Today’s going to be a slow day, with a bit of pottering about town (groceries, new novel), sitting at home (laundry, reading, writing), and working on some physics things here and there. It’ll be good to slow down. I went on another long hike yesterday, back in my more usual solitary mode. Last week’s to Willow (see a couple of earlier posts) was with my friend and colleague Albion Lawrence who I’d not seen for a long time, and so we spent a very pleasant time catching up on things (mostly sharing about books and film, as we do) as we walked.
Yesterday’s hike, following (initially) the West Maroon trail, was taken up with conversations with myself, both internal and external, and that’s something I enjoy a great deal. I thought I’d spend a lot of time thinking over various issues in physics that I’ve been puzzling over in my work, or that I’d learned about from various conversations and seminars while here at the Center. But I did not, surprisingly. Or not much. It was a very physics-free day, even though I was out there struggling along in the West Maroon area for over five hours (out and back to the bus).
Part of this might be because due to the large amount of snow on the ground in places, I lost the trail, and so spent a lot of time following the river trying to pick it up again. This involved lots of carefully dragging myself through thickets of tangled brush, climbing over (and sometimes up) rock faces, and so forth. I eventually found myself occasionally talking to the forest, the rocks, and the river/creek/stream as I tried to find the trail, noting each challenge they presented to me and whether they won a round, or whether I did, as I continued along. Eventually, I gave up trying to find the trail, got to a point I was happy with, exhausted from the struggle, and settled to look at the river and mountains while I had lunch and rested, taking off my boots for a bit of relief. Except for a very old single flip-flop in the middle of the river that must have floated down a long time ago, I’d not seen any other human beings for over two hours, nor any obvious sign of one, such as a footprint or a ranger-sawed tree. It was lovely.
I’d crossed over the river using a snow bridge before stopping for lunch, and after lunch I decided to head back. I was tired and was also not comfortable with the idea of not being on the trail for so long, since I was probably making more of an impact on the wilderness areas than I wanted to. As careful as I know I can be, I know that there were times where I could not avoid stepping on soft beds of wild flowers, or crumbling away a bit of a cliff side next to the river as I tried to stay close to it, or find a crossing. I decided to take one last glance over on this new side of the river to see if I can find the path and of course found it in about two minutes. I followed it back down to discover that it had (as I suspected) swapped to the opposite side of the river some two or more miles back, under the snow field I’d walked on. Oh well.
I rejoined people at the lower parts of the trail after a while, down near Crater Lake, and then found my way back down to Maroon Lake, and then the bus. The bus stops at the Highlands resort on the way back to town and I got off and went hunting for the one hugely refreshing thing that was suddenly on my mind (especially since I’d run out of water): A cold, cold, tasty beer and a place to sit and read and recover. First time I’ve found a use for the Highlands resort, and it’s a good one.