Monday, August 15, 2011

Hike in solitude

Today I went on a hike by myself at Mueller State Park. Despite the quietness and rest this season has for me at home I was still in need of some geniune solitude. A trail named, 'Elk Meadow' caught my attention and I decided to explore that one. It is listed as just over 2.2 miles and I thought that would be a good distance since I have only been in Colorado for 3 weeks.

I parked near the trailhead and gathered a few things in a backpack. There were no other cars in the lot so I was pretty excited for a quiet hike. I took a quick peak at the more detailed map and started down the trail. I brought a book entitled, Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies, with me in case I wanted to identify some plants. There were a few along the way that I attempted to identify but am not certain if I am correct. I think I saw: Canadian Buffaloberry, Pineapple Weed, Rabitbush and Angelicas.

I did not pay close enough attention to the map and ended up hiking 4.8 miles. On the way out I went nice and slow and tried to use all my senses to experience my surroundings. The scents of cedar, pine and juniper were very strong as well as the scent of horse manure (the trail was open for horse riding as well.) I stopped a top a hill that looked directly at Pike's Peak. There was a bench in the shade of a tree that looked very welcoming. I munched on some granola bar and banana chips while reading Psalm 36 which says, "Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness stretches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep." It was a nice moment of contemplation as I viewed the mighty mountains and beautiful skies.

The return journey was exhausting and I was definitely less aware of my surroundings as my tired body just wanted to get back to the car. At one point, however, I noticed a lovely little violet flower that I had not seen on the way out. I stopped and studied it for a while and enjoyed another moment of slowing down. I also noticed a deer track in some mud on the way back.

Elk meadow
is a lovely place
to study a flower petal
and for a fellow
to rest in solitude.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Colorado Wildness

I have been in Colorado for just over two weeks now. I am adjusting to the difference in culture, schedule, home, relationships...well, pretty much everything. My soul is already feeling refreshed and restored as much of the buzz and adrenaline of the city is gone. I have spent so many years sleeping with noise-air conditioner, people yelling on the street, sirens, etc.-that I find my mind and body a bit restless most nights here.

Last Saturday we (yes, I am aware that I just switched from 1st person singular to plural. sorry grammar folks.) drove to Mueller State Park in Divide, CO, and enjoyed a beautiful hike through a forest of pine, cedar and aspens down into a gorgeous valley with a wee pond. We then made the trek back up the hill into the forest to circle around to the trailhead. It was very peaceful and quiet. Besides birds, trees and plants we did not see anyone else on the hike. We are still adjusting to the altitude and dryness so the 1.3 mile hike was enough for us.

Today we drove into Pike National Forest in search of a hike. We stopped at a little gravel parking lot along the Platte River. We got out and looked around, put Shiloh in the Ergo carrier and did some tight rope walking across the river on a fallen tree. We hiked up a little ways but stopped as it was steep with lots of loose rocks. No need to tumble down the hill with our little guy helplessly attached to mama's back. After our descent we let Shiloh out and he played with rocks. I was telling Dana about a book I am reading called, Last Child in the Woods, which talks about the desparate need to get children to experience nature, when I realized I was just standing on the river bed. So, I decided to experience nature with Shiloh by wading in the river. At this point Shiloh was standing in the river, walking around and throwing rocks. When he saw what I was doing he started taking Dana's shoes off.

For the next thirty minutes we all waded in the water, threw rocks and looked at what appeared to be gold flakes in the bottom of the shallow river. Shiloh sat down in the water a few times when he lost his balance but did not seem to mind too much. He had a plastic braclet which we threw upstream and he caught as it floated by him. I saw some tracks on the other side of the river and went to investigate. I am not sure what they were from but as I looked around I suddenly noticed wild rasperry bushes along the riverbed. I told Dana, 'Look! There are tons of wild raspberries.' However, we had seen a sign in the parking lot that the area was treated with lots of herbicides and decided not to eat the raspberries. In our little outing I was able to identify the following plants: thistle, wild sage, wild raspberry, red clover and yarrow. There were so many others but I am happy to start small.

This new relationship with the land called Colorado is pretty exciting. We are looking forward to getting to know more of the land and the people here. Ah, it feels good to write again......

Oh yes, and yesterday I went to Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs and glazed all of my pottery pieces. They should be ready to be picked up on Tuesday. I am very excited to see how they turn out especially because I experimented with some color combinations that Jennifer (the potter whose studio and kiln I am using) had not done before. I hope to post pictures and such next week.