What's your "sacred site"?


#1

From the Lounge thread, @Wanderfound mentioned this:

(WP link: Greater Blue Mountains Area)

Which made me wonder: Where’s my sacred site? And I’d have to say, for starters: Big Sur.

Salty air coming off the cold Pacific hits warm dry mountains covered in tan oak, firs, and lots of Redwood holding court; wildlife in both the ocean and the mountains that reverses the normal order and places humans at least one rung down, but with enough sun dappled glens and splashes of wildflowers to make me forget about nature’s tooth and claw.

Another spot, deep in the Sierra Nevada, straddling Muir Pass ~12k feet, is Muir Hut:

This spot marks the beginning of the point at which I had to hike on the JMT, with food poisoning (thanks summer sausage/cheese, 'pre-shate it), to Red’s Meadow near Mammoth, CA (Muir Hut is in the “Silver Divide” area of this map). Seventy-plus miles that’s since become a sort of pilgrimage for me.

I can think of either of these places and immediately still myself, center my world. The birdsong and the wind and the taste of the water and the feeling of sunshine on my skin–being in these places is more than enough to recharge any metaphorical battery I might have, and I’d definitely fight to protect them from harm.

So what’s your “sacred site”?


#2

If you ever visit Maui, you need to see Iao Valley.


It’s this little narrow and steeply walled valley that cuts into the West Maui Mountain on the windward side. So it stays lush and by mid-late afternoon often gets clouds and rain. A stream cuts its way out, fed by the runoff channels all over the mountain faces. Within the valley is this sharp smaller peak called the Needle. The seclusion and difficulty of the climb made it a prized place for interring tribal chiefs.
Definitely one of the most special, sacred slice of nature I’ve ever set foot in.


#3

Alpine zone of the White Mountains. The AMC huts aren’t cheap but it is such a great experience. It’s like another planet.

More generically, the Appalachian Trail. Anywhere. Here’s an early morning shot of the trail in New Jersey.


#4

Mine is probably… boingboing.net


#5

Gosh. I was gonna say Internet K-hole, but you meant outside.

There’s a tiny pond, or there was, near the base of Mount Iwaki in Japan. I used to go fishing there, and though I never caught a single fish, it was where I went. I was away from the world, alone, and I could think. Or not think. I once met an old man there, and old doesn’t do him justice, he was ancient, possibly older.

My Japanese at the time was decent, and my understanding of Tsugaru-ben was minimal, but I could generally get the gist of what my grandmother was trying to say (usually, ‘are you hungry?’, ‘are you going to the hot bath?’, or ‘does your back hurt?’)

Anyway, this old guy lacked any fat at all, and had the slim muscles of a laborer. He probably never picked up anything heavy, but he picked it up a million times. His hair was as white as hair gets - kung fu movie white, and unkempt. He was wading in the pond, pulling out whatever plant was growing in it, and throwing it up on the bank. From time to time, he would find a dead fish, and hold it for a moment, regarding it, before also throwing it up on the bank.

After a time, he noticed and greeted me, and I did my best to be polite, bowing deeply, and using the most respectful words I knew. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, in a deeply rural version of an already deeply rural dialect, that he was trying to keep the pond alive. He’d been coming to that pond since he was a child, and he’d seen generations of folk enjoying it, and now it was dying, and he couldn’t bear to let it. So he was clearing the plants so the fish could keep the pond alive.

I said ‘thank you’ and told him that I appreciated his effort, because I also enjoyed the pond, that it was a refuge for me. He got back to work.

I had never seen him before, and never saw him again, and years later, the pond was closer to death than ever. It may now be gone. I spoke with my wife and her mother on the subject, and described the old man. This was in a town of maybe 85 or a hundred residents, and they surely would have known who he was. They didn’t, and my wife insisted at the time he was a kappa. I don’t believe in such things, but I remember that upon meeting and parting, I did bow deeply, and he returned it, so perhaps that saved my life. Who could say?

There’s a spot in Virginia, atop a mountain, just a bit over the border from West Virginia, somewhere, I wouldn’t say. I called it my secret pond, and it reminded me of that pond in Japan, only the fish were easier to catch. I never saw anyone there, but I saw evidence of bonfires and beer. If you geocache, perhaps you’ll find it someday.

These are sacred sites, I suppose. I have found a couple near me here, but none that really speak to me yet. Perhaps I will find one soon.


#6

Not comfy talking about spiritual stuff here, but sacred’s where you find it and I’d count both of these.



#7

Sacred site as in breathtaking experience that makes me tear up and have a spiritual experience?

Moraine Lake, Alberta


#8

Pretty fond of Delicate Arch


#9

Probably somewhere like the Peak District - which isn’t the best the UK has to offer but means a lot to me.

Nowadays. anywhere up in the Cascades works for me.

And the Olympic National Park is growing on me after a couple of visits this year:


#10


#11

Driving by Shasta.


#12

Can’t resist the chance to drop my favourite John Muir quote:

Excerpt From: Muir, John. “My first summer in the Sierra.” Oxford Text Archive, Oxford University, 1911.


#13

You had to take it literally, didn’t you? :wink:


#14

I have many, and they are mostly in the mountains. Tehipite Valley is one. Especially in the early spring, when you have to hike many miles through snow to get there, yet the weather in the valley is spring like, and you can go days without seeing other people.


#15

Would you expect any less of me? :slight_smile:


#16

When I saw your icon, I was debating on whether it would be the Wall or the Rebbe’s gravesite. :wink:

For me, it’s less of a sacred site than a sacred sight. I always have something of a spiritual experience when I look through a telescope and see light that has traveled great distance to me.


#17

Temple Mount. Notice how that photo shows improvement?


#18

On my phone. Resolution is not what it could be. :wink: correction accepted.


#19

The “sea of clouds” in the Orotava Valley:


#20

I feel like my own sacred sites pale in comparison, but maybe they’re at greater potential risk of being lost because they’re not as spectacular or as well-known.

My main one–the one that goes back to my childhood, the one that was a sacred site to me the moment I entered it, is Ozone Falls. And just up the creek from Ozone Falls is an artificial lake, Lake Ozone, dug in the 1960’s–at least partly by hand–for a summer camp.

The other, much closer to me geographically, is Radnor Lake.

The significant thing about Radnor Lake is it’s also an artificial lake and was dug–also mostly by hand–in the early 1900’s to provide water for the railroads at Union Station. The surrounding forest was preserved as a hunting ground and recreation area for the wealthy.

In the early 1970’s it was saved from potential development with a combination of city and volunteer funds and has since expanded and preserved forest and wildlife in the middle of a metropolitan area.

What was once exclusively for the wealthy is now open to everyone. That’s part of what makes it sacred to me.