Backpacking in the Collegiate
Peaks Wilderness, Colorado
in the Rockies, CO
Kroenke Lake, CO
On our annual trips to Colorado
my husband, traveling friends and I usually give ourselves
one day to acclimate to the altitude before the exertion
of hiking and backpacking begins. We have found great merit
in this as I myself have suffered from altitude sickness
only once in my life and decided that it was one time too
many. It can be difficult to forfeit that first day and we
have found horse back riding and white water rafting to be
low key ways of adjusting to the altitude.
On our first day out a few
years ago, the rest of the group went white water rafting
and I decided to set out and explore the mountains on my
own, breaking the rule we set for ourselves about acclimation.
Leaving the motel without a plan, I found myself driving
up Cottonwood Pass. Before I knew it I had hiked to the summit
of an unnamed mountain and was alone in the heavens, almost.
The only other sign of warm blooded life was a chipmunk,
whose curiosity temporarily outweighed his caution. Our encounter
was brief, but touching and memorable.
The final straight up assent to the summit
at Cottonwood Pass, CO.
in the Heavens
There is something about mountains
that make a person feel insignificant and humble. There is
something about mountains that can also make a person feel
strong, connected and invincible. This contradiction for
me is part of their lure. From a vantage point like this
one a person can contemplate the dilemmas of the world, and
seemingly solve them.
Gray Day With Gray Jays
On the back side of Cottonwood
pass where the mountains finally give up their altitude and
sink into a large narrow valley there are a myriad of hiking
trails one can explore. We chose one in a more remote area,
thinking that we were less likely to run into other hikers
there. The minute we got out of the car to gather our gear,
we were introduced to the idea that this was indeed a popular
hiking location. A family of three Gray Jays immediately
greeted us with more than a warm welcome. These brave little
birds nearly accosted us as we got out of the car. Clearly
hikers in the past had taught them that people meant FOOD.
They swooped down on us stealing parts of our lunches and
finally got so brazen as to sit on our heads, hands and anything
else that would accommodate them. We so enjoyed their company
but it was a pretty clear illustration of how tame and bold
wild animals can become when fed by hikers.
"Where did he go?"
As we hiked along on this trail
the family of three Jays followed us along. They were like
little pets that couldn't get enough of us. But at a certain
point on the trail the little family had come to the end
of their territory and stopped following us. We saw other
Gray Jays in this new area and they were not tame at all.
After many hours on the trail and now heading back to the
trail head, the friendly little Gray Jays met us where they
had left us, and escorted our group back to the trail’s
beginning where we had met. What a funny, gregarious family
Alan Godsy holding a Conference
friend "Murph" wearing a fancy hat adornment
Mt. Evans Summit
The highest road trip one can
take in the continental United States is to the top of magnificent
Mt. Evans, in Colorado. This is not a trip for the faint
hearted. The narrow little road ambles aimlessly upward snuggly
hugging the mountainside the whole way, with sheer drop offs
on one side or another that could make an experienced mountaineer
uneasy. A driver depends on his nerves going up and his breaks