Ah, the importance of work. But what fun, a day off!
Yes, I confess. We took a full day off of work last week. Had to do it at ditch camp. You know how it is. If we had been home at the ranch, we’d have found things to do. Work would have stared us in the face and followed in our footsteps. You have to get away to get off the hook, so to say.
It wasn’t a relaxing day off. Sitting on a porch watching the day go by has never been for me. We had to ride our horses from camp to tree line, and then climb the Rio Grande Pyramid, which stands high and mighty looming over our big back yard at an elevation of over 13,800 feet.
I don’t know what was more remarkable: the three of taking a full day off, or the three of us climbing to the top of the highest peak around. I suppose the former. The latter, as Bob said, was still easier than a day of ditch digging.
Peak Bagging is a popular hobby here in Colorado with a long list of mountains over 14,000 feet elevation awaiting the challenge of ascension. The Pyramid comes in just under 14,000, therefore isn’t the attraction and destination of many of the slightly higher peaks. As an added bonus, this means no crowds. We didn’t see another human all day.
This mountain is not just a destination on a map, or a name on a list that needs to be checked off. It is the mountain which appears before us every day, which shadows over us, reining over the headwaters of the Rio Grande in all directions around us. It is the mountain which has called and beckoned us, teased and taunted us, tempted us to take a day off and try her on for size.
I wonder why we humans are so obsessed at conquering peaks? Perhaps it is the explorer within us. And yet it’s all been tackled already, hasn’t it? But if we stare at something long enough, in due time, we need to be there. Alas, the top of our highest mountain called us.
Well, that mountain was magnificent. The ability to see, in all directions, to look down upon the mountains that we have ridden up on horseback over the past eight summers… to put our world in perspective.
Climbing her rocky slope, at times she seemed larger than life. And at first view, taking in the panorama before us as we stood and soaked in the spectacle from the top, it seemed overwhelming. But then, we start to break it down and make sense of it all. In each direction we looked, we could say, “yes, we were there…” And suddenly what was once so large became somehow more intimate, more known, safer, almost touchable.
We returned to camp late than evening, horseback in the dark, and sat by the fire savoring a can of soup. Simplicity. The three of us around the glow of the fire, the horses turned out to the open pasture of the high country for the night, sharing the mountain with the deer, the elk, the moose, the coyote… You could look up from where we sat, and in the soft silver light of the waxing moon, see the silhouette of the mighty mountain, so close she somehow felt.
So small it now seems, our little neck of the woods. And in a good way. We have a greater sense of perspective having seen the bigger picture. The mountain, well, she’s a little less aloof. A little more understanding. We know her just a little more.