Crags in Winter

COVID has not been friendly in numerous ways, but the one which I personally find most disturbing has been the increasing tightness of my belt line. That is certainly a selfish and largely insignificant problem in light of the severe illness, mortality, and even depressive loneliness faced by so many others. Yet, this is my space, and it is an honest acknowledgement of my current state. At this time last year I was three weeks into a gym membership and loving the ease of working out several times a week, despite the darkness of winter.

And of course the darkness of winter exacts its own on my mood and disposition, as it does many. As someone who draws much positive energy from nature and the outdoors, the darkness that awaits me at the end of the work day is a cold, wet blanket. While the days lengthen, it will be another month or two before I can squeeze in a walk or run before dinner. However, I still have the weekends, and one benefit of COVID is that my weekend schedule is pretty open. So that’s when I hike.

This past weekend, I made way to the Crags trailhead on the west side of Pikes Peak. Aside from Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and Mueller State Park, the Crags trail is easily my most trodden, having traversed it at least a dozen times. I hiked alone and listened to my music, as well as my thoughts. One of those thoughts manifested as a recurring itch to restart my old blog, Wonderfield. The previous iteration started as a photo-a-day blog, but about half way through I started falling short and missing days. Still, I kept with it for a while, documenting my hikes, climbs, and adventures during my first year or so in Colorado. I never had much of a following, but it provided a nice, long-form way to share my life with family and friends out-of-state.

There is, as is oft said, no time like the present, and so I am starting this journey with the very hike that inspired this resurrection. Although it is a trail I’ve visited many times, there is always new beauty to be found. I was excited to see snow in the forecast as I gathered my hiking gear and cold weather clothes. The snow started just as I began walking past the winter gate, down the mile-long road to the trailhead and continued through most of the hike. Pearl has joined me on a few previous hikes in the snow, but familiarity did not squelch her excitement at diving into snow drifts and licking at the snowflakes as they fell.

So as to come full circle, the 7.5 miles made me feel good in my body and livened my spirits. My pants fit just as tight this week as they did last, but my outlook is less grim. The days are coming for trail-running and backpacking trips. The gym will be a safe place again before too long, and I’m looking to cross most of the San Juan’s off my 14’er list this summer.

What Wonderfield will be, in the long term, I don’t know. Sometimes I want to share thoughts, and other times I just want to share photos. Often, a mix of the two. My life, like all others, is complex, frequently difficult, and always dynamic. Perhaps it will be cathartic for me to place my life on the page, and maybe it will be of use to others to share in my authentic experience.

And now, without further ado, a selection of photos from the Crags.

(Click a thumbnail to open gallery)

 

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