journal . stories . life

3 ~ July 2022

The dogs and I spent a week hiking at high altitudes, mostly up through the spruce fir forest and into the alpine. One of the best things about the Colorado experience in my view is climbing a steep evergreen forest and breaking out of the trees in the freedom and expanse of the alpine. This is the time of year the alpine plants are blooming, and I took many photos of them.

At the high point of our hikes we often took a break, looking down from the mountain, before we found our way back down through the forests. One of our hikes we traversed a new off trail route through the woods back to the truck.

I had a historical forest service cabin reserved for our nights, that was built in the 1880’s and then renovated recently with a cement base and a tin roof. We have stayed there many times before, and are very comfortable there. The cabin is in an aspen grove, and I enjoy sitting out in back in the evening and listening to the breezes in the trees. The cabin has no water or electricity, which is just fine. There is a small stream winding down through the aspens about 100 yards away, which I use for water. (after filtering it).

On the second day I tried to rediscover a magical spot I happened across a few years ago. I had come to a car size boulder that had a colony of Red Columbines growing on and around it. It was 50 yards from a stream, in a moist spruce and fir forest. I searched for a couple of hours, and finally saw the bright red through the trees from a long ways off. That success made my day, and I stayed quite a long time appreciating the rarity and beauty of this special spot. This time I marked the gps coordinates in case I ever want to return again.

One of the transitions in my life at 70 is to acknowledge that I am truly happy being alone with the dogs in the mountains. That is my journey, in which I can be myself and concentrate on this marvelous earth, and the companionship of my three dog friends. We are all getting older, and everything will change. I am enjoying this season with them, and that we are all still active.


“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

“Tidal pools, empty fields, winding streams, rocks, mountains, trees, and oceans evoke endurance, peace, and contentment that circulate, cool, and calm the system. Something sacred fills these wide open spaces and human hearts have been privy to this for eternities.” - Ester Buchholz, in “The Call of Solitude”, p.50

Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better. Henry Rollins

There was a rough moment with the dogs, with 14 year old Mollie. We were coming back to the truck from a long hike above timberline on Cottonwood Pass, and were at the point where I leash them up to safely make it across the road. I called them to me, with the word ‘leash,’ which they know, and Mollie kept on going, without looking back. I yelled and yelled at her, with no response, and started running after her. I caught up when she began crossing the highway. I had not had time to leash up Beau and Hayley in my race to catch up with Mollie. I looked to the left and a white van was coming towards us, but still a ways down the road, so gave the command to ‘cross.’ Beau and Hayley crossed with me, and we went up the line of parked vehicles until we found Mollie.

It scares the heck out of me that this could have turned tragic, and I am so thankful it didn’t. It is a transition to go from a smart and athletic dog to one that is elderly and unpredictable. I did not expect that at all, especially since Mollie had been hiking off trail with me that morning for hours with the other dogs, and always knew where I was. Mollie has always been independent and a wanderer, but keeps tabs on my location. Obviously she has trouble with her hearing, but I wonder if part of it is just her willful nature for an elderly dog. She was tired and was ready to rest in the truck.

We went on long hikes every morning through mid afternoon every day of our stay in the mountains. Me and the dogs were pretty worn out by the evening of the last day. I didn’t sleep well that night, which might have been because I let myself get dehydrated on the last day of hiking.

But I made sure that mountain summer and peak bloom season for wildflowers did not pass me by, from all the hiking we did over various terrains. Check out the photos below.

(click on photos below for larger image . . . - Esc or clicking outside of image will close it)

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“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"