Cultivating or connecting with stillness can be a challenge with all the emotions, stress and distractions of life. But it is important for my mental health. It gives me perspective and recharges me. I am not the kind that can sit and ‘do nothing’ for 15 minutes as some recommend, but I need ways to shut off my mind. Nature has always provided a way for me to find solace and stillness. Although in farming there is a good deal of stillness, getting away from the farm is important. We don’t camp much, but in these COVID times it seems a good option for a vacation. We planned a camping trip to the Blue Mesa Reservoir in the Curecanti National Recreation area in western Colorado. I chose this location because I knew I would be able to paddleboard there as well as hike. I was able to find stillness in 3 ways.
We drove up one of the canyon roads heading away from the reservoir where we found a campsite away from people. There was a small creek and a grove of trees to provide shade. We were far enough from the reservoir that all I could hear where the squirrels and birds were in the trees. There were interesting rock formations along the walls of the canyon. It was quiet and peaceful and I just sat. Even while preparing food it was easy to not think about everything going on in the world or my work.
We were close enough to the lake to get a scenic drive along the lake. We stopped for a short hike down into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This is the East end of the canyon, a ways from the National Park. The trail we hiked is the path previously used by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. I love canyons. It feels as if I am closer to Mother Earth in a canyon. We also did a rim walk to see some interesting rock formations in the canyon such as the Curecanti needle; a 700-ft granite spire located on the Gunnison River.
For me, paddle boarding has become a great way to feel stillness. Pushing off from the banks and floating on the water immediately immerses me in a different world. I always feel so graceful on a paddleboard, even if I may not look graceful. Getting away to a large lake where there are few people is a plus.
Hiking in the wilderness
Besides our hike into and on the rim of the Black Canyon we hiked in the West Elk Wilderness Area. which is just up the road a little bit in one of the canyons from the reservoir, although most of the area is very remote. The road wound through sagebrush then aspen then conifers going up in elevation until we reached Rainbow Lake. There was no one around and we walked on a trail into the woods. The trail was soft from fallen needles and there was a gentle sprinkle. Because it was cloudy, I have no idea whether or not there was a view, but I imagine there was. Being far from the sounds of any motors or people was refreshing and it felt so still to walk through the forest regardless of the light rain falling. We saw several birds including the Gunnison Sage Grouse.
Bringing the right skin care on a camping trip that doesn’t take up space but works well is important. I brought dream lake body butter. It works well for dry hands and legs and I use it on my face too in an emergency. Knuckle balm came too because it’s a good all around product and of course lip balm.