At Home in the Wilderness
I sit before this vast wilderness soaking in the untamed beauty that surrounds me.
Rising majestically from the ground before me is Open Door — Matriarch of the Valley.
Her green rolling hills give way to granite cliffs that give way to a vertical incline speckled with trees that gives way to a shale face that touches the sky. The shale face slopes gently to the right to a seated position of a tree-lined ridge which rises to a rocky point that melds with the clouds. To her far left a chimney-like formation rises from her side distinctive and jagged. No door in sight.
If one were to view her chimney-like formation from the west, her open door would be an invitation to anyone agile enough to reach its staggering height. Open Door stretches 11,000+ feet from ground to sky. She is a grand sight from any direction.
The valley floor is blanketed with lodge pole pines and evergreens in varying sizes and heights. Twisted sage brush intermingled with a sea of wildflowers stretch out for as far as the eye can see. Family units of aspen trees dance among the towering pines. Mountains of every size and shape engulf the valley below. Granite Creek meanders its way past willows and boulders pushing ever-so diligently towards the Hoback River, which in turn runs with gusto to reach the Snake River. As one travels the only road in, the landscape transforms and shapeshifts with every changing angle.
This is a place of serenity and calm.
The air carries the echoes and calls of its furry and feathered inhabitants.
An abundance of wildlife call this valley home.
From mice to chipmunks to ground squirrels to squirrels.
From pikas to snowshoe hares.
From weasels to martens to marmots.
From badgers to beavers.
From foxes to coyotes.
From pronghorns passing through to deer to elk to moose.
To the occasional bear—black and grizzly.
The trees hold the promise of our feathered friends.
From eagles to osprey.
From owls to hawks.
From grouse to woodpeckers to jays.
From robins to sparrows to hummingbirds.
From sandhill cranes to blue herons.
From swallows to dippers.
Photographs by Karen B. Shea
The smallest of critters also call this valley home.
From ants to beetles.
From mosquitos to flies.
From caterpillars to butterflies.
From spiders to moths to grasshoppers.
From bees to bats to dragonflies.
Reptiles have their place here but their abundance alludes me, less the slithery snake.
Other critters, no doubt, allude me but in time will, hopefully, make their presence known.
Flora are too plentiful to name.
Humans are but a temporary visitor.
Every being has a place and every being has a purpose—be it known or otherwise.
Activity is ever-present if one slows down enough to look.
Even the barren landscape is a pool of life, but this is no barren landscape. Life is flourishing from mountainside to valley floor. From ground to air. Life can be felt in each and every breath.
The occasional disturbance to break the serenity of this magical place comes packaged in the clouds. A storm may linger for a time beyond the distant mountain tops giving clear warning of its intended arrival. Sometimes the storm rolls in swift and intentional. Other times it teases and chooses a different direction. Be it rain or snow, more often than not, the precipitation it promises is a welcomed sight. For all life relishes the nourishment held within a single raindrop or snowflake.
I rejoice in the grandeur of it all. My soul is awakened in this coming home.
To see connectiveness in all that is is a gift worth holding onto.