Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Walking through history again

One of the finest parts of the pilgrim path is the connection with history. After going down down down to Canon City (and by the way, there's a tilda missing from above the first n in that town's name), I climbed up up up along the Oak Creek Grade - aptly named because of the number of scrub oaks along the gulches and brooks in every color of flame. Although I was vying for a 30-mile day, the steepness of the graded dirt road did me in... over 2,000 feet of elevation gain in just a few miles followed by rolling ups and downs that seemed positively endless. Angels, where are you??? Right there, at the Oak Creek Grade General Store. I made it as far as that and was offered some refreshment and the use of their computer for the last blog. Audrey, the proprietress matter-of-factly told me that I'd stay the night there in the cottage. It shocked me in a way because my mind was set for another 4 hours of walking, though it was already 4 in the afternoon; however, my feet and my lungs begged to accept the offer. Done. Husband Jack, an old cowboy - really and truly - was full of interesting history that makes a pilgrimage all the more worthwhile.

Oak Creek Grade was not only the path used by the early American explorer Zebulon Pike, but also a Ute footpath between their summer and winter grounds. History, right there under my feet. No towns exist along the 30-mile stretch yet people live there happily, off the grid. These off-gridders are a wholesome bunch. I've learned about 'barn churches' in rural America - working barns that are repurposed on Sundays for a makeshift multi-denominational church services. Although towns are few and yearnfully far between, the people I've met have been warm and inviting, always fulfilling my request to fill my water bottle. Without people, a pilgrimage simply couldn't work.

With some help from several off-gridders, I've made it down into the San Luis Valley. The town of San Luis itself is noteworthy for its grassroots shrine of the Stations of the Cross - bronze statues made by a local artist on a path built by the community on a hillside above the town. Atop the hill is a beautiful domed chapel in a European style. I've got some watercolors and will upload them when I get the opportunity. The important thing is that this is a beautiful pilgrim destination in its own right... hear this Denver pilgrims, 10 days of walking makes a nice pilgrimage in a spectacular and varied landscape.

New Mexico tales to follow... tomorrow, Taos!


ksam said...

I'm going to have to work harder at getting more folk to read your blog...if for one reason only..that being, the general goodness of people! All we ever hear on the news is how untrustworthy everyone is, which isn't really true! So thanks for sharing more of the good people here at home! Buen Camino, Karin

Anonymous said...

I'm with ksam.....just going to keep posting your blog on my blog and hope others do the same. You are such a beautiful representative of pilgrims.