rocky mountain high

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After a week of staring down the imposing wall of the front range, I can’t help but imagine what we must have looked like from miles away: Tiny little ants, disappearing into a nearly invisible fold in the endless rock. But that invisible fold – that from 10 miles out looked so much like an impermeable, solid face – it grew with every step, widening until we were swallowed and quite suddenly surrounded, engulfed in the mountains.

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Clear Creek Canyon

After months of mental flatland, my mind recoiled in awe and briefly panicked – locked up, like trying to take the first tight, spasmodic breaths after jumping into cold water – “Oh my god, i’m surrounded. I can’t see the horizon, can’t read the clouds in the sky. Trapped.”

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But the claustrophobia was gone, just as fast as it came, and I felt my senses become seduced by the timeless flow of stone and water. I always get nostalgic when I see millions of years of history – the heaving and flowing and settling of the earth – laid out like a storybook in front of me. Remembering just how small and young we are should keep us humble.

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We followed Clear Creek Canyon as the creek bed slowly climbed 2000 feet out of Golden, toward Idaho Springs. The weather flowed from hot and sunny to cold and rainy, back to sun, and then settled into a cold mist for the evening.

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We came upon a construction zone, and the worker at the gate told us we would have to take their shuttle to get across. We weren’t happy about it, but there wasn’t another route. While we waited for the shuttle, he told us that they had shuttled at least 3 cross-country trekkers in the past two days – some heading west, some heading east. We have tracked down a couple of websites,  and will post more if we find them:

James Is Walking.com

Rae is running

We camped the night free of charge at the Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs, and trekked to Georgetown the next day.

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onward and upward

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looking into Georgetown

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searching for bighorn sheep

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We piled into the car for a detour up to Kait’s uncle Paul’s house, outside of Tabernash. We stayed with Paul years ago on a cross-country haul, but barely had time to say hello. This visit, we made time.

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kait and uncle paul. and dogs.

Paul is an excellent host, a handy mountain bear, and an awesome chef. We caught up over fine foods and physical labor, while Kait and I took advantage of the day to breathe a lot and acclimate to the 9500′ elevation.

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paul's ski museum

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kait gets minor foot surgery. did i mention that paul is a podiatrist?

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high up.

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quality time in paul's cabin. he lived here for 12 years before he built his house.

We are walking out of Georgetown today, and tomorrow we will take Loveland Pass – our 12,000′ path across the Continental Divide. Deep breath.

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One Response to rocky mountain high

  1. Such gorgeous country — bet its tough with the altitude changes — how long does it take to get your “breath” at 8,000 to 9,000 feet?

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