The Colorado trip somehow seems bigger, albeit distant, than most these days here in the east.
I think to Garret it was no big deal to try and hike/run the three (four?) 14,000 foot peaks in a single day. But not being acclimated and not being in the same shape as him, I think it was an ambitious goal. Nonetheless that day stands out in my memory; it stands clearly from all the other unconscious days I’ve spent being.
Like any other Colorado summer day, the storms rolled into the mountains in the late afternoon. We pushed past two of the summits of the named Ivy League peaks. There was a certain texture to the gray brown rock fields as we got higher and higher, listening to the sound of yourself breathing like a deep sea diver as the green grass of summer fades away to the bare unconsolidated ridge line.
The scree field on the backside after the second summit proved the most challenging. George the Kenyan running dog was afraid. I did not want to crush him with a boulder. I held him by the collar. Gingerly. We descended slowly; we made it down. Cautiously. The rain and storms rolled in as we ran awkwardly over hummucks, along a fast flowing mountain stream.
Garret was feeling good. He would run back and grab the station wagon. I said fine. I kept plodding on. At some point I arrived at a creek crossing where it wasn’t clear the direction forward. It was a three way intersection, a medium sized creek. I chose forward, barefoot first, carrying my shoes through the cold knee deep water. I returned back across the creek. I looked right, I looked behind me, back up the mountain. I wasn’t certain the direction they could’ve gone. The sky was gray and the rain continued. Then I saw it, the direction forward was left, down what could only be described as a narrow two-lane corridor. The creek ran with less urgency and it was maybe 8 inches deep, but it was the only way. There was no foot-track, everything was under water, but there were signs of humans nearby, a park service encampment was visible across the the stream and uphill. I plodded forward in the cold wetness until I found the dry trail; I stayed the course.
At the road I turned right. That was the communiqué, “Turn right”. No more than fifteen or thirty minutes later on the road the headlights of a spruce pearl 1990’s Subaru Legacy wagon became visible, Garret and George were warm inside. I hopped in, soaking wet and cold, but ecstatic. It was done. I’d made it.