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Upper Rio Grande

Upper Rio Grande valley of Colorado, a couple summers ago. It was so easy to decide what to do first at this new RV boondocking campsite. A large peak loomed over camp. Though not a "peak bagger" I just had to start towards it, because of the grand and grassy slope in front of the trailer. It wasn't a planar ramp. It was a steep ascension of rumpled folds, like a woman's green dress in a more gracious and elegant age.

There are so many places like this in the national forests out West. But you can't see them because they are covered with the Stygian gloom of an overgrown silviculture. Why is this hillside free of the usual clutter -- did it burn some years ago? I had to walk up it, that first morning.

While the dogs enjoyed their romp over the grass, I stared in admiration of the landscape: I was looking at the upper end of the Rio Grande, leading into the center of Colorado's San Juan Mountains, near Lake City. The hillside was so steep that, when I paused and looked around, I felt suspended in space. 

It wasn't the postcard-prettiness that impressed me; rather, over the years I've navigated by thinking of watersheds or drainages. And here I finally was, at the top of the Rio Grande drainage. Fall in love with any river system in the USA and follow it to its source, and there's a good chance you will end up in Colorado. 

No wonder people took rivers as metaphors for time, long ago. When an RVer migrates upriver to the Continental Divide, it isn't just geography that he finds split, but also his year, his Time, and his Life. Soon he will think of the fall migration, descending the drainages of some major river.

After a thousand feet of climbing we were at the top of the grass, and hit the impenetrable wall of bark and branches. And there are actually people who think that forests are pretty? There was a couple miles of this junk separating us from the rocky ridge of the peak. We were forced to retreat, but not before encountering a pleasant surprise. Later.