Mt. Evans Journal, by JGB

{Journal Excerpts, August 8th – Colorado, USA}

We are so close to the clouds it is almost unnerving. They have a grandeur, and an unwavering foreign, humanity about them that hangs, seeming inches above our heads. They tremble with the light as we traverse the extremely narrow 13 mile cliff road up Mt. Evans.

It takes no mental musings to convince the nervous system that this is the highest paved road in North America. Our designation? 14240 ft. above where I am used to skipping about by the tides, comfortably drenched in the plentiful air. Denver, CO has long receded behind the rippling waves of craggy rocks and pines. Soon the air will be noticeably thinner. Whenever we are about to turn a corner the road appears as though it will propel us, not into oblivion (although that will probably follow,) but into the picture book perfect sky of the Midwest.

Occasionally ravens catch a low wind, drift over the scattered rock meadows only to hover again by my open car door window. We are many miles above the tree line now. There is a feeling that we – small boned, thin skinned creatures – aren’t suppose to be here. The higher we go, the more terrifying the potential fall becomes. We pass not one – but two – “road narrows” signs. More ravens circle up and descend back to below our eye line.

My sister parks the car 1/4 mile from the summit, leaving us a few switchbacks of bolder strewn peak to ascend. This is my first 14000, her second. The last one she hiked up. All the way. in Converse. (Yeah, we always knew she was hard core…but…)

The peak is astonishing. Now the cloud cover – not that there is much of it, the light is so pristine – is really upon us, on top of us, descending as we ascend. Will we meet? Who can say. This is too high even to beg council of the local mountain goat herd. The top of the world must talk to itself in a different register because it is so very quiet here.


I lay back on a boulder and just watch this part of the world staying put and existing for its own magnificent self.

This is the last page in my journal. We are back in the car now, four eyes on the twisty decent. The car stereo gurgles out tunes off a CD that it decided to permanently digest a year ago. Apparently you can’t barf cars like babies. Its ok ’cause my sister does a darn good Bob Dylan imitatn. At this point we’ve opted for simply driving on the wrong side of the road – getting skilled at cliff avoidance we are – and stopping for mountain goats that are as luxurious and white as a new bed comforter.

I’ve got deep blue shoes on. They remind me of the home that is so very far bellow us still – sea level isn’t even in sight. Its taken me approximately 14 1/2 cement miles to eat a whole tub of blue berries. The edge of the road is lined in snow melt – pristine puddles – and Indian Paintbrush. The marmots perch and pose. Elton John comes up on the stereo and the cliffs plunge and plunge and plunge in layers like unfolding brocade. (…Pretty eyes, pirate smile/Ballerina/You must have seen her…/Now she’s in me – always with me…)

Now I’m thinking this is a darn good last journal entry.

As we get lower there is a forest of Ent ghosts and more wildflowers. As we drop still further there will be birch and endless rivers of narrow erect pines.

A raven flies high, scoping out the road directly in front of us, then veers to the right consumed by all the other wild things.

Out of paper.

JGB is a bookish UC Berkeley junior majoring in Art History with a love for empty notebooks and open road poets.

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