Winter Hiking: A Dip Into Serenity

Resevoir Straton Open Space

Rocky Mountain Splash

A February 2008 view of the Stratton Open Space resevoir from the Ponderosa trail. The resevoir is at the bottom of Cheyenne Mountain near the Will Rogers Sun Shrine. From a distance it looks as though the reservoir has a swirling funnel; opining up and swallowing the water. As we arrive closer we see the water is frozen. I love the contrast from the winter terrain, the pines against the water and the tawny horizon, as blue upon blue defines the sky. Our relationship to the planet seems so serene in this time and space.

000_0415.jpgDabbling Ducks

The three tiny dots on the water are ducks; I’m outside a chained and locked gate. A chain link fence surrounds the reservoir, keeping people and animals out; the frozen lake is dangerous to unsuspecting large animals who might wander onto the ice.

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No Humans Allowed!

In the summer, rangers open the gate, allowing people and animals to enter. Canines are permitted to swim in the summer and early fall months.

At one time the reservoir was closed to everyone; however, people kept cutting through the fence. Finally after a few town meetings and months of debating, a decision was made to open the reservoir during the summer and early fall months to everyone. However, humans would not be allowed to enter the water; just the animals…no matter how tempting the water is on a hot day, just the dogs get to swim.

Last summer a golden retriever searches for unknown treasure; leaving me panting on the bank!

Cattle Abuse in Slaughterhouse

“LOS ANGELES – An undercover video showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts has led to the largest beef recall in the United States and a scramble to find out if any of the meat is still destined for school children’s lunches.”

Watching ‘NBC’s Today’ show about animal abuse in a slaughterhouse; I’m horrified! I’m reminded of Dr. Michael W. Fox and his work at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) where I was privileged to work along side Dr. Fox in a quest to identify humane sustainable agriculture practices for livestock and poultry.

I’d never thought much about what livestock and poultry go through before it gets to the table. But after I became acquainted with Dr. Fox; the horrific nature of ‘Factory Farming’ became very clear. The dark side of this seldom viewed industry made my mission to find sustainable practices in livestock and poultry rearing imperative and to look to a more vegetarian diet.

The live images screaming out of the television on NBC’s Today’ show were horrific, however, I’ve seen much worse. This is not one isolated case; I’ve seen more proof than anyone would care to see. People should be made to see more of where our food comes from; how it’s produced and how the animals are treated.

Wendell Berry writes:

An agriculture can not survive long at the expense of the natural systems that support it and the provide it with models. A Culture cannot survive long at the expense of either its agricultural or its natural sources. To live at the expense of the source of life is obviously suicidal. Though we have no choice but to live at the expense of other life, it is necessary to recognize the limits and dangers involved: past a certain point in a unified system, “other life” is our own.

The definitive relationships in the universe are thus not competitive but interdependent. And from a human point of view they are analogical. We can build one system only within another. We can have agriculture only within nature, and culture only within agriculture. At certain points these systems have to conform with one another or destroy one another.

Dr. Fox writes:

Currently agriculture, along with all the natural wisdom and empathy that our farmer-ancestors and earlier hunter-gatherers acquired (and, with such wisdom and empathy, were deeply religious), is being lost–to high-tech agribusiness. From culture to technocracy: from sensibility to money, power, and control. The evolution of factory farming is a natural consequence of our culture’s materialistic and objectifying attitude toward nature. Consequently, humanity no longer acts as part of a unified field of being. By not acting so, we destroy this unity, violating the ecological laws of nature and the ethical and spiritual principles of our forebears. Factory farming is a second Industrial Revolution.

Thanks to the national attention brought to us by the media and film taken by the HSUS; the images are a mere glimpse of the ‘tip of the iceberg’! This is NOT a single isolated case! The trail of farm animals on the way to our table tops is paved with misery and cruelty. I urge you to stop and think about the food choices you make. Do you really need to eat that ‘Whopper’ or ‘Mac burger’ everyday. Do you give a thought to the suffering of the animals who went into it? Pain and suffering went into the meat on your plate! Do you give a darn?! Would you dare take a close look at where they live; what they are fed; the medications they receive on a daily basis?

Stay tuned, I’m going to take you to the dark side of livestock and poultry rearing. I’ll also take you to the other side and introduce you to ranchers who rear livestock and poultry with respect. I’ll give you answers on what you can do to make change to your diet.

Animals, Wilderness and Being Present

000_0335.jpgWilderness

As much as I love the woods, I probably wouldn’t go there nearly as much if I had not had such incredible angel beasts in my life. The love and responsibility for these canines kept and keeps me on the trails and in the present!

In Touch With Nature

Having frequent contact to the woods has kept me in touch with nature. And nature keeps me in touch with a connection I would never make unless I visited the forest. Though I’m able to categorize and find names for all its parts; when I go there, I feel a wildness beating and somehow know that I’m connected to it. The connection makes me feel strong, alert and apart of the incredible invisible energy force that fills the universe. And watching The Way of Animals always puts me on a precious path!

Walk on the Wild Side

What could possibly be better than a walk in the woods? When I’m there, nothing is better. The000_0294.jpg sights and smells; lush greens and wild flowers, I inhale and the fragrance of the wilderness fills me with a wild embrace and I never want to leave the woods. The trail is shaded with lush wild green; scrub oak, spruce and pine. Wild flowers are abundant; Fairy Trumpets, Mouse Eared Chickweed, Evening Primrose, Fireweed, Shooting Stars, Globeflower and Paint brush. A creek weaves in and around the trail as the trail winds its way up the mountain.

I believe humans who do not make frequent journeys into the wilderness; touch, smell and listen to the forest, can not truly understand our connectedness to this beauty. We need to embrace the wild. When did asphalt trails, plastics, synthetics and technology become more desirable?

Leave the City Behind

Lets take a journey. Lets leave the city behind. Find some green. Get as close as we can, as frequently as possible to nature. Discover our connectedness with our animal friends and the wild beauty of the woods…come with me as I try and hold onto and keep close to the wild within.
000_0336.jpg Happy trails!