As we worked late into the afternoon up at the ditch on a section that crosses a Forest Service trail, a part of the Continental Divide Trail, we had the rare pleasure of meeting people so far and away up there as we were, a couple of backpackers in the middle of their journey up the CDT, part way through their latest 110 mile section of high mountain hiking. I love to stop to talk to folks on the trail, if they have the time and breath (air really is an issue up here in the elevation!) to talk. Usually I’m horseback, and do my best to hold up my horse and pack string long enough to share a kind word with the strangers we pass. I tell the boys we are “Ambassadors of the Sport” on the trail. Everyone is, really. And for whatever your sport… Forrest rides a dirt bike. He’s now stopping on the trail, killing his motor, taking off his helmet, and introducing himself to people he passes. Don’t you wish everyone would do that? All we can do is start with ourselves.
Back to those backpackers… So, the sun is setting, just north of the Rio Grande Pyramid and La Ventana. The open field before us is aglow with the last light of the day and the mountain ahead looms majestic and impressive, already appearing as a silhouette towering over the field of softly swaying summer grass. A nice view, to sum it all up.
I ask the backpackers, in all their journeys, where has been the most beautiful place? A wise young man, he answers that he has seen such beauty everywhere, in every place he has travelled to. He has seen it, he has found it, he has looked. All so different, all so special, all with its memories and attachments and stories which bring it all back to him and make it “his” in a way, but keeps him open to knowing that such beauty is not a fleeting site, but around every bend. Everywhere. Look for it. It’s there. In the deserts of New Mexico from where he had just completed hiking, to the high lush land before him in southern Colorado; and all the way up the rough and wild lands of Alaska and British Columbia. There is beauty everywhere, he said. He is right. He told me how in all his travels, the people he meets all find the land they live in to be the most beautiful. And I wonder as I look at the magnificence before me how right he is.
We smiled at the brief touching of each others lives, sharing of our stories brief but true. He turned to watch me resume work, lifting my shovel up here in our awe inspiring mountain, so far from anyone else except my boys working right here beside me. And I watched as he and his friend got smaller and smaller as they crossed the open meadow and disappeared into the shadow of the mountain before us.
(Off to Ditch Camp… see you all Thursday evening or Friday morning! Hope each and every one of you have a good week.)