| The Story of Cloud (or a Trick of the Sea)
Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?
The aggrieved and the injured say, "Beauty is kind and gentle.
Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us."
And the passionate say, "Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.
Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us."
The tired and the weary say, "Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow."
But the restless say, "We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions."
...All these things have you said of beauty,
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.
...beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.
― Excerpt from On Beauty by Kahlil Gibran, in The Prophet
Unending beauty from the top of Copeland Mountain. Now let's dive in... (photo by Cameron)
Copeland Mountain - 13,176 feet
Copeland Mountain stands in a high mountain valley named Wild Basin in the southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. Eight mountains over 13,000 feet form the north, south, and west boundaries of this immense valley. Numerous alpine lakes dot the area, all draining into the North Saint Vrain Creek and its tributaries. To the east, in the mouth of the valley, is the Wild Basin Trailhead at 8,560 feet. From there, our route to the summit of Copeland Mountain and back covered 16 miles with 4,700 feet of vertical gain. 8 miles were on good trail and 8 miles were cross-country, including nearly 5 miles of rough bushwack.
Our ascent route is shown in magenta (on trail) and red (cross-country). Our descent route is shown in blue (cross-country) and cyan (on trail).
Additional information for Copeland Mountain:
Additional information for the Wild Basin Trailhead:
Of very special significance: One hundred. That is a mighty number. Recently, Anna celebrated her 100th 14er summit, Mount Evans, as part of our Tour de Abyss. And now, just a few weeks later, Anna has summited her 100th ranked 13er, Copeland Mountain. The two achievements are impressive milestones. Congratulations, Anna, it has been an honor and pleasure to reach these high points with you. May fair winds and following seas continue to grace your sails.
Captions on top of photos.
“You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds.”
The drive from Boulder to Wild Basin is dark and dreary. The misty cloud and cold rain bring a sense of melancholy. The arrival of my dear friend autumn is always bittersweet. In the parking lot, we linger and laugh, and make a lazy start from the Wild Basin trailhead at 8 AM under clearing skies.
The stillness in morning.
We leave the trail at Ouzel Falls and follow a faint track up into a narrow canyon. At the top of the canyon the bushwack begins. (photo by Anna)
I turn to look down valley. Anna moves over dead fall with grace.
The area was severely damaged by fire in 1978. The exposed slope offers panoramic views of the Longs Peak Massif. (photo by Anna)
Small things matter. (photo by Cameron)
“Though outwardly a gloomy shroud, The inner half of every cloud Is bright and shining: I therefore turn my clouds about, And always wear them inside out, To show the lining.”
We continue hiking up the slope. Here the forest is in a natural state of recovery.
It's not long before we enter the old forest. Now the torture begins.
Good times, good times... (photo by Anna)
For three miles we scramble over and around broken trees in thick forest. Our energy wanes. We reach treeline just in time. Our first clear view of Copeland Mountain is energizing.
We take a short break before starting our push toward the summit. Longs Peak dominates the view to the north.
At our back, thick cloud moves into the folds and valleys of Wild Basin like a tsunami.
We stop to watch the clouds ebb and flow. (photo by Cameron)
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
The clouds pour in.
We turn our attention to the summit of Copeland Mountain. It's not far now.
We race clouds.
Longs Peak will soon resemble an island in a roiling sea.
The slope steepens.
A moment passes through eternity.
I go for a swim. (photo by Cameron)
And soon enough the summit approaches. Anna moves toward # 100.
Just a few more steps to the top.
“We can speak without voice to the trees and the clouds and the waves of the sea. Without words they respond through the rustling of leaves and the moving of clouds and the murmuring of the sea.”
We reach the summit of our own private island. (photo by Cameron)
The view of Longs Peak to the north. (photo by Cameron)
The view of Isolation Peak to the northwest.
The view of Ogallala Peak to the southwest.
The view of Mount Audubon to the south.
We soak in the views, relax, and smile. Cameron provides a thermos filled with hot cocoa spiked with a bit of Francesca. We drink from the cup and laugh. (photo by Cameron)
“There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, 'Consume me'.”
We leave the summit much too soon but that's the way of the mountain. (photo by Cameron)
St. Vrain Mountain plays elusive.
Longs Peak stands proud.
Hide and seek.
There is treasure to be found beneath the white rainbow.
We descend in to the cloud. (photo by Anna)
“Be still, sad heart, and cease repining; Behind the clouds the sun is shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.”
It seems we've traveled to the Pacific Northwest. (photo by Cameron)
Fallen trees on a steep slope offer a formidable bushwack. But we keep smiling.
The slope relents. The lake is near.
We break from the trees on to the shore of Ouzel Lake.
We follow a faint trail along the south shore. (photo by Cameron)
We find a sign and good trail at the lake's outlet.
The stark and simple beauty of autumn. She is brutally honest. (photo by Cameron)
Our hike is ending, but the beauty will live on for ever. I say good bye to Wild Basin and my past with a passionate hug, and then turn to greet the future with an invincible smile.
Thank you for reading.
Quotes by Henry David Thoreau, Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, Rabindranath Tagore, Paul Tillich, Virginia Woolf, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edward Abbey.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”