Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Working Retreat

This time last year, we were madly packing and preparing to fly out to Denver/Boulder for a conference/calling + backpacking adventure. The conference was work; the backpacking was our reward. We survived the rarified atmosphere of the historic B0ulderado Hotel (Uh, I can walk my own bag down the stairs, thanks), and then we survived the trail into the basin and up to the Continental Divide.

At the Edge of Treeline

We enjoyed ourselves hugely.

I found wildflowers galore!
Globeflower n Paintbrush

Parrys Primose Faces


We found lots of snow in the middle of Summer.
Some of it was hair-raising to cross.
Morning Snowfield Traverse

Some of it was merely, breath-takingly picturesque.
July Snowfields Above Lake Nokoni

In between exertions, we had brief moments to relax and take it all in.
Under Blue Andrews Peak

A working retreat, if you will. Not that we were doing our usual work. We were working to haul 25-40 pound packs up steep elevations. We were working to plan our safety, our path, the location of our next meal or stop. Hike, sweat, eat, breathe. Set up camp, break it down. Avoid the large animals. Avoid afternoon lightening. Filter water. Take a few photographs, take it all in. Our lives were reduced to the essentials.

Most of the time, such retreats are islands of calm intensity in our everyday lives. Ones focus changes dramatically. It's so jarring to then have to come back to everyday civilization and to hear cars and buses or the chatter of everyday lives, to be surrounded by plastic and metal. Our eyes search for the far-off vista of wilderness. At the same time, you carry the wilderness with you, tucked away inside. You can imagine yourself back on the path. You know it's there, waiting, even if you are caught in the fast-paced concrete wilds of modern life.
Descent in Afternoon Stormy Sun
Flower Meadow on Switchbacks

Moss Campion can grow half an inch in five years. It may be ten years old before flowering, twenty years old before flowering profusely. The wilderness moves on its own time. Breathe. Remember patience.
Cushion Pink - Moss Campion

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