Bonking (also known as Metabolic Acidosis)

 

Mountain biking in Colorado
Mountain biking in the Tarryall Mountains

Ryan had never bonked before, at least in the metabolic shock/ overexertion sense of the word. When he started to bumble around and lose more and more of his edge, I knew that something was up and figured that’s what had happened. Not realizing what was going on, he kept on trying to mountain bike further up the Colorado Trail, although with diminishing returns. The big patches of snow that remained on the trail, even though it was June, were probably a good thing since they ultimately turned us all around. His disrupted mental and physical state likely made the retreat more palatable to the 13-year-old, since he wasn’t one to be prone to turn around before his goal was reached.

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Mired in the Mud

Backpackers crossing a creek
Crossing a creek

Backpacking down the trail.
I come to a creek,
And look for a crossing.
It’s a dry one I seek.

Suddenly I’m stopped,
Mired in the mud.
A boot gets stuck,
And I fall with a thud.

I feel my body,
And nothing seems hurt.
I decide to get up,
And wipe off the dirt.

Except…

The dirt that covers my hands and legs,
Is gooey, wet, and awful sticky.
And to clean it off now I realize,
Will be a task that’s mighty tricky.

So, I wade into the stream,
Where the water is wet.
Wash off the mess,
And loudly scream.

Now that I’m clean,
But thoroughly soaked.
I continue across,
My dry crossing revoked.

I clamber out of the water,
On the other side.
Drenched to the hilt.
And I begin to slide.

The weight of the backpack,
Pulls me back.
Toward the water,
And I begin to totter.

Once again I fall,
Onto my back this time.
My pack’s submerged,
But without the grime.

My stuff’s all soaked,
My elbow aches.
Getting up is hard,
And my body shakes.

Finally, I’m up,
And proceed once more.
This time careful,
As I reach the shore.

Then, it’s out of the water,
Up onto the bank.
This time it’s easy,
I have two fails to thank.

Audio Version:

backpackers on the trail
Backpacking

The Endless Trail

Backpackers ascending a trail in the mountains headed toward a summit
Summit Trail

Cruising down the trail,
With a tailwind at my back.
Got a bounce in my step,
And extra room in my pack.

No sweat on my brow,
Or cold fingertips.
My lungs are full of breath,
There’s a smile on my lips.

The Middle Fork’s just ahead,
In the valley down below.
I have a favorite campsite there,
Where the river’s got good flow.

No thought of rain,
We’re walking fast because we can.
The need to get there quickly,
Isn’t in the plan.

Once we’re there and the tent’s set up,
I’m gonna take a nap.
Then there’ll still be time for fishing,
And to sit around and yap.

Bugs and snow have gone away,
The Aspens turning gold.
I stop and drink right from a creek,
The water’s clear and cold.

I’m thankful that the air is fresh,
And sunshine warms my face,
Cause I remember those other times,
When such was not the case.

The sign said fifteen miles to go,
So I figured seven hours.
Now we’re almost there in three,
And that’s with looking at the flowers.

It’s true the trail I’m walking,
Is full of climbs and bends,
But I rejoice in the simple fact,
That this journey never ends.

Audio Version:

A backpacker hiking up a trail cut into the bare rock
The Forever Trail- etched into the stone

Candy Bars on Mt. Hunter- Revisited

 

Glacier Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier

I now concede the fact that it was undoubtedly the five candy bars I ate in celebration of successfully getting across the avalanche debris field that caused the distress. I should’ve known better, but for a variety of reasons, it’d seemed like a good thing to do at the time. At least, I reasoned once back at home, the whole thing had taught me a good lesson.

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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

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

Fly on a Hook… Revisited

Fly fishing the Tarryall.

The kid walked up while I was down in the creek, fiddling around with a big rock, to tell me that he’d lost his last fly. I was the guide and supposedly the person who’d take care of that sort of thing and thus, knew that I needed to act quickly. Of course, the most obvious solution would’ve been for me just to give him one. Usually, that’d be a simple thing to do– but since, in this case, I didn’t have any, it wasn’t even an option.

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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

Nighttime Revisited

on the Glacier

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 for him. 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.

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