White River National Forest, Colorado
White River National Forest, Colorado is a limited edition series of landscape photographs by artist Lincoln Schatz that explores the experience of hiking through this landscape over an extended period of time.
The White River National Forest is an interdependent, highly complex ecosystem that is always changing. Subtle transformations are occurring even as we hike on the trails. At every level there are constant ongoing ecological shifts. From the plants that come and go with each passing season, to the seemingly immutable eighty million year old mountains that stand in witness to this place. Each is transforming in their own time.
What I navigate today will be different tomorrow and the day after. Paying attention to the subtle as well as the dramatic shifts found in nature over time connects us to a place more deeply.
White River National Forest, Colorado (3), (7) & (9)
The photographs found in the White River National Forest edition span a range of subjects from panoramas of mountain, valley and sky, to singular dense photographs of forest understory that reveal a mesmerizing world of texture, color and pattern.
White River National Forest, Colorado (4) & (2)
The snow rushing down in an avalanche clears tracts of tree and brush. Hitting the valley floor and exploding back up the opposite mountain face. A violent force that instantly altered the terrain I had known for over two decades. Visiting for the first time after was astonishing. The initial section of trail that we had always hiked was now covered in six meters of debris.
Lincoln Schatz has spent the last twenty years returning to the landscape that makes up the White River National Forest.
Clouds occlude the distant mountains. Making the valleys intimately shrouded in fog. Walking under tall evergreens provides respite from the storms. The trails are wet and slippery. The rain shifts back and forth. From light mist to downpours. Soaking us over and over. As we climb higher in altitude the weather transforms. And suddenly, the skies above turn blue.
White River National Forest, Colorado (8) & (10)
This national forest is more than 3,500 square miles in size and is situated in the northwest region of mountainous Colorado. Named after the White River that cuts through the northern part of this immense national forest, it features a stunning wealth of natural beauty.
White River National Forest, Colorado (11) & (16)
The forests here in the White River National Forest are verdant and rich with a flush of fresh green growth that heralds the arrival of spring. A growing carpet of modulating greens in all textures and shades stretch out as far as you can see in Conundrum Creek Valley.
White River National Forest, Colorado (12) & (17)
At higher altitudes snow still remains. Surprisingly deep in places well hidden from the sun. Much of it will remain until early to mid summer.
However by late summer even this snow will disappear.
White River National Forest, Colorado (13) & (18)
Colorado at this time of year is a place full of new life and possibility. Seedlings and saplings grow rapidly in the rocky soil. Scrambling to take root in the warm spring weather.
The rivers are swollen and spilling over their banks. The cold water from the snow melt creates rushing rapids and deep crystal clear pools in the Roaring Fork River.
Each year these mountains change with every passing season. And with spring comes the most startling of transformations, as deep white snows are rapidly replaced with the first new growth of the year. Along with these more gentle transformations are the startling and drastic alterations to the landscape caused by avalanches, fire and floods.
Avalanches and other natural disasters remind us of our individual size in this world. Moving earth, boulders and trees as if they were a child’s toy. It is almost impossible to imagine the force necessary to split and crack a full grown tree in half. Even more difficult to imagine the power needed to do this to hundreds of trees in a single blow.
When these large scale shifts in a landscape occur, be it from avalanche, flooding, fire, or earthquake, we are often left without recourse. Only able to witness and unable to hinder the power of nature and the natural world.
I have hiked this terrain many times. But this was the first time it had been overcast and raining for as long as I could remember. Instead of bright blue sky and the deep shadows that come in the valleys set between these mountains, an entirely different world was revealed.