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

Recipe

On the Summit

Water,
Sand,
Snow,
And rock.

Fly fish,
Cycle,
Ride,
And walk

Gravel,
Grass,
Mud,
And scree.

Backpack,
Wander,
Scale,
And ski.

Mountain,
Cavern,
Dirt,
And ice.

Explore,
Trek,
Cave,
And climb.

Talus,
Forest,
Stream,
And crag.

Summit
Surf,
Sail,
And cast.

Tundra,
River,
Lake,
And hill.

Yoga,
Swim,
Camp,
And chill.

Ocean,
Desert,
Cirque,
And peak.

Prepare,
Proceed,
Persist,
And Seek.

Simple,
Treasures,
Pure,
And sweet.

On the Road

The Night Sky

The Milky Way

The sun goes down
And once again
The nightly spectacle begins.

The stars begin arriving early.

But wait!
The bright light of the full moon
Is overwhelming
The masterpiece of the skies.
It makes everything else invisible to the eye.

But thankfully, like always,
The situation is only temporary.
And the show will go on.

So, for the moment, I relish the things I do see.

I stretch out in my sleeping bag
In an open meadow and look up.

I stay awake
Long enough to
See the moon set.

The temperature is dropping,
But my sleeping bag
Is made for that.

So, I warmly
Look up as the stars
Begin to take control.
And I imagine.

The afternoon’s storm
Has long passed
And cleaned the air.

The night is brilliantly clear.

And suddenly,
The Milky Way
Shows up in all its glory.

To the south,
The constellations of the Zodiac
Are on the march.

One of them,
Scorpio, Scorpius– the Scorpion, is particularly obvious.
At least for the moment.
But it’ll soon disappear into the horizon.
Because it always does.

For me, it’s the constellation of summer,
And adds to my warmth.

But it also makes me think of Orion,
My constellation of winter.
Though unseen,
The thought of it sends a chill to my feet.

Almost overhead,
Mars casts its red light
In untwinkling brilliance.
The untwinkling part is proof that it’s a planet.

I scan the sky for another planet.
But everything is twinkling.
Points of light are everywhere,
Inundating my senses.

My eyes are full of stars and galaxies.
But what of the millions
That are there, but beyond
What I can see.

And then, the fog begins to roll in.
Think fast before it fully arrives, I conclude.
Did my Kentucky great, great grandparents
Look up at the same sky, I wonder?
Is their vision of what they saw floating around out there in space?
Is a vision a concrete thing?
How far away can anything go?

The questions begin to accumulate.
Will they be answered before
The clouds takeover?

Then suddenly, I arrive at a non-answer
As I decide to figure it out later.
And the sky goes dark
As I drift off to sleep.

Before the Stars Arrive

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

Visualization

 

The American West

           It started out as a simple and straightforward thing to do. Lou took off, leading our group of British mountain bikers back to camp. Just seconds after beginning the ride, he rounded a corner and rode up on a four-foot Rattlesnake stretched out across the trail. Instinctively, he hit his brakes extra hard, which caused him to crash. When the dust settled, he was lying on the side of the trail, penned between a cactus and the rattler. The Brits had quickly stopped and looked on in horror as their guide and the viper were suddenly face to face, and only a couple of feet apart.

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The Search

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The Tarryall Mountains

It was a Fall Sunday during what was normally the slow part of the year. Autumn in Colorado’s Tarryall Mountains is spectacular with Aspen trees turning gold and warm sunny days interrupted only by the occasional and temporary arrival of winter. Most years, late September is an ideal time to be there, with long pleasant days that are almost perfect for mountain biking, hiking, and climbing area peaks. But this particular year, my days were occupied with the aftermath of the burning down of the OWA base camp lodge rather than recreation. Instead of the comforts of my private lodge bedroom and bath, I was sharing an old one-room log cabin with an 18-year-old intern, and not doing much besides clean-up and prep for the new construction. On the day in question, I was piddling around the job site doing various chores. Since it was something of an off day, Lee (the intern) asked if he could go on a leisurely and straightforward hike toward Bison Peak. I considered the fact that he’d been on several backcountry trips with my outdoor program in the past. And since there was no work planned for him that afternoon, it seemed reasonable. And so, I gave him my blessing.

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Place Names

The names of places……

Climb VOM
Valley of the Monks, Copper Canyon

The various names that are attached to places are intriguing. Some are obvious since they either reflect a physical characteristic or commemorate an individual of importance. But, others not quite so. Many place names tell a story in a few short words—some less straightforward than others, but each worthy of knowing. Here’s a few such stories that I’ve heard. Listen, and maybe you will, too………………..

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Winter Camping in Montana

Winter camping and cross country skiing in Glacier National Park.

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Winter-like Camping

It was a good bit of naivety that got the three of us there- that and my Ford pickup. A thousand or so miles of driving took us from Texas up to Montana’s Glacier National Park, where we planned to live out our dreams of winter camping and cross-country skiing. We had the place pretty much to ourselves when we arrived, probably because it was January. We were alone when we pulled in, except for the two park rangers operating the Polebridge Ranger Station (where we entered the park) and the plethora of wildlife still out and about.

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The Mine in Potosi’

Exploring the Cerro Rico mine.

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A Bridge to Somewhere

For whatever reason, my wife, Lori, and I ended up in Potosi, Bolivia, on that particular part of our vacation. After considering various things to do around the city, we ended up selecting the “mine tour” option. The city is over 200 miles south of the capital city of La Paz. At 13,400 feet of elevation, it’s one of the world’s highest cities. And, as we came to find out, it’s dominated by Cerro Rico, a big mountain which has been mined regularly for silver ever since the days when the Spaniards were the rulers.

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Lost and Found on the Silver Trail

“You’re not lost, if you don’t care where you are.”

Mountain biking the Silver Trail

By this point, we were some 20 miles from the last little outpost of a town that we’d been through. But theoretically, at least, we were about to come to another. Jerry had the best available maps of the area loaded onto his GPS. But it only told us where we were relative to whatever data it was loaded with. The adage, “garbage in, garbage out,” came to mind and was soon followed by the vision of a web page that simply said, “no data available.”

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