Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Years Hike in Solitude

Solitude (noun) The state of being or living alone: to enjoy ones solitude.

In recent years I have adopted a New Years Day tradition of taking a hiking into some place wild in which I can find solitude and quiet.  This tradition was interrupt for the 2012 and 2011 New Years so I was determined to resurrect this tradition today.

In the past I have taken Zack and the dogs with me on these hikes into the New Year.  To maintain a sense of peace and quiet this year I choose to undertake the hike alone.  That is not to say that I can't experience quiet and peace with Zack and my dogs as I certainly can.  But given the cold weather and fact that Zack loves to sleep in these days, I decided it was best to leave Zack and the pups at home.

Departing the house around 8:30AM I found the streets and highways to be pretty much deserted.  There was almost no traffic and the drive from our house to entrance of Waterton Canyon was very pleasant once the heater in the car warmed up.  When I arrived at the Waterton Canyon parking lot, I found the place empty with only 2 other cars there.  On a normal day at 9:00AM in the morning, the parking lot would be full of several dozen cars as Waterton Canyon is a popular place to hike, run and bike.  The temperature and the fact it was early on New Years Day played large roles in the fact that it was so quiet.  When I rolled into the parking lot, the thermometer in my car read only 14 degrees.  It was going to be a cold and brisk hike!

It took me a few minutes to get everything set and put on my warm clothing, but then I took the plunge into the frigid air and got out of the car.  When dressing for cold weather I like to dress in many thin layers as opposed to big bulky jackets.  Today I had on a bottom layer of Under Armour, a long sleeve t-shirt and an outer layer of a Northface athletic pullover.  Sometimes with a layering system like this you end up a little bit cold and today was going to be one of those days.

Starting out through the parking lot, the snow was crunching under my boots.  And my breathe was producing a very large cloud of steam in front of me.  For a short time I was seriously reconsidering the wisdom of taking a hike on this cold and frigid day.  But as I crossed the road to reach the entrance of the canyon, I realized I would almost have the canyon to myself.  That made any amount of cold I would suffer through well worth it.

Walking into the canyon I noticed how still and quiet everything was.  There was almost no sound at all.  A few cars on the nearby road generated a low hum but after a short distance into the canyon even this noise was left behind.

About a quarter mile into the canyon, I encountered two people walking the opposite way - going out of the canyon.  Besides these 2 people I would only see 2 other people during the entire time I was there.

Moving further into the canyon, the Platte River runs right beside the trail.  Most of the river was frozen over but there were a few place near rapids and fast flowing areas where water could actually still be seen.  At each one of those places, the sound of the rushing water was a jarring contrast to the silence that filled the rest of the canyon.  With the sound of silence ringing in my ears I came to look forward to the sound of the running water.  It was such a beautiful sound that I took a video of the rushing water with my iPhone's camera.  I have attached one of them to this blog entry for the peaceful and calm sound of the water.

The mountain peaks through which the canyon is carved were all covered with snow.  Closer to the floor of the canyon, only the north side was covered with snow as the sun tends to quickly melt the snow on the south facing side of the canyon.   Looking upward at the peaks and the sky even they were quiet with no big horn sheep to be seen or hawks circling on thermals.  It was like the whole planet had gone to sleep for this day with the exception of the river.  Only the river showed any kind of life or movement as even the air was still and quiet.

Given the cold I decided to turn back after journeying 1.8 miles into the canyon.  At that point my fingers were becoming numb so I decided it was time to head back to the car.  Though my hike only lasted a little over 1 hour and 10 minutes it was a wonderful and peaceful walk through solitude.  What a great way to start the New Year!

Aside from my hike this morning, Zack had a gathering of geeks/nerds at the house today.  For whatever reason Zack and his group of friends love to refer to themselves as geeks and nerds.  This afternoon Zack had two of his best friends over to spend a wonderful afternoon of jumping on the trampoline, listening to music and of course.... playing video games.  They are in the process of filming several videos for YouTube about video gaming and today they spent a fair amount of time working on episodes 1 and 2.

With all that teen mental power in my house, I had to get out for a little bit.  Given that it is winter break and Lisa is on a two week break from her job as a school teacher we have been trying to see each other every day.  So while the nerds were occupying the house Lisa and I caught up on our movie watching as we went to see the Cirque du Soleil movie - Worlds Away.  Nothing compares to seeing a Cirque du Soleil performance in person, but given that is difficult to do unless you live in Las Vegas or happen to be in a town visited by one of their touring shows this movie is a great way to get an introduction to the beautify, grace and mystery of a Cirque performance.

The movie was interesting as it combined scenes from most of Cirque du Soleil's shows in Las Vegas directly into the movie.  An overarching story was wrapped around these scenes and the scenes were shot specifically for the movie.  Unless you plan to see a show in person within the next year, I highly recommend the movie!

1 comment:

Johanna said...

Happy New Year! Hope you and yours have a wonderful and productive New Year :)