Saturday, July 17, 2010
Crested Butte Sojourn
The season of wildflowers is magical and short in the high mountain regions of Colorado. I wavered before driving 5 ½ hours to Crested Butte. I was there only three weeks ago to paint, hike, photograph, and see the beginning of summer. The wildflowers were coming out, but had not reached their peak of performance and array. I am glad the universe called me to make the effort and return for the full symphony.
This time, I did not bring my painting gear but only a bike and my camera. The rugged scenery and spectacular vistas kept me outside all day, and in the evening I could find a spot to pull my vehicle aside, take the bike out, spread a bedroll and go to sleep.
I like the little town of Crested Butte. It has an old west feel and is very laid back. It caters to lovers of the great outdoors and has an ambiance that appeals to mountain enthusiasts. I arrived during the Wildflower Festival, and also The Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters National Show.
This is what happened in 56 hours: I packed and drove from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Crested Butte, Colorado in about 5 ½ hours. Drove through town and into the mountains to Lake Irwin. The official campsite spaces were all taken, so I drove off to an undesignated area nearby and pulled my van into a spot under trees. Got on my bike and rode trails, huffing and puffing with exertion, getting out of breath with my heart thumping in my throat, sweated, and stopped frequently to be amazed at the natural splendor and photograph it. Incredibly, on a remote mountain trail, I ran into a friend from Santa Fe whom I had not seen in a couple years, (of all places!). As the sun sinks behind the mountain peaks, I cycle back downhill without crashing, make a small campfire, cook a can of soup, get smoke in my eyes, crawl in the back of my van and look at photographs on my laptop, settle down in the darkness, give thanks to God and go to sleep. Wake up, drive into town and have coffee, go to some shops and sell some leather bags I receive regularly from Kashmir, India, drive to Slate Creek and slowly follow a dirt road along the river, stopping occasionally. Find a pullout by the river and go for a short hike, getting my feet wet and making a recording with my iphone’s recorder of the stream’s song. Go back to town for supplies. Take a short nap in my hot van. Find a mountain bike trail on the outskirt of town and ride. Drink the fresh air, smell the fragrance, get sweaty, dirty, scratched, and bitten by horseflies, wave and say hello to other enthusiasts, stop frequently to lay my bike down and trudge through the fields to photograph. Get sunburned, and finally exhausted, and very thirsty. Ride the bike back to my van, drive back into town, find a cafe, eat a salad and drink a lot of water. Drive back to Slate Creek and pull off the road to camp in a place where others are doing the same. Work on my laptop and lay down to sleep . . . but cannot because of the young party-people nearby who are having fun around their campfire. Put on my earphones and listen to white-noise recording on my iphone. Sleep. Wake up cold, eat some milk and cereal, then drive back into town in my dusty van, realizing I am dirty, unshaven, and have not brushed my teeth (forgot my toothbrush). Have coffee, sell some leather purses, and drive 5 ½ hours home to Santa Fe. Hallelujah!
See some pictures of my Crested Butte Sojourn!