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meeting oneself above timberline

by | Aug 27, 2014 | backpacking, hiking, landscape painting, New Hampshire, New Mexico, oil painting, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Baldy

walking to the clouds ~ santa fe baldy ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel ~ 12″ x 24″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014

I love being above timberline. My first recollection of being above timberline must stretch back to my childhood, hiking those stunning mountains of Acadia National Park in Maine. And some of those Appalachian ridges of lower New York State. But the memory of timberline that comes back to me most strongly is that of the While Mountains of New Hampshire, up near the Lake of the Clouds Hut. I must have been 13 or 14 when I first hiked those granite peaks — back before I was exposed to the magnetic pull on my soul of New Mexico. The Presidential Range of New Hampshire though was my first love affair with the mountains. And I remember being up there beyond the trees, walking across smooth rock and lacy grass, closer to sky than I ever had before. On Top of the World. 
I remember thinking, “This must be what Greece is like.” Something about being exposed up there with nothing much more than Rock. Grass. Sky. It just seemed an ancient environment, a place where heroic deeds were done and battles among gods and goddesses were fought and won. A place where one faced the elements and met oneself.

Pictured here, Walking to the Clouds of Santa Fe Baldy, as my friend Joyce approaches the summit of Santa Fe’s highest peak during our July backpacking trip. When I looked over to see her contrasted against the clouds, that sense of Earth falling away from her, my pulse quickened and I knew I had to capture it. 

Below, another scene from that same day, also above timberline: Crossing the Boulder Field ~ Santa Fe Baldy, my friends Tavo and Joyce up ahead as we make our way back to camp after a victorious lunch on the peak.

crossing the boulder field ~ santa fe baldy ~ by dawn chandler ~ oil on panel ~ 12″ x 24″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2014