You have to be a good bit nonsensical to hike down a canyon. Especially if you park your car at the top of the canyon.
But there I was last week, admiring the scenery as my horizon line got lower and lower, closer and closer. As the rate of descent increased and the trail turned to rocks as I got closer and closer to Colorado’s Curecanti Creek, I began to make peace with the idea that I was going to have to turn around and climb out of this place.
The trip to the bottom would be worth it, I reminded myself. And it was.
Getting down to ground level, the banks of the Curecanti were black sand that may as well have been lifted from some remote beach in Oregon. The canyon walls were impossibly steep, broken up by a few evergreens and shrubs that held on for dear life to the rocky crevices.
It was quiet down in that canyon. My cell phone was useless. The waters were clean and clear and empty. The highway I pulled off of some two hours earlier was too far away to hear any road noise. Gunnison, the closest town, was nearly 45 minutes away.
It was the perfect quiet.
It was just what I was looking for when I booked my trip to Western Colorado back in March, my third such trip in as many years. If Colorado had a punch card for visits, I’d be one trip away from a free sandwich or something.
Not that I need the promotion. Colorado won me over the first time I visited in 2016 with my dad. I’ve been back every year since, and it’s only a matter of time until I figure out how to spend more time out there.
For a Florida boy living in Georgia and routinely running all over the Southeast for work and family matters, Colorado has become my perfect mid-year reset. The space and quiet out there provides a lot of room for big thinking. The lack of humidity is an all-day invitation to the outdoors, something we can only comfortably enjoy around here in the spring and fall. And seeing and interacting with the Rocky Mountains makes it a bit tougher to get excited about the Appalachian foothills to the north of us.
Mart Martin, one of the more brilliant brand strategists I’ve been blessed to be around, introduced me to the idea of such an annual retreat years ago when we both worked at Jackson Spalding. As we get busier and busier at the Trestle Collective, this weeklong disconnect has done more than help me with burnout. In the past few years, I’ve returned from Colorado with answered questions, renewed energy, a clearer direction and a list of goals to accomplish over the next year.
But the trip is also a time for reflection. I can’t think of many better places to reflect than the base of a canyon along a creek, or on top of a 13,000-foot mountain with an unspoiled panoramic view. The beauty of the Creator was impossible to ignore, and the love on display seemed to permeate through my whole being.
The walk back up the canyon last week pierced my lungs and left my heart and legs screaming for more oxygen. My pace was slow, my trek a race with no other competitors. It took an hour longer to ascend the canyon than it took to descend it.
Fortunately, I had no schedule, no calls, no meetings, no real obligations.
All I had were some big thoughts and a big smile on my face.