My mind can make a problem out of anything. So for a backpacking trip up Colorado’s Buchanan Pass Trail, I turn a peaceful getaway into a problem to be solved. It’s a do-over, actually, of our previous hike when we missed that trail and slogged up a boulder-strewn jeep road. It was sleeting, I was crying, my husband, Porter, had forgotten his jacket, two feet of snow dumped on us overnight, and our struggle out the next day included my sinking hip-deep into quicksand. More about that another time.
“How could we have missed this before?” I ask now at the well-marked trailhead.
He doesn’t answer. He’s deep in a thicket of thoughts.
We continue up the trail. Some preoccupations fall off, others grow louder in the stillness: Did we lock the car? Should I be home working? Will we get to camp before dark? We’re in our thoughts, but want really to be in this lush green forest of aspen and spruce, fragrant with pine and dust. My mind–inside; nature–outside, and the bridge between the two feels broken.
But the trail is more continuous than we think, over St. Vrain Creek, through bluebells, paintbrush, sunflowers, daisies and black-eyed Susans.
Climbing higher into the Indian Peaks Wilderness, we reach Red Deer Lake at dusk.
No thoughts disturb its surface. Brook and brown trout swim in its deep blue. We sleep.
This fir-scented dawn is both dark and light.
Morning, we climb rocky trail across alpine tundra to see what grows above treeline.
We reach the summit of Buchanan Pass, 11,837 feet.
Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to be.
We have long toyed with doing this trail but have never gotten around to it. Our idea was to hike over to Grand Lake one day and hike back the next, either via Buchanan Pass both ways or returning via an alternate route. If we ever do it, I hope our day is like your second try, not your first — and I hope they fix the bridge! Great pix.
Claire, I really enjoy your accounts of your own expeditions on your blogs. Your Grand Lake hike sounds like a great idea. Last summer we hiked up the opposite side of the Continental Divide from the Monarch Pass trailhead up to Gourd Lake, and I recommend that one too!
You captured the very essence of being in the mountains – it’s just like life.
All kinds of things go wrong, obstacles obstruct the path. Then you turn a corner where wildflowers push your rods and cones to their maximum capacity, the view literally takes your breath away. And then you rest.
Thank you for sharing this divine Rocky Mountain adventure.
Cindy, as always, you beautifully deepen the conversation with your wisdom, thank you.
Gorgeous! Thanks for these vistas, for sharing these moments, that stillness on the lake’s surface–placid. The word is ugly, but the sensation!
I’m lovin’ your nature blog!! Your humor and play on words are a real treat to read. Lovely photos, too. Thanks for sharing!
Yes! This is the way it almost invariably works, thank the universe. We go into a natural environment full of our worries and we come out cleansed of them, at least for a while. I love your ending caption. Just rest. Ah!
look at all of the comments you have. you rock. but where is the tiara?
this is a wonderful post and really gives me pause. i find it challenging to be where i am. i appreciate your including so many terrific photos. (I wish they were larger!)
my favorite was the video.
so fun to work with you today. can’t wait to see what we grabbed.
great blog entry, Gail, really enjoyed reading it and the photos – bonus: video! happy trails to you.
True words and lovely images!
Gail, I love how your photos and words go together–just like the internal unity that happens when we take ourselves out into nature. Keep these posts coming!
Nice reminder, Gail, of how it isn’t the place or situation that keeps our minds occupied, but ourselves. I just drove over five hours through beautiful country, and I don’t remember most of it, despite my efforts to be in the moment. Sometimes finding peace comes as easily as our eye catching site of a beautiful flower. Sometimes, we need to get out the power tools to make space for–space. Thanks for sharing your peace.
Gail, this is very evocative. I love the way you wrote: “his thicket of thoughts”… how it plays on the woods you’re walking through.
I love the last line: Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to be….just rest. What a lovely lullaby.
Bonnie, more a call to awaken than a lullaby, but peaceful, for sure. ;-D
Thank you, Gail, for the restful flow you led us to with this post. My mind, too, can make a problem out of anything, and I’ve been reflecting a great deal lately about how important it is to make time to get into the mountains. The profound stillness we can tap into through nature is so very healing. And even as conscious as I’ve been about how important this is, I find myself needing reminders, like this one, so thank you!
Wow! I’m relaxed just seeing your gorgeous photos!
Look at the muscles on that woman’s arms! It warms the cockles of my weightlifting heart!
Love the love shirt!
I love your honesty. That’s how I feel. Love it AFTER I arrive in camp. Wish I could just let go and hike.
Jerrie, that’s okay, just hike short and camp long!
You have such a way with words! I loved reading your blog. Despite your “problem to be solved,” you and Porter found beauty and peace at the end of the trail. Much like life itself.
Jan, thanks so much for your lovely comment, and your insightful “like life itself” observation.
Lovely and TRUE!! So glad you found this place of stillness in the midst of such beauty. It reminds me of an essay by Barbara Holland called “Naps” that lauds rest as a necessary ingredient of the creative process.
Thanks for sharing!!
Yes, Amy, naps are vastly underrated in our culture, as is rest in general. ;-D