When I went hiking last night to leave my crummy day behind me, I didn’t expect to find a jeep planted in the middle of a trail that is so narrow in places that single file is required even for two slender chicks walking on it.
My day began like every other–cat stretches in bed to wake up my spine, play covers-gotcha with the cats for a minute or two, and visualize how I want my day to flow.
Right off the bat, the guys who said they’d be there between 8 and 9 a.m.–weren’t. Somewhere around early afternoon, the handyman came by with his amazing bill for $695 to replace the floor in a 3’x5’ toilet area. I have no complaints with the excellent workmanship of the guy who actually did the work, but this buffoon tacked on several hundred dollars and wanted me to make the check out to him, personally. I wrote it to his company.
Next was overseeing the new floor covering installation and the team were already there, checking out the floor replacement job and sizing up what had to be done first. These are the kind of guys I’m used to working with–straightforward, good at their work, and lighthearted enough to banter with me. They even confirmed my suspicions about being raped financially. (We are all so happy that Angie’s List is now available in Durango!)
I felt relieved they were on the job and was so ready to take a much-needed break to pick up my farmer’s share box when suddenly two missionaries appeared at my door. I explained that I was on my way out and the woman thrust a booklet towards me saying that she wanted to leave me with a positive thought for the day. I did not tell her that only when she’d walked in my freaking moccasins for a mile was she entitled to talk with me about positive thoughts for the day, but instead slipped by them and quickly flew down my stairs to my car so I could go meet the farmer’s truck.
He was early this time, and that suited me because I wanted to handle this quickly, in a fun way by giving most of it away, so I could take a sorely needed hike on the Colorado Trail. When I got the box upstairs, I quickly stashed the lettuce, apples, pears tomatoes and cantaloupe, and took the rest over to my girlfriend’s place on the other end of town.
She said, “You need a break. Want to get some tea at Bread?”
“Sure.” So we left my car at her apartment and walked across the road to the best bakery in Durango. We split the espresso brownie and I drank Moroccan Mint tea and simply breathed while we watched this little girl swing so high she could easily flatten her body against the big picture windows there.
My friend asked if I wanted to take a hike.
“Sure. But I have to deliver the rest of this box to the gals over there,” I said, pointing across the road to the senior housing where two of my friends live. “Want to join me?” She said she would, but first she wanted to change out of her long skirt and put on tennis shoes for our walk. She’d bring the truck around.
I amazed myself by sitting still in my car and simply letting the aggravation of the day fade away, chanting Purple Flame mantras to change my mood. When that incredible old truck came from behind the building, I knew it was going to get better.
We visited my two friends long enough to share a variety of organic squashes and cucumbers, then took off for the Colorado Trail, maybe a twenty minute drive over to the trail head. We parked in the lower parking lot. Junction Creek road continues onward up the mountain–a winding forest service road, pure washboard with a little gravel.
We had hiked in just short of a mile when I saw the jeep pointed downhill with its front wheels a breath away from the creek. (That was last night. By mid-morning, he’d somehow managed to pull it back out of the water).
The driver seemed to be okay, but he was probably cruising on adrenaline because it was evident that the only way that jeep had gotten there was if he lost control of it on the forest service road way up there and ran right off the sheer drop. I wanted to ask him what it felt like to fly off the road up and through space maybe fifty feet down to the trail, because I’d always had a bent desire to sail my truck off Coal Bank Pass when I was trapped in the mire of school politics years ago.
Turns out he imagined he could drive out on the path–the one that is so narrow in places that even skinny chicks have to walk single-file to get through the boulders. When the trail narrowed, his right wheel had slipped and that’s why the jeep was almost in the creek. In the parking lot we phoned the police to see if we could get him some help. Our young visitor told us he’d already phoned the forest service, but they couldn’t help him until tomorrow.
I kept thinking about how precious that trail is to us locals, how every year volunteers groom the trail and restore it best they can after the winter passes. I thought about the fifteen or so people who had been on this trail during the short time we were–including the five-year old gal riding cycles with her dad–people who could have been killed instantly by a jeep flying off the road and landing on top of them.
I thought about how fast and foolishly I’d driven when I was his age and was so grateful that I never lost control, flew off a mountain road and landed my car in the middle of a highly trafficked hiking trail, or had to spend the night on it when hundreds of people use that trail every day. Whether it was that conscious gratitude or a mutant form of slapstick comedy, I was cured of my bad humor. Suddenly I felt really, really happy and none of the hassles I’d endured on this rental-property maintenance venture were important anymore.