The Hoover Dam is situated on the border between the States of Nevada and Arizona. It is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado river. On the day I visited the temperatures were nearly 102 degrees – the baking sun reflecting off the concrete structure making it seem even hotter… It is an impressive spectacle to say the least. The drop off on the other side of the dam, would turn even the strongest of stomachs… I was however most impressed by the toilets which had amazing golden doors…which reminded me of the doors of the “Vishnu” temple high up in the hills of the Himalayas, at Muktinath.
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be able to attended the Snow Mountain Paiute Annual Pow wow 2014. I was visiting a friend in Las Vegas. Part of my reason for the trip, certainly the timing, was that the Annual Paiute Pow Wow was being held just north of Las Vegas, in the Snow Mountain reservation. We arrived in late afternoon and waited for the event to begin. The Sun was sinking when we arrived. There was a prayer to the four directions going on as we entered the dusty area where the Pow wow was to be held. This prayer involved traditional beliefs intertwined with Christian ideals, which surprised me. Four of the elders, led by drumming and chanting from the various competitors, moved out into the arena to “clean” the ritual space. Each took a direction. They then in turn danced and seemed to offer prayers to their chosen direction. This they did for each of the four directions in turn until they came full circle. Then the Pow Wow could begin. The Competitors entered the arena behind flag bearers, holding aloft the American flag and triumphantly danced their way into and around the arena. It was an incredible display of colour, skill and finesse. The competition began; the dancing was something else. There were representatives present from what seemed like every corners of north America including Canada – the competition was divided up regionally, presumably as the dance styles varied so much. The outstanding dances for me were the Chicken Dance and the very energetic Warhorse Dance. For each type of dance and in every category they entered the arena. In bright colours and feathers, they took their turn and danced into the night, to a delighted crowd……
Last week myself and a friend set out for the Lakes. This was my first experience of wild camping with some else for a while and my first activity of the year. We arrived at Penrith, late into the afternoon and caught the bus to Keswick. Just short of Keswick, we got off the bus and headed for the hills, arriving at Castlerigg Stone Circle just before sunset to begin our adventure. Setting off from there we made our way across some incredibly muddy fields and after becoming bogged down several times we decided to camp at a proper camp site for the night. The next day we made our way on towards Derwent Water – our plan was to circle the lake. Our weeks hiking and camping wild in the hills around Derwent Water was accompanied by some great weather and some wonderful views of the lake and surrounding countryside. These are images I took with my Olympus Tough TG-810….
Towards the end of October 2013 a friend of mine, Colin and myself took to the road to tour some of Dorset and the surrounding area. We were planning on visiting various ancient sites in that particular part of the country, beginning with Stonehenge. We camped the first night at Stonehenge camp-site, arriving late on we had to get our heads down. The next morning we were up early, before dawn to get to Stones so I could take photos. After packing up our gear we moved north to Avebury, with its Stone Circle and chalk horses that adorn the hills of that area. From there we moved south to Salisbury Cathedral and on to the New Forest, with its wild ponies. We ending up at Lulworth cove on the south coast of Dorset, with its Durdle Door. On the way home we dropped in to Glastonbury to take in the site and have lunch and a pint. These are some of the sights that inspired me on that trip.
The Highlands is an astonishing place which never ceases to amaze me. This summer I went wild camping again in the Highlands. Walking along the West Highland Way from Inversnaid to Glen Coe starting from a place called Aberfoyle. A brief campout at a place called Stalker Castle and down the coast to Oban then across to Mull and eventually to Iona. Iona is a magical, it still is a christian community and has its roots deeply embedded in Christian mythology as this is where the book of Kells was written.
In July of this year (2013) I visited my sister in France. She lives in a farmhouse, which she developed herself, in a commune situated in Basse-Normandy. She chose this life for herself partly as a means of escaping from the rat-race I believe – something for which I am full of admiration. At the top of her road is an ancient chapel with a graveyard and with many Normandy crosses. The Chapel itself is being renovated and much older work is being discovered beneath the décor and relief’s of this medieval Chapel. The weather was fine while I visited but in the mornings a mist would cover the landscape and add a very eerie effect to the surroundings. One morning I ventured out to the Chapel early while the mist was still around.
Interior of the Chapel
My sister managing to get the keys from the trustees one sunny afternoon and I went inside the Chapel to explore. I was surprised by its vibrancy; although it was a fairly simple church and needed much renervation, the altar and murals on the walls were astoundingly colourful. The place although austere had a real sense of spirituality to it and although now quiet; it must have once been full of life and a focal point of the commune.
Muktinath is a sacred place both for Hindus and Buddhists. It is located in Muktinath Valley at an altitude of 3,710 meters at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass, in the Himalayas. Hindus call the sacred place ‘Mukti Kshetra’, which means literally ‘place of salvation’. This is because it is believed that if one manages to reach the Muktinath and Vishnu temple there, one will achieve Nirvana in the next life. Muktinath is within the Mustang region of Nepal which was formerly known as the Kingdom of Lo. Mustang is divided into lower and upper Mustang with the town of Kagbeni providing the marking for the border. We began our trek from a place called Beni, located on the confluence of Kali River and Myagdi River at an altitude of 899 meters, and trekked the 90 or so Kilometers to Muktinath. The most dramatic aspect of the trek was obviously the mountain scenery of the Himalayas; but not only this the way in which the landscape changed the closer we got to Muktinath was amazing.