As long as I can remember, I have spent a great deal of my life in Colorado. My dad’s love of the mountains influenced my family to live a year in Durango, spend time with friends in Silverton, and both my sister, Ming, and I chose to attend undergraduate in Grand Junction and we headed straight to Denver afterwards. Having lived in the Southwest my whole life, I never thought much about the tall grey mountains and rust-colored deserts that surrounded my view. I had always appreciated the slopes that framed the landscape outside my window, but never quite understood why it was greatly adored and desired by so many of my friends and colleagues. A clear and sunny afternoon in Rocky Mountain National Park promptly changed all of those preconceptions.
With a small cooler, a bag of snacks and water bottles, and a strong desire of wanderlust, my friend, Reagan, and I take off for the park. Reagan is prepared with extra camera batteries, while I arm myself with multiple lenses and covers. As we drive along, the sky is a beautiful tint of blue and the clouds are perfectly arranged in the sky. It seems we have arrived with perfect timing since the road to Alpine Visitor Center is closed from mid-October to Memorial Day. The crowds of people illustrate this realization as we struggle to find parking and an empty spot in a pullover lane to stop and take a few pictures. I’m impressed with how much the landscape evolves with each passing mile. We stop as often as we can to take in the surroundings and munch on a small bag of chips.
We’re not the only artists squeezing through a small group trying to get the best artistic point of view. A man at an easel delicately paints the deep encrusted mountains using oil to capture every minute detail. A woman behind me grumbles as I bump into her after finagling my way through to find a good angle. Although I feel slightly apologetic, I don’t linger on the situation when I see numerous families eagerly aiming a giant lens at the mountaintops. In my family it is well known not to underestimate an Asian with a camera; they will win a fight for the best photographic shot everytime.
Our last stop is at the Continental Divide and Reagan makes sure we approach this destination and pose at the sign. We take a few moments to enjoy the peaceful Poudre Lake nearby and then begin our descent home. The curvy pathways and cascading ledges below keep us on edge, but we manage to get to the small, vintage-decorated town, Estes Park, safe and sound. As we make our way downhill through Boulder and Golden, I can’t help but feel a sense of gratification. Nowhere else have I seen such towering and majestic beauty and I find it hard to believe that I never admired such a magnificent marvel of green pine trees covering slate grey peaks and rolling hills. At the end of the day, I can’t help but think of the deer we caught staring from the mountain as we said goodbye. Her shadow is like a guardian who protects the green, lush mountainside and sees the grandeur of the of the land I have come to treasure.
This post is a part of Scenic Weekends.