May 12, 2013

64 of 65

Rock People

We lived in the mountains of Clear Creek County for 12 years. Our driveway was a private road shared with several other property owners. From Fall River Road, you would go down about a quarter mile and across the River to reach our house. The road then went back up the other side of the canyon another quarter mile to our nearest real neighbor.

There were four other patented mill sites nearby. One was owned by some people from Missouri who we saw only once in the dozen years we lived there. Those folks stopped by one day to say howdy and to mention that a log “fort” our children had built for play was partly on their property. We promised to move it, but never got around to it before both kids had gone off to college and weren’t that interested in playing there anymore.

Small summer or weekend cabins were built on two of the other mill sites. Those owners would use them infrequently. They were never occupied for more than a week at a time.

The last mill site was not used at all for most of the time we lived there. Just over a year before we moved, a couple from Illinois bought it with the intention of making it their retirement home. Unfortunately, the husband soon suffered a stroke and they were not able to leave Illinois.

All the rest of the land around us was National Forest. From our house, we could not see any other buildings; the only road we saw was our driveway; and usually we could hear only sounds of nature. We felt isolated, and we liked it. A visitor once said, “You could run around naked all the time and no one would know.”

Perhaps – but it gets pretty chilly at an altitude of 9,000 feet, especially in the winter.

Across the driveway and down a bit toward the river was the beginning of a trail that went up our mountain. It climbed about half a mile through a forest of spruce and pine and aspen to a fork where it split into three trails. Two of them climbed another half mile to what we called the Jeep Road. Technically, it was Forest Service Road 171, a single lane (at best) carved along the side of the mountain. It was almost never travelled except on foot or by ATV – or a very few hardy 4-wheelers.

Here, the altitude was around 9,500 feet. If you turned left and continued another half mile, there were two large outcroppings of rock. Venture out on those and you could see for miles. Tiny cars would traverse Fall River Road across the canyon, but most of them did not make any sound that could be heard from there. Often I would walk or jog to those rocks to simply sit or stand for a minute or two or for half an hour. Living in the mountains you learn that rocks have wisdom and a very soft, slow voice. If you give them a little time and a bit of quiet, they can help sort out many of the thoughts and problems that we humans tend to carry in our minds.

Our dog Emmy was usually with me. As I listened to the rocks, she would sniff around the area until she thought it was time to move on. Sometimes we went farther down the road. Other times she would see that I still had things to learn that might take a while, so she would go on home.

If you turned right where our trails hit the Jeep Road, you could walk or run another six miles to Fall River Reservoir, perched at 12,000 feet on the edge of the James Peak Wilderness Area. That was a trek for special occasions, only.

Sometimes I did not go to the Jeep Road. If I went right at the three-way fork, the trail leveled out, crossing a meadow and turning toward the River. In barely a quarter mile, there was a group of large boulders. The tallest one reached perhaps 15 feet above the ground. On top of that boulder was an indentation that made a perfectly comfortable seat. Though I sometimes enjoyed looking out at the trees and meadow, it was easy to sit and close my eyes without worrying I would lose my balance.

These granite psychologists seemed to ask me to make myself comfortable on their couch for a quiet session of my thoughts merging with their soft voices.

Emmy did not particularly like going there. The climb up the boulder was too steep for a dog. She generally knew when I was going to head in that direction and let me go by myself.

It has been several years since I have spent quality time with those rocks. That is not a long time for them. They probably haven’t even missed me yet. However, it is long enough that I should probably stop by to say hello. I do miss our talks.

7 thoughts on “DAY 64 – ROCK PEOPLE

  1. The mountains are just the best, aren’t they? My wife and I met in the mountains of Colorado and now live in the Oregon Cascades. The trees, rocks and vistas vary in each of course, but majesty and solitude and beauty are abundant in both areas.

    I hadn’t realized we were already up to 64 out of 65! I’ll bet you’re ready for a rest. Perhaps you can get back to the granite grandfathers soon. Spring meadow flowers are surely near at that altitude now.

  2. OK. I don’t have time to read this whole post right now, but before I leave the page I wanted to say that I am so excited to find this series. I love your private estate. How wonderful. Not that I want to be away from people, but more that I want to be surrounded by nature. What a lovely thing.

    • There are many benefits to being away from people; and when you want to be with people – or need to be with them for work, etc. – they are only a short drive away. There were winter days with bad roads that would make us wonder why we lived way up there. Usually, though, the farther up the road I would drive after leaving work each afternoon, the more relaxed I felt

      A balance is necessary between human interaction and time with nature. There is a story I have told in another post that bears repeating. It is of a holy man who went to the Himalayas to pray and meditate in seclusion. After he had been on the mountain for several weeks, he received a profound insight into the meaning of life and knew he had to share it with the world. He came down from the mountain and was walking toward town when he met a group of revelers who had just left a large wedding party. They were a bit inebriated, and one after another brushed roughly against the holy man as they passed. He finally pushed one away from him saying, “Out of my way, you drunken fool.” Then he stopped, closed his eyes, shook his head sadly from side to side and turned to walk back up the mountain.

      Our dog enjoyed living in the mountains, though she was terrified of the bear (as is appropriate) and had some unpleasant run-ins with skunks and porcupines. I have written more about her in another post (you can click here for the link)

  3. If I am still blogging when I am 50, which is only a few years away, I will try and remember to do a similar type of thing. Hey, congrats on getting social security. They keep saying we won’t get any of that so enjoy it for me as well! 🙂

  4. OK, now I have read the lot and very glad I came back to finish this post. It’s a goodie. What wonderful friends you have in these rock people! It sounds like you have made yourself a very good life. They want you back.

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