The sun rises to the left of Weaver’s Needle, casting long shadows across the mountains. It was a delightful morning on the Marcus Landslide Trail, I had gone for one particular shot at sunrise but couldn’t resist this quick shot of the distant mountains. The phainopepla were out in abundance along with other birds, just a lovely morning in the desert.
While I believe mushrooms belong in the Mount Rushmore of Disgusting Foods along with green beans, quinoa, and brown rice, this mushroom I like! Weathered granite formations like Mushroom Rock are created by erosion, the granite pebbles that break away spread across the surface of the desert (my shins had an unpleasant introduction to these pebbles early on after we moved here when I slipped just a little on a hike).
A week ago I hiked the Marcus Landslide Trail for the first time and came upon Mushroom Rock before sunup. I decided to photograph the rock formation until the sun was up and then explore the rest of the trail. It took a while for the sun to fully clear the hills and not leave the left of the frame in shadow, but my favorite image from the series was this one before any direct light fell on the rocks. There are other places on the trail I found later that I would like to photograph in those fleeting moments of reflected light but I had trouble falling asleep this weekend so those pictures will have to wait.
There is a little light falling on my country too but in this case I’d prefer a lot rather than a little, that we be its source and its receiver. But a little is better than none.
As I hiked up to Inspiration Viewpoint I was surprised to find this petroglyph carved into a rock. I don’t know if it is genuinely from 1842 but it’s certainly carved with a lot more attention than the ham-fisted scratches around it by more modern visitors. There are petroglyphs in Arizona far older, by comparison this one is rather recent, but 1842 was still 70 years before Arizona would become a state, the last of the contiguous 48 states. The territory was still six years from being ceded to the US from Mexico after the Mexican-American War, with the southern part following in 1853 with the Gadsden Purchase.
It was 106 years before the native people here would be allowed to vote, despite a federal law giving them the right in 1924, and even then it took a decision of the Supreme Court. Today all three branches of our government, including that Supreme Court, gleefully strip away voting rights from those who don’t look like themselves, don’t think like themselves.
I wish 1842 seemed like a long time ago.
Yellowstone was still 30 years away from being America’s first national park, the recognition as a country that some sacred places needed to be saved. We carved the faces of our Presidents into others. Today we know the consequences of climate change but have buried our heads in the sand. There is profit to be made, by a select few.
In the past few days we’ve had an attempted mass assassination of the leaders of a political party. We’ve had an an attempted mass shooting at a black church in Kentucky, with locked doors turning away an angry man who shot black pedestrians instead. And this morning we had a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. All angry men emboldened by the hateful rhetoric of the radical right, a hatred winked at and encouraged by the mainstream.
The history of this country is written in blood more than stone. We build monuments to those who conquer more than those who love but I hope it will not always be so. May we love the world we live in. May we love the animals we share it with. May we love the people we share it with too.