Sometimes I'm in the back seat of a car going on an adventure and I just
start writing and vomiting words all over my notebook. Makes the 98 cents I paid for
it worthwhile as I fill ten pages in twenty minutes with indecipherable writing. I can read it
though, and sometimes I go back and feel like maybe I should share it. So here you go, a
regurgitation of words straight from memory lane. Have you got a story to share?
This trip was nostalgic for me in many ways. When I was younger, going through an intense time of emotional healing, I used to go for drives into the mountains by myself for hours. My truck would find a dirt road, some pass I had found in this old book I had on Colorado's back road passes from the 80's, and we would just cruise. The more 4WD the better. Sometimes I would take my only day off and drive the entire day, from sun up to sun down.
One of those days I drove to Telluride from Carbondale, a good four hour drive. I hiked up to Bridal Veil Falls and climbed around on still quite large piles of snow and explored around the old Powerhouse. I walked around town for awhile. I was so broke; I had put all of my money into the gas tank that day. I think I got a bagel or something at a cafe and asked the guy about an alternative route back on a road that wasn't pavement.
Then I left and drove back toward Ridgeway and found another dirt road that said Owl Creek Pass. According to the map I could go that way and just sort of loop around. I think it was still May, early May, may have even been April. The snow doesn't melt off those passes that early. But I didn't know that. I didn't know the mountains as well back then, their cycles and interconnected autonomy of climates and timelines. I had to learn those things.
Off I went, confident that I would make it to Cimarron. The day was already starting to think about dusk. In retrospect, after having driven the pass later on, I probably got just under halfway over that day before things started to get hairy. It's not a rough pass, but it goes high enough to accumulate a lot of snow that can impact normally easy turns and rises, but not in early Spring. There were massive piles of snow high above my truck on either side from the tractor plow, melting and making some gnarly mud and deep puddles on a lot of the hairpin turns going up. I kept thinking to myself, god damn am I happy I don't have to go back through this on the way down.
Ha...and then I ran into the tractor plow. I didn't actually hit it, but it was parked right in the middle of the road. It had just given up or something, with a big ass pile of snow in front of it. Who the hell knows where the driver went or how he got back. I was fucked though and pretty upset that I would have to maneuver a turn-around and drive through all of that shit back down. And the sun was about gone. And I was still hours from home after I got off the pass. It wasn't fun, it actually scared the shit out of me more times than I can count on two hands. No wonder there were no tire tracks heading up there before me; lesson learned. You wanna talk about white knuckles..I've never felt such tension and seen such ghastly white in my knuckles as on that drive back down.
Needless to say I made it back, late. I was so insanely happy and relieved when my tires touched solid dirt. And then pavement. Good times. I've been addicted to dirt mountain roads ever since. Not just for the adrenaline rush or the beauty of such untouched landscapes, but for the things that I learn about myself from them. Over the last eight years I've found many mountain cycles and characteristics that are reminiscent of life and its own cycles. When I first moved to the mountains I remember thinking about the curves. When you're driving through the mountains you're generally following a water source, and water has no set path; it flows and winds and curves its own path through the rocky terrain. I remember following that curve and thinking, I have no idea what could be on the other side of that. I should probably slow down.
We don't know what lies ahead, around the next curve. We don't know whether it's going to be a beautiful waterfall or a treacherous hill climb. Or both. Sometimes you have to take it slow and let the landscape just unfold in front of you.
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