This morning, Eric and Sam and Ringo and I hiked some of the North Lone Pine Trail. Eric had been bringing home such amazing pictures of the aspen trees turning color from his recent hikes, saying the other day “they look like they are plugged in, they are so bright,” I wanted to see for myself.
On the trail itself, there wasn’t much color, at least not the gold I was hoping for. In fact I only really saw this one tree, and it wasn’t even an aspen.
But I did see a moose! This is kind of a big deal for me. Eric has seen lots as he’s hiked over the years. The road to North Lone Pine Trail, Dead Man’s Road, is where he saw a mom and two babies just last year. I have been looking for a moose for years, expect to see one every time I go to Shambhala Mountain Center, but it’s only sort of happened once. We were up near Red Feather Lakes and in the distance on the side of a hill, I saw what I thought was a huge horse and just seconds before it was out of sight, I realized it was a moose — which felt like it didn’t really count as seeing one.
As we were driving up this morning, Eric said “look for moose because this is where I saw the mom and babies, although that was in spring.” I started looking, and not even five minutes later, there it was! Eating breakfast in what was essentially the backyard of someone’s camping spot. Eric started cracking up laughing because as soon as I saw it, I yelled, “A moose! I saw a fucking moose! Right there, right there!”
The fact that all four of us went on the hike is yet another sign that Ringo is growing up. On Friday at daycare, he went his first whole day without a single timeout, (he can get a bit pushy when someone isn’t paying attention to him, grabbing other dogs’ collars or barking).
The weather today was unexpected. When we pulled into the trailhead parking lot, it was sunny and nice. Just a few minutes into our hike, I realized I’d left my sunglasses in the car, and Eric was so sure I’d need them, we went back. Almost immediately clouds started rolling in and we ended up hiking in fog that made it seem like we were back on the Oregon Coast.
One of my favorite things about hiking is the opportunity for contemplation. It’s so quiet and peaceful, spacious inside and out. At one point today I started noticing how even though the trail is wide and there are many possible paths, various ways to go, many options for where to place your feet, there’s always one that is clearly the best. As I scan the ground, I can see the line I’ll take, it stands out against all the other possibilities. I feel like this is true about my life as well, that as I walk my path the right way to go is clear.
Hiking with Eric and the dogs also allows for conversation and connection. Eric and I talked about plans for the future, a few things we were struggling with, and how happy we both are right now, how satisfied we are with our life together. Eric said at one point, “if I lived my life over 10 more times, I couldn’t find a way to be happier than I am right now.”
At another point on the trail, when I was struggling to keep going but remembering how I’d done three hours of yoga the day before, Eric mentioned how my strength was yoga and his was hiking, and said, “What you practice is what you get good at.” So right.
Along the trail, someone had built a fairy house, a tiny log cabin next to Killpecker Creek.
Someone had also built a shrine on a tree stump. Somehow we hiked right past it on the way in, but noticed it on the way out. Eric asked if I had anything to leave, but all I had was a spare battery for my camera, dog treats and poop bags.
On the way back to town, we met up with a cattle drive. I told Eric, “you know you live in Colorado when you see a moose and a cattle drive on the same morning.” The Cattle Dog mix riding on the back of the horse with his person was just about one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. Do you see how he’s smiling?