LYMAN LAKE, Summit County — "July 4th, Circle for Peace," announces the Rainbow Family's agenda for Friday.
"Join us for a silent circling of people to pray for world peace," it continues on the loose-knit counterculture group's Web site. "The circle for peace starts at sunrise at main circle, and ends around Rainbow noon after a period of OHMing, and the Kiddie Village Parade! It's Independance (sic) Day!"
The yearly peace circle gathers thousands of the alternative campers together in a huge circle, an event that seemed photographically promising. But in true neo-hippie fashion, the circle didn't begin at sunrise. Not even close.
A Deseret Morning News team left Salt Lake City around 4 a.m. in hopes of reaching the sprawling gathering on the north slope of the Uinta Mountains while the circle was still going on. They arrived at 7:30 a.m. after a difficult drive and a fast, strenuous hike — only to find nearly all 8,000 family members were still fast asleep.
At the camp's "Information and Rumor Control!" site, a young man informed reporters that the circle would begin at noon and that photography wasn't permitted at prayer circles because some American Indians believed photos capture people's souls. He said this in whispers and written notes, as the camp was observing a period of "silence for peace."
Peace circle aside, unusual events transpired throughout the grasslands and woods of Wasatch Cache National Forest.
Smoke from smoldering fire rings hung heavily in a huge meadow, around which teepees, tents and temporary wood shelters were pitched. A young man called to a friend, saying he had "the pipe-ee, pipe-ee," arguably a reference to smoking some illegal substance. While most humans slept, dogs played in the meadow's grasses and a finch sang.
A young woman whose black T-shirt carried a message about vegetarianism sat cross-legged inside a large tent labeled "Sanctuary Temple." She held a green bowl cupped in her hands while her eyes were closed in meditation.
The tent's front was covered by a painted Indian mural. A sign offered "amazing spiritual stories from India at dark:30." It also promoted one-on-one meditation, hypnosis to end smoking and a "Bhagavad-Gita Class: Enquire Within."
Sanctuary Temple also posted what it called its wish list, "$100,000 donation to start a spiritual/drug-free farm community of the highest quality."
In the woods, sunlight streaming through the trees lit up bars of smoke from the fire rings. Several people coughed repeatedly. A tent-like structure was made of tree trunks and slabs of wood, piled into a peaked roof as they leaned on a cable. Forms rested in hammocks and other people stood in a breakfast line at a free kitchen.
A few campers stood around smoky fires or sat on logs nearby, while two men slept beside a fire ring. Suddenly, an eerie, beautiful tone rang out.
The sound came from inside a tent, humming on and on. Starting with a ringing sound, another, higher tone quavered onto the morning air.
Stanford Junker, 50, a resident of Mt. Pleasant, hunched inside his tent running a chamois-covered rod around the rim of a large crystal bowl, creating the haunting notes. Several bowls and padded carrying cases lay beside him.
He uses his "singing bowls" to wake the camp, Junker said. The tones produce "energy to stimulate certain chakras."
Junker explained that a chakra is an energy center in the body. Asked if it has a connection to spirituality, he responded, "How well you speak truth and love is the fifth chakra, at our vocal cords. If you deny saying something, it will cause that area to be constricted or shut down, so it will be harder for you to eat and love."
Below that is the fourth chakra, associated with the heart. It has a connection with the color green, he said. "At first, I thought like just everybody else, textbook emerald green," Junker added. But then when you meditate on that chakra, he said, you realize it is the green of "any growing plant."
Junker was once employed painting at a Park City pottery plant, he said, and he has worked at ski resorts as a snow-maker and in a restaurant. Then he was laid off. "So I've done sweat equity for rent, house painting, house restoration."
Now he represents the company that manufactures the singing bowls. Has anyone at the gathering expressed interest in buying bowls? "So far, a couple have," he said.
People at the gathering seem to appreciate his music, he added. A group of teachers from India perform movements in time to bowl music at 3 p.m. every day. "They translate sounds into movement," using motions to mimic the bowls' tones, he said. "I call it mirror play."
Junker said he is impressed by the gathering, with hearing so many stories about travel and other subjects.
Are people getting along well together? "Primarily," he said. Still, "I think there's some anger right below the surface . . . frustrations."
He added that he is called "Ka-ping," the sound a singing bowl can make.
A German shepherd slept beside a tent. A naked older man with a gigantic, bushy gray beard stood in the meadow. People were doing morning exercises in the sunlight that was becoming more intense. A dog howled.
Ria, a young woman from Michigan, sat on a log writing a journal about her experiences. "People are really warm and welcoming," she said. "It's like a big family."
A drum circle near her camp went on late at night, she said. Did it keep her awake? "No, it's very rhythmic," she said.
Farrah Lacefield stood on a blanket outside her tent in a pink sarong with a pink scarf over her head, doing yoga exercises. She placed one foot on a thigh and gracefully hunched to the ground, then straightened.
"I think this is a magical era — the love, this energy, all these people gathered around to be tolerant of each other," said Lacefield, who lives on a commune in Snowflake, Ariz. "You know, why can't the world be like that?"
A shrine-like structure made of boulders and mud and protected by a tent fly sheltered two sets of paper. One was a collection of blank sheets in a plastic sack. The other sack bulged with scribbled and printed notes. A jar holding pens stood beside them.
A sign appealed for letters to Mike. "My brother Mike is in prison, has been for two years. Two years ago he turned 21," it says. "Please send your love letters, poems, art, pictures. Thank you, much love and peace, Care Bear."
At a "calming center," a man was giving a woman a back massage. A practitioner approached and said, "Can calm do anything for you?" Asked his name, he said it was "Michael Circle-Wider," throwing his arms wide.
"Otter," from the West Coast, stood on his head facing a 20-foot-tall structure that boasted dozens of flags. It looked vaguely like some Tibetan prayer tower. He said this yoga position helped bring good energy into his mind.