there is a section of road in southern colorado that connects the little town of ouray with the road between silverton and durango. one climbs from ouray (elevation 7770') to red mountain pass (elevation 11,018') on the Million Dollar Highway, taking in views that are so stunning they almost cause one to stop pedaling and fall off the bike.
this area has been called the "gem of the rockies," and also the "little switzerland of america," due to it's alp-like formation. I wrote about it when I visited last year (135) and it has never left the little spot of my memory bank where it implanted itself.
certain terrains just make me think alpine, of the lofty mountains, the alps. these are often meadows dotted with wildflowers, thick and green and guarded by rocky, craggy peaks. perhaps this is all from watching the sound of music as a child . . . but when I encounter these landscapes, I think of swiss alps.
I rode through one yesterday.
and each time I ride through this winding, steadily climbing valley, I fall in love with it again. every canyon I ride has its own personality, and I am intensely grateful for the variety and the wonder that arises in each.
yesterday's ride was the old snow basin road, and though the asphalt has shifted and collapsed in a spot or two--one such shift making the road impassable by car--the surrounding hillsides are rounded, thick with growth, vibrant and vigorously alive.
a gift of our incredibly wet winter and spring: another closed road.
I didn't mind, at all, dismounting and walking my bike around the devastated road.
I loved the silence of just four wheels whirring, spokes cutting through air, gushing water deep down in the valley below, and birdsong, simply bird chatter, gracing the peaceful space surrounding us.
I've never visited switzerland. perhaps one day I will; perhaps it will never happen. but I have inhaled the scent of flowered meadows, I've stared in awe at sharply rising alps, I've pedaled my way up through verdant green hillsides. I've stood, surrounded by silence and peace, and felt the awe of being one small human in a landscape sculpted by the gods.
I've been blessed;
~photo taken on old snow basin road, rory wallwork, 2009