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  • Writer's pictureMichael Kennedy

We've Got Awe!

Updated: Jan 18

High up on Granite Chief Trail, above Olympic Valley, are large, imposing Junipers and Bristlecone Pines. Like tall and majestic sentries, these powerful trees appear to stand guard over the village below.

It's a hike to get there, but well worth the trip.

You know you've arrived when you're greeted with two of these magnificent trees, one on each side as if ushering you into their world of enchantment.

Suddenly, as you pass over the threshold of giant granite slabs, you're immersed in awe. You catch your breath and slow down so you can take it all in.

The experience up on this mountain is something magical, maybe even divine, because it lifts you beyond your normal frame of references.

“How strong, vital, enduring! The qualities, almost emotional, palpably artistic, heroic of a tree; so innocent and harmless, yet so savage. It is, yet says nothing. How it rebukes by its tough and equable serenity all weathers, this gusty temper’d little whiffet, man, that runs indoors at a mite of rain or snow.” ~ Walt Whitman, from Specimen Days & Collect

The Junipers and Bristlecones make you feel as if you're in the company of wise old counselors with much to say without saying anything at all.

But if you stretch your imagination they just might have the advice you seek, whether it's about something personal, professional, emotional, or spiritual.

How so?

Consider what these trees have overcome to be here now. They've survived the harshest conditions. They've matured not from rich and fertile ground, but from arid, bare, rocky slopes, exposed to gale force winds. Their heavy branches, bent and twisted, sculpted by the elements into individual masterpieces, each with their own story to tell of hell they've had to endure.

The Junipers and Bristlecones are virtually drought-resistant, some living to several thousand years believed to be far greater than that of any other living organism known to man.

Wouldn't you agree if you want good advice, it makes sense to take it from someone, or something, that survived and thrived regardless of the challenges they faced? Especially in spite of their challenges?

Wouldn't you rather be a passenger on a plane with a pilot who experienced turbulence, tail spins and stalls, more so than with a pilot who hasn't? How about with a veteran pilot who's been flying for thousands of years overcoming untold adversities?

"Between every two pine trees there's a door leading to a new way of life." ~ John Muir

These beautiful trees remind us slowly, quietly, and poetically that we too can overcome the odds. Their resilience, their strength, their endurance... is our resilience, our strength, and our endurance.

"They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away

out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only:

to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form,

to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary

than a beautiful, strong tree." ~ Hermann Hesse, Trees: An Anthology of Writings and Paintings

Nature offers clues to our own potential.

All we have to do is pay more attention, slow down, and listen.

The fact that this intense beauty is right there in plain view before us is inspiring and encouraging.

"Love," wrote poet J.D. McClatchy, "is the quality of attention we pay to things."

It's not an easy world we live in. But it's a world we have to live in. It's our world. And we're the one person we positively have to live with. So, what do the Junipers and Bristlecones help us understand and appreciate?

That we're not alone. That we're not in the business of doing, or getting. But instead, we're in the business of living.


I’m Michael Kennedy, Olympic Valley, CA resident, married to Nicola Kennedy. I’m a premium ghostwriter and photographer. I just want to say thanks for your attention - I appreciate it in such a noisy world. If you enjoyed it, please share with others.

It means a lot to me and it helps others see the story.

If you're interested in owning any photos in this post, or in my gallery: click here, call or text me at 530.608.9150. Let me know what size you want, and I'll send a quote. My email: 

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Nov 12, 2023

All of the Junipers growing straight out of the granite,protecting "Granite Chief"! Juniper Mnt. In between Alpine&Squaw protecting it All!

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