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Curtain of Dawn (Mount Rainier, Washington)

 

Curtain of Dawn -- Photo  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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Mt. Rainier at 14,410 feet is the highest mountain in the Cascade range, and the third largest in land mass because it stands alone with very few neighboring peaks.  This distinction makes it an area with many beautiful surrounding lakes and meadows on its wide, gradually-rising flanks.  Still an active volcano, it has over 92 million cubic meters of ice in its glaciers, and over 4.4 billion cubic meters of snow.  The combination of stored water and volcanic ash creates a well watered, mineral-rich soil for wildflowers and trees—and worries for people in the Seattle-Tacoma area about mudflows that could devastate the area.  I took a trip there in the summer of 2001 hoping to capture some of the mountain's moods.  Early one morning a veil of clouds parted like a curtain, revealing Rainier perfectly mirrored in an alpine tarn behind a goblin forest of Krummholz, or curiously stunted trees.  I enjoy the shades of blue and white in this photo for their simplicity and bold grandeur.  

Of the many national parks I've visited, I find Mt. Rainier to be one of the best managed.  Unlike Zion, where millions of dollars are being spent on a new museum (the existing one is perfectly serviceable) and important trails such as The Subway are in a dangerous state of disrepair, Rainier has an excellent, well maintained trail system and buildings that are historic—and maintained that way—instead of being replaced in a rush of construction that seems a waste of money and perhaps politically motivated.  Rainier is still a place where one can find solitude if willing to carry a backpack and hike a few miles.  

The US National Park system is an example of so much that is right and wrong with the country's management of natural areas.  While our parks are gems and visited by many from all over the world, they are also overcrowded, commercialized, and quite necessarily restrictive when it comes to backcountry travel.  Obtaining permits to hike or camp is becoming impossible during peak months of the year in many parks.  Solving these problems is not easy or cheap.  They may seem small but mirror far greater troubles our world faces:  disease, war, poverty, hunger, pollution, extinction, and climate change.  In considering all this I am led to believe we can remedy many of the ills our world faces, preserve its natural areas, and satisfy the human need to appreciate them.  All we need to do is assume responsibility for keeping our population at a sustainable level.  I can see no other way that offers so much promise to address many of the human tragedies on our planet and balances protection of these fragile landscapes with our desire to see them for ourselves.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Velvia 4x5 chrome, Fuji Crystal Archive CD paper
 

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