About a month ago, I decided that I was in desperate need for some serious nature. I got into my vehicle and headed for the road. With no particular destination in mind, I followed the path that appeared to hold the greatest freedom. As I left town, the familiar weight of life began lifting off my shoulders. I ventured far and several hours later ended up in Canon City, Colorado.
Once I passed the guts of the small town, I followed a road north of Royal Gorge to find a suitable hiking spot. I had visited this sight several years ago and was not the least interested in being surrounded by crowds of tourists. A few miles past the main entrance, I found an unusually large pull off that lead to a nice, tourist free trail. Hallelujah. A sign at the trail head promised river access; could it get any better?
It was a hot, sunny day and the land did not provide an inch of shade. As I made my way down the trail, I wondered if I should have brought sunscreen. Too late now. Despite the fact that the Pueblo region of Colorado is known for it´s semi arid climate, the plants along my path appeared lush and green.
After about a mile, I encountered the only decent tree in the entire area. All other “trees” were huddled up to one another along the hillside and looked like scraggly bushes. Before me stood a survivor! The outcast tree had collapsed into itself several times and looked like the wooden equivalent of a 99-year old war veteran. Hut ab!
So far, I could neither see nor hear any kind of water. I continued along the path and after forcing my way through some stubborn bushes, I found a fence blocking my way. “Oh, come on!”, I exclaimed in frustration. I was getting ready to start my usual fuzz regarding humans´ ridiculous need to turn the wilderness into private property, when I discovered a ladder. Since animal guards are typically found much closer to the road, I cannot think of a reason anyone would build a fence in the middle of nowhere and then provide access to the other side via a ladder (maybe you can enlighten me?).
Either way, I was happy to continue my path and soon found myself in the midst of a small canyon. I began hearing the quiet trickle of water, and curiously scanned my surroundings. Unless the river was hiding in a parallel universe that I could only perceive with my ears, it was physically impossible for it to be hiding in this landscape.
After turning a few corners, I came to a nearly dead stream. Did the heat and lack of rain take its toll on natures waterways? The stream was covered in thick green algae and at times disappeared completely from the surface. The desire to stick my feet into the cold flow of the river quickly diminished, and I began looking for a shady spot to rest.
With my zipper jacket wrapped around my upper body and head, I made my way further into the canyon. Everything was quiet, peaceful, and undisturbed – just what I needed! As I was looking for a comfortable spot, I began noticing a noise somewhere in the distance; it sounded natural, yet powerful. For a while I couldn’t figure out what I was hearing. If there had been any wind at all, I´d attributed the noise to a storm in the distance. I found the answer along with a perfect rest site right around the next curve.
I had discovered the Arkansas river, which rages its way through a narrow river bed surrounded by hills and mountains. I built a little shelter and enjoyed lunch in the midst of nature. I spent several hours at this site listening to the river and enjoying nature. This is home.