The Medicine Bows

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The Medicine Bows are also like that-and the Uintas, the Bighorns. Their high flat surfaces, with peaks that seem to rest on them like crowns on tables, make no sense unless-as you look a hundred miles from one such surface to another across a deep dividing basin-you imagine earth instead of air: the Miocene fill, the continuous terrain. The high plateaus on the shoulders of the ranges, remaining from that broad erosional plane, have been given various names in the science, of which the most prominent at the moment is subsummit surface. “There’s a plateau above Union Pass in the Wind River Range that’s twelve thousand feet and flatter than a turd on a hot day,” Love recalled, and went on to say that at such an altitude in flat country he zakelijke energie sometimes becomes panicky-which does not happen if he is among craggy peaks, and seems to be a form of acrophobia directly related to the oddity of being in southern Iowa at twelve thousand feet. With those big crystals, the granite under our feet was about as coarse as granite ever gets, and, as a result, was particularly vulnerable to weather. Its pink feldspar, black mica, and clear glass quartz had been so exposed there for millions of years that gravels could be scraped off without the help of dynamite. The Union Pacific took advantage of this, ballasting its roadbed with pink granite for eight hundred miles. There was almost no soil in that part of the range-just twelve miles’ breadth of rough pink rock. “As you go from Chicago west, soil diminishes in thickness and fertility, and zakelijke energie vergelijken when you get to the gangplank and up here on top of the Laramie Range there is virtually none,” Love said. “It’s had ten million years to develop, and there’s none. Why? Wind-that’s why. The wind blows away everything smaller than gravel.” Standing in that wind was like standing in river rapids. It was a wind embellished with gusts, but, over all, it was primordially steady: a consistent southwest wind, which had been blowing that way not just through human history but in every age since the creation of the mountains-a record written clearly in wind-scored rock. Trees were widely scattered up there and, where they existed, appeared to be rooted in the rock itself.

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