Updated: Oct 31, 2020
Yesterday I completed a 40-mile trek on the Colorado Trail. I experienced many things, but one realization was abundantly clear from the moment I set foot on the trail: this is time travel.
The CT reaches from Waterton Canyon (south of Denver) to Durango, 486 miles in total. Winding along the trail, passing quiet pines and endless meadows, I felt small, yet part of something bigger than myself. I walked past towering trees, yawning stretches of high desert, and trickling creeks borrowed from fairylands. At the mercy of both mountain storms and the peaceful sunshine that followed, I was a grateful visitor.
As I walked, I imagined the absolutely countless people who have taken to these trails before me, and the countless more who will walk them long after I'm gone. I thought about who those people might have been, and how the woods may have looked different, smelled different. I imagined the creatures they may have seen poking out curious noses and vigilant ears before disappearing into the green, creatures who undoubtedly walk the same paths when free from an audience. I thought about the varied state of the world as each visitor walked by, and how these woods give us permission to leave those worries behind, just for a little while. (Surely in all that time someone has felt as despondent about our state of affairs as I do now. Right?)
More than anything, I thought about the trees, many older than I am. Several of the white blazes marking the CT are being reclaimed by the trees they're nailed to. Their bark is slowly curling over the edges, erasing the words one letter at a time. Pines, aspens, oaks, spruces, firs...they stand patiently as we walk past, reaching towards sunlight. The magic we take time off to witness is their everyday.
I thought about the redwood trees in California (the muse for my most recent tattoo) and remember how it felt to stand among them last month. To me, they are decidedly female: resilient, silent, and strong. Some grow in circles, arising from the circumference of a deceased mother to form embracing huddles. As living legends, elders, and ancestors, they have seen time pass and know far more than we ever will.
We're so consumed with our present moment, but there are time portals to the past all around us. Our older relatives have stories and secrets from days we'll not appreciate until after they're gone. Creatures living around us perform rituals learned over the course of generations and adaptations. Even the modest plants taking root in the soil have wisdom and lessons to bear.
What can we learn if we take a moment to observe them? How can our perspective change if we see that they may know something we don't?
One of the newer white blazes marking the Colorado Trail