Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fall of 09

Hovering in Gorgeous Hills


Jordan Stott

January 25, 2010

Hovering in Gorgeous Hills

The world is a beautiful and ever changing place sculpted from harsh winds, towering ice fields, tectonic plate movement, vast oceans, and the four seasons. Of the four seasons my favorite is autumn. It is when the landscape goes through a dramatic and colorful transformation. During this time of year I believe nature hikes are a must.

Before any great journey, I always try to come up with a theme or title. For this particular feat I recalled a saying by my favorite childhood author Dr. Seuss, in his book Oh, the places you’ll go. “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” My journey this season started in the local town of Park City, at the beginning of a narrow isolated valley. The scenery in the valley is mostly green with slight color changes because the cold bite hasn’t reached this lower elevation yet. The excitement of the new journey waited. Having packed away several bottles of water and some food, I was ready to start on a full day’s journey.

It is interesting to see how close the wild is to our human environment. I walked along a trail bordering a few houses and saw female deer with their young, squirrels and birds. The path I followed was clearly not man-made, with deer tracks riddling the narrow borders. Another evident fact that it wasn’t man made was that it seemed to move with the terrain instead of cutting through it.

Ascending up the hill, the colors change slightly from a dull yellow and introduce a vibrant orange. With shades of yellow and orange differing from tree to tree, it gives a deep texture that naturally draws in the eye. Not only are the colorful leaves hanging in the air, from almost hidden branches, but there is also a layer of leaves blanketing the ground. It creates a network of color untouched and pristine.

Each step further up the hill there is a noticeable change in temperature, getting colder and colder. ” I wonder how chilly it will be on top?” I murmured to myself. Only half way up the hill I happened upon another manmade obstacle in the way of my wild path. Cutting along the hill was a road with no trace of life. Suddenly a sour tinge over poured my sense of smell. It was from a dead raccoon flattened in the middle of the road. This was bringing down my happiness. Roads like this are like traps to unsuspecting wildlife high in the mountains. Because of beautiful places like this, people with money desire to live further up the mountain without a thought of what it does to the ecosystem. This causes our worlds to collide in violent ways with humans almost always winning.

Looking both ways as to not become a victim like the raccoon, I stepped on eager to get on the trail again. Over half way up, the trail started to become much steeper. The trees also were becoming further spaced from each other, a clear marking that the top was getting close. It was here that red colored leaves were starting to integrate with the other colors along the way.

At this high altitude the oxygen is thin, and becoming winded happens quickly. More frequent breaks are needed, which are great on a nature hike for someone who is in it purely for the beauty. The chance to regain your breath is just a convenience as the growing desire to gaze at the view of the countryside increases. Smaller and smaller the houses look, as more of the big picture is visible. Passing the tree line, I entered into a new atmosphere, a new layer of the mountain scarcely touched by human hand or foot. By now I was creating my own path, because the one I was following seemed to dissipate when I emerged from the tree line. To me this signified emerging into the true wild, with only a jet plane way up in the sky reminding me what year it was.

Those last few steps are always the most difficult but always worth it. Reaching the top, as in any aspect of life, comes with an overwhelming feeling of achievement. The reward of this goal was the pristine beauty which surrounded me in every direction. The direction I traveled from was a tiny Park City, with tiny little ant cars scooting along in their busy lives. The sun lit up all the Southern facing slopes, making it look as if a child threw random colors of red, yellow, orange and green all over the hills.

Today is my day! I’ve reached the top. Now I will re-live the journey for I am only half of the way.

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