In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Friday, October 11, 2013

Without Access

       Boulder Creek -- back in its banks, but much more than the meandering stream expected in the fall.

September and October, sometimes even November, are usually among my favorite hiking months.  The fall light is lovely, seeping through the deep yellow leaves.  The mountain sides, the creek sides are blanketed by aspens and willows turning yellow, gold and occasionally red.  I have walked among them filled with delight at the sight and sound of those leaves (especially the Aspens) humming in the breeze.

This has not been a typical year on Colorado's front range.  And as a friend and I mused recently, the loss of our hiking access and damage to the local trails is small when compared to friends who lost everything and others who are dealing with lower level living spaces that are not yet habitable.  Few basements in Boulder County are used as storage and junk areas.  Instead folks extend their living spaces by finishing basements into bedrooms, recreation rooms and great rooms.  One friend even had a grand piano in her finished basement that flooded.  

                                                                        Near Georgetown

I drove into the edges of the high country--across a pass and down into Georgetown.  I found a picnic area in which to eat a sandwich I'd brought along.  There were pull offs with short walks, but it wasn't like hiking among the leaves.  I did love the grandeur of golden mountain sides more fully covered in aspens than those up Boulder Canyon and on view from the RMNP trails.  First we couldn't get up the canyons to reach the park; then the park closed, and now the leaves have dropped from their branches.

This time of finding open trails in the flats of Boulder, watching for and taking walks on parts of trails as they opened, and finally driving, Wednesday afternoon, up the newly opened Boulder Canyon Drive to Nederland, has made me think about how I would find the release and nourishment that my usual hiking brings should I decide to move back to Nashville.  There, to find the up trails that I love, would also entail a drive--perhaps to Monteagle or Sewanee.  There are parks with trails in Nashville, as there are here--not as many for the area, but they exist.  However, I spent many more hours walking or running on sidewalks and streets years ago when I lived there.
                                      From the partially open Boulder Creek path two days ago

I haven't yet found the answer to not really hiking--just taking long walks or going on a trail until I reached the yellow tape that closed the remainder of the trail--doesn't give me that release, that sense of being away, of the challenge of going a little farther, of standing in awe, of being alone in God's beautiful world.  I did do a panorama of past year's golden hikes--I didn't have to look at photos to go there.  I know there could come a day when that's the only way I can enjoy the fall season, and I'm grateful to not yet have reached that time.  There are more changing colors at the nearby park and the Boulder Reservoir path a five-minute drive away has re-opened.  I will walk there this morning, and I will enjoy it.  However, I haven't yet found the answer to doing without mountain hikes.  The search continues.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Spiritual Place

                          Chaco Canyon View -- (Part of a Panorama so it won't allow a bigger photo)

Chaco Canyon is not an easy place to reach.  It is between Farmington and Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the middle of barren desert.  Your only choice to stay nearby is that of camping in the park in a rather rustic campground--best done in a camper.  We stayed in Farmington and drove the almost two hours to reach the park, ending the drive on a mostly flat dirt road in barren desert country.  And suddenly there were canyon walls.  Driving in, before we saw any ruins, we felt the spiritual force of the place.  For me Chaco Canyon was much more about the energy of the place than about the ruins though the ruins were large and easier to see and spend time in and around than those in Mesa Verde (about which I'll write another time).

A fellow Daughter of the King, an international prayer order whose cross that I wear identified me, was a ranger there and our guide for a two-hour tour of Pablo Bonita, the largest ruin in Chaco Canyon, pictured from a distance below.  It was four-five stories at the back walls and had over 600 rooms.  Our guide spoke of how the people there must have lived, pointed out the detailed rock work, and we noticed that even the storage rooms were done with care.  This entire canyon was filled with astonishing structures around AD 1020 - 1120.

             The people must have been short!
Unprepared for a rocky hike!

Our guide, wanting to be sure we were having an enjoyable time, followed us to the next ruin on the loop and introduced us to the Navajo man who had been the master of restoration in the park for a number of years.  He told us he was the only Navajo (a Hopi reservation adjoins the park) and also a medicine man.  He said those working there needed his healing services frequently.  

And the canyon itself--we could have spent many more hours there, but did take time for a brief walk/hike.  It appeared that we wouldn't be going up the hillside--just a little walk around some small ruins.  When the trail turned up a rocky slope, it was impossible to stop.  The feel of the space and reaching a height where we could survey the area was enticing.  The photos give you only a tiny sense of the grandeur of Chaco Canyon.  I would love to return, stay overnight and hike the trails.

PS:  I've been trying to post this for about a week.  Hope it happens today!