Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #218 – Over the Hill

Visitor stairs on the sun god temple

This week, guest host Donna of the Wind Kisses blog hosts the challenge she called “Over the Hill.” She writes, “This week the Lens-Artists community invites you to share images of what over the hill means to you. Maybe you enjoy watching ant colonies. Is mountaineering in your future? Does “over the hill and faraway” resonate with you? Is there a storm brewing, a sun rising, a challenge you don’t want to face? That age thing. The options are endless. I hope you will have fun creating something that represents over the hill for you.”

Donna tells the story of a trip through the Pacific Northwest and some of her “over the hill” experiences. For my response, I feature some less ambitious climbs, both of which involve stairs. I start with my opening photo of the side view of the Temple of the Sun God at Altun Ha in Belize. The image belies the difficulty as it doesn’t show the entire range of steps required to get to the top. When I suggested to the three others in our party that we should climb to the top, I reminded them that we might never have the opportunity to do so again. The four of us headed upward.

Altun Ha-3
Some more steps yet to climb

As we neared the top, we had some more stairs to climb. They were all the more difficult to climb because the step heights were not uniform. Defenders of the temple built the stairs with differing heights that soldiers would memorize so that they could climb at full speed while attackers wouldn’t know the patterns and the changes in height would slow their ascent.

Altun Ha-12
View from the top

Our efforts were rewarded by a bird’s eye view of the entire temple complex. The climb was a challenge, but the reward was worth the effort, and it still showed our group of over-the-hill travelers that we could still get the job done.

Altun Ha-4
Yet another hill to climb

The front view of the Temple of the Sun God looks similar to this, another temple, in the complex from the front view. It would appear an easier climb from the front, but that is not the case.

White Horse Hill 2
White Horse Hill

Back in my home state of North Dakota, I was on assignment near Devils Lake for my volunteer job with Civil Air Patrol. I had the morning off, so I went a few miles south of the city to White Horse Hill National Game Preserve and drove to the base of the preserve’s namesake, White Horse Hill. Around 100 steps and a steep climb are required. The camera lens doesn’t show the steepness of the hill well, but you can judge by the number of wayside rest benches that you can see for people to stop and take a break.

White Horse Hill-1
Selfie from the top

At the viewing area on the top, I couldn’t resist taking a selfie with those steep stairs behind me. It would be a lot easier going down than going up, for sure.

White Horse Hill-3
View to the west from White Horse Hill

From the top of the hill, you can see for miles. This panoramic shot features a mostly westerly view.

White Horse Hill-4
Devils Lake

The view to the northeast features a glimpse of one of North Dakota’s larger lakes, Devils Lake. The rewards of the view and the achievement of the goal are the only rewards for this old man who has spent over 70 years on the planet. Truth is, in the most recent years, these challenges would be more difficult than when I accomplished them in 2020 and 2021, but given the opportunity, I’ll certainly continue to make it over that next hill for as long as I can.

For pixel peepers, click on any image to visit the gallery in my Flickr account. Thanks to Donna for this week’s challenge. Next week, Tina hosts the Lens-Artists Challenge. If you’d like to join in the fun but aren’t quite sure how to get started, click here.

John Steiner


  1. That’s really interesting about the uneven steps. I wonder if it’s true of other places too? I always assumed people were just rubbish at building steps 😆

  2. Wow John – I’d have been in the “convince me’ crowd before the climb but of course would have given in and joined the group! The different size steps are a great idea – I wonder if that idea has been implemented in more recent times. Loved your closing vistas!

  3. Good on you for your mere suggestion at the Temple of the Sun Stair Climb. No doubt you stood there with a smile until everyone agreed. lol. It is so true about taking opportunities when they arise. Tomorrow is not promised.

    Interesting that the upper stairs were varied heights. I picture the enemy as a falling/tripping like a row of dominos.

    And it is true…the best view comes after the hardest climbs. Loved this take. Thanks John.

    PS. There are hills in North Dakota? lol.

  4. I love the theory of the uneven steps!! I’m not a step lover myself – one of those who groans all the way up – but it’s always worth the effort isn’t it!!

  5. An interesting point concerning the variable height of the steps in Altun Ha, I did not know. It reminds me that when the UCD campus in Dublin was built, the dimensions of the steps were calculated to slow down the advance of demonstrators, this was after 1968.

  6. “Defenders of the temple built the stairs with differing heights that soldiers would memorize so that they could climb at full speed while attackers wouldn’t know the patterns and the changes in height would slow their ascent.” They knew things in the old days…clever. I am glad you climbed to the top – so true we may not be able to again! Beautiful landscapes – you are a master of those.

  7. Beautiful views. The only place I knew in Belize was the Great Blue Hole, so I’m glad to have learned about the Temple of the Sun God. I’ll never say no to ancient ruins.

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