Convergence up at Hanging Lake
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
My boys hate hiking. They say, indignantly, “We’re bikers. Not hikers.”
But when family visited this past weekend, the hike to Hanging Lake popped into mind.
Only 1.2 miles long, though steep, the Hanging Lake trail seemed a feasible objective for Lucy, who’d had heart surgery only 10 weeks ago, and her young son, Sam, 8, as well as the Uncles, Ted and Clayton, both diplomats just returned from a three-year stint in New Delhi, at perfect sea level. The trailhead, near I-70, would also be right on the way out as they all left on Sunday, the uncles heading for DIA and Lucy and Sam back to Leadville. The hike also has an obvious, and awesome, culmination.
I proposed it; and then, at different times, lost or appeared to lose every single participant.
My sons love their relatives, but grimaced and protested. The hike would be crowded, moaned Teddy, 15. On Saturday night my husband, who himself was going off climbing, presented the hike to them as an expectation, and told me they were coming. I was thrilled, and told Roy, 12, so; and he said, “I am not!” I praised Teddy, heart overflowing anew, and he turned away and said, “Don’t pester me.”
Clayton had forgotten his hiking shoes, but I found some loaners. Then it emerged that little Sam had only his fur-lined Crocs, and size 3s were out of my league.
At this point Sam, overexcited to be with his older, admired cousins again, pulled naughty tricks: smacking, swiping, escaping, etc. He was taken away by his frustrated mother, who had intended to go look in consignment shops for shoes, but warned us she was far more inclined to take him back to Leadville.
While I would respect that decision, my heart leapt when her Jeep later returned into the driveway, with no shoes, but a freshly chastened Sam.
Our caravan set out, Teddy pointedly presenting to me a baleful expression, which I ignored. As we parked and the boys disembarked, Lucy saw the scowl and said, chuckling, “Look at Teddy’s anguished teen face.”
As soon as we started hiking, Sam in his rattly Crocs darting up the rocky trail, all three boys disappeared. By a quarter mile up, Clayton, suffering not just from the effects of altitude but an allergy to the cats at their B and B, grew winded and sat down. His inhaler was back in the car in the parking lot. My brother, Ted, concernedly offered to walk down with him.
Clayton declined, though, and sent us on. Lucy, moving at her own pace, said to pass her. And so Ted and I alone walked and talked. Indeed the trail was crowded, with variety like I have never seen on any hike. People in jeans on this hot day; women in lace tops. Lipstick. Great tracts of tattoos. Skirts and flipflops. Seniors; infants. A boy carrying his little sister piggyback up a switchback implored, “Hold on better.”
Then I saw the railings ahead and said, “Hey, we’re there!”
By the mineral-blue limestone lake that caught the streaming falls behind sat the three beaming cousins on a bench. As we sat while other people filed by, a thought returned to me that I’d had once in Yosemite: This place is so beautiful, everybody ought to be able to see it.
I brought out the seven sandwiches I’d made, and a large chocolate bar to be shared, and Teddy said, “Is that all?” Moments later, Lucy joined us. Just as we took our last bites, the gentle Clayton appeared.
A man in gray flannel pants balanced steadily way out on the ancient, fallen tree extending into the clear waters. Several truly pear-shaped people ambled by on the wooden walkway. I hoped they felt triumphant. I hoped my crew did. Around us were smiling Latino families encompassing generations. A greyhound-lean couple in technical shirts and shorts hustled up, purposeful. Behind them moseyed an emo boy, an iPod in his ear, and his bangs swept over one eye.
I felt I was experiencing a miracle in convergence.
Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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