Life Above Treeline

The morning quiet was deafening. The silence of the alpine void of wind, foliage and wildlife, just two weary travelers making passage across the top of the world.

It was late in the day and we were still climbing. Passing from 11,000′, 12,000′ and on into 13,000′ watching the sun slowly sink closer to the tops of the craggy peaks to the west. We knew time was short and that we would have to find a place to camp soon. We walked on in wonder of the high alpine landscape and were excited at the notion of the chance to spend an evening in such a remote location.

Approaching a small saddle in between two unnamed peaks, we made for a level piece of ground on the expansive tundra. It would be the highest elevation we had ever camped at amidst one of the darkest and coldest nights we have ever experienced in the Colorado backcountry. The sun soon sank behind the ridge as the cold quickly began to sink in. We entered into our tent and watched the sky turn from a cloudless deep blue blending into oranges, reds and finally to an infinite black.

We awoke in the calm of the predawn to stars beyond imagination. But these stars were not just above, they were beneath, they were all around. We felt as if our tent had been lifted into the heavens. Our vantage point on the high bench where we were camped permitted views of a horizon line well beneath us. It was truly breathtaking. We laid there allowing ourselves to drift back into a blissful backpacker’s sleep.

The morning quiet was deafening. The silence of the alpine void of wind, foliage and wildlife, just two weary travelers making passage across the top of the world. We stowed our gear in our packs, watched the sun slowly climb into the morning sky and set off down the trail. We followed the well-traveled path as it climbed up and along the shoulder of the peak to the south. Soon we would come to the high point of the Colorado Trail. We stood next to the sign marking the high point at 13,271′ and were awestruck, this is Colorado, these are the San Juans and we are truly blessed to be here.

We walked in the morning silence, eating Snickers bars, drinking cold coffee and soaking up the beauty of the immense terrain surrounding us. Before we had set foot on the Colorado Trail, our imaginations could only perceive so much, but being here, experiencing life above treeline, it was so much more. It was what we had come for, a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail, now deep in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, embracing a dream, our dream.

 

Peace,

MAD

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