Low temperatures, little to no precipitation, piercing winds, low vegetation, poorly developed soils, drastically changing weather patterns, and an elevation of over 11,000 feet are all conditions for a Colorado alpine tundra. The problem with these biomes is that they are very delicate ecosystems. In Colorado, they only cover about 3% of our landscape.
As I glimpsed the falling snow, I found myself craving the company of solitude. If nothing else for the sheer luck of finding clarity. But where would I find this during a snowstorm? There was only one solution. Go as high as possible without compromising my comfort and safety.
I bundled up and packed the bare necessities. It didn’t take long to locate my destination. It helps when you already live over 9,000 feet above sea level. A bit of anxiety set in as the wind and snow picked up, but I had done the trek before. There was no turning back.
My mistake was breaking one of my own adventure rules. I didn’t let anyone know where I would be. Guess that was part of my escape that day. I didn’t want even one person to know where to find me. Nevertheless, I should know better. Fortunately, everything went without incident. Most.
I realized I wasn’t as prepared as I thought when I slipped on the ice a few times. I found myself laughing at the irony. I’ve also strayed my feet in recent life challenges, and this was no exception. The difference was that I enjoyed the difficulty of my winter climb more than the ones that awaited me on my return.
I needed to complete my hike even though I died trying. In some metaphorical sense, though defeated and exhausted, that’s how I felt about my existence in general. I had to be where the trees stop growing and new life is found. I have never heard silence like I did that day. Wind, falling snow, and humans all ceased to exist the moment I reached the top. I have no idea what heaven would be like, but if it was, that would be it.
I went back to the confines of four falls. There, I reflected on the meaning of my trip. I concluded that every decision I make will be as intentional as every step I take on the mountain, and if I ever question my abilities and skills, I will reflect on the day I reached earth. above the trees.
To learn more about Colorado’s alpine tundra, visit: www.nps.gov/romo/ learn/nature/alpine_ tundra_ ecosystem. htm.htm.