Take the high ground

Photo courtesy of Alx Eller

Photo courtesy of Alx Eller

The high ground is always a better position.

Hiking in the mountains of Colorado, especially when bushwhacking without a trail, one encounters a variety of terrain and obstacles.  Two ubiquitous features of the mountains are ridges (the high ground) and drainages (the low ground).

The ridges are ideal for hiking.  I’ve never encountered a ridge I didn’t like. The foliage is not dense along the top of a ridge.  There is always a nice assortment of rock formations, and thus plenty of interesting things to observe and scramble across.  Since the ridges constitute the high ground, the panoramic views are always spectacular!

It is more difficult to reach a ridge.  One has to exert energy to climb and gain altitude up a mountainside to attain the ridge.  The slopes are steep and offer poor footing.  Downed trees, loose gravel, and other obstacles cover the way up a slope.  It takes physical exertion and determination to reach a ridge, but it is worthwhile.

On the other hand are the drainages.  They lie in the valleys and canyons between the mountain slopes.  There is more moisture in the drainage, so the foliage is more dense and varied.

Some of the most beautiful alpine meadows are found in the protected drainages.  Trails usually wind their way through drainages, thus, it is generally easier to traverse along drainages.  However, because the plants thrive in the drainage, moving through the underbrush can be quite difficult.

Drainages and ridges are a useful analogy for life.  We can spend our days slogging through the drainages.  A life surrounded by activity and distractions so our days grow thick and out of control.  Going with the flow may appear to be an easier approach.  We may appear to have abundant and productive lives, but we might not see through the weeds.  The easy path is seldom better.


We can simplify our lives and cut back the weeds and undergrowth that distract us – consumerism, television, internet surfing, a schedule overloaded with activity, endless keeping up with the Jones.  It may take hard work to practice simplicity and minimalism, and some sacrifices.

We will reap great rewards with a simpler and mindful life.  With training and deliberate decision making, we can reach those mountaintop experiences, the ridges.

Take time to savor the moment, be engaged with the activities that are most important, and develop close relationships.

Focus your attention on the mountain top experiences.  Strive for the higher ground and don’t get caught up in the weeds and undergrowth that the world produces so readily.

What can you do to get out of the drainages and low ground of your life and reach for the ridges, the high ground?

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About John Forrest