Fall is fleeting up here at 9300′.
It blows in overnight, flexing its artistic vein as it paints the hillsides in shades of gold and red and fiery orange.
It drops gilded carpets of Aspen leaves on forest paths as though laying down a golden carpet fit for mountain royalty.
I like to pretend that I myself, am the aforementioned royal visitor. I stroll between seasons on a long Aspen leaf lined carpet into my kingdom of statuesque trees, waving to my Mountain sentinels as I go.
I wrap myself in Mother Nature’s earthy perfume and memorize the tune bellowed from deep within the woods–the hum of the bees, the whisper of the wind, the trickle of water, and the cracking of wood as my woodland neighbors wander invisibly among the swaying trees.
It had to have been one or two in the morning, but I lay wide awake in the tent; alert enough that it felt as if day were about to break.
The night air had dropped to the low 30s and frost covered the rain fly creating little ice crystals that glittered and danced under the full moon.
I lay there, nestled deep within the downy depths of my sleeping bag with only my nose and cheeks exposed to the cool mountain air, and I listened.
Our campsite, sheltered in the midst of stoic Lodgepole pine trees on the banks of a high alpine lake, was high enough up a long, boulder filled, dirt road that traffic noises were obsolete. The night was windless and the air was still and cold, chilly enough that the atmosphere around the tent seemed to be frozen in time.
I listened and I listened. I and realized that for the first time in as long as I could remember, there was nothing outside of my own thoughts and my own slow breaths to listen to.
When I was a little girl, I liked to pretend that I was a cowgirl.
I would spend hours getting lost in daydreams of wrangling cattle and of strapping on my chaps and spurs and riding off into the sunset on my lively steed.
I so badly wanted to live the life of adventure that was so often the main vein running through the stories that recounted the days of the wild west.
Stories of heroic cowpoke protagonists, of miners living high atop the Rocky Mountains, of straight shooters and showdowns.
And though I don’t partake in any high noon showdowns or spend much time around horses, I like to think that I am living out my childhood dreams of cowgirl adventures via elk jerky and apple picnics at the top of high mountain summits. Through wandering drives up old access roads in search of snow in July. Through the twangy stories told during a private blue grass show on a deck overlooking Telluride and the San Juans. Through evenings spent on a wobbly, spider-ridden kayak watching fireworks cascade over Lake Dillon. Through hidden campsites that provide an unobstructed view of the stars and the sun rising up above Cataract Falls. Through the eyes of an eight year old as she learns the ins and outs of the world around her. And through the joy felt when close friends and family come together for an evening of ongoing laughter over charred ribs and corn on the cob dripping with melted butter.
I’ve had a few memorable showers in my 29 and 3/4 quarters years.
I know, I know…what kind of statement is that anyway?
But hear me out.
I’m talking a shower where you turn the heat up as hot as you can stand it without feeling as though your skin is about to melt off your body.
I’m talking a shower that fills your bathroom with so much steam that it becomes difficult to take a deep breath; and in the very same moment, feeling the dirt, the grime, the sweat, the laughter, and the sand melt off your body and swirl around the drain, waving as though shouting gleefully, “until next time!”.
I’m talking a shower that leaves your skin pink with heat and the beginnings of a slight sunburn and memories from a weekend outside under the hot Rocky Mountain sun.
Now that’s a memorable shower.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Taos NM, Zapata Falls, Lower Cataract Lake
Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Keystone, Breck, Montezuma, and Summit Cove.