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. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    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:

    Ha! Life of Brian is great.

    • #61
  2. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Brandon Phelps:

    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.

    Can’t do Ricochet out doors…now this is a truly creative diversion.

    • #62
  3. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Mendel:More of a chapel than a cathedral, but a transcendental location all the same:

    Utah 2014 230

    Slot canyons! Love ’em, don’t get to spend nearly enough time in ’em!

    My favorite so far is Peek-a-boo Gulch. It’s a reasonably well-lit slot without turning into something non-slottish, so it’s great for nature photographers who don’t have the equipment to manage the long, steady exposures required for the most famous slots:

    dsc05428

    • #63
  4. user_1065645 Contributor
    user_1065645
    @DaveSussman

    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.

    Valiuth, I can only surmise you enjoy contrarian roles for the sake of fits and giggles. Spend a few weeks in a cathedral known as John Muir Trail or simply spend a few days climbing mountains at high elevation and you may reconsider your own statement “Man is above nature”.

    Nature teaches us humility. It doesn’t care if we live or die, or what is our religion, philosophy or socioeconomic status. Back country wilderness is unforgiving and I have personally witnessed arrogance punished. Mother nature has a funny way of teaching hard lessons to those that need them. Harsh weather, challenging terrain, and dangerous predators will show you man is but an insignificant speck.

    Nature equalizes each of us. I highly recommend it.

    • #64
  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Ricochet needs to plan a Bryce Canyon meetup:

    Bryce Canyon SunriseThor's HammerThe Silent City

    • #65
  6. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Here’s two shots of one of my “cathedrals”, Mt. Washington in NH.

    The first is a picture I took while climbing the mountain in January.  -15F with 70mph winds for a wind chill in the -50F range. We did not make it to the summit.  I submitted it to the Mt. Washington Observatory web site and they featured it for a while.  My only “published” photo.

    The second is a picture I found online after I hiked up to ski Tuckerman’s Ravine, the east side of the Mt., with my eight-year-old daughter.  I saw a post by a guy who’d mentioned he took a picture from across the ravine, and I looked for us in it. There we were!  Can’t recall who took the picture now, unfortunately.

    The last picture was the site of a pilgrimage.  If you go, be sure to buy some of the cheese, it’s delicious!

    101_0168

     2009-03-28_Tuckerman IMG_00000063

    • #66
  7. user_1065645 Contributor
    user_1065645
    @DaveSussman

    Tuck:Here’s two shots of one of my “cathedrals”, Mt. Washington in NH.

    The first is a picture I took while climbing the mountain in January. -15F with 70mph winds for a wind chill in the -50F range. We did not make it to the summit. I submitted it to the Mt. Washington Observatory web site and they featured it for a while. My only “published” photo.

    Mt. Washington in January is ballsy. Glad you made it.

    • #67
  8. user_7742 Inactive
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt

    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.

    It’s neither unethical or immoral to take pleasure in the beauty of the natural world. Most of the people on this thread are expressing that there are certain places on this planet that are visually stunning, generate awe, make them feel peaceful or serene, or that impress them with God’s handiwork, if you like. I don’t think anyone has advocated going naked and living in a rainforest for the rest of their lives, throwing virgins into volcanos, or making offerings to Gaia. You may have temporarily confused this site with the Huffington Post or some other more Leftist-back-to-nature gathering place.

    • #68
  9. Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake Member
    Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake
    @EvanMeyer

    I have to agree with the Lake District. This is a photo of Borrowdale from Castle Crag. I vaguely remember learning in a Chinese Art History class how the ideal landscape painting (in the Chinese tradition) depicts a transition from domesticated, human-scale landscapes through increasingly untamed natural spaces, to wild sublimes.  That sums up just about every vista in the Lakes.

    Borrowdale_from_castle_crag-claire-rowland

    • #69
  10. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    IMG_4105Pennsylvania, where I grew up.

    • #70
  11. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Tuck:

    Mendel:More of a chapel than a cathedral…

    My thoughts exactly. Cathedrals are too crowded.

    I’ve recently discovered the Endless Mountain/Pine River Gorge (aka the Grand Canyon of PA) region of Pennsylvania:

    IMG_20150710_090229_hdr

    near where I grew up. good pick.

    • #71
  12. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    David Sussman: Harsh weather, challenging terrain, and dangerous predators will show you man is but an insignificant speck.

    “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

    Psalm 8:4

    And when we compare the manmade cathedrals and cityscapes, they are diminished by the likes of the natural cathedrals of the world.

    • #72
  13. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    David Sussman:

    Mt. Washington in January is ballsy. Glad you made it.

    Nah, mainly just chilly and breezy.  If you’re not foolish about it…

    • #73
  14. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    most of the pics are from the US. here is one from Zermatt, Switzerland.

    matterhorn

    I visited Rome, then travelled by rail to Vienna, and moved on through Switzerland, on the cog rail into the mountains at Zermatt.

    It was summer, but in the early morning it was barely 40 degrees, and I was freezing in sneaks and shorts. It was foggy, and I was bumbling on the path. As the early morning fog lifted, I was disappointed that I could not see Matterhorn. But I rounded a curve in the path, and suddenly, there it was, this hulking bauble on the earth. I continued walking to get this unobstructed shot. The color of the sky might have been the most amazing part of the picture.

    It is all a matter of perspective though, because from the moon, Matterhorn, and most of the locales in our shared cathedral pictures aren’t even visible. :)

    • #74
  15. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Oh, okay. I’ll drop this here and show my age.

    • #75
  16. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    SLC14-148

    Arches National Park in Utah.

    • #76
  17. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @Weeping

    Thanks for all the pictures! Loved looking at them!

    • #77
  18. user_549556 Inactive
    user_549556
    @VinceGuerra

    IMG_0655 IMG_6862 Hatchers Pass, Alaska. Twenty minutes from my front door, and occasionally more therapeutic than church. We get buckets of wild blueberries in the fall, wild sledding is the norm in winter, and all summer long it’s where we reboot our senses. IMG_1998

    • #78
  19. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Jules PA: It is all a matter of perspective though, because from the moon, Matterhorn, and most of the locales in our shared cathedral pictures aren’t even visible. :)

    I read once that if the Earth were the size of a billiard ball, it would be even smoother.  Everest and Marianas included.

    • #79
  20. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Randy Weivoda:SLC14-148

    Arches National Park in Utah.

    I want to hit this and some of the other parks in southern Utah like Monument Valley.  I could see this in the distance from I-70, but we were racing the clock to get back to Colorado before dark.

    • #80
  21. The Great Adventure! Inactive
    The Great Adventure!
    @TheGreatAdventure

    fisher1

    Fisher Peak, near my hometown of Cranbrook, BC.  There is also a beautiful lake tucked in behind it.

    • #81
  22. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    I’m partial to this spot.  It is in Connecticut, not far from the Dubya beach compound.  This photo was taken during a perambulation with my dingo (actually, DubyaDog is a Chihuabrador, or Labrahuahua – take your pick).

    The white lighthouse in the distance is a rather recent addition.  Built in 1801, it replaced the original that dated from 1761.

    In 1781, Benedict Arnold and half his troops landed near the lighthouse and marched upriver (i.e., to the right) to New London, which they burned.  The other half of his troops marched over the spot from which this photo was taken.  Their destination was Fort Griswold and a date with infamy – the Battle of Groton Heights.

    (In 2005, nine black-robed justices figuratively marched upriver and burned the concept of private property via Kelo v. City of New London.)

    By 1791, the previous lighthouse was keeping its six lamps lit thanks to a contract personally signed by George Washington, providing $360 per quarter to fund the whale oil fuel.

    Today, in contrast to that awful day in 1781, the river is a peaceful place, frequently plied by vintage and replica craft from the days of sail, such as the Coast Guard’s Eagle and Mystic Seaport’s Amistad.

    Lighthouse rocks

    • #82
  23. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    statue

    My view from my last apartment in NYC.

    • #83
  24. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @FrontSeatCat

    What a spectacular post and idea! Nice break from the problems of the world – what a great way to share our homesteads and favorite places! Beautiful! Here’s my neck of the woods, including Eden Gardens with live oaks, the beach (10 min. from me) NW FL at its finest.

    P.S. To Editor Claire Berlinski, per your recent post saying you had few friends and business contacts left back here – well,  here are your friends, professional contacts and spectacular photo album of the great USA to pick a place, should you want to eventually return with your family – although I am sure there are equally beautiful “cathedrals spots” in France!!

    100_1345Gone with the Windme under the old oak treeWatercolor Gardenssandy prints

    • #84
  25. Kim K. Inactive
    Kim K.
    @KimK

    Central coast near Big Sur is impressive also.20150706_184221_resized

    • #85
  26. jzdro Member
    jzdro
    @jzdro

    Valiuth:Nature is disgusting and its veneration is a form of idolatry. . .

    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.

    Dear Valiuth,

    You are entirely right. Yet, please remember that the original suggestion is for natural cathedrals.  One does not worship the cathedral, by any means.  One worships that which embodies one’s highest values.  That is the meaning of worship, adoration, veneration.

    Some cathedrals are natural; some are made by man.  What do these two sorts have in common?  They have in common aesthetic elements:  beauty.

    What is beautiful?  You could spend the rest of your life defining that, but I just mowed the lawn here, so I have it all figured out.  Aesthetics rests upon ethics.  Show me what a man considers beautiful, and I will see what are his ethics.

    What makes something beautiful, just to see?  Order, symmetry of form, color, range, vision, majesty of prospect.  We see these things, sometimes and in some places, in nature,  and as well, some men have taken those attributes – form, color, symmetry, asymmetry, range, vision, majesty – and built them anew in their own creations.

    The cruelties of the hunter and the hunted are true; it is wrong to deny their truth.  What do we enjoy are beauty itself, and our ability to enjoy it.

    • #86
  27. user_28714 Thatcher
    user_28714
    @BarbaraDuran
    • #87
  28. jzdro Member
    jzdro
    @jzdro

    Whoops, I’ve missed a great deal in the interim, so shall just finish the thought quickly.  Could you agree that we are okay ethically as long as we (1) repudiate the law of the jungle in our own lives and in our own societies, and (2) never fail to appreciate our prosperity and good fortune as we appreciate both natural and man-made beauty with full bellies and up-to-date vaccinations and dental work and so on?

    And finally, to bridge the gap, here is something beautiful to go in the cathedral, because with Democrats everywhere I cannot afford to go on any trips this year anyway.  It is nature tamed, and reflects the arts of the metallurgist and the horticulturist both.

    Regards,

    jzdro

    IMG_1722

    • #88
  29. user_28714 Thatcher
    user_28714
    @BarbaraDuran

    Last try and then I’ll give up and wait for someone to instruct me on how to upload a photo here.  From my lanai, Kaneohe, Hawaii.lanaishot

    • #89
  30. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Brian Watt:

    Valiuth:

    It’s neither unethical or immoral to take pleasure in the beauty of the natural world. Most of the people on this thread are expressing that there are certain places on this planet that are visually stunning, generate awe, make them feel peaceful or serene, or that impress them with God’s handiwork, if you like. I don’t think anyone has advocated going naked and living in a rainforest for the rest of their lives, throwing virgins into volcanos, or making offerings to Gaia. You may have temporarily confused this site with the Huffington Post or some other more Leftist-back-to-nature gathering place.

    Quite so, and a very fair point. I have no delusions about Ricochet, I have been a member for quite a long time now. This is after all the one place where I can have a civilized argument about why we should think far less of Nature than our culture and inclinations find agreeable.

    • #90
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