Rest has never come easily to me, and my mind is most quiet when my body is in motion. Push the body long enough though, and eventually it insists–a lesson I learned the hard way some years back during a hike on a 100-degree day in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since then I’ve learned to listen to my body, but it requires plenty of conscious effort.
On a recent trip to Colorado our first couple of days involved some intense hiking, including climbing Mount Elbert, the highest mountain in the U.S. Rockies at 14,439 feet. This climb is not just a hike but a remembrance of my cousin Andy, whose ashes were scattered from its peak, making it a challenge for body, mind, and spirit. Remembering my lesson, I planned a day of rest on our third day before we took off for 4 days of backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park.
We headed to Steamboat Springs, and a primitive cabin at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Arriving late at night, we awoke the next morning to an aspen forest rustling outside our window. We followed the winding paths down to the hot springs pools, which we had completely to ourselves in the dawn light:
The pools meander through rocks and bridges and are fed by several small streams, affording areas of widely varying temperature. We soaked in silence, then headed into town for breakfast and an impromptu stop at the Yampa River Botanic Garden. This small garden is packed with lush spaces and intimate woodland nooks, and was the perfect place to while away an hour.
Afterward we wandered through town to peruse the shops and pick up food before heading back to the springs for a massage, which took place in a tiny stone storybook house, where the window was open to the joyful brook below. The remainder of the afternoon was a masterpiece of napping interspersed with reading on the cabin’s sunny front deck while entertaining visits from blue jays, chipmunks, and dragonflies. When the daytime crowds dwindled, and the evening chill began to creep into the mountains, we headed back down to the hot springs for one last soak.
Motion and rest can seem to form a dichotomy, but look closer and they form a truly integrated whole. Even during apparent motion each individual moment hangs restfully in infinity, ultimately defined only by time, which can knit those moments together into the perception of something having moved from one place to another. In the purest sense, nothing is moving in the present moment.
At the same time, even the tiniest portion of time that we may choose to call a moment is still a piece of time. Since all things are in a constant state of change, that tiny piece of time is still a fraction of the change mosaic in which we live, meaning that even within that microcosm there is movement.
So I like to say I rested at Strawberry Park, and I most certainly relaxed. However I also rested on Mount Elbert, even during the most grueling moments when the sliding talus threatens to drag you back down the 3 feet you just battled to achieve. And in the restful moments that strung together in that delicious endlessness at Strawberry Park? Change was most definitely afoot.