Colorado Veins of Gold
Colorado Veins of Gold
Each fall, I travel back to the home of my soul – the mountains of Colorado – and am reminded of the meaning of beauty. I was lucky this year to miss the October blizzards, as the very next weekend deep snow brought a sudden end to the warm glow of the Aspen in the hills west of Denver. The weekend I was there, veins of gold glittered in the sunlight, against a sky as bright as blue becomes.
Because I had the good fortune to have lived out there for a few years, landing at DIA truly felt like coming home. Being familiar with an airport when traveling makes a big difference. I automatically feel as if I’m in that proverbial flow, saving my energy for negotiating other aspects of the trip.
My good friend Amy picked me up and after spending the night in the city, we headed up the next morning to Buena Vista. Within minutes we were in the foothills, then in the canyons, making our way southwest on Route 285 through tiny outposts with large gas stations and small diners. We stopped in town before heading toward Cottonwood Pass, had a cup of coffee and some nourishing food at a small café with a second hand shop attached to it. We thought about shopping for bargains, but we had hiking to do. Soon we were in the canyon looking for a trail. After a few short stops to check out a couple of places, we found a perfect stretch that meandered along Cottonwood Creek.
Hiking in the hills of Colorado is quite possibly one of my favorite pastimes. The crisp fresh air, sweetened with a faint scent of juniper and pine, gives me reason to live. The rush of a mountain creek over boulders allows both silent reflection and bold inspiration. I always find some sort of answer to a gnawing question, and feel like I know which way to go in order to find my way to the next question. Sort of like that babbling brook, isn’t it? Each time the water rushes past that boulder, toppling over it and swirling around it, another drop of water takes its place and continues the motion. Life goes on.
From several vantage points on the hike, we stopped to absorb the vistas. Absolutely Buena. The aspen were slightly past their peak, but nevertheless they appeared as soft veins of gold, pooling in places to form odd shapes that reminded me of the piles of bullion that leprechauns discover at the end of rainbows. After the hike, we headed over to Cottonwood Hot Springs – healing mineral waters that are offered in a variety of outdoor pools at different temperatures. Soaking in the warmth, basking in the late afternoon sunshine, feeling the chill in the mountain air as we moved among the pools…we were renewed. I thought about the modern miracle that just 24 hours before I had been in Chicago. I was now in paradise, and knew that I needed to soak it up for future reserves.
The weekend continued with wonderful visits with old friends. I was able to spend time with my friend Gloria and meet her brand new identical twin granddaughters. Charley and Mary Ann, a delightful couple whom I had known in Chicago before our lives took us to Denver, treated me to a wonderful bistro in Littleton. As we caught up on stories from the past several months, I felt so grateful to have had a chance to be back in my adopted home. The sound of the water tumbling over the rocks at Cottonwood Creek came back to me, nudging me into the current of life and my very own Rocky Mountain High…
Becky Burns, our Soulful Traveler editor, is
an educator living in the Chicago area. Her column will give you
insight and inspiration, taking you to the core or essence of the
travel experience, something we all feel as a result of exploration and
discovery. Look for her monthly postings describing local exploits in
and around Chicago, regional road trips in the Midwest, national
adventures from coast to coast, and overseas excursions. You are bound
to be inspired and enriched, nodding your head in agreement as a
familiar reminiscence comes to light again. You can find her work at www.beckyburns.com or www.soothethespirit.com
Photo courtesy and copyright Becky Burns.