Craters of the Moon: Learning Through Travel

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Last Post I talked about my own re-wiring into photography as a creative, learning endeavor that gets me outside (where I’m happiest) and moving. As I drifted into this a couple of years ago, I discovered the Arcanum, a Magical Academy of Artistic Mastery. Being an apprentice to a photography master (Glenn Guy, thank you Glenn), my learning process got serious, as he is accomplished as photographer and teacher. With his support and that of my amazing cohortians (the others in my class) my trajectory into Artistic Mastery steepened. And although I’m not there yet, it continues to be a deeply satisfying process. I have now moved into the sphere of learning how to share my work with others through another Master in the Arcanum, A.D. Wheeler.

This learning process seems to be at its peak when I am traveling, and I first noticed this on my initial solo foray into my own back yard of Idaho. Craters of the Moon was my first stop. This first image may be familiar to those of you following me on FB, Instagram and Twitter, as it is my Banner image:

The View across the Volcanic Rubble

Craters of the Moon is a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush. It formed during eight major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2000 years ago. Lava erupted from the Great Rift, a series of deep cracks that start near the visitor center and stretch 52 miles (84 km.) to the southeast. During this time the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles (1600 square km.) I biked around the Park’s loop that first evening with my camera stashed in my camelback, learning this crazy history of volcanic violence. It didn’t disappoint. The sunset was spectacular.

Sunset Over the ViewPoint

But even more fun than photographing this sunset was the sunrise the next morning. There were forest fires out in the distance that announced themselves with the spectacular showing of sunrise colored smoke:

The Sun or the Moon? A smoke obscured sunrise.

There were very few people here, probably because this place is out in the middle of nowhere. But that suited me just fine. Its barren landscapes of distant cinder cones, rolling hills of sparse vegetation, and twisted trees is eerie and spectacular at once. I was in photography heaven!

Crazy Stuff

Barren Hillsides

Although there are not many trees in this area, the Limber Pine had an interesting story to tell. In the ’60’s the NPS, in all its limited wisdom, decided the dwarf mistletoe infestation of the trees needed to be eradicated. To do so they eliminated all the infected trees they could find, resulting in an eco-disaster. The Learning here for the NPS? The dwarf mistletoe is recognized as a natural parasitic organism that has been a part of the Craters of the Moon limber pine ecology for thousands of years. When will we learn not to mess with Mother Nature??

This old Limber Pine reminded me of a giant Ent lumbering across the landscape  v e r y s l o w l y

Through my travel here, the first part of a week long trip, I learned the rhythm of solo photography work flow. Or, in other words, doing just exactly as the spirit moved me. Harder than I thought.

Check out my Gallery for more images of this strange and compelling place. Can you guess where I went next???


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