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View Diary: Spooky Mountain Photos (CA-39 Continued) (14 comments)

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  •  I think (7+ / 0-)

    our bodies are aware of things to which our conscious mind isn't paying attention. Light saturation, air temperature, wind speed against bare skin, even relative humidity can all contribute to sensations of spookiness in a landscape.

    I have hiked in Yellowstone--not far from the loop road but away from view of the tourist areas--and I have been amazed over and over by the lack of trail usage as I walked along. Trails are heavily used for about a quarter mile but then they look as if hikers have given up and turned back.

    One such trail runs from Beryl Spring up to the Monument Geyser Basin. The trail is just over a mile long but it ascends quickly and steeply up Monument Hill, zig-zagging up through the lodgepoles. The vertical rise intimidates casual walkers maybe because the trail is so loosely covered with crushed geyserite--I slipped and fell more than once on both the ascent and descent. But maybe people don't like it because it is sort of spooky up there.

    When I hiked it I had the place to myself. There is a real element of danger there, as the geyserite crust is easily broken through. Although the basin is perched on the side of the hill and most of its water gets channeled to Beryl Spring, there is still superheated water in the system that could burn you seriously if you break through the crust. You become aware of that danger as you wander the basin and realize that there is no protective boardwalk between you and potential hydrothermal burns.

    When I was there the silence was broken only by the sighing of a slight breeze in the lodgepoles and the boiling, chugging or hissing sounds of the fumaroles, the activity of which I could feel in the ground as I sat eating my lunch near Monument Geyser. The quiet, the rumbling feeling in the ground, the breeze soughing in the pines and the memory of the bison bull I had avoided on the way up got me a little spooked. It also occured to me that the scent of a rather odiferous lunch of smoked trout and apples might carry pretty far from up here, and that's when the situation piqued my inner primitive. The hair on the back of my neck began to rise at the thought of a grizzly catching wind of my lunch and at that moment I knew I needed to get back down to the road.

    Was there a griz stalking me, desiring my lunch-scented trash? I'll never know. I do know that genetic memory took over and led me away from a potentially dangerous situation, and that humans have survived as long as we have by allowing that memory to do its job. Perhaps that is what you were feeling up in the mountains, Troubador.

    •  Sounds familiar. (0+ / 0-)

      I've never been to Yellowstone, but I would definitely be freaked out by the awareness that it's grizzly territory.  There are bears in my mountains, but they're pretty small, timid, and tame.  Still, even the awareness of those can be a source of looking-over-the-shoulder eeriness.  And there are mountain lions.  And the way your own sounds echo in a rocky environment can create the audio impression of something following you.

      Business doesn't distinguish between making money and taking money.

      by Troubadour on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 05:50:12 AM PDT

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