Monday, October 26, 2009

Foray into the Great Outfront

This is a post I was planning on making a week ago, before I was slayed by the flu. But it's still worth putting out there, a week later. Because it deals with something I was feeling then -- and, trust me, after more than three straight days prostrate on my bed, drooling and hacking, watching Sigourney Weaver slay aliens and the Yankees slay the Angels and whatever other brain-slaying tripe I could find on TV -- something I feel even more now: Restlessness.

Snow lay on the ground today, but the weekend before last was a lovely, downright weepingly gorgeous, warm, screamingly-colorful October weekend. Remember? I do. Because for weeks my family and I had a circle around that Saturday as the day we were going to, for the first time this year, toss our skis in the rocket box and head up to our secret stash spot high in the gorgeous autumnal mountains and, as one big happy family, get our year's first turns together ...

Welp ... the weather more than obliged. But ye olde aforementioned Swine Flu had other plans. Before it decided to take up residence in my host body (why didn't Sigourney come pull that alien bug outta my chest??), it infested my kids. Yep, right on our perfect weekend.

I was, I say again, stir crazy. And I was taking everyone else with me. No Sigourney there -- think more Jack Nicholson a la "The Shining." All work and no ski makes Ken a dull sociopath.

I desperately, despairingly, direly needed to get out.

So, I did, anyway.

I grabbed my daypack and headed up. Not to the high country -- but higher than my neighborhood country. I drove three miles: up past Fort Lewis College and on through the once-ranch-like (now California-like) Skyridge/Jenkins Ranch, to the end of the road. There, above the city reservoir, I parked, let the dog out of car, grabbed my pack, and headed up the city's new Skyline Trail, built and maintained by Trails 2000.

I was out. Not far, but out.

And, I'm here to tell you (even if a week late), that it was a damn fine getting out. Way damn finer than I was expecting, or could've hoped for.

And it reminded me, once again, that Robert Louis Stevenson -- that old pirate-writer -- was right: "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go."

The Skyline Trail climbs steeply up the north end of Raider Ridge (named for Fort Lewis College's old moniker, The Raiders), to dived between the Animas Valley from Horse Gulch. The Raider Ridge Trail then follows the sharped-edged sandstone crest southward until it ends with a steep decent into downtown, near the corner of College Drive and 8th Avenue.

Took me about four hours to (very) leisurely walk the trail right back to my back door. And in that time I was soothed and becalmed by the stunning and sweeping views in all directions. Views that put both Durango and my life back in context: Oh yeah! This is where I live! And this is why I live here!

And it reminded me why I and we -- all of us who chose to struggle to get by in this remote mountain town -- want and need to have these public lands, these many lovely and communal places all around us, right near at hand -- these nearby faraways -- that, as always, need our protection. And appreciation.

And all it takes to be reminded is to slow down, wake up, and remember to look around, right around you where you are.

And to go.

Check out a slideshow from the walk below:

Also, here's a crazy POV video from this year's Singlespeed World Championships, which included the Skyline Trail and Raider Ridge Trail:

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