One of the great landscapes of my life, Mt. Sopris looms above Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, where I went to high school. I climbed the mountain several times and often spent days backpacking through the Rockies and the Utah canyon lands. I loved it, and remember well how wonderful it was to pitch camp after a long day on the trail, bathing in a clear river and cooking dinner on a hissing stove. You’d be miles from any road, three or four days into a two week trip, among good friends and astonishing beauty. Late in the second or third day, your body would find the rhythm, and the walking became effortless on the flats. Steep passes were a challenge, but gladly met and opening finally onto a new valley more beautiful than the one you left behind. In the canyons, you’d find yourself waist deep in a stream between narrow walls opening on a crack of blue sky hundreds of feet overhead. Round a bend to find an Anasazi ruin tucked into the cliff like a swallow’s nest. So many memories, far more than I can share in a post.
The last time I was backpacking was when I was 21, and now 21 years later I just wouldn’t be able to do it. My knees, heart and lungs would give out. I can’t tell you how angry and disgusted that makes me. I really can’t say why I let it go. I got distracted by life, drawn down other paths, and put on over 100 pounds. I’m not an athlete, never really liked team sports, but I miss the summits and the shadowed canyons. One of my goals in losing weight is to get back there, to climb up out of a valley into a pass so narrow you can almost span it with outstretched arms, and then race down into the next valley and sleep in tall grass by running water. I’ll make it, too.
Scott Ingram Photography Flickr (CC)