Saturday, August 16, 2014

Collegiate West: Day 2

The chattering alarm of a pine squirrel rouses me from my slumber. I guess this little creature is not happy to discover that the tent that materialized in its shady forest the evening before is still here. It is no longer dark, but the sun has not yet made it into this stand of conifers. I move and feel some soreness from yesterday’s hike.  I begin my morning routine – firing up my little alcohol stove to heat water while I begin to break down camp - stuffing the sleeping bag, rolling up the ground pad, dismantling  the tent… all of this interspersed with some yoga poses to continue stretching out these sore muscles. Fueled by a breakfast of oatmeal, walnuts and a little dried fruit, I am on my way.
Hmmm, many of these plants are tinged with white? Is that frost? I reach down and confirm that the thermometer was down below freezing here last night. To think that it was around 100F in Pueblo yesterday. I'm glad I am here and not there. I work my way up the Clear Creek drainage towards Lake Ann Pass and keep exclaiming to myself what a perfect morning it is. The sky must be bluer than it has ever been, with not a cloud in the sky. Gazing at a series of rugged peaks that I am heading towards, known as the Three Apostles, it seems as if I can see every fold and crack and feel their rocky texture, the air is so clear.
Just as I break out of the trees, I meet a fellow heading down the trail. “Bobcat” is hiking the entire Continental Divide Trail, from the Mexican border in New Mexico to the Canadian border in Montana. As we part and I continue south while he heads north towards Wyoming and beyond, I look back and note the small pack on his back. I know I’ve reduced my backpacking weight at least ten pounds lighter than the old days, now down to around 30 pounds, which includes the weight of a few days of food. But, looking at Bobcat’s pack, I think I could do better.  With that thought in mind, me and my 30 pound pack head towards Lake Ann Pass, about 1000’ elevation gain in the next mile. “Just what could I do without that is now in my pack?” I ask myself as I slowly make my way to the pass.

The beauty of landscape, accentuated by the clarity of the air, just keeps blowing me away. I reach a snowfield and gingerly work my way across some slippery snow. I am glad I have these trekking poles. A couple more switchbacks, another stretch of snow, and I am at the pass – 12, 588’ according to the trail guide. The views from the top continue to blow me away. To the west is a huge valley, Taylor Park, with its reservoir and expansiveness. Looking back from where I came from is the rich turquoise water of Lake Ann. I wonder how that little lake got its name. I linger for a long while on the pass as the skies show no sign of a storm any time soon.
I begin the many switchbacks down off the pass and begin to feel some serious heat from some serious sunshine. I enter the trees and decide I need another break, but the mosquitoes are relentless. Never being a fan of Deet, my citronella-based bug juice works ok, but just ok. The skeeters keep me moving down the trail. Wishing for some cloud cover, I leave the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and spend several miles hiking some hot, rocky, dusty trails that are also used by motorcycles (although I meet none of them today). I begin looking for a camp and find a nice spot above a creek, but the mosquitoes are miserable, so I keep going. Finally making it to the valley floor, I am pleased that a fairly consistent breeze is keeping the skeeters manageable. Tent up, dinner done, food bag hung, I am ready for some down time.
I pull out some reading material and stumble upon these thoughts from someone I’ve never heard of, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: “There are many pathways in this life and it doesn’t matter which one you take, for they all have a common destination, and that is the grave. But some paths give you energy and some take it away.” This certainly is a thought-provoking quote to come across while out here on this pathway. The part about the grave has lots to do with why I am out here - life is flying by, it seems, and I want what life I have left to be full of being in wild places, just like this one. 
As for the part about pathways either giving or taking away energy? Well, after hiking nearly 30 miles in two days, feeling so wiped out right now, it begs the question – is this 90-mile trek giving me energy or taking it away? I believe that, considering how far I’ve hiked, passes I’ve traversed, all this mountainous terrain I’ve moved up and down and over and through, it required quite a large amount of energy to do this hike. And the act of setting out on it is what created the energy to actually do it. 
Sure, I’m tired now, but this does not mean that this pathway took my energy away. This tiredness is short-lived, it is fleeting, but the energy that this trek is creating, and will continue to create, is huge. I am pooped as I sit here and write these words, but I can still sense all the energy inside of me that will remain. If it could be quantified, the amount of energy that I spend to do this hike - yesterday's, today's and all the rest of the miles - pales in comparison to the energy I get, and will get, and others will get through my efforts, from doing it. So, I believe that this Collegiate West Backpack for Nature Education is definitely an energy-producing pathway that I am on. That being said, it is time for a good night's sleep - I've got more energy-producing miles tomorrow. Good night!

No comments:

Post a Comment