A hike near Hveragerði

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I took multiple rolls of film on this hike. It was impossible not to- the whole hike had such a varying degree of landscapes, lighting, and weather patterns. It was cloudy, then sunny, than rainy, then windy- or a mix of various parts of those. Emily and I hiked with our swimsuits packed, excited to see the naturally heated creek that gushed down the valley.

The soil on the hike varied in color, from burnt orange to hues of purple, deep grey, blue, and brown. I couldn’t put my camera down. I regretted not bringing my DSLR, but if I had I would have taken hundreds of images rather than less than 100 on film. Pacing myself, I tried to just revel in the landscape and in how lucky we were to be there. I was thankful Emily had driven us this far, because it was worth it. I was glad the weather held until almost the end of our day.

We found pits in the earth that gushed steam and gurgled water. We did not dare get too close to the edge of these pits, as the soil or earth might have been weakened. We saw few people- one group graciously pointed us to a hidden waterfall as they walked away from it. Everybody respected the fact that this was a place of extreme solitude and beauty. Emily and I wished we had a tent so we could just camp in a meadow. Such a beautiful place deserved more than a day of our attention, but sadly that’s all we could give it.

Bits of Blue

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I arranged the film I scanned in two parts: White and Blue.

Montana in the winter tends to be shades of White and Blue and Grey, but luckily my pictures were a bit happier than just being Grey.

I don’t have much to say. My photographs here are mostly quiet morning moments on the weekends when I would put on my heavy boots and head outside with the camera in my gloved hands. More crystalline ice structures, beautiful evening light on the grass, the light streaming in through my filmy curtains, and time outside. Working 40 hours a week I do find it hard to commit to being outside, but lately I’ve been trying very hard to go on walks, sit outside when it’s sunny, and just have more time, no matter how short, with a less artificial world.

Snowscapes

I recently got some film developed and spent all of last Sunday curled up with my scanner, watching it slowly reveal what my negatives had gotten from my adventures outside. I watched A Streetcar Named Desire and swooned over Marlon Brando a bit while my negatives appeared, and remembered capturing these images.

A few months ago the lake would get the most incredible ice structures and snow patterns and I avidly tramped all over the frozen surface to capture the nuances. Depending on the light and the crystals I got to see many different kinds of frozen H20, and it was incredible.

I hope you enjoy admiring all the beauty nature gives us without a second thought. It’s beginning to be a Montana Spring, which is where Winter and Spring go into a fight to the death. For several weeks there will be intermittent lovely days and snowy days, windy and clear, cold and warm. Spring always wins, Primavera always comes with her flowery cape and brings greenery to the landscape, but she has to fight very hard indeed here.

This morning, and other observations.

001_24A 002_23A 003_22A 004_21AI walked my co-worker’s dog at a way too early hour this morning- I was out until 2 am last night, and surrounded by way too many people I never wanted to see again. My only comfort came in the form of a few greyhounds.

This morning, the inversion in town made everything look misty. The light was gorgeous and glowing. Unfortunately for some reason my SLR camera decided to not give me the crisp focus I desperately wanted. I crunched through the snow and finished the roll of film, and enjoyed my time alone. I didn’t see a soul for the whole hour I spent tramping around, and that sort of total isolation was oddly serene.

I then spent the day reading in the Starbucks- I’m currently reading The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro- it’s riveting, and as an Art History major I love the spin of history with fiction, and how the author describes forging a painting and the intricacies of art (plus NPR recommended it).  I’m also reading Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut- I attempted to read his things this summer but didn’t commit enough, and I feel less flighty now. Another novel I’m currently perusing, Priceless by Marne Davis Kellogg, describes the world of an anti-heroine jewel thief in rich, visual detail.

Afterwards, I thrifted a vintage scalloped-mink-fur collared black silk cardigan, an extraordinary find that I was surprised by. I almost thrifted a gorgeous strapless blue and white lace party dress but it was floor length and reeked of a Cinderella-y vibe to the point that I wondered if it came with white gloves. I’ll be damned if it didn’t make my neck look longer and my pale shoulders nice, though.

A quiet source of inspiration.

I forget that there’s a mountain in the middle of my home town. It sits in a corner of the city, rather rotund, not ominous in the least- just there. Mount Helena is an omnipresent part of the landscape, a token rise in elevation, a constant in my view of the city. Apparently, it has so much presence I take it for granted and forget to reconnect.

While I spent a good deal of the summer running on the lower trails, many of them unmarked social trails, I had not actually made it to the top of Mount Helena in years. Literally. I can count the number of times I’ve made it to the top on one of my hands. Feel free to send me mental waves of shame.

Well, it just increased by one more. After a casual suggestion that I didn’t take seriously enough, AK and I set off walking towards the mountain, through downtown, past locked doors and dark stores. While he was wearing entirely appropriate clothing- Goretex shoes with treads, waterproof gloves, two layers of practical jackets, and pants- I wore leather boots with no treads, a red wool pea coat (another possible post- why is it called a pea coat?!), cashmere/wool gloves with a few holes and no waterproofing capabilities, and a leather bag to hold my camera. I looked, quite frankly, like a moron. Or somebody from out of town. (To be fair, I hadn’t packed boots, actual pants, gloves, or any sort of practical coat for the weekend.)

I went first. It was probably best- I didn’t have to match a pace, but was rather able to set it. A hobbled pace, to be sure- the boots were very good at keeping away water, but terrible at making me feel like I could stand up and stay on the trail. I slipped, slid, and had to engage in all manner of balancing moves that made me feel more like an amateur trapeze artist than a walker of mountain trails. (Note to self: Toss hiking boots in the car, you may need them in the future). I led us down a trail that was entirely erroneous (my apologies!) for a bit, too, to add to the utter ridiculousness.

The top was rocky and icy. A 360 degree vista of trees, valleys, faraway hills and mountains made my breath catch in my throat for a few moments. I have resented this landscape, felt violated by the isolation, and have loathed Helena as a backwater town of little to offer. Little by little I forgive this town, realizing that these feelings of hate are ill-placed. When I can see for miles on the top of a long-neglected mountain with a worthwhile human being and breath the crisp air and feel more vital than I have in a long time, things are clarified, life is simplified, and my caustic feelings turn less acidic.

As we descended, AK led us through drifts where the wind erased the trail for some yards, led us back down the mountain, and occasionally turned around to wait for me when my shrieks and curses for fear of falling grew too common. In the end, we hopped a fence and got hot food, a good afternoon spent outside in my own little-traveled backyard.

Here’s the path we walked, courtesy of AK’s smart phone:  https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=208866538666354606641.0004ce418d59a12300060

Food and thoughts. Or, if we want to go cliche, food for thought. You choose.

 

 

What does it say that I’m super sensitive to spicy food but always find myself being with the people who love the hottest food possible? (I’m trying to eat more spice to get myself used to it!)

Seriously, though.

This weekend was mediocre pie with somebody not mediocre in any way, La Tinga and sharing our space with a bitter Michigander whose presence I found quite humorous, and Sunday morning donuts worth drooling over for a pittance.

Just so you know, writing a check for $4.50 for six donuts doesn’t make people, specifically older already feisty men, very happy. In case you were wondering.

I hate gin! Or, Hanging Valley, the hike that ended up being ridiculously hard.

First, let me preface this by saying that I’m in decent shape. Not GREAT shape, but I hike and walk and run and all that healthy stuff.

Ahem. Anyway, Kristin and I had been wanting to hike Hanging Valley for awhile- since about June, in fact. We got up there at about 9:30 this morning after getting bagels, and we promptly found a trail that wasn’t really a trail. Eventually finding the RIGHT trail, we marched. Uphill. A lot.

Hanging Valley is a round trip of 12 miles through dry timber. There is not a lot of gorgeous scenery, and the trail is mostly steeply uphill for the first two miles. For us, it was also really hot- we were literally dripping sweat after about 15 minutes because of the temperature.

Basically, the combination of steep grade, temperature, and our lack of enthusiasm for the less-than-spectacular scenery led to us only making 6 of those 12 miles. The end of Hanging Valley supposedly leads to a 300 foot drop off with views that are breathtaking, but we didn’t hold our breath to find out.

So, if you are in the mood for some serious 12 miles of hiking, go for it!  If you’re like us, you might just reconsider…after all, 200 meters down the road is the Trout Creek Trail. Our code phrase for turning around was, “I HATE GIN!”, which we both exclaimed after reaching a point that was dry and depressing.