Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

Rock walls…

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Wall.”

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Heaven’s Gulch

I tried to get to Devil’s Gulch last year, but along the way I was distracted by Ritterbush Pond and never made it any further.

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This year, I was determined to hike there and to see this unique natural feature on the Long Trail near Belvedere Mountain.

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It was a beautiful day when we set out. Ritterbush Pond appeared, and we did linger there for awhile. How could we not? The calm reflective waters invite lingering.

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But it was Devil’s Gulch that was our destination. The trail there is deceiving. It travels down instead of up. Down, down, down. Deep into a narrow valley.

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A ladder leaning up against a rock face is the first clue that there is more to this place than meets the eye.

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At the top of the ladder you look down into the gulch. Devil’s Gulch. I expected something dark and sinister. But what I saw seemed more like an entrance to a magical and enchanted place. An opening into another time and dimension. It captured my heart immediately and completely.

Huge rocks and boulders lay scattered about before me. Some resting precariously and others seemed as if they had been there forever.

Thickly coated in emerald green moss and lichen. Tree roots embracing and holding them in place.

An altar appeared. Made of rocks and moss. It felt almost church like. And I wondered why. Why was this beautiful place named Devil’s Gulch?

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As the sunlight filtered through the overhead trees and we explored this captivating place, I realized it didn’t matter why. To me, it felt more like Heaven’s Gulch.

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A place of serenity, peace…and a little bit like heaven.

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Rocks In My Head

I have a thing for rocks. In fact it might be called an obsession. I can look at them for hours. I am fascinated by their shape, color, texture, and uniqueness. Like fingerprints. And just as often, I find myself taking some home, filling my pockets or backpack. There are rocks in my car. There are rocks in my house. I’m beginning to think there are rocks in my head…

Rocks tell a story about the place they are found and about our earth. Rocks have gone through cycles and changes. Rocks endure and transform. They get battered and tossed around in raging rivers and ocean tides. They undergo extremes temperatures and pressure. They can be polished smooth or left rough. Each one beautiful in its own way.

Rocks have a mysterious side as well. A sacredness to their ability to withstand time and the elements. They are present everywhere and have been used to navigate and guide and mark spiritual places upon the land.

Rocks symbolize strength, stability, and being grounded. They represent different things to different cultures and throughout history. They are a source of power and healing. They are mined and quarried and examined and even coveted.

Mountains are made of rock. Violently thrusted and forced upward from the earth to form towering peaks. Steep and treacherous pinnacles to gentle rolling hills.

Rocks broken down over time become sand. And then begin changing again…back into a rock. Different yet in some ways the same. Combining with new minerals, forming bonds, and rebuilding. To see the world in a grain of sand…is not just the start of a lovely William Blake poem…but a way of seeing things from a new and clearer perspective. Slowing down and truly noticing the infinite beauty of the world around us.

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Maybe having rocks in my head isn’t such a bad thing after all…

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Quarries Revisited

I have a thing for quarries.

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The geology fascinates me

The glimpse into how quarrying is and was done is fascinating

The rocks and the water and how the land is shaped by quarries is fascinating

Discovering abandoned quarries…is not only fascinating but exciting. I feel like an archeologist. Digging into the past; learning, investigating, questioning, exploring and enjoying

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Last Sunday was a cold and dreary day. But I so badly needed my quarry fix. When I pulled into the parking lot for the trails…there was a sign.

Closed for hunting season.

So I got back in the car and drove. Not knowing where to go. But knowing I needed to find some place to hike and explore…

And I saw another sign…this one made of granite

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Wow

I had driven by here before but never saw this sign. I had stopped at this quarry before but never really explored.

And so I explored.

Old foot trails and snowmobile trails. Near the road and houses so no hunters.

And I discovered the past…

The scarred and fragmented rocks

The turquoise waters created by the minerals from the quarrying…

Tools from a distant time left to become part of the land…

Buildings, eerily quiet and in ruin, where workers once toiled…

Machinery, slowly rusting…it’s patina beautiful and a reminder of the creative and inventive spirit of man…

Quarries. This area once a thriving granite industry. Its illustrious past left exposed for us in the present…and in the future.

The Quarries

I’ve been taking my students to the granite quarries in Barre, Vermont for years as part of our geology unit. It is one of their favorite field trips!

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And one of mine too.

its easy to figure out why. This massive operation, the cranes and derricks that tower over the quarry…The men and women that descend down to drill and blast the huge slabs of granite from the earth. The enormous trucks that transport tons of granite to a factory down the road… Where the artisans shape and mold these rocks into works of art.

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This art can be found all over the world. From building facades, to monuments, to cemeteries…Graced with Vermont gray granite.  Its durability and beauty famous.

My fascination and awe with the quarries, the immigrants who came to Vermont to work there, the history, the geology…hasn’t diminished over the years.

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And then I discovered the abandoned quarries….

It was quite by accident. Exploring swimming holes with my son and his friends one summer 5 or 6 years ago.

This is one of the largest abandoned quarries. There are trails through this area and an overlook that takes your breath away. Local craftsman come and carve designs in the huge grout piles… Left for Mother Nature to take her course.

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I am drawn to these quarries. I am curious about them and awed by their presence…The legacy left behind…The granite not quite perfect… But perfect to me. My geologist heart beats happily when I see them.

Trails now criss cross throughout these old granite grounds. And this summer I discovered more abandoned quarries as I explored the new trails. It seemed around every corner, there was a quarry… Big, small, and every size in between. Evidence of the workers who once toiled here. Impressive geological formations…the beauty and mystery of our earth’s history, exposed for all to witness…

Every chance I get, I find myself there. Searching for more quarries in the woods. And each time one is found, I stare enchanted and quietly exclaim…

Wow.

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