On the Trail: A causeway fit for a devil
August 21, 2006
Some people say you see Jesus on mile 22 of a marathon. I saw Jesus in the middle of Devil’s Causeway.Last weekend, Mike and I drove up to the Flat Tops, outside the tiny town of Yampa on the way to Steamboat. The causeway is at the top of a 2.5- to 3-mile hike in the Flat Tops Wilderness, and consists of a rock wall about 3 feet wide with 1,000-foot drops on either side.I wasn’t really thinking about the fear factor at the end of this hike, because I’m a pro at the last-minute panic. In Costa Rica, I marched boldly up the stairs of the “Tarzan Swing” without a second thought until the two ticos at the top picked me up by my harness and tossed me from a platform into a steep drop-off in the rainforest.So I enjoyed the hike through the wilderness, with ripe whortleberries along the trail, high alpine lakes and sprawling views. We hiked up to a saddle in the mountains, and then up a steep hill to the top of one side, where the land narrows between valleys.I watched two men foolishly leave their hiking poles looped around their wrists, and scramble over the 50-foot causeway. It was excruciating to watch, but Mike put nary a hand on a rock while walking over it and back.When my legs ceased feeling like Jell-O from the steep hike uphill, I agreed to go over the causeway, using my hands liberally. There, in the middle, was where Jesus appeared, probably by my own summoning.If he had said anything, it probably would have been “Hey, it’s cool. Just don’t look down.” Luckily, I was following that advice already, keeping my eyes fixed on my hands and feet as they scrambled over the ups and downs of the rocky trail.Of course, once you’re across, you have to come back. I (obviously) did, and now can laugh about how quickly my heart beats and my stomach bottoms out when presented with these situations. As we ate lunch, a couple of people sat on the causeway, held each other’s hands and took photos as they alternately leaned backward over the void. I’m still questioning their sanity.I might have looked the Devil’s Causeway in the eye, but I’m not going to laugh in its face.