"The highest goal man can achieve is amazement." Theories of Colours, Goethe.
Oh these mountains in which we live, they never cease to amaze. If Goethe is right, and I believe he is, we're on a streak this summer, kicking down those Goal-Posts nearly every single day, just going about our "business" in Lovely Ouray.
In my current inspirational read, The Anthropology of Turquoise, Ellen Meloy free-verses about life in her (adopted) high-desert home habitat—a remote and dusty place, snuggled against the terra-cotta hoodoos and red bluffs of southern Utah. "Some days, high on the ridge, with a seventy-mile view in all directions, I feel compelled to strike up an existential query and a lotus pose, forming profoundly spiritual questions and throwing them out to the ethos.
What do I know?
What is my place in the world?
How little do I need to have everything?
What are the obligations of living a certain geography, of narrowing the distance between eye and beauty, of making the visible world an instinct?"
Meloy gets it; The sacred relationship between Joy and "Place." One can't surmise such questions if they don't understand that principle.
For me, "place" is key to happiness. It began with a deep premonition that I needed a change from Les Miserable. When I looked far down the road I was on, all I could see was the same old thing, over and over and over. Where is the thrill in taking a road that goes in circles? I had to follow my heart, and to do that I had to "leave" in search of a better fit. Somewhere out there was a puzzle with one piece missing. My challenge was to find it.
I eventually found my "place" amid the aura of Higher Ground, Canyons Red, Rivers Green, Lakes Blue. It girds me in the face of a population bombed world gone berserk with avarice and hate. Whether by the luck of the draw, divine intervention, or natural instinct—the latter of which, I believe, is nothing more than paying attention to the little things that brings joy to one's life—I found the puzzle with a missing piece. And now I have it in my grubby little hands, almost every day... the antidote that neutralizes the other world, the one on my tv screen every night on the 5 o'clock news. The unexpected bonus is that by sharing my/our journeys with you, purpose is added to my life. It validates choices made, roads taken, and commitments honored. Dad called it "the Jesus Paradox," how the simple act of giving something away gets multiplied and returned to the giver.
One of us mentioned going to Senator Beck Mine (there is a disagreement as to whom). It may have slipped my lips, but I doubt it because I find the trail rocky and difficult to hike, not to mention a little boring. We've been there and done that a dozen times, and for what? A lone upright building, sore ankles, and flowerless meadows... thanks to the stinking manure spreading, overgrazing Mountain Maggots that gobble them up. Oh, and there's that 125 pound sheepdog, Goliath, known to kill anything that comes within a mile of his Maggots.
|Senator Beck Mine (Yawn)
We overtook a couple of ladies. As they stepped aside to let us pass, we paused to exchange "nice days" and other pleasantries. Suddenly, one of them asked if I was Box Canyon Mark? I admitted as much, wondering what offensive thing I'd written that was about to come back and bite me. It turns out she's was a BCB reader from Montrose, and stumbled across the blog while googling nearby hikes. Affirmation of "purpose" is always short-lived, so it's nice to hear that someone out there is impacted by what you do. With that, my "15 minutes of fame" expired, and it only took 90 seconds. We bid them farewell and trudged on.
|Wildflowers the Mountain Maggots missed...
Above Senator Beck tundra gave way to rocks and patchy snow. The trail disappeared, so being GPS-less, we were left with only instinct and experience to guide the way up to Ptarmigan Lake. It seems that we take a different route every time. Three grueling false-summit ridges later we succeeded in achieving our mission. One must earn far-views around here.
|Getting higher, getting smaller... Bobbie, dwarfed by "space."
We couldn't help ourselves. Caught in the mystical vortex of electric blue, we eased down to the lake... losing precious hard-won altitude that, in short order, would need to be regained. In the distance, above and beyond Ptarmigan Lake, was the Jeep road to and over Imogene Pass that separates Ouray and Telluride. I made a mental note to ask Chris and Mindy if, in exchange for pizza and beer, they would consider dropping us at Senator Beck's Trail Head on their way over Black Bear to Telluride next year, then pick us up on Imogene Pass on their way back to Ouray. What a glorious hike that would be without all the downhill toe jam.
|Telluride Mountain... 13,150 feet.
"You know, we are so close. Maybe we should grab that peak while we're up here." Without a word of response, Bobbie alters course. Yes!
|Altered course equals Higher Ground
It wasn't so much the Peak-Bag I wanted as it was to gain the higher connecting ridge as an look over the other side... maybe even look down on Telluride Town. 15 minutes later we sated my curiosity for the unknown. From our saddle perch, we eyed a chaotic abyss of rock, viciously precipitous and rugged. A tempting scree of teetering boulders lured me across to get a better photo... which brought a reprimand from Bobbie.
A few minutes later, trying to extricate myself from a predicament I now blame on "curiosity," Bobbie yells, "I'm on top." I look up; she's found a sub-peak with a sporting view, but it doesn't include T-Town. I joined her on top.
|Somewhere, around the bend at the bottom of this cavernous basin, hides Telluride.
We made our way south, riding the ridge, hoping to catch a glimpse of Telluride. I've never seen such ruggedness; it fell away in heaps and gobs of disorder, danger, and rotten rock.
"Ok, mind officially blown! I wish nephew Darin could see this. It'd be at minimum a 500 picture day for him."
We rode the ridge, taking in the show of light and shadow cavorting on the mountains and looking for a glimpse of Telluride. Finally, we were granted our wish...
Sometimes people spend money instead of time. But money is short-valued paper, and buys only temporary pleasure. Time, on the other hand, spent wisely, is "gold" in the memory bank. We "spent" an entire day soaking up awe and wonder in a landscape of sky-piercing peaks, and came "home" feeling enriched by new memories and philosophical reflections.
"The deepest thing we can learn about nature is not how it works, but that it is the poetry of survival." English novelist, John Fowles.