Marhofn 212.12 - May 2010

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Big Country

Brian Dickson

My paltry total of one Marilyn in 2009 can partially be explained by a long-distance hike that my wife Martina and I undertook along the US Rockies from Mexico to Canada. We hiked over 2100 miles in five months, loosely following a path called the 'Continental Divide Trail' (CDT) through the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, winding our way over mountains (of course), forest, canyons and desert. We followed as wild and interesting scenery as we could and were quite happy to deviate from the CDT at times.

We set off walking northbound from the USA/Mexico border in April. The terrain was not initially attractive or inviting; hot daytime temperatures above 30C, blustery winds kicking up sand into the scoured creosote bush and cactus landscape and wide-open vistas. Though unfamiliar, the desert had its own beauty; clear starlight nights, the howling of coyotes at dusk, the glowing red canyon rocks, the blooming spring flowers.

View from the Continental Divide Trail (photo: Brian Dickson)

View from the Continental Divide Trail (photo: Brian Dickson)

Colorado provided us with more traditional Rocky Mountain scenery. In June we hiked along snow-covered crests of the San Juan range in thin air between 3000m and 4000m. Scenically it felt reminiscent of the Fannichs or south Glen Shiel ridge in spring. It was a grand and wild walking experience, with one stretch uninterrupted by roads or towns for 170 miles. Wyoming is a hiker's delight. From the iconic Yellowstone and Grand Tetons national parks to the stunning 200-mile traverse of the granite Wind River Mountains and another 200-mile crossing of the desert Great Basin, Wyoming had it all. Montana is mostly forested mountainous country, with the highlight being the flower-carpeted, wildlife-intense Glacier national park in the north. Montana has the state tagline of 'big sky country' and rightly so, with its seemingly endless vistas.

More details are at www.pbase.com/briansolar1. It was a great trip but now I am looking forward to the simple pleasures of finishing the Grahams in 2010 or 2011.

Would you drink from here? We did (photo: Brian Dickson)

Would you drink from here? We did (photo: Brian Dickson)

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