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Friday, August 16, 2013

We Have A Lot To Learn From The Wild

For speed was a profoundly different way of moving through the world than my normal modes of travel. Miles weren't things that blazed dully past. They were long, intimate straggles of weeds and clumps of dirt, blades of grass and flowers that bent in the wind, trees that lumbered and screeched. They were the sound of my breath and my feet hitting the trail one step at a time and the click of my ski pole. The [trail] had taught me what a mile was. I was humbled [by] each and every one...

...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.
There's always a time where a you have to overcome your mind on a trail. Sometimes you want to give up, quit and cry. But it is in getting through those tough parts that reward comes. In the end, the reward was amazing.