The 6 Most Awesome Special Effects Produced by Nature
This world of ours is brimming with awe-inspiring displays of nature's splendor (like rainbows and sunsets), as well as a whole bunch of not-so-awe-inspiring ones (like rainbows and sunsets the third or fourth time you see them). However, Mother Nature loves to demonstrate that, even if you happen to be the most seasoned of outdoors enthusiasts, she still has the ability to full-on blow your goddamn mind ... if you're lucky enough to stand in exactly the right spot, at precisely the right time.
Yosemite National Park Hosts a Fiery Waterfall Every February
No, this isn't lava. But if it were, it wouldn't kick any less ass:
It looks like how peeing as an old man feels.
That's Horsetail Fall in Yosemite, and for an awesome couple of weeks in February, the sun hits it at just the right angle to make it look like it's actually on fire. The phenomenon has been given the only appropriate name possible -- the Firefall -- and it lasts for about 10 minutes at sunset, assuming some asshole cloud doesn't get in the way. Given the right conditions, it's hard to take a picture of this thing that doesn't look completely badass:
Eat irradiated asparagus and this'll be your urine.
As an interesting (and somewhat insane) side note, you might have seen similar photos like this ...
The Human Torch shouldn't drink.
... that are in fact not the Firefall, but a completely different event in Yosemite where a bunch of people would gather, start a bonfire, and then dump the embers down the side of the mountain. This went on for almost a century, from 1872 through 1968, at the Glacier Point Mountain House Hotel, which is located up there at the top. The Park Service made them stop doing this for some mysterious reason (why do we even have national parks if we can dump tons of flaming debris off the cliffs?), so now you just have to settle for the real thing at that magical moment when the sun hits it just right:
Way to be lame as shit, regular waterfalls.
A South Korean Island Gets Biblical in the Spring
And by "gets biblical" we mean that for very brief stretches, suddenly everyone on this particular island can walk on water:
What's the plural of "Moses"? "Moseses"? "Mosi"?
About twice a year, sometime between March and June, the tidal forces at work on the Yellow Sea all line up to cause an extremely low tide, resulting in a 1.8-mile walkway between Jindo and its neighboring island, Modo. The 130-foot-wide path stays open for only an hour, during which thousands of tourists take advantage of this rare opportunity to walk across the sea.
"But wait, my car's parked on Jindo!"
Jindo Island throws a four-day festival every year around one of these low-tide events, because when you've got yourself a magic sea, you damn well use it as an excuse to party. The phenomenon is even popularly referred to as the "Moses Miracle," since it's the result of the seas suddenly pulling back like when Moses parted the Red Sea. So there are multiple biblical events at play here, which has to help with the tourism.
Actually, the Koreans have their own origin story about the Parting of the Yellow Sea: Legend has it that Jindo Island was once infested with tigers, so everybody escaped to Modo, figuring they'd just let the tigers have it. All except for one old woman, whom they forgot to take with them (kind of like the plot of Home Alone, but with tigers). She prayed to the god of the ocean, who created the pathway so she could mosey on over to Modo. Presumably the god of the ocean didn't have the heart to tell her that tigers aren't the least bit afraid of water.
Or anything else, for that matter. Because they're goddamn tigers.
A Colombia River Trips Balls in the Summer
Cano Cristales in Colombia exists for most of the year as a boring old river, with some nice clear water and a bed of dull green moss at the bottom. You know, standard river stuff. But for a brief summer period between September and November, the river starts to look a little ... different.
No, our art department didn't run that second image through the LSD filter in Photoshop. Remember that dull green moss we told you about five seconds ago? When the sun turns up the heat, it blooms into a cavalcade of colors that look like the runoff from a Chinese textile factory:
An unusually clean Chinese textile factory.
Cano Cristales gets so crazy colorful in the summer that its nickname is "the river that ran away to paradise" (or just "the world's most beautiful river," if you hate words). But as with many such psychedelic delights, this 60 straight miles of trippy goodness can be tricky to come by -- tourists have to fly out to the small town of La Macarena, travel by boat for a bit, then hike through unmarked trails to find it. We're not saying it's not worth it, of course, but if pretty colors in swirling water is what you're after, there are much simpler ways to achieve that (hint: it involves illegal substances and your toilet).
"The water's burning. Burning! I'm freaking out, man!"
An Italian Mountain Range Turns Pink at Sundown
Have we ever told you our theory about how the heavens themselves are nothing more than a bunch of celestial kindergartners fighting over an immense box of Crayolas? How else would you explain the Dolomites mountain range in northeastern Italy, which has the unrivaled ability to do this?
We didn't realize they made glow-in-the-dark mountains.
What you're seeing is the phenomenon of enrosadira -- literally, "to become rose-colored." Every night at sunset, the west-facing mountains undergo dramatic displays of color, varying from bright yellows to deep reds and violets.
And it's not just an ordinary reflection, either -- the glowing effect of enrosadira is unique to the Dolomites, which are composed of an unusual combination of ancient sea critter corpses and magma from volcanic eruptions. The color shift is a magic trick contained within the rock itself:
This is the same mountain. The picture on the right has been Photoshopped by the sun.
The phenomenon is most striking in the summer, so if you've ever wondered what it looks like when God breaks out his majestic Sharpie, it's time to add spending a sweltering summer evening in Italy to your bucket list.
Austria Gets a Crystal-Clear Flood Every Summer
Gruner See in Austria -- or Green Lake, as it's known to us English-speaking folk -- is not much more than a quaint, vivid pool in the middle of the Hochschwab mountains. It's about 6 or 7 feet deep and is surrounded by a bunch of trails and greenery that make it an ideal spot for hiking.
But that's only during the winter, when the snow at the top of the mountains is still, you know, snow. During the summer, all that white stuff tends to melt, and the resulting shitload of snowmelt cascades down to pull a Waterworld on the valley below, if Waterworld were about a giant, perfectly clear swimming pool:
Hmm. Needs more Kevin Costner drinking his own pee.
At its deepest point, the new-and-improved Green Sea is nearly 40 feet deep, and if you didn't see the ripples at the top of the photo you wouldn't even know it was underwater. It makes the benches and foot bridges look like toys in an aquarium.
"Nice bridge, you guys. Really." -Mother Nature
So where normally a flood is a catastrophe that sends people running for their lives, the summertime flood at Green Lake is when the tourists arrive in droves, scuba gear and waterproof cameras in tow. And not without good reason -- seeing all these paths and trees underwater is admittedly far more interesting than seeing them dry. The water levels are highest in June, at the peak of summer, so start planning your next summer vacation immediately -- your future kickass Facebook profile picture depends on it.
It's hard to tell with the masks, but they're both making duck faces.
Incredibly Rare Clouds Frequent an Australian Town
So ... clouds. Pretty boring, right? They're nothing more than big, fluffy blobs of water condensation, hanging around in the sky, lounging about on their fat asses all day and contributing nothing to sky society.
But then along comes Australia. As it tends to do, Earth's most insane continent took a look at the concept of clouds and decided to create something horrifyingly badass out of it -- in this case, the awesomely named "Morning Glory clouds."
Alternate names considered were "Big Poo clouds" and "My Dick."
These cloud formations consist of long, tube-shaped shafts of water vapor up to 600 miles in length and 1,000 feet tall. The clouds are so rare around the world that they can only be predictably spotted in a very specific area of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and only then during the dry season from August to November.
Morning Glory clouds appear there every few days during this period, always in the morning and always accompanied by what a pilot might refer to in technical jargon as "swirling skydeath." OK, so we just made that up, but believe us, it's appropriate: Air at the front of the cloud is forced upward at insane velocities, while violently turbulent currents at the back of the cloud slap the air downward at around 1,500 feet per minute. Any rational person in Burketown -- the small settlement right in the middle of all this Morning Glory action -- would take one look at these aerial steamrollers and ride it out indoors, presumably while weeping openly and cursing the casual wrath of nature.
Except this is Australia, goddammit, and the only thing more badass than everything there is everyone there -- which is why people like Queensland athlete Jonny Durand took one look at these clouds and thought, "Yeah, we can totally surf those motherfuckers." So, he grabbed a hang glider and took to the sky.
The glider is specially designed to allow him to moon the cloud as he goes.
For more reasons to never turn your back on Mother Nature, check out 7 Awesome Acts of Nature (That Science Can't Explain) and The 5 Most Spectacular Landscapes on Earth (That Murder You).
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Insane Examples of Overzealous Internet Censorship .
And stop by LinkSTORM to unite to destroy the planet.
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Related Reading: For electric blue seas and other natural phenomena caught on camera, click here. Of course, nature alone can only accomplish so much badassery. It takes a human to bump things to the next level, as proven by this astronaut free-falling from space.