Mountain Sketch

I went for a little hike on Sunday. Usually when I’m here visiting at the Aspen Center for Physics I go on several hikes, but this year it looks like I will only do one, and a moderate one at that. I had a bit of a foot injury several weeks ago, so don’t want to put too much stress on it for a while. If you’ve looked at the Aspen Center film (now viewable on YouTube!) you’ll know from some of the interviews that this is a big component of many physicist’s lives while at the Center. I find that it is nice to get my work to a point where I can step back from a calculation and think a bit more broadly about the physics for a while. A hike is great for that, and in all likelihood one comes back from the hike with new ideas and insights (as happened for me on this hike – more later)… maybe even an idea for a new calculation.


So I took the bus up to the Maroon Bells and hiked up to Crater Lake and a bit beyond into the West Maroon Valley, hunting a few wildflowers. I will share some pictures of those later. (I’ve heard that they are great up at Buckskin pass, and I was tempted to push on up to there, but I resisted the temptation.) I brought along several pens, watercolour pencils, and a water brush (for the watercolour pencils) because I’d decided that I would do some sketches at various points… you know, really sit with the landscape and drink it in – in that […] Click to continue reading this post


After just having walked down a few minutes from Electric Pass Peak back towards the Pass (the peak is a fun 13635 ft / 4156 m elevation), I remembered to take this short panorama to show the surroundings. You can see the peak just descended in the middle of the film, and just before you’ll see Cathedral Lake in the distance, along with the meadow of wild flowers through which the hike to the peak takes you.

The 15 seconds of film is after the fold: […] Click to continue reading this post

Odds and Ends

angels_flightThe little railway on the left is apparently the shortest rail journey in the world. So the sign proudly claims, anyway. I imagine they mean shortest for one carrying passengers, and that considerations of scale have been made (so that model railway that loops around your dining room table does not count). Whether it is the shortest or not, Angel’s Flight is very charming and quite a lovely, brief ride (shot of interior below). I recommend visiting it if you get a chance. It’s in downtown Los Angeles. A reward at the end is Grand Central Market, so you can’t lose.

I’ve been quiet here on the blog for a few days. It has been an oddly busy time where on the one hand I’ve been trying to work on my project, and on the other I’ve been […] Click to continue reading this post

Recovery Time

Today’s going to be a slow day, with a bit of pottering about town (groceries, new novel), sitting at home (laundry, reading, writing), and working on some physics things here and there. It’ll be good to slow down. I went on another long hike yesterday, back in my more usual solitary mode. Last week’s to Willow (see a couple of earlier posts) was with my friend and colleague Albion Lawrence who I’d not seen for a long time, and so we spent a very pleasant time catching up on things (mostly sharing about books and film, as we do) as we walked.

on_west_maroon_trailYesterday’s hike, following (initially) the West Maroon trail, was taken up with conversations with myself, both internal and external, and that’s something I enjoy a great deal. I thought I’d spend a lot of time thinking over various issues in physics that I’ve been puzzling over in my work, or that I’d learned about from various conversations and seminars while here at the Center. But I did not, surprisingly. Or not much. It was a very physics-free day, even though I was out there struggling along in the West Maroon area for over five hours (out and back to the bus).

Part of this might be because due to the large amount of snow on the ground in places, I lost the trail, and so spent a lot of time following the river trying to pick it up […] Click to continue reading this post


snake in runyon canyon

Imagine my surprise (a couple of weeks ago) when this fellow – all four feet or maybe more – passed in front of me just ahead on the path (click for larger view). It was so sudden that I could hardly get the camera out in time, even though it was attached to my belt pack. I was hiking in Runyon Canyon for a short spell on a Sunday morning. It is quite busy at that time, with everyone and their dog (for real) out and about. […] Click to continue reading this post

Potato, Moon

roast potato

There’s really nothing like a sweet potato roasted in the heart of a wood fire. A wood fire lit out under a clear big sky with a full moon. After a long day of hiking. A day of hiking in the desert on a super hot day of vivid blue, brown, and gold. Delicious flavours, textures and colours.

I spent most of last week on retreat in Death Valley. It was Spring break, and I was […] Click to continue reading this post