Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Subtle Beauty Perhaps it's because my first introduction to the natural world was in the rolling emerald hills of Southern New Hampshire. Rock walls and white pine groves and crimson leaved maples and golden beech leaves reflecting in placid ponds-the fading cry of the loon-all reasons why I have such a love and affinity for what I call subtle beauty mountains. Don't get me wrong- Mount Rainier casts her spell on me every time I see her. And I have hiked in the Andes, Alps, Rockies, Apennines, Pirin, and Pyrenees Mountains. Alpine Alaska, Alberta, and Argentina I have witnessed first hand too and they're simply awesome!
But I love the Appalachians, too. Their rolling pastoral hills soothe my soul. In the east Nature was painted by a French impressionist while out west its all post modernism. Now, we have subtle beauty mountains in the west too-and I am equally drawn to them-among my favorites are the Entiats, Blues, Selkirks, and my dearest, the Kettle River Range. The Kettles in particular feel like the Smokies in the Northwest. Nothing awesome here-just soothing-stimulating-and embracing. And of course one of the things I love most about these gentler mountains as opposed to the rock and ice in-your-face peaks is their biological diversity. The subtle beauty peaks are more inviting to critters and they support a far wider range of flora than the pointy top snow covered big bang peaks. Don't know what I mean? Take a hike in mid-spring in the Appalachians and stop and listen to how many distinct bird calls are ringing in a forest of well over 100 tree species. Subtle indeed!

(photo- Cougar Mountain- south Entiat Range, Wenatchee National Forest, WA)

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