Because of all the mountains, the river and the immense sudden plain which is the San Luis Valley, the sky is always amazing. EVERYTHING can be happening at one time on any given day. I’ve witnessed “snow bows” from thunder snow over the San Juans while, behind me, the sun shone happily as if rough weather were relegated to some distant place, not this one. The wind can be blowing like a MF where I’m standing and I can look some twenty miles down the valley and see the calm fluff of drifting light cumulous clouds. One day, as rainbows dropped gently from hanging virga, I saw the face of Kris Kristofferson in a gathering mammatus cloud formation.
At that moment I understood how God became a bearded face in the sky, but seriously? Kris Kristofferson?
Lenticular clouds are a mountain phenomenon. That fancy word just means lens shaped. I had never heard of them until I went to the little town Mt. Shasta, CA for surgery on my right hip. Some online advertising for that mountain town had many pictures of lenticular clouds over that spectacular volcanic cone. Yeah, yeah, I know that lots of people go to the big city for joint surgery, but my doctor was there. From the window in my hospital, I had a view of Mt. Shasta. And, for major surgery, it was a great experience.
Lenticular cloud formations are common here because of all the mountains and the constantly moving air. From a distance, a chain of lenticular clouds appears smooth and languid, stretching out over the peaks.
One day I was walking out in the big empty as a lenticular cloud moved over me during its formation. The way the air moved beneath it was strange and powerful, with a distinct uplift. I didn’t realize what it was until I looked up and saw the underside of a disk-shaped cloud with fuzzy edges. I stood still and watched. It wasn’t going to pick me up or anything, and I just felt lucky to have the experience.
The featured photo shows a string of lenticular clouds over the Sangre de Cristo mountains. A modern potato cellar in the foreground.