The Incessant Wind

2 people standing on a rock and looking out at the mountains
Watching the Wind

Turn and face the wind,
And feel the voice,
Touch your skin.

Close your eyes,
And drink it in.
To your past,
You are akin.

An unknown something,
Makes you stir.
What’s behind you,
Is a blur.

Some people, paths, and places,
Are familiar yet unknown.
You see no one with you on your journey,
Yet you never feel alone.

Yesterday is always there,
Standing quietly by your side.
Forever it is with you,
As your mentor and your guide.

Whether it slaps you in the face,
Or nudges at your back.
The wind is your friend,
And helps you down the track.

No matter if it roars,
Or sings a lullaby,
It always blows around you,
And will never say goodbye.

So, rejoice that it’s there.
Know the power of your yore.
Seize the moments of your day,
And treasure times that came before.

Descending into a valley in Bolivia.

Mourning Coffee on Huayna Potosi

Rope team ascending Huayna Potosi in BoliviaAdventure Recommendations

 

It was cold and restless sleep at our high camp on Bolivia’s Huayna Potosi. As I think back, it was actually more like quiet time, except for the constant banging of the tent flap out in the frigid, high-altitude night. Sometime in the very early morning, I got up and went outside to relieve myself and, while doing my business, marveled at how clear and full of stars the sky was. But that marvel was tempered by my personal acknowledgment that ultimately the clear skies would just mean even colder temperatures. At least, I reasoned, since there was no threat of snow, I wasn’t going to have to get up and shovel any of it away from the tent in the wee hours of the morning. I quickly got chilled, and so, once back in the tent, I pushed myself deeper into my minus 25-degree bag and cinched the hood tightly down around my head. Cinching down and tightening the hood, along with a persistent need to go outside and relieve myself, periodic dozing off, and a mental organization of the rope-up logistics, occupied the bulk of my supposed sleep time.

Continue reading “Mourning Coffee on Huayna Potosi”

Big and Small

 

Tent on the Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska with a glacier travler moving away from camp.
Glacier Travel- Maybe a big thing?

Morning coffee,
By the creek.
Pondering how,
My day I’ll tweak.

Climb the mountain,
Rising high.
Knife-edge summit,
Fills the sky.

Gulp of water,
Clear and cold,
No sight of flecks,
Dirt, or mold.

Trail ascending,
Miles to go,
Heavy packs,
And thigh-deep snow.

Sardines with honey,
Such a treat.
Sweet and filling,
Hard to beat.

Unfathomed darkness,
Fills the cave.
To enter deeper,
Must be brave.

Cross a log,
Above the stream.
You don’t fall in,
Or even scream.

Mountain bike,
On sketchy trails.
With massive cliffs,
And no guard rails.

The best 12 peas,
I ever ate,
Were hard and crunchy,
But filled my plate.

Roaring river,
Drops and chutes.
Scary options,
So many routes.

It didn’t snow,
Or even rain.
Now sunshine rules,
And clear skies reign.

Climbing rock face high above.
Footholds, handholds, and lots of gear.
Keep your focus and your balance
Have strength of mind,
But never fear.

Strike a match,
Start a fire.
Warm your hands,
Cold not so dire.

Massive snowfield,
Long and steep,
No run-out,
And the snow is deep.

Things that happen,
Are both big and small.
But remember that,
They matter all.

Audio Version: 

A backpacking trail group takes a break while hiking a trail
A Welcomed Trail Break

Measuring Ancohuma

Climbers running GPS to determine the elevation of Bolivia's Anchohuma
Measuring the summit elevation of Ancohuma

Ancohuma is a big mountain located in an area of the Bolivian Andes known as the Cordillera Real. Until a team of three American teenagers and one adult guide collected summit data in 2002, its elevation was never determined. There was conjecture up to that point that its height was possibly over 23,000 feet, which would make it the tallest peak in the Western Hemisphere, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. It ended up being 21,079 feet- tall, but not the tallest. Continue reading “Measuring Ancohuma”

Outdoor Adventure Is…

A suspension footbridge near Coyachique and above the Batlopilas River
An unexpected bridge

Goal chosen wisely,
Journey planned well.
The unknown awaits,
With stories to tell.

The first step is telling,
Confirms the intent.
Each one that follows,
Will surely augment.

Calm and smooth sailing,
Is widely perceived.
The plan moves on forward,
Just as conceived.

Cloudless skies and well-marked trails,
Stoves that work and wind-filled sails.
Cars that run and sturdy shoes,
Healthy heals and happy news.

But then,

A storm looms to the west,
               The trail sign is gone.
               There’s no way to cook food,
               Good breezes allude.

               The engine won’t start,
               Your boots come apart.
               Big blisters have formed,
               The news has transformed.

When plans go awry,
And you wonder why.
Don’t cry for what’s not,
Think of all that you’ve got.

Be excited when curveballs,
Come your way.

Because then is when,
Real adventures begin.

 

Audio Version:

 

A crevasse on a glacier in Alaska
A crevasse to deal with

A Way of Giving Thanks

The Tarryalls

Embrace the time and place,
That puts a smile upon your face.

Wallow in it,
Soak it up,
Savor the moment,
Pour it in your cup.
Plant the vision in your mind,
Tell the story to remind.

The memories don’t have to disappear,
Or become less clear.

For me, I still….

Feel the river jostling my canoe as I marvel at the sunrise over the Del   Carmens.

Ponder the quiet of the Tarryall Mountains as I lean against a rock on the top of Bison.

Taste the Tuna Surprise we ate on Mount Borah.

Am amazed by the midnight sun as it finally begins to set over the Kahiltna   Glacier.

Hear the Popo Agie River roaring while I search for a good place to camp.

Feel the flow of the Puke Loop when I finally point my bike downward.

Make the right combination of moves near the top of the Rock Staircase.

Turn my eyes away from the blowing wind and snow as I near the top of       Huayna Potosi.

See the Milky Way come to life as I look up from my bivouac in the Winds.

Walk to the cadence of the Semana Santa drums in Copper Canyon.

Smell the campfire telling me how to get back.

Each instant a wonder,
A tale of its own.
Remember and treasure,
Help it be known.

 

Audio Version:

Ecuador

Remembering

People, places,
Visions, and faces.
Pictures, stories,
And skimpy traces.

Thoughts, dreams,
And blurry schemes.
Memories, tales,
And forgotten trails.

Colors, voices,
And always choices.
Before, after,
And often laughter.

Luck, mistakes,
Clear alpine lakes.
Gushing fountains,
And foggy mountains.

Breathing hard,
And hardly breathing.
Winning, losing,
Always amusing.

Hard, easy,
And sometimes queasy.
Win, lose,
And one time wheezy.

Upward, downward,
Often inward.
Planning, hoping,
Incessant coping.

Bluebird days,
And starry nights.
Scary heights,
And distant lights.

Peaceful summits,
Windblown meadows.
Forgotten canyons,
Where no one goes.

Hot and thirsty,
Cold and dry.
Frozen toe,
And sweaty eye.

Lost and found,
And outward bound.
Profound, astound,
At times renowned.

So many moments,
All melted together,
And frozen in time.

Audio Version:

Hike a Bike on the Silver Trail

The Top

The Top of Huayna Potosi; Cordillera Real, Bolivia

Take the broad shoulder
Above the Upper Lake
To the North Ridge.
Then, follow it up to an obvious headwall.
Bypass that to the east
And gain the summit pyramid.

Thirty degrees,
Mixed terrain.
One step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Dirt, rock, then snow.
Be careful
With your feet.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Crampons,
Balling up.
Tap with
Your ice axe.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Look to the west,
And see the mountains
Create the horizon.

Step.
Rest,
And breathe.

The rope,
Keep it
On the downside.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Chunks of snow,
Sliding
Down the slope.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

The tie-in,
Check
The knot.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Ice axe,
In the
Uphill hand.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Don’t fall,
But be ready
To self-arrest.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Blue sky overhead,
Cloud build-up
In the west.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Hot and thirsty,
Snow and ice
Everywhere.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Wind,
Slapping
The face.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Keep following
The trail
In the snow.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

The top,
Over there and
Not so far.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Steeper,
But only
For a short distance.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Water,
Got to stop
To take a drink.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

That has to be it.
The summit ridge,
Straight on up to the top.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Plumes of snow,
Being blown
Over the top.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Everything,
Seems to be
Below.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Which one
Is the actual
Summit?

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Pain,
Lungs burning, and cold feet.
Joy.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

No more up.
No time to rest.
Don’t waste your breath.

Just one more step.

The top.

A Bolivian Adventure- The Road to Sorata

 

Soggy sky,
Fog and mud,
Mountain pass,
Another rut.

Land Cruiser,
Bikes on roof,
Brazilian driver,
And a dirt road that wanders.

Six with driver,
All cramped inside.
Hours of driving
Relentless ride.

A lot of dozing,
Engine droning,
And a Pink Floyd song
Floats through the speakers.

A dream, he wonders?

Over the crest
And then we stop.

Unload the bikes,
Attach the wheels,
To Sorata we ride.

No need to pedal,
It’s mostly down,
But check your brakes,
Control your speed.

Intriguingly,
We’re riding a fine line,
Between old world and new.

Muted colors of the Altiplano,
Wool Ponchos, and Fedora’s.
Brilliantly contrasted
With lightweight bicycles,
Colorful jerseys and helmets.
Soon, the town appears
In the valley below.

No surprise- the map said it would happen.

So, on down we go.

Get to town,
Find the hotel,
Unload the stuff,
Take a shower.

But there’s no water.

So,

Take a nap,
Wander the hallways.
Consider the snake skins,
Along with some maps.

And then it happens,
The water comes back.
Wash off the road,
Break-out the wine.

Finally, it’s time to tell the tales.
While there was nothing gruesome,
Or crashes that day,
There is still so much that remains to say.

Ultimately, it’s off to sleep.
Quiet time to wonder, ponder, and dream.

About the things to yet unfold.

Some will seem profound, others trivial,
Many unexpected, and all amazing.

And each with a story
That begs to be told.

For what it’s worth
A word of advice…

Embrace the unknown,
Hang on for the ride,
Travel the road,
Make adventure your guide.

Audio Version:

The Pre-trip Orientation

Getting Organized

Latimer pulled his F150 into an opportune parking spot near the Green Cow’s front door and stopped. He got out, locked the door, and went inside– eager to hear about the trip and meet the others. A fit-looking young man wearing a Wildbrink Adventures t-shirt met him just inside the door, introduced himself as the Assistant Trip Leader, and directed him into a back room. A group of six were already there and standing around in a jumbled circle, with drinks in hand and making small talk. Like him, most were in their 40’s, except for one especially hardened and hearty older woman whom he recognized from her photo in the brochure as the group leader. Instantly, he saw her as just the kind of person he wanted to be with in the South American wilds.

Before he even finished his first beer, the leader elevated her voice and addressed the entire group, saying, “okay, everyone, take a seat and let’s talk about the trip.”

Within minutes, everyone was seated and quiet, and she began. “Welcome, and I look forward to spending two weeks with each of you in the Andes. My name is Regina Gurgola, but everyone just calls me Gurgles. That guy sitting over there is my cohort and second in command, Kevin. The two of us want to do all we can to help you get the most out of your experience and to keep everyone as safe as possible. Of course, safe is a relative term since nothing is actually guaranteed to be safe. But we do make an effort to be well prepared for dealing with whatever situations might arise. To that end, expect the unexpected, and just embrace it.”

“A few things to know about the area,” she continued. “It’s a really majestic and wild place that’s probably unlike anything you’re used to. Don’t be thinking that where we are is a bad place, because it’s not- it’s just different. Undoubtedly, you’ll experience many amazing and interesting things. A few hints or insider tips to help you get the most out of the experience: first off, the water system down there is not like what you’re used to, so don’t drink the water out of the tap—only put bottled water in your stomach. That’s especially important because your time down there is limited, and you don’t want to waste it dealing with the yilly yally ying-yang. Also, in that regard, avoid eating any fresh produce that you can’t peel. We’ll have bottled water available to us all of the time and just plan to eat cooked meat and potatoes. More often than not, at least they’re predictably overcooked and sterile. Salads are a big no-no, and don’t even think about biting into one of the apples you’ll see in the markets. And on that note, you also might want to think about what meat you’re eating and if it is actually fully cooked. FYI, Guinea Pig is considered a delicacy in the area, and reliable cold storage can be a problem. A lot of people also try to conserve what gas they have and tend to eat their meats on the rare side. So just beware.”

“For those of you non-Spanish speakers, you’ll want to know the word “bano,” which means bathroom. That’s one you’ll use more than any other, but hopefully not in an emergency situation. This brings me to toilet paper. Don’t put it in the commode! There will be a separate bin for that, and the plumbing systems aren’t built to accommodate it. Don’t forget or challenge the technique because the result can lead to a big mess that you certainly don’t want to deal with. I know it sounds gross, but it’s just the way things are.”

Then, Gurgles seamlessly turned the discussion to poison insects, but Latimer didn’t hear anything she was saying from that point on. That’s because he was deeply engrossed in trying to figure out what to do if he got stuck on a bus amid a personal intestinal emergency situation. The “what ifs” instantaneously began overwhelming his thoughts. What if I’m in the middle of a town? Do they have public bathrooms? What if I get water in my mouth during a shower or forget and rinse out my toothpaste with tap water? What if a Guinea Pig’s eyes are staring at me while I try and eat it? What if I take a bite of chicken and it’s not fully cooked? What do I do with the toilet paper if there’s no trash can? What if I wash my hands with tap water and then eat a hamburger?

And the questions continued until there was a moment of silence, and his focus returned to Gurgle’s words as she said, “well, that’s the most important stuff. Thanks for coming, and we’re both looking forward to the adventures we’re sure to share. If you have any questions, just stick around, and we can talk them through. If you need to get going, don’t feel compelled to stay- we’ll have plenty of time to talk as things develop. Latimer stayed because he had the time and a lot of questions.

Audio Version:

The Leaders

 

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