The Trail

Backpacking

Like a ribbon,
That snakes from here,
To there.

Starting,
Then disappearing,
Into thin air.

The path,
The way,
The natural trail.
Where does it lead?

Dirt, sand, gravel, and rocks.
They’re all a combination
Of individual grains
That rest against each other
And connect the first one,
To the last.

It begins,
It ends,
With plenty in between.

Just because
The whole of it
Can’t be seen
All at once, together,
And from start
To finish;
Doesn’t mean
It isn’t going somewhere.

A Long Bridge

Sitting on the Summit

Looking Toward the Conchos

On the top.
Looking out,
Seeing things
You didn’t know
Were there.

Clouds float past,
Racing fast,
Where do they go?
Perhaps,
We cannot know.

But for the moment-
Rest, relax, ponder, breathe.
Soak it in.

Sitting still,
A moment longer,
Thinking harder,
Feeling stronger.

And then……….

A Marmot scampers,
A warm wind whistles,
A crow soars past,
A distant storm erupts,
A Pika chirps,

No mystery has been solved,
No thing resolved.
More questions,
Than answers.

But for another moment,
Rest, relax, ponder, breathe,
Soak it all in.

The Summit of Huayna Potosi- Bolivia

 

Campfires

Campfire

Tender, kindling, fuel
Dry grass, sticks and logs.
Combined,
Then set afire.

Suddenly, there’s
Light, heat, and movement.
A whole new world
Is born.

A thing to stand around,
A reason to pull up a log and sit,
Something to stare into,
Reach your hands toward,
And turn your back to.
And always,
The smoke follows beauty.

And then,
A tale is told.
Which leads to another
And another.

Flames come and go
They ebb and flow.
Roaring, crackling.
Simmering, and flickering.

Embers, coals.
Constant change.

So much to see,
A lot to hear.
Things to say.
Stare, think, and gaze.

One fire is never like another,
Except that it is.

And once again,
A great story unfolds.

Seeing the Sunset

Re-finding the Silver Trail- Copper Canyon, Mexico

Hike-a-bike on the Silver Trail

From the mines near Batopilas,
To the bank in Chihuahua.
And then by train,
To El Paso.
Haul the silver,
Hide the gold.

125 miles of trail.
Trains of mules with steel shoes,
Tarahumara’s with none.
Five stations along the way.
Mountains with pines,
Canyons with rocks.
Following the path,
That leads,
To the wagon road,
At Carachic.

A generation of travel,
Stopped by time.
Trees grow,
Meadows change.
The route forgotten,
Except for what,
The mules cut,
Into the rock,
With their hooves.

Forgotten stories linger:
Pilares, El Patron,
La Laja, Los Conchos,
El jefe with the knife,
Teboreachi,
The piano,
Huajochi.

Eventually, the day arrives.
And we go.
60 years later.

Years of talk and wondering,
Turn into action.
How hard could it be?
Mountain bikes, walking, and camping
Many questions asked,
But few answered.
Is this the trail?

We do it backwards- from Carachic.
First to El Ojito, then on south.
Past La Herradurra,
Night with Gabino Flores at Huajochi Station,
Walk through the Arroyo de las Iglesias,
Camp at The Hot Springs,
The next night with support at Pilares Station.

On to Siquerichi.
Cold night at La Laja Station.
Camping near Teboreachic Station.
Past Coyachique,
Then down to the Batopillas River.
From there, it’s ten miles of gravel road,
Finally, we arrive in Batopilas,
And Casa San Miguel.

The trail re-found
Was it ever lost?
Reconnoitered, mapped,
Ridden, walked, photographed,
Written and talked about.

Then,
Like before, the Chabochis
Move on.

But the trail stays.

Morning Dawns in Huahochic

The Knife-edge Ridge

Crossing a “knife-edge”

“If we do make it up to the top of Delirium, there’s a knife-edge ridge we’re gonna have to cross to get over to the Cemetery and then down. It’s only about 100 hundred yards long, but it’s got lots of loose rocks and big drop-offs, so watch out. If the other person on your rope falls, jump quickly to the other side of the ridge. That’ll create a counter-balance and keep both of you from getting pulled down on top of each other. Don’t waste any time thinking about it- just do it.”

Continue reading “The Knife-edge Ridge”

Mystery

 

Going Somewhere

Walking somewhere,
And not knowing why.
To lands unknown,
With limitless sky.

Step into a world
Without any walls.
Possibilities are endless,
Mystery calls.

Climb the mountain,
Because it’s there.
Gaze from the summit,
The feeling’s rare.

Savor the moments,
When discomforts befall,
And you figure it out,
To answer the call.

Consider tomorrow,
Yet today’s cold and wet.
Cause a place warm and dry,
Waits for you yet.

Clear rivers roar onward,
Canyons bleed blue.
Caves shatter darkness,
Colors for you.

It’s always around us,
Wherever we go.
To bolster our moments.
And add to the show.

Canyons of Blue

Getting There

Nearing The Top

To the top!

Sweat mixed with rain,
Too hot for jacket,
But cold makes for pain.

Take a step forward,
Slide half a step back.
Gentle breeze pulls you onward,
Brutal gust makes you crack.

Stop, rest, breathe.
Sip some water,
Have a cracker,
And then, move on.

If you look up,
The top seems a long distance.
But keep moving forward,
And show your persistence.

The load is heavy,
And it only gets worse,
As the grind gets longer.
So don’t try and converse.

Stop, rest, breathe.
Sip some water,
Have a cracker,
And then, move on.

Each step gets you closer,
Believe it or not.
Rest assured your effort,
Won’t be for naught.

You’re undoubtedly tired,
And perhaps you’re wet.
That your legs are like rubber,
Is a good bet.

More than likely,
Your hands are like bricks,
Your feet have no feeling,
And your arms feel like sticks.

But suddenly, you’re there.

Stop, rest, breathe.
Your goal achieved.
Lookout and remember,
What you’ve received.

Sip some water,
Have a cracker,
And then, move on.

The Summit

Nighttime

The night before Summit Day…..

Climbers in Alaska
The Climb

The night was long and restless. He was cold inside his sleeping bag even though the three of them had worked so hard to make things cozy. And then, there was the wind. It blasted the tent relentlessly, and he was worried about getting blown off the ridge. What would that be like, he tried to imagine? There was no actual sleep. But there was a sort of vigilant grogginess. While his body was mostly still, his mind actively raced in a frenzy of hyperactive speculation. He was uncomfortable, and the situation was damn near depressing. But thankfully, he wasn’t outside climbing toward the summit- yet. That would happen soon enough.

Continue reading “Nighttime”

Clearing in the West- A Poem

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Clearing in the West

It’s clearing in the west.

Without a doubt,
It’s brighter over in the west,
Beyond
The far ridge.

The storm is moving on.
The wind has dropped,
The clouds persist.
And snow is everywhere.

For now,
Zip up the door
And settle
Back into your bag.

Because it’s clearing in the west.

So,
Grab the stove,
Clear off a spot.
Find the pot,
Wipe it out.

Set it up,
Make it stable,
Fire the burner,
Add some water,

Ready your cup,
Break out the snacks,
Wait for steam,
It’s time for tea.

Adjust your seat,
Take off a fleece,
Stretch your legs,
But mind your feet.

It’s getting warmer,
Crack the door,
Forget the gloves,
Pull off the cap.

Ready your drink,
What will it be?
Spiced cider, hot chocolate,
Coffee or tea?

Finally, it boils.
Turn off the stove.
Add the mix.
Pour in the water.
Sip the hot drink.
Unzip the door.
Look out and note,

It’s clearing in the west.

 

Camp at the end of a bushwhack
A Mountain Campsite

Boquillas Canyon Revisited

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Headed Into Boquillas Canyon

The last time I canoed the Rio Grande through Boquillas Canyon was in 1979. After 40 years, it became time for me to remind myself of some of the lessons that 33 mile stretch of river taught me way back then. And so, I floated it.

Continue reading “Boquillas Canyon Revisited”