“Twilight – a time of pause when nature changes her guard. All living things would fade and die from too much light or too much dark, if twilight were not.” –Howard Thurman
Between Daylight and Darkness
My favorite time of day is the period of steady decline between daylight and darkness. At this time, I like to sit and look westward as the sun slowly inches its way below the horizon. I enjoy the slow change of the color in the sky; the blue to orange and red, the orange and red fading to black, as the sun’s rays finally lose their potency and yield to the coming darkness. It is in these fleeting moments, that you can feel the world exhale. After a day of work, running errands, sitting in meetings, or stuck in traffic, one can finally sit back and take pride in an honest day’s work, catch their breath, or just relax into temporary obscurity into what is now the close of another day, and with that, comes the time to reset, replenish, and reflect. It is in these small moments, more so than any other part of the day, that my spirit soars. I awaken the sleeping explorer from the hidden crevasses of my mind and return to scenes from long ago of places I have been and people I have known. I think of places I have yet to see; a new adventure to begin, some secluded beach on a far away shore, a walk in the evening woods, or maybe some trail that snakes through trees, grasses, and rock outcrops that disappears over the distant hills as if the trail itself had just dropped off the edge of the world. This is also the time that I find myself to be the most spontaneous in nature, wishing I had done more with my time today, hoping to do more with my time tomorrow, and waking my wandering spirit into action.
An Impromptu Excursion
On one such pre-twilight and pre-dusk occasion in Estes Park, K2 and I decided to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and hike, ever so briefly as it would be, around Sprague Lake. The distance to the entrance of the park was only a five-minute drive and so, we set off late in the day with jackets in hand, as the temperature was dipping into the forties when we left the condo. The lake hike is more of a walk around the lake and is recommended for easy hiking to adjust to the higher altitudes of Colorado before one attempts the more strenuous hikes in other parts of the park and/or the state. Just a word or two about that, the altitude thing is no joke. I am sure some have no issues, but we all had some time adjusting with each having various symptoms of dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath. We descended at one point to spend some time at a lower elevation and decided that next trip out there we would spend a little more time in Denver to acclimate properly, but by the time of K2 and I’s excursion we had grown accustomed to the thinner air. We arrived at the park entrance to see the park ranger closing the entrance for the evening and just managed to skim past the barricade that was placed at the booth just after we drove by. It is not everyday that one feels like they have a national park all to themselves, and while we were not all alone in the park, the scarcity of people and cars was such that you felt as if you had fallen back in time where the mountains were the dominant force of nature, and the park was your own backyard. We stopped at a few places on the road which wound its way up and through the mountains. The beauty there was breathtaking. It is difficult to find words to describe what one sees with their eyes. The valleys are broad, and u-shaped from the slow-moving ice from past glaciation events, and you are surrounded by snow peaked mountains that rise from the valley floor and send their snow melt down in raging waters during the spring thaw. It is truly something to behold and something I wish everyone could witness for themselves, with adequate oxygen of course…
The drive to Sprague Lake was a short one and we arrived with about an hour of daylight left in the day. We found the parking lot only about a quarter full and most people returning to their cars to leave for the night. The hike itself is an easy one. The roundtrip around the lake is just under a mile and there is little elevation change, but the lake itself is at an elevation of almost 8,700 feet. It is mostly like taking a stroll around a local park except that your local park seldom has the beautiful sparkling water of a mountain lake with all those peaks surrounding you, some of which make up the continental divide, as you leisurely walk and gaze up. For those who are more adventurous or with more time to spare, you will find access to other trails from the parking lot, each of varying degrees of difficulty and distance, including the trail to Bear Lake at 3.2 miles away. There are benches along the route around Sprague Lake that gives you a place to sit and soak it all in, and you will want to do so if you have a heart for the great outdoors or just want to restore your soul. Snow and ice were on the trail as K2 and I began our walk. The jackets we brought along were a good idea as the temperatures had dropped into the upper 30’s in the higher elevations. The water was clear, blue, and still. The mountains loomed over the surface of the 13-acre lake as the sun began its final descent behind the mighty peaks for the night. The moon was anxious to get to work on this evening and made its appearance in the faintly lit sky before the sun totally relinquished the day. K2 and I paused for the obligatory selfie on the backside of the walk where a small wooden walkway had been erected for such occasions. A friendly passer-by offered to take the picture instead and we agreed to let her bear the burden of picture taking to capture the moment as best as anyone can. There was still a little light left when we returned to our car, but the sights and sounds of the coming night were starting as the transition was slowly commencing before us. The almost full moon hung over the mountains now before us as we drove to the park exit. We stopped briefly before exiting completely to see five elk grazing in the field across from where we sat at the edge of the park. I guess, they too love to wander and explore in the shadow of the mountains at the twilight of the closing day.
Until next time…