The land above the trees

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A winter ascent of the Rockies Above, left; The last steps taken before reaching the alpine tundra. Top right ; The untouched sparkling snow of a world above the trees. OMAYRA ACEVEDO PHOTOS

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.

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