Saturday, August 23, 2014

St. Vrain Mountain Trail - An Epic Journey

The Mantlepiece of Mountain Gods

I heard the stories about a remote trailhead and a hidden pathway to a secret Shangri-la located high above the treeline. Ignored by serious climbers and unknown to tourists, the St. Vrain Mountain Trail is an epic journey to a world I thought existed only in mythology.

Below, an ancient grove of aspen was a natural cathedral of air and light. Up, we followed a rocky creek and climbed a steep stairwell of endless switchbacks. The snow became a formidable obstacle and almost halted our expedition. With dogged determination, we pushed on and soon entered the land above the trees.

As we crossed a shelf of tundra, a spectacular explosion of incredible mountain scenery was suddenly detonated. I'd never seen so many beautiful peaks crowded together in one frame. Stopped dead in our tracks, the landscape was mesmerizing. Each lofty summit and crooked ridge seemed to beg for the photographer's attention.

Veiled in braids of white snow, the violet range struck a dramatic pose. It was a grueling ascent to the Mantlepiece of the Mountain Gods. A roll call of Front Range royalty provided the decorative framework enclosing Wild Basin while Longs Peak was seated on an elaborate throne as the undisputed Monarch.

The artistic design extended all the way to heaven. Hiking up the St. Vrain was truly a religious experience. As we made our way down to earth, there was a rumble of thunder in the distance. We tread softly out of Olympus and back to the transitory life attached to us mere mortals.

A secret Shangri-la

A natural cathedral of air and light

We followed a rocky creek

Snow was a formidable obstacle

We pushed on

A spectacular shelf of tundra

Incredible mountain scenery

Veiled in braids of white snow

The ascent was grueling

Longs Peak is the undisputed landmark

Back to our transitory life

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