A few months after our brief stay on top of the Republican headquarters, I fled from Boulder to the Little Piedra River in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, hoping to reinvigorate myself. I knew that the sound of the river sliding over timeworn rocks, the wind hissing through the ancient ponderosas, and the warm smell of the forest floor would cleanse my political wounds. Basking in the hospitality of this natural spa, I hoped to regain the clarity I’d come to Colorado with only two years before.
Plodding in a daze along the narrowing bank, I let my sadness for Nature flow out of my soul in pace with the river. I moved a few steps further and the cold slate walls of the canyon pressed into the water. Just beyond, the river turned sharply left, diverted by a monolithic slab of rock. I paused a moment in reverence of this stunning cathedral, and then wandered back toward my camp, guided by shards of tree-broken light.
For hours, I remained rapt in the chorus of wind and water. Finally, a primal urge to make my presence known gripped me. As the sun dipped behind the canyon walls, I cocked my head back and howled. A long, throaty bawl shot up from my toes and burst into the canyon. I waited. Again, I reached back into the primitive recesses of my brain and cast forth a mournful cry. Clarity. That’s what I’d come here for. With my third raspy yowl, I felt my body shake. I dropped to the forest floor on my hands and knees, duff and dirt grinding into my skin.
Clarity. I bawled again. Not all that far from here Colorado’s last wolf had perished in 1945, killed by a government trapper. Beckoning the ghosts of those last wolves, I yearned to hear their refrain, their answer to my summons. Silence was the only reply.