Weekends with Atlas
It's become a tradition in September, when the cool air pushes in from the west, and the mountainsides catch fire with color, to escape to a new Colorado town. Fishing poles and gold pans packed, jerky and nuts at the ready, windows down and music cranked, adventures beckon around every corner. Though I'm a lover of world travel, I'm truly a disciple of exploration, excited for whatever can be found no matter how close or how far it is. It's amazing how much can be discovered in one's backyard with a little research and a whole lot of gumption to just hike one more mile, or go down one more four wheel drive road.
While many of these places are towns I've stopped through on the way to somewhere else, I've discovered that having people around you that are just as curious and courageous as you are can turn what was once a pitstop into something that is a lasting memory. Colorado is steeped in history running almost as rich as the mines that once made our state one of the most profitable in the US. They still pockmark the hillsides, scars that never let towns forget how they fit into the seedy mining days of the old Wild West. Rock piles ooze down from cliff faces that look impossible to scale, and collapsing buildings defy gravity slowly succumbing to the harsh weather extremes at elevation.
We love to see them all.
In search of gold and silver miners often over looked some of Colorado's lesser known gems. Peacock pyrite, Azurite, Turquoise, and Copper litter old waste rock, discarded by those in search of wealth. Not a big fan of diamonds, and conventional jewels we can search for hours for these treasures, climbing over old train trestles and up the side of 14,000ft mountains.
It's easy to get lost in the mountains, especially when you are with people just as excited as you are. There is always one more rock to overturn, or hill to climb, hint of an abandoned mining path to follow, or lake to summit to. We never run out of questions, or things to go back and research. We never want to slow or return back to the truck, our bodies giving out well before our minds, and the frustration of losing one more fly to the bushes instead of to a fish never deterring us from tying another on and trying again (I won't say which of us is better.... we both know the answer to that).
For us this is home, this adventure, this dance with history and nature. Each pass we climb is another look at something we've never experienced this way before. Sometimes it's nice to see things through new eyes, to share in the joy with someone else who can't get enough.
September is always a treat.
I recall memories from trips like this long after they have passed. Daydreaming of the next time we get to bounce down dusty roads not knowing if we are going to get stuck, or what alpine lake will call us up steep waterfall lined trails. I imagine the laughter and inside jokes that are shared while Billy Joel tells us we are crazy.
I know somewhere deep down that I would miss this even if I never experienced it at all.