24 June 2009
A Swing with a View
Today's bad news: I nearly killed my mom. The good news: nearly is all the further I got. I wanted to take her on a hike at Gold Hill, which is one of the many trailheads for the Colorado Trail. It's not too far from the condo, short enough to walk to the trailhead, and I normally hike it 3 or 4 times when we come out. It's a familiar hike, and I can choose how far up I want to go. It also usually has some good wildflower fields, so I knew she would enjoy it.
When we started up, we saw several more varieties of wildflowers than I've ever seen there. I wonder if it has something to do with the new habitat in which they find themselves. The area has been hit in the last few years with a beetle infestation that is killing all of the lodge pines, and most of the pines on the lower portion of the trail have been razed. So we started with lots of oohs and "look at that one!" As we continued on, however, the oohs turned to ohs, as in "oh, I think I'm going to die." I'm willing to take my share of the blame on this one. Perhaps I over-estimated her ability. Perhaps she was a little fatigued today from our previous hikes. But the woman was really pushing herself today--trying to walk much faster than necessary, not giving herself long enough rests. I was torn between choosing to head back down and trying to force a slower pace to get her to the spot I wanted to show her. In the end, I coached her up the incline. Hopefully the exertion was worth it for her.
Just off the left side of the trail is a wonderful surprise, but it only reveals itself to the observant hiker. Some wonderful human being once felt it would be a good use of his time and energy to construct a swing made from fallen pine. As far as I'm concerned, his time was put to perfect use. The swing is perched just at the edge of a drop off that leads to a valley of wildflowers. Most of them are yellow, but today I found two lavender columbines tucked away in the midst of the golden daisies and snapdragons. The swing looks out on this valley and the mountains across Hwy 9. While mom was catching her breath on the swing, she counted 18 snow-capped peaks. I think it may have been worth it for her, but it was a little worrying to see her struggle today.
Our trip back down was really easy, as hikes usually are. We sometimes doubt that we can make it to our goal, but when we do, everything else seems so simple. Mom was beating herself up as we neared the bottom, though. She was upset about how long it took her to get to the swing. I don't know if she took what I said to heart, but I felt I was imparting some wisdom to myself: It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there, just that you get there.