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Earth Hour Header 2014
DISTANT HILLS BY COLE RISE
3:00am on the Salt Flats, Utah
Unable to sleep after a 10 hour drive, I left the Nevada motel, crossing the state line heading east until the pavement ended. Five miles out, in the dark with no moon, I experienced an incredible absence of light and sound, in an emptiness that you can wander blind without consequence. There, you are the tallest thing for miles, but you feel small and your steps sound muffled. Even in the dark, you feel out of place, like a prickly burr conspicuously clinging to the surface of some giant white fleece jacket - obvious and exposed as you innocently explore.
As my eyes adjusted, I could see the mountains in the distance, dimly lit by starlight and the spine of the Milky Way. In winter, it's too cold for water to evaporate and too salty for it to freeze, so rainfall collects into shallow reflective ponds no deeper than your rubber soles. That night, they mirrored the sky and stars so well you could look down to see up, and be completely immersed. In a moment between long exposures, standing patiently as my camera was processing what it had just seen, I witnessed a meteor streak across the sky under my feet. I've never felt closer to floating in space.