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

    David Sussman:

    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.

    You surmise correctly, though that does not mean I am entirely without sincerity in the matter. Even though I will admit to being overly hyperbolic.

    I must say though that the attitude that “Nature shows you man is insignificant” is one I find unappealing. Man is the most significant thing in the universe. This I think is at the heart of our Christian morality, and ethics. To think less of ourselves is to open the door to barbarity unimaginable. Nature is cruel, because it is dispassionate. It is something to be overcome, and its overcoming is to be celebrated. Man is meant to be more than our baser selves. We are meant to stand above Nature and master it.

    • #91
  2. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Dear Jzdro,

    You are right, and in all honestly I am being more contentious than I need to be or actually feel. Though Ricochet is such a good place to argue its kind of hard not giving it your all. Where else could you do this without having to endure profanity and being called a Nazi?

    It is, I think, fine to enjoy the “Great Outdoors”. We can find it relaxing, exhilarating, and even inspiring. But these benefits I think are actually created by our externalization of our own interior states. The mountain looks majestic not because it is but because we need to feel that it is. We project out from ourselves on to external objects because we have a hard time experiencing these things internally. I think this is both therapeutic and enlightening, but it does not tell us anything about nature itself so much as it tells us about ourselves. The danger I think is that we will externalize too much and come to think of ourselves as lesser than all these things when in fact their value and beauty solely derive from us. The mountains do not care, they can not care. They are the products of natural forces and laws aggregated over time. If one is awed by the mountain we should as easily be awed by the pebble. If we are not. That says something about us, rather than either of those things.

    • #92
  3. tabula rasa Inactive
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    I’m a Southern Utah boy who had to move away to realize I lived in a beautiful place.  I grew up twenty miles from Capital Reef National Park.  Like DocJay, I like Bryce Canyon, but for my money the most spectacular of several spectacular places in my home state is Zion National Park.

    Walking the Narrows (where the Virgin River cuts through miles of red rock with huge cliffs rising on either side) is like entering another, better world.

    The problem with Zion is that it is so spectacular that it’s extremely difficult to capture it with photos:

    zion

    Capital Reef is very much like Zion, but it isn’t quite as vertical, and therefore less spectacular.  But it’s worth seeing.

    • #93
  4. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    tabula rasa: The problem with Zion is that it is so spectacular that it’s extremely difficult to capture it with photos:

    That photo is quite spectacular!

    • #94
  5. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    What Are Your Natural Cathedrals?

    Do not ask this question of Mike LaRoche…

    • #95
  6. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Barbara, I always go fishing ( wading for bonefish) when I’m in Oahu. I go outside your house at K Bay.

    • #96
  7. user_216080 Thatcher
    user_216080
    @DougKimball

    I play golf on Sundays.  Seven Canyons in Sedona.  A postcard on every hole.

    7 canyons

    • #97
  8. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    MarciN:Gray’s Beach and all of Cape Cod in winter (photograph by my photographer-son Ben):

    10954951_10100430617730646_8645499940944907386_o

    MarciN.  I cannot believe this picture.   I’m going to post a picture below.  It’s Western Chauvinist’s daughter – years ago.   That boardwalk at Grey’s beach transports one into another dimension.   It is transcendent.

    • #98
  9. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    OUR KATE

    • #99
  10. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    MarciN – The picture, above – It’s Western Chauvinist’s daughter – years ago.   That boardwalk at Grey’s beach transports one into another dimension.   It is transcendent.

    • #100
  11. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @BobW

    Most of my pictures are on the computer at home, but found this one on my ipad taken in my “backyard”

    IMG_0001

    • #101
  12. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Trink:OUR KATE

    Trink, where is this? It looks exactly like Gray’s Beach.

    • #102
  13. user_532371 Member
    user_532371
    @

    Valiuth:  I must say though that the attitude that “Nature shows you man is insignificant” is one I find unappealing. Man is the most significant thing in the universe. This I think is at the heart of our Christian morality, and ethics. To think less of ourselves is to open the door to barbarity unimaginable.

    Yes. I always wonder why people look at the scope of the universe and say “oh we’re so small… we suck!” when the opposite conclusion can more easily be drawn: “oh we’re so intricate and creative with wills… we’re valuable!” That the universe is very large and filled with mostly empty space, hydrogen, helium and some detritus seems to indicate that we are very amazing participants in the dance. Besides, it is infantile to draw the conclusion that because we’re very small related to the size of the universe, therefor we are of no consequence or have no value. Would we be more valuable or better if the universe were the size of California? Rather the opposite: the man with a huge castle and lands besides to effect his rule is better than the one living in a hovel.

    • #103
  14. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Hey, my parents were there yesterday, too! I used to work wildfires (and sometimes on a helitack crew) in central Montana. The little rockies were quite possibly my favorite range. It was before we all had digital cameras, though.

    • #104
  15. user_28714 Thatcher
    user_28714
    @BarbaraDuran

    DocJay: Barbara, I always go fishing ( wading for bonefish) when I’m in Oahu. I go outside your house at K Bay.

    Well fer gosh sakes come and see us.  You may sit on our lanai and observe us natives at work and play. BYOB: bring your own bonefish!

    • #105
  16. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    MarciN:

    Trink:OUR KATE

    Trink, where is this? It looks exactly like Gray’s Beach.

    Yep, it’s Gray’s. Trink is a photographer too, and this is one of her favorite pictures. Kate being light on her feet.

    • #106
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Western Chauvinist:

    MarciN:

    Trink:OUR KATE

    Trink, where is this? It looks exactly like Gray’s Beach.

    Yep, it’s Gray’s. Trink is a photographer too, and this is one of her favorite pictures. Kate being light on her feet.

    Kate is beautiful.

    I always think of you as far far away in Colorado.

    I shall tell my son Ben that another professional photographer—Trink–noticed his photograph.

    Trink’s is a beautiful photograph. I can practically smell the marsh.

    • #107
  18. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    The place where I feel as I would imagine one would feel in all y’all’s natural cathedrals is sitting on a rock, up from Chautauqua Park, Boulder, just below the Flatirons, and looking north along the front range or out over the UC, Boulder, campus.

    Not pristinely natural, so maybe disqualified, but I’ve long considered it my spiritual home.

    No picture.  Sorry.

    • #108
  19. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    BWCA

    7025720-R1-046-21A

    • #109
  20. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Doug Kimball:I play golf on Sundays. Seven Canyons in Sedona. A postcard on every hole.

    7 canyons

    Doug–I expect you to have your clubs ready at our Tahoe Meetup. We are playing Bing Crosby’s original clambake track–Old Brockway Golf Course.

    • #110
  21. Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake Member
    Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake
    @EvanMeyer

    Valiuth:The mountains do not care, they can not care. They are the products of natural forces and laws aggregated over time. If one is awed by the mountain we should as easily be awed by the pebble. If we are not. That says something about us, rather than either of those things.

    My almost-three-year-old would take the pebble over the mountain any day of the week. It is through experience that we teach ourselves to value the mountain more, but only because we see so very many pebbles we assume they cannot be worth considering. If you stretch yourself to judge each thing on its own terms, you start to see each pebble as a mountain unto itself.

    …and this is why half our vacation pictures are of interesting bits of lichen on rocks, and every decorative bowl and basket in our house is full of curious pebbles.

    • #111
  22. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake:

    Valiuth:The mountains do not care, they can not care. They are the products of natural forces and laws aggregated over time. If one is awed by the mountain we should as easily be awed by the pebble. If we are not. That says something about us, rather than either of those things.

    My almost-three-year-old would take the pebble over the mountain any day of the week. It is through experience that we teach ourselves to value the mountain more, but only because we see so very many pebbles we assume they cannot be worth considering. If you stretch yourself to judge each thing on its own terms, you start to see each pebble as a mountain unto itself.

    …and this is why half our vacation pictures are of interesting bits of lichen on rocks, and every decorative bowl and basket in our house is full of curious pebbles.

    A fellow lichen and pebble-lover :)   Charming response.

    • #112
  23. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Eeyore:What Are Your Natural Cathedrals?

    Do not ask this question of Mike LaRoche…

    Are you implying that cheerleaders are unnatural?

    • #113
  24. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Trink: …and this is why half our vacation pictures are of interesting bits of lichen on rocks, and every decorative bowl and basket in our house is full of curious pebbles.   A fellow lichen and pebble-lover :)   Charming response.

    me too!

    charming gap in the stone wall of La Grande Maison, Villa Clementine, Carteret, France.

    • #114
  25. Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake Member
    Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake
    @EvanMeyer

    Jules PA:

    Trink: …and this is why half our vacation pictures are of interesting bits of lichen on rocks, and every decorative bowl and basket in our house is full of curious pebbles. A fellow lichen and pebble-lover :) Charming response.

    me too!

    charming gap in the stone wall of La Grande Maison, Villa Clementine, Carteret, France.

    I’m laughing, because either I or my wife would definitely have taken a picture of that.

    This aside about being focused on the beautiful detail of small things (as well as the conversation about finding transcendence in nature and its depiction) has put me in mind of Tolkein’s short story “Leaf by Niggle”. I need to read that one again.

    • #115
  26. Sheila Inactive
    Sheila
    @Sheila

    Columbia River Gorge - Washington state view

    • #116
  27. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake:

    Jules PA:

    Trink: …and this is why half our vacation pictures are of interesting bits of lichen on rocks, and every decorative bowl and basket in our house is full of curious pebbles. A fellow lichen and pebble-lover :) Charming response.

    me too!

    charming gap in the stone wall of La Grande Maison, Villa Clementine, Carteret, France.

    I’m laughing, because either I or my wife would definitely have taken a picture of that.

    This aside about being focused on the beautiful detail of small things (as well as the conversation about finding transcendence in nature and its depiction) has put me in mind of Tolkein’s short story “Leaf by Niggle”. I need to read that one again.

    I have 300 more pics from my Fleurs de France. I swore off most other travel pics. These little greenlings were growing in the stonewall of an old French Property. I was fascinated by the little cubby they found in the wall. I am guessing that wall is quite, quite old.

    • #117
  28. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake:

    Jules PA:

    Trink: …and this is why half our vacation pictures are of interesting bits of lichen on rocks, and every decorative bowl and basket in our house is full of curious pebbles. A fellow lichen and pebble-lover :) Charming response.

    me too!

    charming gap in the stone wall of La Grande Maison, Villa Clementine, Carteret, France.

    I’m laughing, because either I or my wife would definitely have taken a picture of that.

    Same here!

    (Mr R is an even bigger lichen addict than I am. I do more of the regular plants growing out of crevices.)

    • #118
  29. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake:

    Jules PA:

    Trink: …and this is why half our vacation pictures are of interesting bits of lichen on rocks, and every decorative bowl and basket in our house is full of curious pebbles. A fellow lichen and pebble-lover :) Charming response.

    me too!

    charming gap in the stone wall of La Grande Maison, Villa Clementine, Carteret, France.

    I’m laughing, because either I or my wife would definitely have taken a picture of that.

    Same here!

    (Mr R is an even bigger lichen addict than I am. I do more of the regular plants growing out of crevices.)

    speaking of lichens, here is a cathedral full. :)

    IMG_6026

    • #119
  30. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Lichen2Ok lichen lovers.  THIS ONE’S for you :)  Cape Cod. Covers the trees.

    It is lichen isn’t it ?

    • #120
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