Monday, November 1, 2010

A day of hiking....(Colorado: Part Three)

We woke up rested in the Yurt on our first morning. The clouds were clearing up and we had a 5 hour hike ahead of us. I couldn't even see the summit of our climb from the yurt, and I knew we had a ways to go.

I have never just taken off from the middle of nowhere without a summit in sight, no trail, just to accomplish getting to the top. But there was something freeing and and exhilarating about waking up, stretching, and heading off into nothing.

We passed the Bessies, broke fresh tracks and tried not to feel guilty trampling the beautiful Summer Colorado wildflowers.

Little by little we hiked farther away from our Yurt, and the only thing familiar. I kept turning around to make sure it was still there, not knowing that in a couple hours, I wouldn't even be able to see our Yurt anymore.

Some parts of the hike were harder than others. I know that around that 3 hour mark when I couldn't see the Yurt, my body grew tired and stiff with the sudden startling discovery of our isolation. It was quickly replaced with a sense of calm in knowing that we were okay. And even though this was something new and scary, it is always centering and worthy to step outside your comfort zone sometimes. Adaptability, strength, courage, excitement, experience. We could all use a little more in our lives.

And even here, there were things that reminded me of home. Each little home-shaped rock I tripped over was a note from the plains. It felt right to see something familiar in a sea of unfamiliarity.

My little mountain goat, taking a cold snow break.

This is a picture of me trying really hard to breathe. This little Oklahoma girl has lived at 1,000 feet above sea level her whole life, and almost 14,000 feet after hours of hiking makes for some flared nostrils and forced smiles.

The closer we got to the top, the rockier the climb became. We had to hike with our feet sideways to not slip down the mountain. And at every "summit" we thought we'd reached, there was another one right behind it.

(click to see full size)

And when we finally reached the top, and could rest our tired bones and appreciate the view....

All I could see was Mt. Elbert.
That damn mountain was once again reminding me that no matter how many mountains I climbed, how many goals I reached -it was still there. 1,200 feet higher than the spot I sat on, that took me hours to reach.

I started to realize that this climbing mountains thing was a lot like an endless rat race we all play in life. There is always something bigger, better, someone prettier, more talented.
And sometimes, enough if enough. You just need to accomplish that one big goal to be satisfied. To truly stop when you reach it, and break through a barrier that would have have held you back otherwise.
In February I found this mountain. And when I found it I showed Michael a picture and I said:

"I am going to climb to the top of this mountain. And after I do it, I will be able to do anything."

In my head I was doing everything. Having a baby, starting my own business, being at peace with myself and finally just feeling complete. Like I had accomplished the one thing I needed to do in life to prove to myself that I was going to be okay, from this point on.

And there was Elbert. Tired, flared nostrils, sore muscles, with a thunderstorm starting to roll in...I stared at that mountain. In two days I would climb it. And whether or not I finished was not up for debate, anymore.

It took us almost 2 hours to get back down to the reservoir. Hunter drank from it and I debated whether or not I would make it back up the hill to the Yurt. We were hurting, big time. And in my head I was secretly scared of the way my body felt after that day. I thought of Elbert again, before we hiked back to our Yurt right before the storm reached us.

Above treeline, high in the mountains, you don't look up at storms. You're in them. And in ten minutes you don't see anything, anymore. And you better hope for some shelter from the lighting and ice cold wind up there.

We built a fire that night. Made soup, and just....hurt.

Hunter passed out and slept all evening and all through the night. That was a lot of hiking for an old lab his age.

All evening while the storm beat on the outside of our little Yurt, we played board games, ate smores, and talked. I taught Michael how to win Monopoly, and in turn he beat me terribly after I professed that even though I know the rules to the dirty game, I refused to step on anyone on my way to the top, and would always lose at dog-eat-dog type board games.

We slept in a fort that night. We threw quilts over the top of our bunk bed and closed in our little bed, warm and cozy all night long. We slept like babies.

In the morning we woke up to the sunshine drying the last bits of the night's storm. I could wake up to this every morning.

It was our last few hours in the Yurt, and our last few hours away from every one and thing we knew. Soon we would drive to town to do a load of laundry at the laundry mat and pay way too much for their back-of-the-store showers.

Tonight we'd camp in the San Isabel Forest. And tomorrow morning, we'd find ourselves at the Mt. Elbert Trailhead.

I wished for one more night in the Yurt.

next: Part Three: Setting up Primitive Camp


Monique said...

Wow Aura

Your trip photos are absolutely stunning. I went on a mini-trek in Patagonia, Argentina and can relate to the feeling of making peace with solitude and the vastness of it all.
Can't wait for part three...
Much love to you.

Anonymous said...

Your photos! I can never get enough - I just want to see more and more and more! You have an amazing gift for seeing things differently. There are too many photos here that I want to comment on! :)

PS: Over on my blog I am doing a little jewellery giveaway, and thought of you with a rock climbing charm that I found... :) Would love for you to win it!

Anonymous said...

I just fond you blog and I loooovvvveee it!! You are SO inspiring! I would like to know the reference and name of your black and white picture frames above you couch because I think they are so pretty! Also where did you get them? Thank you so much for sharing your little world :)

rachel said...

reading this post was like taking a vacation! thank you for taking me away for a few minutes. stunning.

Alexandra said...

I'm new to reading your blog and am so impressed by all your entries that I've read. They're so beautiful, as are you! I truly look forward to reading your posts to come.

siniann said...

Stunning nature! You are super woman Aura :) Full of strenght and passion, to go through even it would be hard. Would you like to make one post of your daily or weekly exercises, how you reached this point that you could hike up to the mt. Elbert? :)

vintage girl at heart said...

I don't know what I love more..your photographs or story telling..just wonderful!
What an adventure!
Did you keep a journal in order to remember it all?

a little black cloud in a dress said...

I'm pretty sure that when you hike up a mountain while pregnant, you CAN do anything. Love, love, love your pictures. :]

Every Little Thing said...

i love the yurt! i can actually smell what it probably smells like. i miss camping. winter kicks my butt sometimes. cabin fever creeps in like nobody's business.

Monica said...

I've done hikes like that before where you really just want to feel accomplished by reaching your goal, but at some points you're not sure if it's worth it. Out of breath, sore, etc, but in the end it's totally worth it.

Gorgeous photos as always. I would've LOVED to listen to that storm roll through!

Melissa Blake said...

You two (well, three including Hunter) are so adorable!! Board games sound like a great way to ride out a storm. xoxo

Julie-Inspired said...

Amazing photos...and you two are too cute for words:)

Julie xo

Christine--RHP said...

whoa--what an adventure!! So vast and beautiful--your photos are really capturing it. Looking forward to the rest.

Snappy-Q said...

Awesome! You are a great story teller, I feel like I could get a sense of it all even without the amazing pictures. But I love the pictures too!

Unknown said...

All I can say is wow. Those pictures! I just did a post with a lot of pictures of Normandy and was too overwhelmed to crop and adjust them properly. Now I wish I had. You must have put so much work into this.

Candice @ ChiaSeedMe said...

What a beautiful story! And the pictures are just breathtaking! From a fellow Oklahoman, thanks for sharing your Colorado adventures:)

Christi said...

What a fantastic trip. Thanks for letting us in on your little adventure.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful journey to prepare you for motherhood ... because it is like this ... magical and surreal and work and difficult at times and beautiful and so on.



Unknown said...

Looks amazing! Can't wait to hear the rest!

Kelly @ turned UP to ELEVEN! said...

You all are such troopers! These images are amazing I can't even imagine being able to witness all that beauty!! I can't wait for more of the story.

Selena (Fran) said...

What beautiful pictures! I was delighted with the mountains! I like to climb.

The photo of you two smiling infected me and laughed too! hihi

Good picture is one that touches us or contagious!

Kiss in the soul (double)!

Bethany Susan said...

wow, i feel like i just went on that hike and slept in the cozy yurt right along with you. love your calendar-worthy photos. wish i was there. and love your journey- facing the mountain.

Megan said...

When put with such beautiful photos, this comment seems so silly, but I have to know- do you hike and travel with a tripod packed among your things, hike with your DSLR, do you have strangers take pictures of you along the way, what do you DO to get such beautiful photos of the two of you!? I always talk myself out of carrying too much equipment because I feel like a big weirdo, but then later wish that I had it!