Someone very wise said it first: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
If we’re acquainted, you’ve heard me say on more than one occasion that I’m lucky to live where I do. I am much more likely to run out of years than I am to run out of beautiful adventures within reach.
It took the most of two full days to travel and photograph a scant sixty miles straight up and straight down on Colorado’s Alpine Loop. The switchbacks and drop-offs on this route between Lake City and Ouray are notable. The path to summit is one-lane and two-directional, requiring vigilance and foresight, plus a keen ability to back a vehicle onto the only available ledge that is broad enough to allow travel in both directions.
I would not consider myself a thrill-seeker, but in two days of travel on the Loop, abundant thrills found me. I saw a moose in the willows of Wager Gulch, a clan of marmots playing at the top of Engineer Pass and a developing wildflower show in American Basin. I heard wind hissing through the remnants of a mining camp and felt the shallow press of breath in a short hike above tree line. And I learned to lean into the jolts and bumps of the road, just as if I were on horseback.
We took a detour up Schaeffer’s Gulch, alternating stops to heave boulders to fill in deep road ruts with other stops to roll away boulders blocking the path. This side trip was halted at tree line, where snow still covered the road on a north-facing slope. At elevation, the June sun is near and will soon transform the drift. But for now, it caused a turnabout.
In the end, the only casualty of this high, slow creep of an adventure was a torn-up arm earned in a spill I took as I explored one of the ghost camps. Saved the camera, but bashed the arm. Far worth it, for the experience.
Also earned, I must say, was the great satisfaction of knowing I hadn’t allowed fear to completely distract from the pleasure of my journey.
I hope you enjoyed the ride.