CT #19: Lowlights

Yesterday, while I was sitting on the side of a Jeep road, eating my lunch and admiring a tiny waterfall that disappeared into the ground, a day hiker on his way to the trail pulled up beside me. He wanted to assure me that this was the boring section of the hike, that what was coming next was beyond incredible.

I wasn’t worried, I told him. Sure, nothing that I’ve been walking through recently has been especially impressive, but I hadn’t even given the absence of dramatic peaks a passing thought. If you spend enough time walking long trails or peakbagging, you’re going to find that, to get from trip highlight to trip highlight, you have to walk through what he called some “lowlights.”

The Appalachian Trail has its mid-Atlantic; the Pacific Crest Trail has its wind farms; the Camino has its Meseta. Along with the Lafayettes and the Skylights, there are the Hales and the Couchsachragas.

If I’m honest with myself, I’ve enjoyed each of these “lowlights.” For me, they’re part of what makes these long trips different from an isolated dayhike. When the scenery gets a little monotonous, I take that as my cue to do some of the mental work I always set aside for each trip.

So, today, as I walked along the Jeep roads, over the cattle guards, and under the blazing sun, I thought about the art festivals and galleries I’m hoping to be part of next year. As the miles ticked by, I planned and goal set.

And, then, I descended a gravely path and found myself in the beautiful Cochetopa Creek valley. The mental work will have to wait for later.

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