In spite of the physical and mental challenges of the backpacking trip, the views of the Colorado landscape made it all worthwhile. Beautiful vistas, overlooking sparkling lakes, roaring streams and lush green meadows surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks were the reward for enduring the trials of the trail. And the silence...it is wonderful to know that there are places in the world that still exist in their purest form, untouched and unspoiled by what mankind considers "progress." Individual insects could be heard buzzing as they gathered nectar and branches made cracking sounds from the wildlife that scurried through the wood. No other sounds existed, except for the occasional airplane that would not even be detected among the noise of the city. There is nothing that I can compare it to; one has to experience it for him or herself.
The days in the wilderness were sunny and hot. Sunscreeen and mosquito repellent both were a must--there's no getting around either one if you want to exeperience even a modicum of comfort. The sun blazed overhead, but the trail also wound its way through shady areas covered by mostly pine trees. We hiked through mud that sucked us in several inches; it took effort to pull one's boot out of the muck for the next step. Several yards later, we were met by snow drifts, some still waste deep and suspect regarding their ability to withstand our weight. Deadfall blocked out path, and we were forced to step or climb over these dead, fallen trees, stacked every which way, like so many pick-up-sticks, on top of each other. Watching out for one another became the order of the day.
Nights in the mountain are clear and cold. Countless stars sparkled overhead, many of them shooting, unimpeded and unfaded by city lights. Frost covered our tarps and sleeping bags as we awoke and the water in our bottles was ice-cold. Our breath hung like clouds in the frosty air up until the time the sun rose and warmed the mountain quickly yet again.
The experience was not for the weak or faint of heart. It took real effort, real strength, inner and outer, to overcome the physical world in it's most natural and undisturbed form. But, upon reaching the ridges that overlook the meadows below, all obstacles are forgotten. We reveled in the beauty of our world, and experienced a sense of peace unparalelled in the civilized world. Here we could connect to nature, to our God, to each other and to ourselves. All outer distractions are forgotten. Though we rested not on the highest peak of the mountain, it was the pinacle of the spiritual experience. Here, God lived, and we were at peace.