Grandeur. Jagged. Raw. Unforgiving. Relentless. Awe-inspiring.
These are some of the many words that come to mind when I think about where I live. I work seasonal employment and so I am lucky to live in some of the most beautiful places in the US and it allows me to afford to travel the world (read about that here). I am currently living in Estes Park, Colorado at the YMCA of the Rockies and our campus sits at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park. We are surrounded by all sides by these incredible peaks, and as a friend lovingly refers to it as “our cereal bowl of mountains”.
I wish that I could put into words what it feels like to be encompassed by these mountains, by these unrelenting and absurdly large creations. These mountains, they’re like something bigger than you can imagine, bigger than you can grasp. You stand at their base, you stare up at them and think about all those who have summited and how incredible that is but also…how tiny they are in comparison. These lives of these people, while great and mighty, are so infinitesimally small compared to the mountains that have stood, watching for generations and generations and generations. Years and thousands and millions of years, they have stood, just watching.
It’s only when I’m climbing them, do I become finely aware of their grandeur. Living within walking distance to over 12 peaks, I hear so often, “Oh yeah, the mountains, you kind of forget they’re there.” To which I’m always stunned. How? How on earth do you forget about these beautifully raw souls. When I see these mountains, I see their peaks and crevices and their hills and their rocks and their boulders and their outlines sharpened against the sky. I see a being. A being greater than I can imagine, a living soul that is calling out to me.
The longer I stay here, the more I find others who hear that same call. The Rocky Mountains speak to you in a way that I’ve never been able to replicate elsewhere. I don’t feel the same pull as I do when I think of Eagle Cliff and CCY. Even when I’m thousands of miles away, I can still see their outline, I can still feel the rocks sliding beneath my feet as I scramble my way to the top. I can feel my lungs burning as I climber higher and higher.
And once you get to that peak…I can’t even explain the serenity and calm that comes over you. Being able to sit atop that mountain and see further into the park and to see just the scores and scores of mountains, layered upon one another. It’s unearthly and at the same, I never feel more connected to the earth than I do at that moment. I feel my breath coming in and out of my lungs, I hear my heartbeat in my ears, drumming to a song that I’ve known my whole life, and I feel steady. Clarity encompasses me and the peace that I find within myself in all-powerful.
I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but here at this current moment. These mountains, they’ve become my family, my home, and I’m appreciative every single day.