Golden Cliffs, North Table Mountain, Golden, Colorado
I’VE BEEN FEELING considerable sympathy for the many people I know back in Britain who are currently stuck in lockdown. For that reason, I decided to sprain my ankle on Friday and put myself in a comparable situation – stuck at home unable to reach the hills. How’s that for putting empathy into action?
Okay, I’ll admit it: it wasn’t really for that reason, and it isn’t really comparable. It was a hiker’s off leash dog that led to the sprained ankle. (“Don’t worry – he’s friendly”!) But – what the heck – pretending to myself that I’ve voluntarily entered lockdown in support of others removes some of the sting from my tragically swollen foot!
(Or, perhaps it was merely ‘the mountain gods’ teaching me a lesson in humility. ‘So you’re going to start blogging about yourself, eh? Well… take that! Now let’s see what you write about!’)
Anyhow, with my weekend plans broken, all I can do now is sit and look outside. Happily, the view isn’t too shabby. North Table Mountain rears above my home, a cresting wave of rough ground topped by an impressive basalt crag, Golden Cliffs. This is the view I see every morning when I step out the front door, a view I still celebrate. I’m unable to believe my good fortune that such a thrillingly rugged hillside awaits just steps away (even if those steps might as well be a hundred miles right now.) It isn’t something I will ever take for granted.
For this blog, I figured I’d share a few photos of Golden Cliffs, and let the images do most of the talking. Originally, I thought about making the blog about North Table Mountain in its entirety, but changed my mind when I realized the mountain is far too big to sum up with just a handful of shots. Even Golden Cliffs will be a challenge on that front. A hundred photos wouldn’t adequately do the job – and I’m sure you don’t have patience for that many anyway. (The mass of images shared below may test your patience as it is!)
After 17 years of close contact with Golden Cliffs and the land around it I’ve come to know it intimately, and with immense affection. As a landscape it is pretty insignificant compared to many wilder places, but it is huge in ways that count: in variety and character, in the life present both small and large, in the experiences available, and in the connection with nature it can offer. Way back when I first started visiting wild places I never imagined so much benefit could come from spending so much time in one small place. Back then, covering ground was what heading outdoors was all about. But I’ve learnt a few things since then.
For me, really getting to know a place well is where the greatest outdoor experiences lie, and where the greatest rewards await. It’s exactly the same as with people. The most worthwhile relationships are those you spend time building. The more you put in, the more you get back – love often follows. So it is with nature.
I hope you enjoy the photos!
A FINAL NOTE: if you visit Golden Cliffs, or any other wild place, please consider that you have an absolute duty and responsibility to leave no sign you were ever there. This is CRITICAL. Travel gently, travel softly. Wild mountains may look rugged, and they are… but they are also easily damaged and diminished. Don’t just learn ‘leave no trace principles’… make them your guiding principles. The mountains will benefit, future visitors will benefit, and your own journey will be a thousand times better for it. Thank you.