Given the electoral tendency of The Centennial State specifically—and the United States in general—to take five strides backward every other November for each baby step forward it takes the November prior, it is a genuine miracle (backed by decades of grueling political labor) that we are able to enjoy nature in expanses such as that offered by the Colorado Trail, even if we must risk being shot while exploring multiple segments of it; guns, the continued unaffordability of healthcare for those who aren’t pulling down Congressional-level salaries and already possessing what is essentially socialized healthcare yet believing the masses don’t deserve the same, and the ongoing gay-people-kind-of-but-not-really-being-treated-equally-and-enjoying-the-same-legal-and-civil-privileges-as-everyone-else-like-the-Constitution-says legal fiasco are the types of tradeoffs we must make to be able to legally puff a little marijuana in the comfort and solitude of our own homes and buy one of our many fine craft beers or rich, mountain-distilled bourbons from a liquor store on Sundays.
But I digress.1
The Colorado Trail meanders nearly 500 miles from just southwest of Denver in the north-central part of the state all the way to Durango near the southwest corner (a roughly six-hour drive by car; seven-and-a-half if your dad is driving). It rises to more than 13,000 feet in the scabrous San Juan Mountains and plummets to gentle meadows some 7,000 feet below. Traveling its path, you may encounter deer, elk, black bear, moose and half a bird-book checklist.
Of its 486 miles (which include 28 connected trail components that traverse eight state forests and six designated wilderness areas), I have hiked maybe a couple dozen, every inch of them spectacular. For years, we have visited a patch of Pike National Forest through which a stretch of the Colorado Trail weaves. It is beautiful country with boulder-dotted meadows and distant views of snow-capped peaks.
It is also, relatively speaking, good country to take a blind dog for some outdoor activity.
Though some diabetes-related health problems persist (the least of which at the moment are his cataracts), Miles’s blood-sugar finally seems stable, he lost the poundage equivalent of a pack of Pomeranians in just a few months, and his assertive brand of energy has returned with a vengeance. “I think I liked fat, lazy Miles better,” said my better half while getting dragged down the street by the galloping, visionless dog a couple weeks ago; like my last job, it’s the blind leading the sighted.
We don’t get to go for walks in the woods as much as the dogs or I would like these days, but before last week’s brief Arctic chill (which had the transplants whining awfully early in the season for my tastes), we made the trek to our beloved, little-used swath of open space, walked a portion of the Colorado Trail, and followed Miles as he bounded, aimless and unaware as the common voter, over the lolling hills. His carelessness only cost him a bloody nose.
1 Apologies for the post-Election Day tirade, but I was recently given a book called 642 Things to Write About, and paging through it I thought a cool topic would be: Write the longest sentence you can (an idea that may already be in there, but 642 is a lot, and I haven’t had time to look at them all yet). Since the rant had been building for weeks and seemed appropriate for the task at hand, I unloaded. Incidentally, my sentence came out to only 156 words (more verbose than average, and certainly not good for search-engine traffic, but a far cry from the longest).