Place Where You Live:

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

Sunrise along a valley in the Sawatch Range, with Emerald Peak in the distance.

When living and working in the bustling metropolitan community that is Denver, many can find a weekend home high in the mountains. While exodus and rush hour battles may sound like a hinderance for the weekend warrior, appropriate planning and good company can turn a late night drive out of the city into an incredible start to a starlit adventure.

During my time in Colorado, the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness felt like a second home for me. Each visit among the valleys, peaks, rivers, and forests brought about a new sense of enchantment and wonder. The forces which shape the earth are ever present in this part of the wilderness. From the wide sweeping valleys carved by rivers of ice, to the historic rock strata holding echoes of oceans now atop fourteen thousand-foot peaks, the landscape of the Sawatch Range roars with a sense of stillness, sharing the story of the Rocky Mountains’ dramatic history. These forces are ever felt by the living world which now also calls this part of the wilderness home. From the vibrant aspens taking root on hillslopes scoured by avalanches, to the engineers of the animal kingdom who dam and shift the course of the meandering streams, all pieces of this ecological puzzle work in opposition and in tandem to exist.

Small patches of oxidized tailings can be seen occasionally clustered amongst the jagged landscape. Astride these piles of rusted rock can be found the deteriorating cabins of mining camps long abandoned. These remnants of past human action speak towards hopes of fortune, the fleeting success of a quick boom, and striking disappointment of an incorrectly assayed venture. That this human disappointment continues to scar the landscape years after the extraction has ceased truly shows how even our emotions can create a lasting impact when coupled with our presence on the land.

We are visitors in this incredible world of balance, and must respect all this place has to offer. Yet this place will also always remain a home. As long as there are mountains to climb, and a special person, to climb them with.