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‘I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky’

Dawn at Lily Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park. “Fire at Lily.” Copyright © 2018 Erik Stensland. Used with permission.

I came across this photo recently on Erik Stensland’s website. His gallery is in Estes Park, Colo., and he specializes in photographing Rocky Mountain National Park. There are many more equally spectacular photos on his website, Images of RMNP, and I guarantee time spent there won’t be wasted.

You probably recognized the title immediately. It’s a line from John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” and it came to mind instantly when I saw this photo. Colorado has two official state songs and “Rocky Mountain High” is one of them. The other, older one, “Where the Columbines Grow,” doesn’t even mention Colorado by name.

Contrary to speculation about a Rocky Mountain high referring to marijuana, Denver himself said that it referred to the emotional, spiritual high one gets from just being in the mountains. I prefer his explanation because that’s what the mountains do to me. A natural high. No pot required.


  1. I always believed John Denver’s highly emotional responses were never due to consumption of drugs. You just have to listen carefully to his music, to feel the full range of his genuine appreciation to the wonders he experienced naturally. Thanks, Pied.

  2. I guess those with MAS (mountain affected syndrome) understood which high he was talking about. Another fabulous photo – never a bad subject in CO skies
    (Where are all the wild fires? We get news about Durango, but the volcano grabs most of the news time)

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