ve ever seen, and you can feel the enclosure of rock, like a massive hug waiting to happen. No more than about 2.5 miles along this path will lead you to your reward, The Roaring River Fall! This blast of a bright-blue-pool, which emerges against the rusty Canyon façade, is nothing less than a slice of liquid Heaven heaved against stone as hot as flint in friction. Just the steel-blue color of the circular pool here alone, is medicine on your eyes, where the trees literally have charcoal in their veins, and the stones glow golden grey. This is a great spot. Take a moment. Dunk your head. Scenes like this for the Native peoples would have been like the ultimate pool party. After finally stepping away from Roaring River Fall, there is an opportunity to cross over to the other side of the narrow Canyon, along the road, and search for signs of Neolithic Cultural statements. These signs in Ireland, and New England, along with the dozens of other sacred zones explored at Stonestrider.com, have come to be known as: stone-linings, standing stones, cairns, and many, many, other wonderful statements from the ancient world. The Jack Kerouac side of strolling this road is hard to deny; stepping with a sense of surreal cinematic freedom along a secluded stretch of road embedded in a massive Sierra Nevada Mountain chain!… as the Irish say: “Good on you.” About a mile-and-a-half down the road, headed north, and back towards the Roaring River Falls Trailhead, the forest begins to reveal stonework, mixing and matching among the trees. Stone-linings, similar to those found within the forests of Massachusetts/New England/USA, and the heights of Glenveagh Mountain in Ireland, as well as the valleys beyond Mount Snowden, in Wales, are found here in this miraculous place. These are the signs of a Neolithic Culture that once dwelt all across ancient America, and the World. Following a stone-lining is spiritual process, an act of hope and faith that it might connect you to something spectacular, and lo-and-behold it will in Kings Canyon. Just along a trail to the left of the road, a stone-lining zigged-and-zagged its way to a beautiful seven foot standing stone, unlike any other stone anywhere in sight. This Standing Stone also had a 45 degree streak cut across the center, which is a common meme among standing-stones in other parts of the world, as described here at Stonestrider.com. If you take notice of the particular rounded “E” shape on the lower right side of the Standing Stone, it may serve to help you understand that this stone was absolutely “stood-up”. It just so happens that not even 10 feet away is a massive boulder with a rounded “E” shape in it’s side, and face. Clearly this Standing Stone was sliced precisely from this boulder. If you were to take this Standing-Stone and lay it across the boulder, matching the rounded “E” shapes to each other, it would fit absolutely flush; in shape, in interior roundness, right up to the jagged tip. Take a look at the common view of stones just beyond this area, leading up to the Canyon Walls; it is totally and absolutely disheveled, indistinct, and completely contrasted to the Standing-Stone. There is literally nothing else like it in sight; It literally just stands out among a universe of low-lying rotund stones. (Image/Below)Another tangible sign of a sacred Neolithic zone is the appearance of mass amounts of quartz growing beneath the hardened face of the rocks. There is quartz all over the boulders in the vicinity of the Standing Stone here; beautiful sections of glowing quartz, shining and expanding in the face of this arid dimension. This is also prominent in sacred groves and spaces at Neolithic sites all across the globe. From Ireland to California, the Ancients chose places to be based on factors like vantage, resources, and the presence of quartz. The properties of quartz are well known to science in this present day. We use quartz in our computers and cell-phones to basically redistribute electrical charge. This stone literally harnesses and balances energy, creating stability just by it’s mere presence, even in the harshest environments. (Image/Below) Quartz would also pick up on the subtle friction and electricity coming from the river, which is abundant in this miraculous place. Someone knew exactly what they were doing when they claimed this area, engineering a gorgeous Standing Stone to claim the spot, and warn others that it was claimed; God knows how long ago.On the way out of this magical and mysterious place, stop and sit down at the campground if you can. There are people here from over the World; Japan, India, China, Switzerland, and of-course America. Speak with these folks. The look on their faces is like they have found the ancient water-wells of someplace like the Sinai desert perhaps, and are now saved by presence of water. And just look at the beauty of Grizzly Falls, located near the entrance of the Park! It’s nearly impossible to imagine gorgeous waterfalls like this from the arid vista far above, and yet there are many to be found here. Beyond Grizzly Falls, the western side of the Canyon is marvelous, with quartz-stone chasms and ‘ultimate stone-stances’, all against a fantastic few of successfully quenching Ponderosa Pine trees, protesting in contrasting jade against the stone and the sky. What a scene! Kings Canyon National Park is a full spectrum gem, secretly shining from the depth of California’s primordial core. Just to get here requires a mandate of grit. Elegant and extreme contrasts exist here to push our understanding into realizations about what is truly important; i.e: Just the simple presence of Water, is Life itself. A humble set of well placed steps can successfully carry you through even the steepest of consequences…etc, etc… In a place where the trees are vulnerable to burning to ashes at any given moment, maybe take one of those moments to appreciate the small stabilities that exist in your life, keeping you from that burn. Beauty can prevail anywhere in Nature, even in the deepest parts of the world, harsh and hidden within massive mountain ranges. Kings Canyon is like a fortress built by the Universe, made specifically for remembering the essentials. Perhaps this is why so much spiritual thought has come out of the arid wastelands and chasms of the world; they just put what’s important front-and-center. Come to Kings Canyon National Park and experience the road-less-travelled, the wisdom of canyons, and the possible apparition of fire amongst trees, at any given time. What? A forests of apparitional fire in a quartz canyon.. where the ancients once lived in magical unison with the landscape! What more can I say? Go strong. Stonestrider.com
Location: Crook County/Wyoming/USA
Elevation: 5,100 feet above Sea Level
Prominence: 1,267 feet
Note: The only way to introduce the most mysterious small Mountain in America, which looms 1000 feet above the Black Hills Forest of Wyoming/USA, is to contextualize it by mentioning other places with very similar megalithic traits. Just to get you in the mood, take a look at these places: A coastline in Northern Ireland made entirely of hexagonal stones (Image/Left); an elegantly scenic mountain ridge where three perfectly square slabs of stone, with absolutely concentric rings imprinted on its face, sits stoically above the beautiful Black Valley of Killarney, Ireland. (Image/Below); or a secret grove where a… 40 ton boulder balancing 15 feet high, supported by three standing stones, in Ravensdale Ireland, looms just south of the Mourn Mountains (Image/Left); or how about two colossally stacked, and perfectly balanced boulders, tucked deep within a Forest in Massachusetts/USA, each weighing about 30 tons, where the top boulder is balanced at about ten feet high. (Image/Right);
and last, there is an entire Mountain in Wyoming/USA that is completely sculpted into perfectly parallel square shafts reaching 1000 feet high for over a mile in circumference.(Images/Top/and Below) This is The Devil’s Tower National Park.In this era of informational sharing, places that were once thought to be singular anomalies on Earth are now being connected to similar statements across the globe. Not only are these places being connected through physical similarities, but we find that the strange explanations that have been used to justify their unique features are also very similar, (as if it was decided uniformly in some boardroom far from the public, perhaps in the Smithsonian’s basement in the early Century) The bizarre explanations don’t make sense, especially when you see these places first hand, and get a look at the attributes that are not described online; traits like the elevated parallel shafts above the coastline at Giant’s Causeway Ireland, which is the most similar place to the Devil’s Tower in the World. We will look at the problems with the explanations, and the disregarding of certain evidence later in the article; but for the moment lets enjoy the mysterious scene above the grand Plain in Wyoming. The Devil’s Tower is an exceptional place, making it very hard to look away. It is almost guaranteed that you haven’t seen anything like this in your life. The Tower’ sits isolated above the golden-green landscape, an absolute silhouette. Even from far away, it is easy to see the unique exterior of geometric stones. Seniors and children alike will stare wide-eyed as they approach the Trail surrounding the Tower’. Human’s have wondered about this place forever. Lets have a look… Trails at Devil’s Tower National Park: The main Trail here is straight-forward and interactive; it basically circles the Tower’, winding past massive boulders which can be climbed, all surrounded by Ponderosa Pine Forest. The Forest supports wildlife in abundance; Deer, Hedgehogs, Hawks, and Grey Squirrels wander freely. There are other trails that drift away from The Tower’ if you are interested in a longer trek. Everything sort of circumambulates Devil’s Tower, the longer trails being the more distant concentric from the small Mountain. The broad and beautiful landscape of Wyoming is what makes the Devil’s Tower so significant; there is simply nothing else like it on the North American Continent. It is the tranquility of this scene that is striking once you arrive. The Tower’, however, does not look as if it was quietly created, but rather, it seems is as if whatever sculpted it was most likely the loudest sound this valley ever heard. It just looks that way, with huge boulder’s all disheveled at the base, perhaps like giant crumbs from the most massively creased cake of all time. A Confusing Geological Scene: A geologic diversity exists throughout the Park’, with variations in specific stone and coloration. Below is an image of the lower portion of the Park’, where hundreds of hedgehogs have burrowed opposite these bright red ledges. The difference between these ‘red-ledges’ and the upper Tower’s white stone ridge is so distinct, so completely different, that it is hard to accept the current “volcanic explanation” about the birth of the Tower’. “Scientists” have basically stated that The Tower’ was created through a “volcanic event”, and yet the lava dispersion is restricted absolutely to the Tower’, while the lower scene reveals absolutely no similarity, or any other signs relating to this…”volcanic event“. If both areas experienced the same flow of lava, why are they so completely different? How did the lava-flow go upward, or simply stop flowing downward, to build The Tower without affecting the ridge below’?! No other active lava flow that we currently see on earth, like in Hawaii, Italy, or Japan, does anything remotely like this. And where is the active lava here in this landlocked and level landscape? How could the information centers possibly endorse this explanation? There is no sign of any active volcanic source beneath, or around, The Tower’. Amazingly, there is another small Mountain, in another part of the world, with exactly the same logical dilemma concerning the “lava-flow explanation“. Now lets compare both scenes…International Connections to Devil’s Tower: Many times, if international hiking and anthropology become part of your life, synchronicity and moments of wonder will happen. It’s one of the reasons hiking becomes a lifestyle. Crazy connections happen. On July 13th 2016, I would first see the inexplicable parallel hexagons carved into the mountainside at Giant’s Causeway, in Northern Ireland. And exactly one year to the very day, July 13th 2017, I would be standing 2,300 miles away, beneath another impossible set of parallel shafts, etched into a Mountainside in Wyoming/USA. The similarities between these sites are astounding, in every possible way
Take a look at the parallel shafts along the side of Devil’s Tower; do they look at all like flowing liquid/lava?(Image/Below/Left) At “The Giant’s Causeway”in Northern Ireland, look at the parallel shafts etched into that small Mountain above the coastline.(Image/Below/Right) Again, there is no look of lava-flow whatsoever, but the very same parallel shafts. This is cause for true wonder. It is interesting that the parallel shafts in the small Mountainside at Giant’s Causeway are not advertised. Most people would never know or see anything about them unless they had hiked the trail personally. It is a good bet that the people who control the information about these sites know full-well that most people have a hard time carving out the time to see them for themselves. At Giant’s Causeway only the famous hexagonal stones on the coastline are advertised. Why wouldn’t the shafts in the mountain be advertised? Perhaps because it doesn’t fit the “lava-flow” narrative. The lower portion of the coastline is a patio of hexagonal stones, which is what they say was created by a lava-flow coming out of the Ocean; but how did the lava come out of the water, and then up a small Mountain 200 yards away, without leaving any trail of lava between the Coastline and the Mountain? (Image/Above/Right) Look at the coastline of hexagonals below, this distinct statement simply stops! And then almost 300 yards away, and 200 yards up, a section of parallel hexagonal shafts is carved right into the ledge, as you see above? Totally illogical. There is nothing but consistent green ledge and rounded regular stone between the two places, NOT lava flow. Below is another perspective on the separate statements at Giant’s Causeway. Clearly these are two very separate sections of geometric stones from the coast to the upper ridge. What in God’s name are these scientists talking about? It’s as if they give us explanations that sound….just “scientific” enough to keep less informed people totally bewildered. And there are more places of parallel stone shafts in the world; on the island of Sardinia/Italy, Scotland, and Russia, to name a few. How can these explanations hold up for us? These are the moments that people should start to see that if you just accept the explanations of others, you can pass up your universal human right to know the truth. I hope my readers are starting to understand that connecting the dots in the world for yourself is possible, and places like Devil’s Tower and Giant’s Causeway are literally there to inspire you into galvanizing your own perspective.
Dreamscape Wyoming: Returning to the landscape at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, the hills and ledges drift away with a steady consistency, making Devil’s Tower that much more incredible, and bizarre.
The vastness of Wyoming is supremely humbling. You can drive, and drive, and drive, and drive, and the land just keeps going. It was only after I experienced this spacious dimension that I had a realization about how the Native Americans must have felt about the land. The Lakota and the Cheyenne must have been so deeply connected that it must have seemed that no one and nothing could ever displace them; they were fully embraced, protected, and immersed in the land. The Union Army arriving on the Prairie would’ve been like an invading army of Aliens emerging, in the hundreds of thousands, from the clouds over the world of today. And the Native Americans say that there were people here before them, tribes of violent Giants that they were forced to hunt, and finally exterminate. If you feel that this ancient story is completely absurd, just understand that the account of the Tribes of Israel upon entering the Promised Land in the Old Testament is exactly the same. Moses sends Joshua with his spies to explore the new land before them, and they return with reports of Giants inhabiting the heights of what is now the Mountains of Israel (Numbers 13:33) Most “educated” people simply choose to ignore this information, and dismiss it as myth. What are these people afraid of? The Devil’s Tower forces us to reconsider the information we accept in our lives; how we accept information. It is a place that challenges you, and pushes you to consider possibilities that are hard to fathom. Whatever the actual case may be, the Devil’s Tower is a magnet for our imaginations, a mysterious refuge that pulls us boldly towards it. This has been a sacred refuge for as long as anyone can possibly remember, and should be shown to the entire world in this unique and wonderful light. There are connections and relations at megalithic sites that make a difference in how we perceive and understand the world. That in itself is enough reason to get out there, and take a look. Thanks for reading, and please share this article with a friend. Stonestrider.com
Location: Grand Canyon National Park/Arizona/USA
Elevation: 6,804 feet above Sea Level
Depth: 6,093 feet to the base
Note: The Grand Canyon isn’t just one of the biggest chasms on Earth, it’s a place to mark the phases of the world. Let yourself imagine an earlier phase of History, a phase when a troop of Native Americans of the Arizona desert plateau , perhaps Hopi, Navajo, or Hulapai, are slowly making their way across the high plain. They are going back to their Garden of Eden, to the bass of the Grand Canyon. The approach starts many miles away, through broad Plateau’s brush, and surrealist cloud cover. They make their way back to the beginning, through the Coconino Forest, and along the rolling hills at the edge of the desert. They are walking in, taking their time, without even an ounce of fear. The Hopi, keenly aware of the stars, observed that it is time to go back, to descend into the The Canyon’ and celebrate the origin of their people, a people they believe literally emerged from beneath the base of The Grand Canyon, once upon a beautiful time. In sandals, or even bare feet, they arrive at Grey Mountain…Perhaps after spending the night at the base of Grey Mountain, making a fire and eating, they continue into the region of canyons. The landscape becomes a waking dream. They pass by a smaller Canyon to the east (Little Colorado Canyon/Image Below). The beauty of that Canyon is enticing, with a massive cloud hovering above, lending the area shade, where no other shade can be found for perhaps dozens of miles. Out among these mountains and small canyons are megalithic cairns which look to have been constructed specifically with flattened boulders, very similar to structures in Ireland. Take a look at one of the huge layered cairns that sits directly in front of, and parallel to, Grey Mountain here in Arizona (Image/Below/Left). Now take a look at a cairn in Kilclooney Ireland that sits parallel to a small mountain (sacred zone) in County Donegal (Image/Below/Right). Cairns in Ireland are estimated to have been constructed roughly 4000 to 6000 years ago, and by the look of this desert cairn, it may very well have been constructed in the same early period. These structures are both dilapidated, but it is clear that the original condition of these cairns were once much more orderly, and certainly served a specific function. The overall idea to consider by referencing and comparing megaliths is to realize that a similar Megalithic culture did exist in the high Arizona Desert, many thousands of years ago, and we should acknowledge this.
Continuing their journey, the natives would’ve drifted ever closer to the Kaibab Forest, silent as ghosts. They wade into the trees and brush, where they rest in the shade, and watch a storm-cloud approach, like a slow-rolling blessing from above.The brush becomes glades of tall pines, as the terrain rises slightly. The absolute lack of humidity topples many of the trees, half burnt into the ground, while surprisingly, there is a somewhat miraculous amount of greenery as well, which would be an incredibly welcoming sight after passing the open desert. They breach the tree-line after a few days, and like a green-curtain pulled back, the Canyon is suddenly revealed. It is astounding, to say the least. This is the naval of the world; the center of everything; the most sacred place; and what is now known to us as the South Rim of “The Grand Canyon”. The Hopi never took this stellar scene for granted. Perhaps they would’ve camped and rested here, watching the stars for the evening, before finally ascending into the sacred place.
South Rim Trail: Opening with a semi-fictional narrative about what most likely took place for perhaps 10,000 years with the indigenous tribes of this region seems the most appropriate way to honor this sacred space. The statistics should be secondary, as well as what the modern world has done to ‘The Grand Canyon’. The Hopi truly believed an elaborate myth that is still accessible today. They would return to the very area at the base of the Canyon’ annually in order to remember their magical beginning. It is worth noting that the Judeo-Christian myth credits God with making human-kind out of the soil of the Earth in a central ‘Eden’ as well; a strangely similar story of human origin. It is important to include the incredible landscape that surrounds the Grand Canyon as well; the the dusty hills on the edge of the desert near Flagstaff; Grey Mountain; the beautiful Little Colorado Canyon; and the Kaibab National Forest, which is the last natural statement before the Grand Canyon’ itself. All of this runs along a beautiful and well constructed highway.
Directions: From Flagstaff AZ to the Grand Canyon their are a few options for making the amazing drive north. To see the places mentioned above, take Highway 89 North to Highway 64 west. It’s that simple. The Grand Canyon is a 277 mile long, by 18 mile wide, gap in the Earth. It is 6000 feet from to bottom where we find a river running through the stone. The Colorado River runs straight through the center of Canyon’ from North-east to South-west. The “official” story is that the Colorado River cut this Canyon.. (Although I find this very difficult to believe) Below is an image of The Colorado River from the South Rim.The idea that Colorado River carved this Canyon is illogical for many reasons, and many Geologists challenge this theory. The Canyon is filled with temple-like elevations that have absolute right-angles which in no way coincide with the idea of slow rolling water erosion. In fact, most of the geology at The Grand Canyon points to this chasm being created in a somewhat rapid spasm of massive force, not a slow process. Layers of stone point to the preservation of fauna in distinct singular periods, not an evolved encasing of step-by-step progressions of species; there are no interval species in the strata. There is no indicator of an “evolved erosional process” given to us by our high school text books, but rather, something much more forceful and immediate created this place. How could this be? There are more mysteries than answers here, even at this digitally analytical point in history. Mysteries: Across the Canyon near the North Rim is just one of the many elevations within the Canyon that has been given a Coptic name by early century archaeologists:’Isis Temple’. A majority of megalithic works all around the world usually reveal a symmetrical style. Even from many miles away, the symmetry of Isis Temple can be seen, with a lower entrance at the center, aligned with a five-sided pinnacle at the top. This would’ve been a major undertaking by any Neolithic culture. Artifacts with strange symbols have been found within the entry cavern at Isis Temple, along with artifacts in several other labeled elevations within the Canyon.(Image/Below) The Hopi do not take credit for any megalithic craftsmanship in the Canyon, so these “temples” must have been made by someone else. Who could’ve done this? Every thing points to a Megalithic Culture, similar to the one found in Celtic places.
There are also Free-standing boulders in hard-to-explain places, and Standing-Stone fixtures all throughout the lower Canyon’. Along the South Rim there are ledges where boulders, weighing perhaps 20 tons, sit on thin ledges high above the Colorado River. (Image/Below) It is extremely hard to explain how a boulder such as this came to sit on such a narrow and level ledge, roughly 4000 feet above the base of the chasm. This is one of the most dramatic examples of a Free-standing-boulder I had ever seen, among hundreds of examples stemming from Ireland, Scotland, England, all the way to Arizona. Below is the full view of where this boulder sits. What an incredible scene. Someone at Grand Canyon National Park is certainly aware of the possibility of Megalithic culture, and Standing-Stones, as the Park has created an artificial Standing Stone set up along the South Rim Trail. Everything about a Standing Stone like this says “Megalith”.(Image/Below) Just like Megaliths in England, Scotland, Ireland, and New England, Standing-Stones like this usually indicate the claiming of a specific area by those skilled enough to place the Stone; and they had to be strong enough, and smart enough, to do it. Below is the image of a Standing-Stone of the exact same proportion at Avebury Stone Circle in England, 5,200 miles away. In England, Megalithic culture is acknowledged. In the United States, Megalithic anthropology is suppressed, and mocked; but here on the South Rim there is an opportunity to decide for yourself if a Megalithic culture may have existed in this beautiful place. The South Rim Trail is the best beginner option for the Grand Canyon. The Trail’ is a curvy surreal pathway that takes you through dozens of photographic options for this portion of the Park. (Image/Below)
You can simply step off the Trail’ at any time to capture the scenes that appeal to you here. The massive cliffs and chasms have a magnetic quality which seems to call out to the explorer in all of us. The image below is a perfect example of the photogenic power and quality that exudes from the South Rim.
Final Note: The Grand Canyon is a study for every generation. The Canyon’ has qualities that are surprisingly subtle for such a massive space. Before the constraints of the National Park constructed in our current era, a young tribesman, that had yet to come to this area, would’ve wandered into the Kaibab Forest with literally no awareness of the massive vortex of space lying before him. From the Forest there are no signs of the Canyon. It appears so suddenly after clearing the tree-line, so “out-of-nowhere”, that the underlying message is that you truly never know what you may find out on the trail. It is as if Nature itself is trying to tell us: “Never make assumptions; something truly awe-inspiring might be waiting just up the path.” This article is an introduction to the South Rim Trail of Grand Canyon National Park. The South Rim is the more convenient approach for the trails to the bottom of the Canyon, complete with guides, mules, and horses. Be over prepared with water and sunscreen in your packs, along with a small medical kit. For those attempting to make it to the bottom for the first time, the South Rim is your best bet. The South Rim approach is about 4 miles total to the base, while the North Rim is about 8. The upper South Rim Trail is obviously a photographers paradise with a leisurely path that allows you access to ledges which drop a mile, straight down. The glowing goldish’ texture of the stone is mesmerizing to us. The symmetric elevations that rise as temples out of the base, near the Colorado River, force us to wonder almost impossible things. There is even a celestial theory that the temples of the Grand Canyon coincide with the belt of Orion’s major stars.. (Google it). The natural beauty of this place, the vastly humbling abyss of stone, is clearly presented for us to consider. The capability of Nature, and the luck of being alive to witness it, is also part of this experience. But the last thing, a thing that seems to exist in every protected space, from the American West, to the Celtic heights of Scotland, is the earliest Neolithic culture that seems to leave its mark on every sacred space on Earth. All these things are there for you at Grand Canyon National Park. Remember, there is no need to get too close to the ledge, rather, step back a little, and listen to what the landscape is telling you. And always go strong. Happy New Year!
Dedication: This article is dedicated to my father Robert Vincent Vigneau, who passed away yesterday peacefully after a life of international travel and odyssey. Thank you dad for teaching me, at a very young age, to step into foreign lands with curiosity, logic, respect, and no fear. I love you, rest in peace. Robert Vincent Vigneau 1943-2017
Location: Rocky Mountains/Steamboat Springs/Colorado/USA
Note: Any time the overall goal of your hike is found in a place that looks like a scene out of Avatar, you really can’t lose. “Avatar-type” places are the icing-on-the-cake of a well planned expedition, so absolutely “pencil-in” trips with extraordinary natural features. I penciled-in Lake Agnes State Forest just a few days before I arrived, looking over google maps with a friend, and received the Avatar-type ending we were hoping for, in spades. Just look at this scene! The view from the Trailhead could easily be mistaken for nothing less than the Swiss Alps; but it’s not the Alps, it’s the Colorado Rockies. Make sure you bring the cameras for this one..
To Trailhead: Unlike Mount Clark or Bear Mountain, for Lake Agnes you will not need a 4X4 vehicle to reach the Trailhead, a regular car will do fine. Coming from Walden Colorado (an Americana hamlet and biker haven nestled just south of Wyoming, in the heart of Medicine Bow National Park). You can take Route 14 South almost the entire drive, following Little Muddy Creek the entire way on the right. After about 35 minutes, merge onto Route 40 South, and take it just a few miles before turning Right onto Road 186, the final country lane before reaching the Trailhead, with vehicles parked near the entrance. The low-maintenance aspect of getting to Lake Agnes is one of its draws, along with the comfortable half-day-or-less distance of the beautiful hike.
Lower Trail: The initial trail is a tunnel of tall and pristine Pine trees, regal in strength and height. With the mountain views at the first segment of the hike, it’s a wonder people continue to the next phase at all, with these massive jade colored peaks, and mesmerizing forest, beckoning the cameras. A profound view of Mount Baker, sitting several miles to the north, comes into view as you begin the 45 minute climb required of you. Each switchback-porch gives a slightly better angle on the mountains beyond.The trail continues around Lake Agnes, and back again, requiring a short trek through beautiful glades, with a path running directly over a rockslide on the edge of the Lake. The cliffs are streamline and massive. The scale of the mountain ridges are humbling beyond measure. The trailhead opening of Lake Agnes is a truly majestic scene, with a 100 yard field of velvet wildflowers pointing straight at Mount Baker to the North, which was glowing like an earthen-colored diamond. The image below is a wonderful example of how the Trail looks heading into the forest. The trees are vibrant and sturdy beyond measure, while the mossy forest-floor practically glows on a sunny day. It is quintessential forest, much deeper and more dangerous than any Celtic woods. Brown Bears are out there. Make plenty of noise on a trail; let them know you’re out there. You simply don’t want to startle any creatures of the forest. If you do come across a Brown Bear unexpectedly, do not make eye-contact, stay as calm as you can, and back away slowly and silently. (Studying up on wildlife encounters in the region(s) you are visiting is of course always a good idea) The eastern side of the dell at Lake Agnes is a phalanx of cliff-faces and striking rock facades. To the west, the valley rolls down in an ocean of green. (Image/Below) The Upper Trail: Welcome to the higher elevations of Colorado in July, where snow remains on the heights of the upper vale, even while the forest is in full-bloom. The water here is so clear that it reflects vividly, like a lens, curious combinations of snow white, forest-green, avalanche-grey, and blue sky. This a virtual stadium of natural perfection, where the upper-deck is hard blue stone, and the lower section a universe of sliding rocks capped with indents of glowing snow along the highest ridges. Lakes Agnes Trail is a cozily short ‘loop-trail’, only bout 3.5 miles in length. The first portion of the trail is a fairly challenging 45 minute climb to the Lake inclosure, sitting 10,290 magical feet above Sea-Level. Up here you can really feel the elevation. If you continue the woodsy loop around the Lake you will see how the small pond actually changes colors from different perspectives. The initial look of the pool looks like a deep, yet radiant blue (Image/Top), but change the angle further up the trail, and it becomes a solid green, as depicted in the image below. This is truly a wonderful place
There are many stones with markings that look like linear sections which were cut smoothly, across the rock face. (Image/Below) This section reminded me of a curious solitary stone with strangely marked sections at The Blue Hills Trail in New England, some 2000 miles away. (Image/Below) The sections of the New England stone is not linear, but clearly chiseled, with the small sections that were cut away sitting all around the boulder. How di these markings and results happen?
The phenomenon of stones that seem to be blatantly crafted is no fluke. There are extreme examples of this phenomenon in many other places across the globe, many of which are noted here at Stonestrider.com. But this was the limit to what I saw of signs which seemed related to the Neolithic Culture. For the most part Lake Agnes itself is the jewel of this excursion. If you come to northern Colorado this would be a great trail to begin with as a warm up for the other mountains of The Rockies. When you get to the Lake yo will understand. Don’t just seek it out, find it out. You’ll be glad that you did. Thanks for reading, and go strong.
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona.
Elevation: 7000 ft
Note: Coconino National Forest raises some amazing questions and answers about what has really taken place in the beautiful forests of the world. Before wandering into any part of the massive Coconino’, it seems appropriate to have a discussion about the very real enchanted statements that exist in sacred zones. Coconino is certainly one of those sacred zones. Therefore, this article begins with a “Forward” in order to offer logical evidence, rather than tired theories from post-modern science, theories which are quickly being understood as totally ridiculous. Here at Stonestrider is some of the most vanguard and comprehensive work on what is actually revealed by these megalithic stone works, and you will learn something incredible from it. There is an anthropological side of hiking in ancient places, and every so often it is important to review connections, patterns, and evidence. By looking at this material, please understand that you are stepping into something truly magical. I thank everyone who takes the time to consider the evidence in the beautiful places of the world by reading an article like this, and we will wander into Coconino after explaining a few wonderful things about what is taking place here.
Forward: After drifting into roughly 30 forests internationally, and sponsoring this website with many truly challenging expeditions over the course of the last five years, I’m gonna take the chance of going full-on anecdotal for the first time, due to the relevance to The Coconino National Forest featured at the moment, which is one of the largest and most beautiful Pine forests in the entire World (and obviously the continental U.S) Allow me to step back for a moment to set a scene about what Forests mean to me. As a teenager I read, and re–read the works of J.R.R Tolkien, which many students utilized to break the boredom of raw academic classes, ever since the massive novel was first published in the 1950’s. Intrinsic to my photo’s, if you look with a certain eye, are Tolkien’s descriptions; images of mountains, river-glades, and forests which certainly engage all of our imaginations to this day! I realized, while going-over the content for this particular article, that in my mind, before I wander into any forest while out on the trail, that I am always comparing it to one forest in particular from Tolkien’s fictional masterpiece, that forest being Lothlorien. In this regard, I have searched for many years for forests that most closely resembled an enchanted experience, where the deeper you walked in, the more magical and dimensional the experience became. And amazingly enough, from this inspiration I discovered the real-time magic of forests internationally. These are profound discoveries that should be shared, which is the focus of this article.
Forests often have particular emotional effects on people. Tolkien, in the Lord of The Rings, also creates a polarity about forests. His characters journey through the beautiful, mystical, spacious, ageless, enchanted Forest of Lothlorien; and then later into the dark, rustic, knarly, timeless Forest of Fanghorn. Some are light, and some are dark. And darker still, is Mirkwood Forest in The Hobbit, the epic prequel to L.O.T.R. (There are other forests as well, like the heart-warming Buckland Forest in the opening of LOTR,(#TolkienNerd), plus what you find in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or Science Fiction stories of today)
The main point of all this ‘fictional forest referencing’ is to understand that forests have, and promote, specific styles and characteristics all their own, just like people. Some are bright and carefree, with pleasant pathways, and golden Autumn leaves, as in New England (Image/Upper-Left); while Other forests, like Ballachulish in Glen Coe Scotland, are dark and looming, with strong and rustic ancient knolls. Walking through Scottish forest is truly intimidating, with a fear of getting lost in the fog and rain; yet the glens are gorgeous! (Image/Upper-Right). Take a look at another Glen in the Snowdon Forests of Wales, which is as pleasant-a-vale you will ever walk through in your life. This particular glade, which almost looks fictional in real-time, are woods made of an extended family of trees, spacious and airy, with an obvious brightness that nearly forces you to squint just to decipher the full scene. (Image/Lower-Left). There is a small standing stone at the top of the knoll in this image, which can’t be seen from this spot.
And along those lines, how could I exclude a forest which is, in my opinion, one of the most enchanting paths that has ever been, which is the smaller, but incredibly beautiful, Kinnitty Forest, in the absolute heart of Ireland. This is a rare Celtic Wood, that has been vanishing steadily since the Colonial Period. Irish forests are particularly rare due the British need for resources across the Celtic Sea just 100 miles away. Kinnittty is a rare gem.(Image/Lower-Right)
And before finally moving into the deeper meaning of forests, I could not complete this small tour without having a quick glance at the most dense and intimidating forest I’ve ever seen, which is the brilliant Rawah Forest of Medicine Bow National Park in Colorado USA. These are shimmering glades that sway and sift through each other like green-ghosts. In almost all the forests I’ve been I have disappeared into dells that looked to be harboring some kind of clearing or stone-altar; but in Colorado I dared not wander in any away from the old rocky paths. As I have described in other articles, it would be like wondering into the depths of the ocean at night, and like the ocean, it is an overwhelmingly profound statement about the abundance of Nature’s forces, ever blooming in our complicated world. (Image/Below)Forest Mysteries: I hope with this brief set of examples that it’s a little more clear how forests have enchanting and unique personalities. This “enchanting” vibe, if you look even closer, doesn’t come from the glades alone; there is something even more strange and mysterious beneath the tree tops. There are megaliths and impossibly crafted stones. This mysterious trend is an international phenomenon, where specific geometric patterns of stones, along with incredible feats of megalithic engineering, emerge deep within the woods, beneath sacred mountainsides, from Glen Coe, Scotland, all the way to Arizona, USA. After establishing proper anthropological and mathematical similarities in stones from forests nearly 3000 latitudinal miles away from each other (that’s North to South) the obvious question emerges: “How can this “glacial” arguement continue to hold up? Free-sitting boulders at advantageous vantage points in the forests of New England (Image/Below/Right) Ireland (Image/Left) England, Scotland, and Wales are technically similar to free-sitting boulders in Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona. How the hell is this possible? Did the most recent Ice-Age glacier of roughly 40,000 years ago reach all the way down to Arizona’s volcanic mountain deserts? It just doesn’t make sense. Technically, the continent-sized ice mass that covered what would be the American West was called the Cordilleran, which looks to have stopped on the border of what would eventually be Canada. So, simply put, how are scientists claiming that free-sitting boulders like this one in the Coconino Forest in central Flagstaff was moved by the same glacier as the boulders in New England and Ireland? (Image/Lower/Left)
I examined this Arizona boulder, and more importantly, the slope of the ledge it sits on, and the angle is very telling of how unlikely it is that this boulder remained on this ledge from an at-random geologic process. There is 15 degree slope on the ledge-top, as you can see. To counter that, on the boulder’s base, is a cut of about 15 degrees, fitting the boulder to the ledge perfectly. This is a fixture; an intentional fit, in my opinion. Additionally, there are markings all over this boulder, which is a type of “ledge-boulder” found in sacred zones all over the country. The odds that all of these boulders are placed at random at the very edge of vantage-giving ledges is, to put it blatantly: gastronomical multiplied by gastronomical; impossible.
Take a look at yet another free-sitting boulder on a rounded ledge which is ‘vantage-giving’. This boulder is 2500 miles away, in New England. See how rounded this ledge is? For this boulder to remain fixed on top of this rounded precipice it would have to sit in the absolute gravitational center, which it does. Again this an example where if you use logic, and not simply dismiss the statement with brazen theories about ancient ice-sheets, the truth will come out. Someone, or something put this boulder here in order to say: “This is my zone; see how strong I am; beware!”
If this “territorial fixture” still doesn’t seem realistic to you, take a look at this amazing statement at Cavan Burren National Park in Ireland. It should be understood by the reader that Cavan Burren is filled with sacred megaliths; altars with standing stones, small temples, and Neolithic engineering. Someone claimed this space for themselves in antiquity, and in this space what do we find? A free-sitting boulder perfectly placed on a tiny platform of bedrock. Modern “science” is telling us to believe a massive glacier rolled this single boulder hundreds, or even thousands of miles, only to land it perfectly square and set on this minuscule 4 by 3 foot space of embedded rock? No. Impossible. Absurd. Illogical. And to me, insulting. Again, this is clearly an example of a boulder which was placed by an individual(s) in ancient times, as a statement to others that this zone is occupied, and by someone with incredible strength and know-how. Furthermore, here are some of the Neoliths found within just 25 yards of this boulder: (Image/Left) and (Image/Below/Right). How can we go on believing the academic narrative of the post-modernists? They are blatantly lying to us in their white-papers, mini-museums, and gift shops. Why? What do they not want us to conclude? Well, regardless, perhaps these academics didn’t expect someone with a Degree in Western Literature, and some perspective, to make the effort to actually study these places in detail. Perhaps they are RELYING on the fact that people don’t make the effort to stride into these sacred zones from one continent to the next. And these free-standing statements can be found in forests all over the world. Here’s a look at some of the very strange and distinct boulders that remain in Cavan Burren Forest, just 100 yards from the Wedge Tombs. Celtic glades in Ireland are rare, and these boulders are strewn into the landscape like an above ground cable system. Covered in glowing green moss, they just looked to have some positional secret yet to be understood…
And now take a look at a similarly stoic boulder in the forest of Cococino, 4000 miles away. It has precise indents on its side, also with a strange glow, which is of course rusty orange, rather than mossy green. These boulders seem plotted, or planted, rather than randomly tossed about by ice. They are both squared and monumental, as opposed to disheveled. Another very real possibility is that the stones were there long before the forests grew. Were the stones there before the glacier came along? In some forests you can easily see that the stones were there first, as the trees grow straight over the rock. The point is, there are a great many questions that are not answered by the one size fits all modern answers of “glacial displacement.”Coconino National Forest: Welcome to a Ponderosa Pine vale that stretches from the northern to southern heart of Arizona. Grand sections of forest emerge all the way from the Grand Canyon down to Sunset Crater Flagstaff, continuing even further down through Oak Creek Canyon, in Sedona. In this environment entire glades of trees are literally on the edge of burning at any given moment. Many trees are already lying prostrate on the ground with limbs seemingly reaching to the heavens, begging to be finally ignited by the Sun. I had just never seen trees like this before.Even with the challenge of an extremely arid climate, many incredibly delicate and beautiful statements emerge in the dry hedge and shade. These wildflowers just look so resilient against a massive canvas dry-wood in the background.
You will have to make a decision about where and when you want to wander into the Coconino’. The northern section of the Forest sits at the edge of the Grand Canyon, near the great Southern Rim. This requires traveling through the beautiful desert plain to arrive at the Canyon. The central section of the Forest is roughly 150 miles south of the Grand Canyon, stretching from Sunset Crater National Park to the The San Francisco Peaks, which are the rugged mountains that engulf the city of Flagstaff. Much of the Forest can be found at the base of Mount Humphries, climbing all the way to the peak, which stands at 12,365 feet above Sea Level, and offering 6000 feet of Prominence. That’s a pretty serious climb, and one which I did not make during this particular excursion. The area is truly a wonderland, with possibilities in every direction, and it is nearly impossible to miss a mountain, canyon, or forest trail, in this part of Arizona. Flagstaff is the place where I chose to enter the Coconino first. The Coconino Forest at Buffalo Park: There are half a dozen parks and entries for the Forest in Flagstaff. Buffalo Park is a 700 foot elevation hill encompassing about 5 by 15 miles of quiet grassland above, and on the edge of Flagstaff. At the top, after sifting through the Forest, the area opens up to a surprisingly vast and peaceful scene. (Image/Below)This plateau is like the American West’s rustic version of Ireland’s Hill of Tara (Image/Below/Left) although it was far less lush than the near perfect setting of Tara’. The quiet was very similar though, both hills were places to feel the high winds and absorb the day. It was easy to see that this hill, perhaps 500 years ago, would’ve certainly been a serene place for the Natives, who built stone huts in the deeper forest just a 1000 yards away from here. The size and scale of Coconino and Tara’ is eerily similar. The trees and stone-fixtures surrounding the Hill at Buffalo Park seems as enchanted as the megaliths in, say, the Mourne Range in Ireland, or the Berkshire Range in Massachusetts. As explained at the beginning of the article, certain areas felt more like claimed cliff-spaces from the beginning of Time. Buffalo Park is just a teaser to the more dense forest which is closer to Mount Humphries, a beautiful wilderness looming in the immediate distance.
The image above is another look at the small cliff-face with a distinctly placed free-sitting boulder, etched just below the top of the broad hill beyond. I can’t stress it enough, how similar this is to places in New England, where magical things often loom in deep gully’s, which unless you stop and dip down into them, you would simply pass by, gaining no knowledge of the concealed area at all. Here’s another look at the surprising frequency of boulders beneath the trees in this wonderful place. (Image/Below)
Once you are ready to step into the larger Coconino Forest at the base of Mount Humphries, you can simply drive up to one of the many Trailheads. I used the entrance at Trinity Methodist Church, sitting on the literal edge of the vast woods. There are dozens of trails winding through this spacious and beautiful set of glades, with massive stones set in incredible positions that give serious pause. This amazing stone was there to greet me as soon as I walked in. (Image/Below) You just can’t make this stuff up.
This stone is essentially standing straight up at about 4 feet high, with only a five inch width, which is relatively thin. It is also buried deep within the ground, and make no mistake, this a massive rock. There is a type of streak across the center, with an oblong leaning of the overall shape. I was excited to see a type of “statement stone” as soon as I began my hike. The forest felt strange, mysterious and beautiful. Stones like these in New England are very similar, but this seemed a different style all together! As I progressed further towards the base of the mountain, another stone, more convincing as a Standing Stone, emerged. (image/Below)
Here is another huge stone standing straight up at about 5 feet tall, and about three inches in width. At this point I was having that moment, just like I’ve had at Cavan Burren National Park in Ireland, and Monument Mountain in Massachusetts, when I said to myself: “O.k, what in God’s name is going on in this enchanted place?” And that feeling of ‘Lothlorien’ begins to sink in, all over again…
Take a look at this boulder above, which was on the edge of the woods. It was so isolated and stoic, extremely similar to the boulder at Cavan Burren National Park I described above. I could not help but feel that this was another territorial marker, just like at Celtic sites. I even pictured it painted with various markings to increase its distinction, as they are depicted in the mythical xbox game Skyrim, protected by giants living their primordial existence. Hundreds of distinct statements like this can be found in the Flagstaff Coconino. Something spectacular is going in this place, so spectacular, that its hard to totally understand. Aside from the threat of fire in July, the place was incredibly peaceful. Against Mount Humphries, the forest seemed ultimately protected from the North, tucked-in enough for the natives to build there homes here, which of-course they did. The trees are spaciously placed with a rusty orange glow along the tough exteriors and the forest floor, very much like New England Pine glades. The air is so dry that you can taste the hovering heat in the pocket of your tongue, like the taste of charcoal in the wind at a barbecue. Any spot is a great spot to sit down, take a nap, take a picture or video, and just fall into the peace and quiet of this massive natural space. It is pure medicine for your mind, against a modern world constantly driving us into the lower aspects of existence, which is the material and monetary contest we experience to survive. The Coconino’ makes you forget, in the best possible way; through the wind in the trees.
Coconino Forest at Oak Creek Canyon/Sedona: After walking out of the Forest at Flagstaff, I had real and tangible reasons to believe that the Neolithic Culture inhabited this place, just like the myths of the Natives speak of. The following day, heading down to the southern extreme of the Coconino’ from Flagstaff, to Oak Creek Canyon, there are two southerly highways. Take the 89A, not Route 17. The 89A is one of the most beautiful back-highways in the country, and scenic Coconino forestry all the way down into the Canyon. The distance from Flagstaff to Oak Creek is only about an hour, the entire trip a wonderful experience. Bring cameras and water, and be ready to freak-out on the beautiful southern extension of the Coconino!
Oak Creek is its own excursion, with magical stones, free-sitting boulders, and habitations well worth several treks. (See “Oak Creek Canyon” at Stonestrider.com for the complete experience.) The most important thing to understand is that the Coconino forest reaches all the way to this southern tip of the central portion of Arizona. This forest is massive and gorgeous, and as mysterious as any Celtic place I’ve ever seen. The trails here are cool and distinct, marked by lonely boulders that seem to be markers, yet again. The Forest grows thickly, with perhaps the tallest of Ponderosa Pines in all Arizona, featured in the very top image of this article. The Coconino Forest is enchanted with a rare Trinity of locations; found in Canyon, Mountain, and Desert.
The Coconino Forest of Arizona is another dreamscape with mysterious statements strewn throughout the gigantic woods. It is the majestic wood-belt of Arizona, and in terms of scale, trumping Celtic forests in every possible way. Did the same Neolithic Culture which I believe existed in the forests of Celtic places exist here? I believe they did. Let yourself wander beneath these Pondersa Pines. There are mountains, volcanos, canyons, deserts, and grassy plateaus, where you find this Forest’s trails. It is an all-embracing Forest that pushes through the most arid of environments to ultimately give life and shade to this part of the world. The most important message I can convey at the end of this article is that reading about a forest is all well and good, but entering into one is the overall goal. You can get there and experience this massive life-force for yourself; it’s not a cliche. Seek it out, and find it out. Use your own mind to experience places like this, and don’t let the information-comptrollers and false-history writers deny you your allotted connection and interaction with this amazing primordial source of life in our world. Look and decide for yourself what happened in this gorgeous place. Go strong. Stonestrider.com.
Location: Sundance, Wyoming/USA
Elevation: 3,100 ft
Prominence: 1200 ft
Note: Before you begin reading I already know what you’re thinking: “What could possibly be exciting about Wyoming? (yawn)” It’s a fair question, and something that should be addressed straight-away. The answer might surprise you a little. The truth is, the answer is totally related to what kind of hiker you are, and somewhat philosophical. You have to ask yourself: “Am I a trailblazing, stone-kicking, seeker of sacred zones in the misty heights?” “A geared-up ‘earthbound-astronaut-in-boots’ made for 10,000 feet above sea-level?” “Am I wading waist-deep in the Irish-muck to get to the distant hill where the Dolmen sits?” “Am I willing to go to that way-out-there place which others dismiss as too inconvenient?” In other words, are you passionate about breaking the domesticated spell of post-modern life? Or…are you the needy type? Do you need attention and noise? Are you in the habit of speaking constantly, needing to hear about this, that, and the other thing from the social-media feed? Do you need lots of stuff at your disposal? Do you need to be close to a metropolis and all its accoutrements? Do you need a constant phone/computer signal? If so, you’re not alone; but let’s put distant, hard to reach, places into perspective; If, for example, you were to show up in a place like Killarney Ireland (Image/Left) with this needy attitude, a Killarney which is a darkly magical, mostly wet, Celtic wilderness of eternal greenery, you could perhaps say the same needy things you say of Wyoming, like: “Oh man, it’s just farms and mountains without a soul in sight”… etc etc etc. And with this needy attitude you will have already failed. You might as well go on a cruise and do the thing where you get off the boat, and then back on, after looking at a mountain from the beach, for about ten minutes. Awful. The point is this: the only real difference between the stellar beauty of a romantic wilderness like Killarney, and the lessor known wilderness of The Black Hills (Image/Below), is only the basics of fauna of the landscapes, and that’s it. That’s all. The potential for wonder and exploration is just as possible in Wyoming as it is anywhere else on Earth. Both are haunting and spacious, eccentrically-far from any city, and soooo quiet that they are equally capable of making you face that illusive, money-bound, noise factory, you currently know as…. yourself. The Black Hills in Wyoming is yet another dream-scape that can heal your senses and sooth your thoughts. There are romantic signs in the mountains of a history that goes right back to the primordial beginning of Time, just like Celtic sites. If you open your eyes in this way, Black Hills Wyoming is a vast mystical zone, just waiting to embrace you. In American modern cinema, in films such as ‘Dances With Wolves’, ‘The Last of The Mohicans”, or “The Revanent”, there is an image of the “spiritually in-tune” Native American. This image of the stoic, quiet minded, spiritually animated native, is not easily grasped by the domesticated culture we now find ourselves in, where almost 65% of the population has now been forced to inhabit cities. It is hard to comprehend the once spiritual state of the Native American in such a postmodern situation. But, if cities are the mechanism for our domestication, than places like Black Hills National Forest in Wyoming, are the mechanism for cosmic-quiet, and a confident solitude that the Native Americans once knew. When you enter them, the quiet is practically a persona to be interacted with, not just a lack of meaningless bustle and monotonous motion. You can truly realize this in this absolutely vast space, and slightly hypnotizing slopes of the Black Hills.
Even the image of this wide-open landscape can’t do the actual scale justice. South of this place, the Wyoming Plain rolls like an intermediary dimension between Heaven and Hell, neither rising nor falling, just continuing into an ever distant blue horizon. Some History: Obviously no Roman Army ever traversed this place, like in England or France, although, I have to think that the Caesars would have been tempted by the idea of crossing such a vast stretch of accessible land, like when they penetrated the high Plains of Scotland, where they were eventually turned back by the Picti (Scottish Natives). So, who did walk in this place in Wyoming? The Arapaho, Cheyenne, Ute, and Shoshone all inhabited this vast space as warrior-hunters of the Plains. We now know that most of their ancestors wandered over the land-bridge while hunting animals from the East-Eurasian Continent to what is now Alaska, created by the receding Ice-Age some 40,000 years ago. Once upon a time, this Plain was inundated with Buffalo, an animal by which nearly every human need can be resourced. The native tribes, amazingly, say that they were NOT the first to inhabit this place, but rather, the ancient myths tell of a race of “Celtic looking (caucasion) red-haired giants” who were already here when the natives arrived. Strangely enough, the Native Israelite tribes encountered the exact same thing when they entered Israel from Arabia, discovering giants in the hills, which is recorded in Semetic Scripture: ‘Numbers 13:32’. The Mayan and Inca say the very same thing. The megaliths of South America were there BEFORE THEY ARRIVED. In fact, nearly every Native American tribe has stories of giants controlling the heights of the mountains and hills. And these are the oldest stories that the tribes have to offer, which are now faded into inaccuracy and mere myth, due to the genocide that came for the natives in the modern Era. Like the native Scottish Picti tribes, these Native Americans were at-one with the landscape, and also like the Picti, when a foreign army came marching through, they decided to paint themselves for battle, and fight. Of-course it wasn’t the Roman Army which wandered into the heights of Wyoming, but The Union Army, a far more advanced and devastating force, and we know how that story ends. Don’t let this wide-open space and silence fool you; although it is profoundly peaceful there are mysteries and epic events which took place here, making it that much more haunting in the heights of the trail. The natives called this place “The Black Hills”, although I am not entirely sure how they could have… The scene is a dry green and golden haze that embeds striking patches of massive trees and knolls. It all booms-out over the region as if it never ends. The trails are not what you would call ‘a going concern’, but are still marked by the classic cursive lettering and soil-brown signs that were erected at the turn of the century. I’ve waited my entire life to see one of these particular types of signs; seeing one means you’re in the Great North West of America; a rock-star zone for hikers. This is the listed trail-head for the Black Hills, down a lulling farm-road, about 7 miles from the classically Americana town of Sundance Wyoming, population 1,182. Sundance has veterans who died for the United States memorialized in the center of Town, along with home-like breakfast parlors and ice-cream shops straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. But these people aren’t lost to the Times, as you might ignorantly assume; they are a deeply rustic, tough, and caring people who look you straight in the eye, and extend a helping hand in a moments notice. Black Hills Trail: Entering this trail is as pleasant as it gets. There are distinct and clear heights in front of you, with a breeze and swaying grass beneath spaciously assorted Pines. The path appears to be a modern work of Cub Scouts and campers from the last 100 years. There are no signs of the ancient stony paths found in Celtic heights, New England, or northern Colorado. The one factor that is entirely unique to this space is the level of quiet, if that is possible to measure. It is simply a denser quiet. Even the regular sounds of hawks or wild goats are not heard in these hills. It will make you more aware of yourself in return. Often times it’s a moment to say to yourself: “Well, at least I’m not in my office/in traffic/on-line/ etc etc etc. The Trail switches back a few times as you ascend a solid soil pathway through the Ponderosa treeline (Image/Left). As the hillside reveals itself, there are stones that begin to pop up, of a type I had never seen before. As the trail levels off near the top of the initial knoll, it begins to veer into the deeper woods, and boulders akin to what is found on the ledges of New England, begin appear. I have to admit that the ledges and boulders here were so ancient looking, so old, that I realized I had never seen this specific type before. Ancient Wyoming boulders are practically rust colored with orange and brown spots. (Image/Below/Right) This is very similar to the pattern on Alpine stones found in the heights of Mount Katahdin (Below/Left). Look at the Same rare spotted pattern, although they are very different colors. There are also boulders in auspicious vantage points throughout the early portion of the upper trail.(Image/Below) You can see cut-sections of ancient hillside stone, with a free standing boulder on the upper left corner in the image, in an advantageous vantage-point above, just like on New England ledges. Whoever put these boulders there are the first occupants of this land, before the Native Americans arrived. The places where the stones are cut, and stacked, on top of each other are most often the most beautiful views facing outward, not hidden in the forest. Again, this is so similar to Ireland and New England that it is nearly impossible to ignore. Look how distinctly the stone is cut and set in a fixture in the image below.The second third of the trail, the upper trail, becomes gorgeous forest. This is a beautiful stretch of trees and thickets, and there is a temptation to wander into it, leaving the path behind. I don’t recommend going off-trail on a first excursion, but with time, and more knowledge of the range, it might be possible some day in the future.
The upper vale in any range, whether it’s the White Mountains of Vermont, or The Berkshires of New York, are almost always a type of secondary dimension. You step through them, only to have them change as you go. Your perspective can change from ‘surrounded by pillars of reddish brown’ to ‘sifting through small shafts of milky-white limbs’; i.e: Ponderosa’s to Birch’s. This might be hard for a hiking layman to understand, but a particular grove can change the way you feel. The Ponderosa Pine grove (Image/Above) is a distinctly different feeling than the Birch grove (Image/Below). Harder still it is to comprehend for many beginners, is that forests, in this manner, teach us about our level of receptivity and perception. Imagine what happen if you chance to walk through 50 forests, or 100, in this lifetime. On the higher end of that receptivity is realizing and experiencing sacred zones. They feel beyond Time. Places where megaliths are found are almost always in accordance with this mystical feeling, and we are discovering through dynamic new anthropology that this is anything but wishful thinking. There are entire forests and ranges in New England and Ireland that have connective engineering throughout the entire landscape (See Cavan Burren National Park/Stonestrider.com). The landscape is literally stone-grafted to synergize the experience of moving through it. Most people, even in this age, just can’t get their minds around the idea that the entire landscape is a temple or monument, harnessing very real subtle energies. This particular trail in Wyoming is a chance to see the contrast between landscapes that are inundated with stone-linings, and those that are not, and what that might mean. Why is there not a single stone-lining in these beautiful small-mountains, while in New England there are enough Stone-linings to circle the Earth several times over? What does it mean?The trail here at Black Hills opens up into elevated fields of thriving grass beds within the glades, with absolutely no stone distinctions. You can almost picture an Arapaho Native materializing out of the woods, with nothing particular on his mind in this absolute tranquility. Prairie Asters emerge along the path, as well as what looks like a lavender Lonicera type flower. Entire fields of these wildflowers appeared across the next range, several miles from this spot, and everything about these beds indicates a vibrant, happy, and healthy zone.
The cover photo of this article, at the very top of the page, looks to be the objective of this Black Hills Trail. It’s a fine view across the valley. This is a place to sit down for a while. Impressively, the trail doesn’t loop back, it continues rolling on through several small Ranges to the north, perhaps as much as another ten miles after this 2.5 mile section.
To exit the Trail, simply head back the way you came, and enjoy each ridge and the views they offer as you go.
There are places that are more intrinsically natural than others. Everything about Wyoming says “Don’t worry.” The Black Hills is a Trail that forces you to wonder how many of your problems are self induced. The peace in a place like this is so stunning that there is a cleansing of any spirit that passes through it, like a “landlocked baptism.” Landscapes don’t always have to reveal specific megalithic statements to be sacred. The land itself is at the heart of the ability to feel the sacred. It is entirely possible to see and feel the calm that the Native Americans felt for thousands upon thousands of years, and there are still ancient echoes of what was here before, written in the stone ridges. In a contentious time like this, Black Hills Trail is pure medicine, a regenerating tranquility that can take any modern confusion that you might have, and massage it into a cosmic calm so abundantly represented in the hills of Wyoming. Those who ignorantly accuse places like this of being “boring” are already drowning in a technological pool of hyper-urbanized poison. Wyoming is gorgeous, peaceful, mysterious, and gracious, with each and every step, and each step you take through it, is a step closer to your better-self. Black Hills Wyoming is part of the answer in this world, not a source of division; what more do you need to hear? Explore our world, and leave those that are trying to control and monitor every move you make, far, far, behind. Thanks for reading Stonestrider.com