...It had nothing to do with the gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even getting from point A to point B.
It had only to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles for no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental.
~ Cheryl Strayed in Wild
This morning my husband and I hiked the most strenuous and difficult hike on Telluride Mountain. We started at 8:30 a.m. and made it back into town about 1:30 p.m. Climbing 2,500 vertical feet to find ourselves more than 12,000 feet above sea level, we could see everything and hear nothing but the cool wind.
Descending 3,500 through rocky switchbacks against the steep and unforgiving mountainside, we finally found relief in a forrest of aspen trees and evergreens where the trails leveled out and softened under our feet with pine needles. I stopped periodically to admire the aspen trees--when the wind brushed up against the leaves they flutter like green glitter, exposing their paler green underbellies. And then there was the fear of bears. We didn't bring bells or a whistle, and we were not a large group, thus making us a decent target. But then I realized we are in their world, not in our world. This, too, was humbling.
The total hike was 8.3 miles of challenging ups and downs, but being alone in the wild for the better part of a day was profound. We never passed another hiker until the last mile on the trail. At one point we were on top of the world and at another we were gliding alongside waterfalls and creeks. Afterward, we could barely walk and needed calories more than I have ever felt before.