Church

I am blessed to live where I do. All around me are some of the most beautiful and unique natural places. Places that I find wonder and joy. Places that bring me peace. Places that lift my spirit up.

Places…that I call Church.

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I try to go to Church on a regular basis. It has become a huge part of my life and who I am. And so, you can frequently find me at Church.

It is in Church where all things seem possible. Where the stresses from every day life melt away. Where quiet contemplation and reflection remind me of what is most important in my life and where gratitude replaces fear.

It is here at Church where I feel closest to my heart and to my soul.

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It is here where I feel free. It is here where I find grace.

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And it is here where I lose and find myself.

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Over and over and over again…at Church.

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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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101.5 Miles

It has been a beautiful summer. I spent many hours enjoying the people and places I love.

This summer I also hiked. I hiked a lot. Sometime in July, I calculated I had hiked over 70 miles since school ended June 20. I decided I wanted to try to hike 100 miles before school began again.

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The mountains in Vermont are glorious. The views and vistas magnificent. No two mountains are alike. The trails vary in length and difficulty. The views partial or a full 360 degrees.

To me, it doesn’t matter. The journey up the mountain is just as special and wondrous as the summit.

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School began August 20. On August 19, I hiked up Sunset Ledge and watched the sun set. As I sat and gazed out I realized I had reached and surpassed my goal of 100 miles.

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This summer I hiked 101.5 miles.

As I climbed down in the dark, I smiled. Maybe next summer I’ll try for 200 miles.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Today was a Good Day

I have many good days. So it was hard to select a series of images to represent just one day or one adventure! After all, that’s what my blog is. A photo journal of my life and my passion for the natural world. Here is a gallery of images that illustrates what a really good day (or few days!) might look like for me because it would include so much of what inspires me…

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Today Was a Good Day.”

From Lake Willoughby With Love

There is a place. In the far northeast corner of Vermont. A place I have come to love. A place where I have over the years sought peace and serenity and found so much more. It holds a very special place in my heart.

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Lake Willoughby.

With her towering mountains that stand guard over her shores.

With her calm and reflective waters.

With iher glorious vistas and magnificent sunsets.

It is a place where worries fall away and life slows down. A step back into a simpler time. And wonder around every corner and on every mountain top.

It’s always hard to leave. But I know that she’s always here for me. Waiting patiently until I return again.

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From Lake Willoughby with love…

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Devil’s Gulch

That was the intended destination. It sounded like a perfect hike on a warm spring day. A place full of towering boulders and mystery where eerie sounds are said to be heard.

I needed distraction. I needed to move my body to help heal my spirit.

Devil’s Gulch.

2.5 miles in via the Long Trail.

The hike was different.

Up, up, up…then down, down, down.

Way down

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The ancient stone staircase that seemed to go down forever.

I was thinking…I’m going to have to climb back up those stairs.

Then, through the trees, I caught a glimpse of something…

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Water. A beaver pond? A marsh? A lake?

Hidden out here in the middle of nowhere?

Suddenly I didn’t care about having to climb back up those stairs.

I wanted to find the water.

But I kept descending. Glimpses let me know it was pretty big this body of water. Devil’s Gulch now forgotten. I was on a quest…

An intersection. I went left. Down towards where I thought the water might be.

And it was…

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I felt like I’d found paradise…

A little slice of heaven. Here, deep in the Green Mountain forest.

I didn’t wanted to leave.

This place felt magical…soothing…peaceful.

A place to sit for a while…

Where the real world feels far far away.

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I never made it to Devil’s Gulch.

I don’t think that was the destination intended for me that day…