Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Searching for El Dorado - Part VI

You are probably wondering if there is any plan to these posts by now.  Yes and no.  I start by looking at pictures I took - and from that come memories of the trip.  Then maybe it makes me think about a poem or a quote.  Then I just start writing.  Like now for instance - I know I'm going to show a bunch of pictures of a hike that I did in Boulder.  That might be a proper end to this entire series of posts on my trip.  Or maybe I'll end with some pictures I took of the Oregon Trail in Nebraska.  Maybe I'll have an entire other post about those pictures.  At this point - I don't know.  I'm just going to start writing.
View from my aunt's front yard.

"Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." - John Muir

On my last full day in Boulder that's exactly the urge that I felt.  My cousin told me that there was a trail head only two blocks away from their house - so, I decided I'd venture out and see what I could see.

For full disclosure - these pictures are going to be in reverse chronological order - because I took more pictures coming down than going up.  But going up makes for a better story.  So, here is the lowest picture I took.  As you can see - it doesn't take long to have a pretty awesome view.  Those of you who have never been to Colorado might be surprised to see how flat it is to the east of Boulder.  The truth is that the whole eastern half of the state is very flat.  It kind of slowly slips down toward Nebraska - like a dish dryer slopes down to a sink.

This is the view to the North.
It's amazing how just 20-30 minutes on a trail like this can make a large change in perspective.  In the distance is downtown Boulder.  All of the cool restaurants, bookstores, and coffee shops - they are all in, what seems like from here, a very small area.

As I was going up - I was also moving west and south.  I found myself retreating into the forest.


I got so high that the ground was now covered with snow.  I was no longer protected from the wind.  The trees were waving back and forth.  At times it seemed like they might fall on me.  I pressed on.

I finally came to a place where to go west was to go down in elevation.  I was now fully into the wild (or at least it felt that way).  To the west there were the Rocky Mountains.

Before coming down the way I came - I tried to find a view looking east.  I found that I wasn't in the wild at all - but rather a place that people could drive to in the summer.  There was an amphitheater - a sign of civilization going back to the Greeks. 

Humans evolved at the edge of the forest - or was it the edge of the savannah?  The most beautiful places to me are always where two kinds of topography meet.  Hills overlooking the sea.  A trail entering the woods. 

As humans I think we are meant to live on that edge.  We are supposed to move freely between the forest and the savannah.  We need to move between light and dark.  None of us are entirely one thing.  Most of us are not even two things - we are a multitude of things.  And we must feed all of our interests in order to be satisfied.  We must allow ourselves to be social and alone; talkative and silent; regret nothing and be accountable for our actions; be men of action and think before we act; be vulnerable with others and guarded; cry easily and not let our emotions get the better of us; work hard and allow ourselves to rest. 

“For there is not a single human being, not even the idiot, who is so conveniently simple that his being can be explained as the sum of two or three principal elements; and to explain so complex a man as Harry by the artless division into wolf and man is a hopelessly childish attempt. Harry consists of a hundred or a thousand selves, not of two. His life oscillates, as everyone's does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousand and thousands.”   Herman Hesse - Steppenwolf

I guess it will end up being seven posts after all . . .

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