Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Westering 17: Pikes Peak Lost Sheep
A Sun Mountain Story

I am probably at 13,500 feet. It’s an alpine world here, above the tree line. I’ve pulled the car over at this scenic view on Pikes Peak Highway, and while I’m taking pictures of the low-growing vegetation interspersed with rock, I’m told by a man who just walked across the same terrain, that less than a half a mile in that very direction, several Bighorn Sheep are clearly visible.

And so I’m hopping from bare rock to rock, trying not to step on any alpine grass or wildflowers. After 500 feet or so, I find myself out of breath, and stop. Unbelievable, I think. I know I’m not in the best of shape, but this is sadly absurd. And then it hits me like a bong: the air is thin up here! Just this little exertion has taken such a toll.

And so I turn around. I’m all alone and need to drive the distance to the top and then nineteen miles back down again. The Bighorn Sheep will have to wait. But not more than five minutes later, I see a car pulled over to the side. Slowing down, I ask a man looking through binoculars just what he’s looking at. “Bighorn sheep, less than five hundred feet, right over there.” He points; I look.

Sometimes you need to let the mountain come to you.

~Son Rivers 2008

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