Friday, August 16, 2013

On Top of the Continental Divide

"How can this be?" my travel buddy wondered.  "We're another thousand feet up, but my hang over is gone."

At the visitor's center below, we were feeling very light-headed from the high elevation and were worried our heads would explode if we took the tram to the top of the mountain, but just the opposite happened.  The cold wind whipped our faces.  The pure oxygen filled our lungs.  We were breathing unpolluted air.  We felt better than we had felt for days.  The woman operating the tram told us she didn't mind working up here at all.  "My allergies go away.  It's lonely at times but to feel this good seems like a miracle."
Monarch Pass is east of Gunnison, Colorado, and a popular ski destination during the winter months.   The very snow I was looking at might very well be the water that I shower with a year from now.  I was standing at the top of the Continental Divide.  The rivers, stocked with melting snow and summer rain, divide:  Half going east, down the Arkansas River to the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico; half into the Gunnison River and then into the Colorado.  In the old days, this water would end up in the Gulf of California, but now a thirsty, overpopulated southwest sucks the river dry before it gets there.

As high as I felt standing on top of the world, I was also truly humbled.  These mountains feed an agricultural empire.  They provide electricity for cities.  What little water is left will flow into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.   Water vapor will form clouds.  Clouds will provide rain.  And the cycle will keep going.  " . . .it seems like a miracle," the woman had said.  Indeed, it is.

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