Imagine skimming along at 13,000 feet, an undulating path underfoot. You're alone, above timberline, above the urban fray of political bullshitters, tedious Face-bookers and mass murdering psychopaths...above all the sordid megalomanic news of corporate greed and corruption. I tell ya, folks, now more than ever, depleted spirits cry out in desperate need of a wilderness recharge. Nothing—not drugs, alcohol or money—fills empty vessels with peace and contentment quite like a lonely alpine trail.
This time, Bobbie and I want to go somewhere less popular than Highland Mary Lakes...someplace empty of 8 passenger SUVs and plebeian Motor-heads revving ATVs.
Minnie Gulch is such a place, wallflower enough to fend off advances, yet easy on the eye and soul. Absent fanciful lakes and lore, mythos and pathos, people and machines; just a lonely above-timberline trail with restorative unbridled vistas.
Some might find Minnie Gulch unremarkable, especially this time of year toward summer's demise when tundra undergoes its annual metamorphosis from verdant green to flaxen gold.
After a couple gentle miles, Minnie Gulch intersects the CDT (Continental Divide Trail). Cool, maybe we'll run into some thru-hikers. I don't count thru-hikers invaders of solitude. On the contrary, they are fellow seekers of solitude.
After intersecting the CDT, we couldn't decide whether to go left or right. Both directions rose to lofty ridge lines that appeared to offer great views into places we had yet to rest our eyes. We decided to do a both, first heading southwest Molas Pass-bound segment, then doubling back to explore the CDTs northeast toward Handies, Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks.
In all we met and talked to 5 hikers and one Bike-Packer (a seventh had earbuds in place and offered only a don't-bother-me nod). Otherwise, everybody else seemed to be in desperate need of conversation, most having been out since early July.
All had harrowing, wide-eyed weather stories...wind, rain, hail, snow and, of course, lightning. There are few places to hide above timberline, so if it's adventure you seek, the CDT should fill the bill. In such life and death situations regarding lightning, it helps to repeat the following mantra: The magic in life takes place at the edges of one's comfort zone.
We met the Bike-Packer pushing his bike up a grade too steep to pedal. He was from Mancos, and it was immediately apparent: there's no room for superfluous luxuries when Bike-Packing. Look how light he's traveling. Does he even have a sleeping bag in there? A tent? I'm impressed with his frugality.
Thunder rolls. A storm seems to be headed our direction. Time to get down. One thing we don't need, is another lightning story...
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