POTW – Salvation Mountain
The work of putting together a big coffee table book is slow and arduous, sort of like a really long climb where the end seems nowhere in sight. I’ve decided to put up an image every week from our trip. Sometimes it will have Laura or I in it, sometimes it will be just a beautiful landscape shot. I’ll include a little description of the place and circumstances with each when I post the image. Each image will be available for sale in a variety of sizes and in magnets for the fridge and will go towards our next adventure (this spring!).
This is an image of Salvation Mountain, a piece of American folk art created by Leonard Knight that has been made popular by the film Into The Wild. The story goes that over 20 years ago Leonard Knight started building a mountain with cement and paint with the simple message – “God is Love.” He hasn’t stopped since. Salvation Mountain is recognized as sort of an unofficial entrance to Slab City and every year thousands of people make the pilgrimage to see Leonard and Slab City.
We had friends that had been telling us about Slab City for years. Finally, on our trip, we decided to go out there (see our post “The Slabs“). The riding is desolate and dusty. There are few “towns” in the area and we were eating mostly out of convenient stores. There is a “market” in Niland, which is about three miles from Slab City which offered a lot of cheap beer and cheap processed food (which is a godsend when you have no alternative). After loading up in Niland with food and water (there is no running water or electricity at the Slabs), we pedaled off in the direction of Salvation Mountain.
When we arrived it was a slightly overcast day in the desert with dramatic clouds clearing overhead. It made Salvation Mountain and the strange landscape around it seem so much more post-apocalyptic. Leonard, who is in his 80s now, was resting on the back of a painted station wagon. He was showing his age and wasn’t the energetic eccentric we had heard him described who would give long rambling tours of his creation. Despite this, he would still cordially greet people and answer the same questions he had been answering for the last few decades. Someone near us sighed in awe and said, “Leonard is a great man,” and drove away, completing his pilgrimage.
I visited the mountain three times waiting for the light to be just right. I think it was on the second attempt that I got this photo. The clouds were clearing and the sun was hitting Leonard’s creation at just the right angle that the colors popped and the whole thing seemed even more surreal than it was.
Hope you enjoy the photo and the story. Let us know what you think of this new POTW series!