We looked like an intergenerational field trip as we gathered at the trailhead.
Twenty of us, from a backpacked toddler to a couple of older dawdlers, were intent on tackling a hike that started at well over 10,000 feet.
It didn’t take long to break into smaller groups — energetic rock-climbers, long striders, curious side-trackers, and grandparents bringing up the rear.
It was a steep trail, rising fast and filled with cutbacks, but a gurgling stream and its refreshing sound encouraged us.
At first, it was heavily wooded as we wound our way through spruces and pines, red cedars and even a sycamore.
The wildflowers clung like jewels to the side of the mountain. You might find pink elephant heads along the water, the star-shaped flower of the blue columbine in a small meadow, a whole patch of mule’s ear sunflowers laid out like a blanket, or the dainty sky pilot seeming to grow out of the rock itself.
The blooms stood out against the heavy majesty of the mountain. Immovable and enduring, it attested to time immemorial, to tectonic shifts, glaciers, and epochs of ever-changing fauna and flora.
After clawing up a mile or so, there was a vista with a panoramic view of the continental divide and a waterfall near the headwaters of that stream.
My son and I decided to go another mile-and-a-half to reach the ridge that marked the divide.
He made it. I came close.
As I rested, high above the trees and snowfields, I marveled at these mountains. I could understand the people of old assigning gods to lofty heights. Even the Abrahamic faiths revered their mountains as places of divine encounter.
I thought of the people we met on the trail. They were friendly, stopping to talk, in anticipation on their way up and in gratitude on their way down.
I thought of my children and grandchildren and what a gift it was to have this day, this week, this life together.
Looking down from that continental crest, I thought the old ones were right — that surely God dwelled here.
But it was more than a manifestation of God. It was a transformation of me. I realized that this beauty, this profound presence, this lurking of the divine is not just on a mountaintop, but everywhere and in everyone.
It’s always there.
Sometimes it just takes a little trek, a little movement, a little effort on my part to see it.