"the moon lit up the basin as we walked across the frozen lake. the lake thumped, we drank syrupy spiked apple cider. contemplated taking a shot of Orion over Dragontail but committed it to memory instead."
dragontail fingers a full moon, Feb 2009

Now we can rethink what sacred land might be. For people of an old culture, all their mutually owned territory holds numinous life and spirit. Certain places are perceived to be of high spiritual density because of plant or animal habitat intensities, or associations with legend, or connections with human totemic ancestry, or because of geomorphological anomaly, or some combination of qualities. These places are gates through which one can -- it would be said -- more easily be touched by a larger-than-human, larger-than-personal, view. 

When we enter them on foot we can sense that the kami or kukini are still in force here. They have become the refuge of the Mountain Lions, Mountain Sheep, and Grizzlies... The rocky icy grandeur of the high country -- and the rich shadowy bird and fish-streaked southern swamps -- remind us of the overarching wild systems that nourish us all and underwrite the industrial economy. In the sterile beauty of mountain snowfields and glaciers begin the little streams that water the agribusiness fields of the great Central Valley of California. The wilderness pilgrim's step-by-step breath-by-breath walk up a trail, into those snowfields, carrying all on the back, is so ancient a set of gestures as to bring a profound sense of body-mind joy. 

Not just backpackers, of course. The same happens to those who sail in the ocean, kayak fjords or rivers, tend a garden, peel garlic, even sit on a meditation cushion. The point is to make intimate contact with the real world, real self. Sacred refers to that which helps take us (not only human beings) out of our little selves into the whole mountains-and-rivers mandala universe. Inspiration, exaltation, and insight do not end when one steps outside the doors of the church. 

- taken from 'The Practice of the Wild' by Gary Snyder