Colorado Trip

Happy Day after the 4th of July!

Although I intended to be spending the weekend in Tuolumne, a combination of factors has kept me in the low country. I am attending a leadership intensive in Denver, which I leave for tomorrow, and I need to finalize all of my pre-course homework. Additionally, taking a week off from work has necessitated the completion of several projects. I hope that sounds like a good enough excuse! Even as I sit here writing it I am tempted to say the “heck with it all” and jump in my car and head up Tioga Road.

I will be posting my adventures in Colorado, as I am planning a three-day trip after the class ends to Rocky Mountain National Park. My affinity for national parks has its roots at Rocky Mountain. When I was a teenager, I gazed longingly at the photographs in my book, America’s National Parks, and vowed one day to visit them all, especially those magnificent mountains out west.

The first wish fulfilled was at Rocky Mountain National Park. I flew out from Denver with a friend and we hitchhiked from Estes Park. During the entire trip I hiked though the area in amazement. These were real mountains! The highest peak I had climbed back east was Mount Washington, a mere 6,288 feet. (I shouldn’t be so blaise – although it’s small compared to western peaks, Mt. Washington does boast the highest recorded wind speed in the world of 231 mph and hikers sometimes experience what some have dubbed “ the worst weather in the world” while climbing it.)

These mountains rose into the sky, climbing to height of over 14,000 feet. I loved the bigness, the sense of enormity that the Rockies represented. After that trip I knew I would leave the east coast for the largeness of the western landscape, and my road eventually led me to Yosemite.

Aside from my marveling at the landscape, two other first-time experiences at Rocky Mountain National Park left a lasting impression on my life. I met my first “official” park ranger there and attended my first ranger-led nature program. The ranger transmitted his enthusiasm and passion for the park to me, and I remember thinking, this is the career for me! He led us in a song, sung to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, about Rocky Mountain National Park.

The second experience was discovering the writing of Enos Mills, the John Muir of the Rockies. Like Muir, he wrote eloquently and passionately about his wilderness experiences, and battled against development in the park. I visited his cabin and met his daughter, Edna, who kept her father’s legacy alive. While I was in the park, I read Wildlife on the Rockies, and his essay, “The Story of A Thousand Year Pine.”

So I’m off to the Rockies! For those of you who may have visited Yosemite this weekend, please email me your experiences. Your stories will help me withstand five days of sitting in a classroom!