What Are Your Natural Cathedrals?

 

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On Saturday night I took the picture above, showing the eastern slope of the Teton Mountains towering over the Snake River in Jackson, Wyoming. I was on one of my regular cross-country jaunts from Nashville to Los Angeles. Sure, Wyoming isn’t generally on that route but, c’mon, look at the picture — you’re going to go out of your way for that.

I can’t quite put into words what I experience every time I stand at that spot. It’s something akin, I suppose, to what Maslow described as a “peak experience.” Jackson Hole is one of a handful of spots that I regard as natural cathedrals — places that are overawing in their aesthetic majesty.

Here’s my question for Ricochet members: what sites do you regard with a similar sense of breathlessness? And — need I say it? — photos please.

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  1. MikeHs Inactive
    MikeHs
    @MikeHs

    Grand Canyon, Bright Angel TrailGC508-BrAngTr&Cyn&Kaibab

    • #31
  2. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    A couple of weeks ago I finished a 2k mile drive through the Mountain West to see the last few states I needed for 50.  There are several places I’ve been that I don’t have photos of which would qualify (forests in central Alaska, lava fields in Hawaii, coming down into the Central Valley from Tejon Pass in California, the coastal drive up highway 1 from Massachusetts to Maine).

    Foremost would be the Blue Ridge Mountains in Autumn, specifically the Peaks of Otter.  I’m from central VA, and this is what home is to me:

    Peaks_of_Otter_Fall

    • #32
  3. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    When I visit my cousin in Colorado Springs, I always try to hit two places: Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak.

    844_picture1_image

    img000013

    • #33
  4. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Valiuth: Its beauty and majesty is an illusion created by lack of proximity.

    I was going to say all my cathedrals are most definitely man-made.

    8MK_4366

    • #34
  5. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Glacier National Park (view from the HighLine trail looking back towards Logan Pass.D50_04792

    Sunrise over  Lake McDonald from Fish Creek

    D50_04720

    • #35
  6. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    When you’re trying to cover 2000 miles in 2.5 days, there’s not a lot of time for stopping, but you come across places (sometimes out of the way, sometimes famous) that leave you short of words, and the cameraphone doesn’t really do justice:

    Approaching Devil’s Tower in Wyoming
    CJjngQKUEAAGCR0

    Coming through a canyon in northern Wyoming
    CJkw1I7UMAAClEQ

    Through the mountains east of Provo, Utah
    CJpq9r9UAAAkGNR

    • #36
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Whiskey Sam:When I visit my cousin in Colorado Springs, I always try to hit two places: Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak.

    844_picture1_image

    img000013

    What the???…. You visit Colorado Springs and you don’t stop in to say “Hi??!” Ooooh, you’re a bad monkey.

    Sheesh, next time we’ll meet you for lunch at the GoG Trading Post, ‘mkay? You know how to use a phone? Sheesh.

    • #37
  8. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    Here’s a less panoramic shot of the view from Sawtell Peak:

    Also of some mountain flowers with Henry’s Lake visible in the backround, also seen from Sawtell.

    And a really gorgeous flower:

    • #38
  9. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Utah running into Colorado along I-70 is a beautiful drive that makes you want to saddle up for a Western.

    Great Salt Lake

    CJpMPhjUkAAer8v

    Utah desert

    CJqF8oxUEAAo8ku

    Winding through the Colorado River through the Rockies in Colorado

    CJrFmqrUAAAtfed

    • #39
  10. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    One of the most transcendent experiences of my life was driving up into Sequoia National Forest.  I’m definitely going back there one day.  Beautiful vistas looking down the mountains and being dwarfed by massive trees leave me in awe.

    General Sherman Tree (world’s largest)

    BuqLD0-IUAA_xsM

    Looking north from Moro Rock

    BuqMh5zIIAADeDQ

    Looking south from Moro Rock

    BuqMleLIcAEEUzb

    • #40
  11. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Umbra Fractus:

    Valiuth: Nature is disgusting and its veneration is a form of idolatry. There I have said it.

    It’s idolatry to adore God’s creation?

    Yes, yes it is. Do we adore ourselves? When we do its called vanity.

    • #41
  12. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Western Chauvinist:

    Whiskey Sam:When I visit my cousin in Colorado Springs, I always try to hit two places: Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak.

    What the???…. You visit Colorado Springs and you don’t stop in to say “Hi??!” Ooooh, you’re a bad monkey.

    Sheesh, next time we’ll meet you for lunch at the GoG Trading Post, ‘mkay? You know how to use a phone? Sheesh.

    You’re going to be really upset I was out there twice in three months then. :D

    • #42
  13. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Brian Watt:

    Valiuth:Nature is disgusting and its veneration is a form of idolatry. There I have said it.

    Its beauty and majesty is an illusion created by lack of proximity. We think these places ideal because we do not have to live in them. Those mountains, forests, deserts, are merciless slaughter chambers where lowly creatures eke out the barest of existences.

    The best nature is a manicured one. Which is to say one that has been tamed by man and properly arranged.

    I am serious! Nature gets too much of a pass from everyone.

    God’s majesty, Gaia Theory, Circle of Life nonsense all of it. Maybe I am being needlessly contrarian, but really. Who wants to live in nature? We like visiting it. That’s it. I like walking in the park, but if I slept in it and lived in it I would be a bum.  So what we really are after is a certain aesthetic experience. In which case we should just tailor it to our specific wants and preferences to make it as enjoyable as possible. Ie. We want the Disney Safari ride, not the real savanna, cause the real savanna is dangerous, hot, and unpleasant.

    • #43
  14. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    If you want to get all spiritual about it, Valiuth, then perhaps you could factor in that Jesus often went off into the mountains by himself. What value do you think he found in that?

    • #44
  15. user_1065645 Contributor
    user_1065645
    @DaveSussman

    Valiuth:

    Brian Watt:

    Valiuth:Nature is disgusting and its veneration is a form of idolatry. There I have said it.

    Its beauty and majesty is an illusion created by lack of proximity. We think these places ideal because we do not have to live in them. Those mountains, forests, deserts, are merciless slaughter chambers where lowly creatures eke out the barest of existences.

    The best nature is a manicured one. Which is to say one that has been tamed by man and properly arranged.

    I am serious! Nature gets too much of a pass from everyone.

    God’s majesty, Gaia Theory, Circle of Life nonsense all of it. Maybe I am being needlessly contrarian, but really. Who wants to live in nature? We like visiting it. That’s it. I like walking in the park, but if I slept in it and lived in it I would be a bum. So what we really are after is a certain aesthetic experience. In which case we should just tailor it to our specific wants and preferences to make it as enjoyable as possible. Ie. We want the Disney Safari ride, not the real savanna, cause the real savanna is dangerous, hot, and unpleasant.

    Nature is now controversial?  Something is very, very wrong with us.

    • #45
  16. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    DrewInWisconsin:If you want to get all spiritual about it, Valiuth, then perhaps you could factor in that Jesus often went off into the mountains by himself. What value do you think he found in that?

    Isolation. Of course Jesus always came back to civilization. He didn’t come to tell us about how great the mountains are. This is my point. Man is above nature. Before the fall Nature was at our disposal to give us all we wanted. After the fall it became our burden to extract from it what ever we could get. The pagans worshiped nature. We worship God. Accept no substitutes.

    • #46
  17. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    Valiuth: Of course Jesus always came back to civilization.

    More man-made cathedrals

    awesome-hd-new-wallpaper-of-chicago-skylinechicago-skyline-2

    • #47
  18. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Valiuth, I was tempted to spoil the fun earlier by pointing out that a cathedral, like a garden, is deliberately arranged beauty.

    But a photograph is like a garden. It selectively shows the best of nature.

    And we should resist temptation. ;)

    • #48
  19. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    David Sussman:

    Valiuth:

    I am serious! Nature gets too much of a pass from everyone.

    God’s majesty, Gaia Theory, Circle of Life nonsense all of it. Maybe I am being needlessly contrarian, but really. Who wants to live in nature? We like visiting it. That’s it. I like walking in the park, but if I slept in it and lived in it I would be a bum. So what we really are after is a certain aesthetic experience. In which case we should just tailor it to our specific wants and preferences to make it as enjoyable as possible. Ie. We want the Disney Safari ride, not the real savanna, cause the real savanna is dangerous, hot, and unpleasant.

    Nature is now controversial? Something is very, very wrong with us.

    Everything is controversial. I rather think that this is a feature not a bug. Of course in this case I am the contrarian so I must account for myself in some way. Still, isn’t it more fun this way?

    • #49
  20. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Aaron Miller:Valiuth, I was tempted to spoil the fun earlier by pointing out that a cathedral, like a garden, is deliberately arranged beauty.

    But a photograph is like a garden. It selectively shows the best of nature.

    And we should resist temptation. ;)

    Well glad I got the ball rolling then.

    • #50
  21. Yudansha Member
    Yudansha
    @Yudansha

    Valiuth, let’s be friends.  You have, with brevity and wit, put into words an argument that I have been trying, without success, to make for years and years.  The best I could come up with are:

    “Nature is best experienced through a window.”

    & when invited to spend a night outdoors (shudder):

    “Camping?!? No!! The entire purpose of human civilization has been an effort to get away from camping.  Early humans moved into caves so they could stop camping.”

    • #51
  22. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Valiuth:

    DrewInWisconsin:If you want to get all spiritual about it, Valiuth, then perhaps you could factor in that Jesus often went off into the mountains by himself. What value do you think he found in that?

    Isolation. Of course Jesus always came back to civilization.

    So do we.

    He didn’t come to tell us about how great the mountains are. This is my point.

    You don’t think he liked the experience? You don’t think he’d recommend it?

    Man is above nature.

    Sure, but that’s not a reason you can’t appreciate nature. Furthermore, the books of poetry in the Bible repeatedly reference the beauty of the natural world and how it speaks of the Creator. Rather than tell us to shun these things, it tells us that we can learn from these things.

    • #52
  23. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    A-Squared:

    Valiuth: Its beauty and majesty is an illusion created by lack of proximity.

    I was going to say all my cathedrals are most definitely man-made.

    8MK_4366

    Nice.  Laguna Seca, Sears Point (NOT Sonoma Raceway)

    Just back from The Ridge and it too is awesome.

    • #53
  24. Asquared Inactive
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    CuriousKevmo: Nice.  Laguna Seca, Sears Point (NOT Sonoma Raceway)

    Both on my bucket list.

    FWIW, This pic is from Road Atlanta.

    • #54
  25. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    The Angelic One and I do extended backpacking trips into the Yosemite high/back country every year.  I’m not sure I’d fair very well in the wider world without those tripshigh country small

    • #55
  26. user_532371 Member
    user_532371
    @

    Valiuth: I am serious! Nature gets too much of a pass from everyone. God’s majesty, Gaia Theory, Circle of Life nonsense all of it. Maybe I am being needlessly contrarian, but really. Who wants to live in nature? We like visiting it. That’s it. …  So what we really are after is a certain aesthetic experience.

    Downtown Las Vegas is dangerous, hot and unpleasant.

    I go to the wilderness for the aesthetic, as you say. I go to it for the excitement. I go to it for the same reason I go to a museum: to see something–creation–as it is now and as it was; as it has been for millennia. No one claimed that it is easier to live in the wilderness than it is to live in a palace or suburbia or wherever. But living in the wilderness is a two pronged victory: it is both entertaining, and it is good work. We get the beauty, but we also get to do the work of turning a little patch of wilderness into a garden of human flourishing, however short-lived and temporary that patch may be. You may say this is just a diversion because we aren’t required to do this, but it is a creative diversion, much like writing a book or performing a Beethoven quartet. Better than passive entertainment like TV, at the very least.

    • #56
  27. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Regarding Valiuth’s take on this thread, for some reason a bit from Monty Python’s Life of Brian keeps popping into my head:

    Brian:  Consider the Lily…

    By-stander:  Oh – He’s havin’ a go at the flowers now!

    • #57
  28. user_7742 Inactive
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    Valiuth:

    Brian Watt:

    Valiuth:Nature is disgusting and its veneration is a form of idolatry. There I have said it.

    Its beauty and majesty is an illusion created by lack of proximity. We think these places ideal because we do not have to live in them. Those mountains, forests, deserts, are merciless slaughter chambers where lowly creatures eke out the barest of existences.

    The best nature is a manicured one. Which is to say one that has been tamed by man and properly arranged.

    I am serious! Nature gets too much of a pass from everyone.

    God’s majesty, Gaia Theory, Circle of Life nonsense all of it. Maybe I am being needlessly contrarian, but really. Who wants to live in nature? We like visiting it. That’s it. I like walking in the park, but if I slept in it and lived in it I would be a bum. So what we really are after is a certain aesthetic experience. In which case we should just tailor it to our specific wants and preferences to make it as enjoyable as possible. Ie. We want the Disney Safari ride, not the real savanna, cause the real savanna is dangerous, hot, and unpleasant.

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I typically self-flagellate myself with a cat-of-nine tails until my back is bloody every time I am so foolish enough as to find a natural setting beautiful and I really prefer staying in a dank, dark room without sunlight for fear I might go out and see another natural setting that pleases me.

    • #58
  29. Jackal Inactive
    Jackal
    @Jackal

    Miffed White Male:Regarding Valiuth’s take on this thread, for some reason a bit from Monty Python’s Life of Brian keeps popping into my head:

    Brian: Consider the Lily…

    By-stander: Oh – He’s havin’ a go at the flowers now!

    • #59
  30. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Valiuth: Nature is disgusting and its veneration is a form of idolatry. There I have said it.

    Or, as Fran Lebowitz has said, “To me the outdoors is what you must pass through in order to get from your apartment into a taxicab.

    • #60
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