The Night Hike

Sunset

Into the night,
Intently gaze,
And while you do,
A mystery plays.

There were 9 teenagers in Will’s group. He was sure of it. He knew each of them by both their name and quantity of snacks they possessed. They’d been backpacking in the boonies for 10 days and he’d headcounted them a bunch of times. Making sure everyone was accounted for, was one of his prime responsibilities as the group leader. The nine kids and two leaders made for a total group size of 11, a fact engrained in his mind.

Continue reading “The Night Hike”

Borders

 

Alpine Peak Ascent

No boundaries here,
Just rocks and snow,
And brutal gales,
That often blow.

There’s cold and rivers
That give you shivers.
And desert heat,
That can’t be beat.

You’ll sink in mud,
Wade many creeks,
Cross deep canyons,
And struggle up peaks.

The drizzle and rain
Will drive you insane.
Cold and numbness
Will mess with your brain.

Mountains will block you,
Jungles will hide you,
Crevasses confound you,
And dryness astound you.

Without a doubt,
There will be dirt,
Thirst, and hunger-
And sometimes hurt.

But,

After the summit,
It’s all downhill.
You’ll snooze and cruise
And know the thrill.

Of facing hardships
That come your way,
And dealing with them,
Come what may.

If you persevere and reach
Whatever goal it is you seek,
You’ll soon forget the pain and strife,
That took you up that mighty peak.

So,

Take on each challenge,
And don’t give-in,
Move always forward,
Become the wind.

Audio Version: 

 

Hike-a-Bike

Trail Supper

Copper Canyon Trail Supper

Out on the trail,
Leaning against a rock,
Cooking supper, and
Watching the water boil.

I’m hungry,
But have to wait.
And so,
I feast on tales.

We begin with a story
About noodling for Catfish.
Which seamlessly leads to
A discussion of Black Holes.
And then, there’s a description
Of how to set a cedar fence post
In rocky ground.

The lasagna will take 20 more minutes,
But no worries…….
Because there’s plenty more food for thought,
Waiting to be had.

Further proof
that dessert,
Is often
Best eaten first.

Audio Version:

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:

Mountain

 

Mountain

Last light,
First light,
And the North Face
Begins to smile.

Magic moment,
Brilliantly bright,
Summit shines,
In all its might.

Suddenly, abruptly,
The crowning glory
Roars to life.

A twinkle of limelight
On the mountaintop.
Briefly highlighted
By the glowing sun.

In a fleeting instant,
The peak shows-off
Its entirety
In one broad stroke.

Ponderance erupts.

For a short time
Life is large, possible,
Loud, tough, and magnificent,
Because a chunk of dirt, rock, and snow,
Reminds you that it is.

Audio Version:

Aconcagua

Rain on My Tent

Anchoring the Tent

Raindrops pounding my tent,
They sound like thunderous applause,
Every time the wind gusts,
And throws them in bunches
Against the fly.

Lightning flashes remind me
Of other power surges.

Thin sheets of nylon
Are all that shield me
From the wet and chaos.

But all is well,
Because the dome protecting me
Is well anchored.
And I am warm and dry,
Zipped-up inside it.

I’m getting sleepy,
Even though it’s only 4:00 in the afternoon.

It’s good to be
Settled into my sleeping bag,
Just as the music begins.

I close my eyes and listen.
As the Rain Symphony gets underway.

I’m intent on absorbing its every nuance.
The subtle pauses, the crescendos,
The somber moments, the tempo changes.

Have I heard this one before, I wonder?
Some parts sound familiar.

But I know better.
Because every Rain Symphony is unique.
Each performance only happens once.
There will be other concerts
That are nearly,
But not quite,
The same.

Each is composed of
Familiar and comfortable sounds,
Blended with surprise.

Like always, the music is spectacular.
Contentedly,
I let my mind wander,
And begin to dream.

Audio Version:

Camp at the end of a bushwhack
A Mountain Campsite

In Celebration of the Winds

Cirque of the Towers,
Wind River Range

Rumbling rivers, creeks, and streams.
Water left pure,
From the moment it falls
On the Continental Divide, as rain or snow,
And begins its journey
Down to the oceans.

Some of it goes into the ground.
Some fills my cup.
Some provides the Brook Trout a place to live.
Some gives the Spruces a drink.
Some makes wallows for the elk.
Some creates glaciers.
And some goes back into the sky and falls again.

Up here, the water is guarded for a while,
By the Winds,
The Wind River Mountains that is.

The range of mountains is inhospitable to some,
But beckoning to others.
The place is too rough for roads,
But covered with paths.

People go there,
To hike, fish, climb, camp,
Meander, sit, ponder, and dream.

But few remain–
There are other places
Better suited to
Building, driving, using, living,
And staying.

Besides,
Protecting the water
Is a full time job.

The mountains, forest,
Creeks, and meadows,
Are left free to do
What they do best.
And they do it well.

The water will move on
And nourish the flatlands.
It’ll irrigate corn, bathe babies,
Water lawns, and get purified
For drinking.

One way or another, the water will change
Once it flows beyond
The protection of the Winds–
For better or worse.

But up in this neck of the woods,
All is well for a time.
And the water is clear
Thanks to Pingora, Gannett, and Fremont.
Dinwoody, Lizard Head,
Desolation, and The Sphinx.
Washakie Pass, Titcomb Basin,
Dickinson Park, and The Cirque of the Towers.
Popo Agie River, Deep Creek Lakes,
Mitchell Peak, and Wolf’s Head.
Stough Creek, Three Fork’s Park, Wind River Peak,
And so many more…

The world is a better place
Because of them.

Audio Version:

Lizard Head, Wind River Range

The Trip to Corcovado

Sleeping in the Jungle

Corcovado,
Costa Rica,
Rivers, jungles,
Pura Vida.

To the station
Called Sirena.
Must cross the inlet,
Before dark.
When rising tide
Will let the sharks
Into the river to feed.

Heavy backpacks,
Walk on beach,
Sloping sand,
Glaring sun,
And Howler Monkeys
Screeching in the forest.

That race is won,
And we arrive unscathed.

So, we…

Unpack the packs,
Set up the tents.
Cook the supper,
Then dishes rinse.

Restless night,
Hot and sweaty,
Lot’s to see,
We will be ready.

Trees and bushes,
Bugs and birds.
A world alive,
Beyond mere words.

Down the runway,
One dark night.
Perhaps a Tapir,
Will catch our light.
And it does.

The next day…

We walk to ocean,
To fish and look.
A great big shark,
Just bends the hook.

The big fish are everywhere,
And a feeding frenzy begins.

The next day it happens,
We pack the gear.
Time to go,
The end is near.

Into the forest,
A path is taken.
With heavy packs,
And legs a achin’.

Thorns and vines,
Mud and sand.
To the north,
Lay promised land.

Unseen gold miners,
A guard with gun.
Miles of walking,
But all still fun.

Then like always,
The end arrives.
One last step taken,
Our lives awakened

Audio Version:

Not a Shark

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.

Audio Version:

A Long Bridge