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America the Beautiful
|| 6/10/2011 || 12:28 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

When I was on the top of Pike’s Peak yesterday, I discovered that the song America the Beautiful was inspired by Katharine Lee Bates trip to the summit of Pike’s Peak in 1893. She later wrote of her trip:

One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.

Seventeen years later composer Samuel A. Ward rewrote Katharine Lee Bates poem into what is sung today. Below are the two versions side by side:


America. A Poem for July 4.
Written by Katharine Lee Bates, 1883

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife,
When once or twice, for man’s avail,
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain,
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

America the Beautiful
Composed by Samuel A. Ward, 1910

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness
America! America!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov’d,
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.



Photographs from the top of Pike’s Peak
|| 6/9/2011 || 11:14 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Today my step-father & I decided to play tourists and take the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway up to the top of Pike’s Peak. I’m slightly ashamed to say that this was my first time to the summit of a 14er in Colorado. I’ve been up a few high-13ers, but never a 14er, until today (and by way of a train instead of a trail!).

From the top I could see distant forest fires that were burning to the west as well as the entire expanse of Colorado Springs to the east. I can see why the earlier explorers found this mountain to be of such military importance- you can see for miles in all directions. After walking around the summit, we went inside the welcome center and I bought some of their fresh donuts for the slow ride back down the mountain.

Photograph from the top of Pike's Peak


Photograph from the top of Pike's Peak


Photograph from the top of Pike's Peak




Hello from the base of the Contiental Divide
|| 6/8/2011 || 12:05 pm || + Render A Comment || ||


I filmed this short video at Kroenke Lake in the San Isabel National Forest. Click here to see some of the photos from the hike. If this video does not work, blame Facebook’s embed code and/or try clicking here.


This short video includes a 4 short video clips I took of our hike to the snow-covered Kroenke Lake at the base of the Continental Divide.

Clip #1 = view of an unnamed peak near Mount Yale and snow in the forest
Clip #2 = view of the snow-covered meadow near Kroenke Lake
Clip #3 = “Hello from the base of the Continental Divide”
Clip #4 = driving away from the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area with Mount Princeton off in the distance.



Photographs of Backpacking in the San Isabel National Forest
|| 6/7/2011 || 11:04 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

One of my goals for the trip to Colorado was to return to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area. After some cursory planning, my step-father & I decided to spend three days in the backcountry near Buena Vista, Colorado. The ultimate destination was Kroenke Lake, which is situated at the base of the continental divide in the San Isabel National Forest. The plan was to hike as far as possible the first day, setup camp for the night, the following day hike to Kroenke Lake, and the final day hike back to the trailhead. While we were expecting there to be some snow still on the ground (it’s June after all), we were not expecting to hit dense snowpack within the first mile of hiking toward our destination. We ultimately pitched our tent on a snow bank that was nearest to dry land about 2.5 miles from the trailhead. Earlier this year I purchased snowshoes and by the end of the trip I sincerely wished that I had brought them! All in all, I love backpacking in this part of Colorado! My next goal for this area to is to climb one of the Collegiate Peaks.

Photograph of Mount Princeton as seen from Buena Vista, Colorado
View of Mount Princeton from Buena Vista, Colorado.


Photographs of Backpacking in the San Isabel National Forest


Photographs of Backpacking in the San Isabel National Forest


Photographs of Backpacking in the San Isabel National Forest


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Photographs of Rock Climbing in Pike National Forest
|| 6/4/2011 || 11:39 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

I’m not a big into rock climbing, but my mom really wanted to take me to one of her favorite climbs “Madacat” in Pike National Forest. I used borrowed climbing shoes, which were slightly too small, and while I didn’t fall once while climbing, my feet were in severe pain by the end of the day.

Photographs of Rock Climbing in Pike National Forest


Photographs of Rock Climbing in Pike National Forest


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Photograph of the Aftermath of the Haymen Fire in Pike National Forest
|| || 6:38 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Today we are going rock climbing at a place my mom & step father regularly climb at. On the way to the site I snapped this photograph of the burnt remains of Colorado’s largest fire, the 2002 Haymen Fire.

Photograph of the Aftermath of the Haymen Fire in Pike National Forest


The Vacuum Cleaner Yard
|| 6/2/2011 || 1:03 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Spotted on Monaco Parkway in Denver, Colorado. Sucks there was no sidewalk.



Backpacking Photos from Pike National Forest in Colorado
|| 8/4/2010 || 12:04 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Random Photograph from my backpacking trip in Pike National Forest in Colorado

Last month while I was in Colorado I spent about 14 hours in Pike National Forest. The plan was to leave Monday, July 26th, hike into the state park, find an appropriate camping spot, spend the night, in the morning attempt to climb Sentinel Point, and then return in the afternoon of Tuesday, July 27th. We were able to accomplish some of those plans, but not all of them.

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Google Maps: Add the Contour Interval to the Legend of your Terrain maps
|| 8/6/2009 || 3:56 pm || 5 Comments Rendered || ||

Nearly every printed topographic map I’ve ever looked at has the contour interval, otherwise known as the distance between contour lines, listed in the legend. Depending on the scale of the map, the contour interval ranges from 1 foot to hundreds of feet between each successive contour line. The contour interval allows the map reader to instantly know the relative steepness & flatness of the topography in the map at one quick glance. Because of this crucial information, a topographic map is considered incomplete when it does not disclose this information to the reader.

Enter the Terrain feature of Google Maps. Released to the public in November of 2007, the contour lines were subsequently added in April of 2008. I hadn’t really given the feature much use until last week when I was planning my weekend excursion to the Shenandoah mountains. I was trying to figure out the altitude variation on my friends property by finding where their property line started & ended and calculating the elevation change. Since their property lies on the side of a mountain, I wanted to know the altitude at the bottom of the property and the altitude of the highest portion of the property, and subtract the difference to find the total elevation variance.

What I found out instead was that Terrain function of Google Maps was lacking the contour interval declaration in the legend. As with all their maps, the lower left-hand corner showed the units of distance on the map, but was missing the topographical information provided by the contour interval declaration.

In lieu of ever getting a response from Google Maps after previous queries, I decided to send a tweet to Google Maps:

Screen grab of my tweet to Google Maps

I wasn’t really expecting a response, but a couple hours later I received this response on Twitter:

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Front Range Quilt #2
|| 6/20/2009 || 10:15 pm || Comments Off on Front Range Quilt #2 || ||

: rendered at 18,000 X 12,000 :
Front Range Quilt no.2 by Nikolas R. Schiller

Using this portion of Front Range Quilt, I created this derivative map. I sampled that portion because I like the nature of how the shadows of the ridge presented themselves and I wanted to include the tarn at the base of Andrews Glacier. I opted for the Dodecagon Quilt Projection because I felt it that it would work nicely since I am not trying to capture any specific buildings or streets in the source imagery (there are none!).


View the Google Map of the Front Range in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

: detail :

View the rest of the map details:

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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