Problems in Need of Solutions


Pondering the route

No sail for the wind,
Or rock to ascend.

No birds in the sky,
Or reasons to cry.

No bike for the trail,
Or mountain to scale.

No sun for the day,
Or words yet to say.

No cold for the heat,
Or dance for the beat.

No fly for the trout,
Or sense in the route.

No skis for the snow,
Or mystery to know.

No tent for the night,
Or rope to keep tight.

No found for the lost,
Or gain to the cost.

No coat for the storm,
Or way to stay warm.

No boat for the river,
Or stop to the shiver.

No pack for the stuff,
Or smooth for the rough.

No elk for the wallow,
Or pathways to follow,

No skates for the ice,
Or bowl for the rice.

No cool for the hot,
Or stove for the pot.

No tent for the rain,
Or gain for the pain.

No boots for the feet,
Or snacks left to eat.

No water for the drink,
Or reasons to think.

No gloves for the hands,
Or wild in the lands.

No parks for the town,
Or trails to walk down.

No socks for the feet,
Or strangers to meet.

No summits to reach,
No moments that teach.
No ring in the bell,
No story to tell.


Audio Version:

Descending into a valley in Bolivia.

Jake Fowler, The Major

mountain landscape
The Mountains

“It were a good adventure,”
He said as he sat,
Then he straightened the snakeskin,
That banded his hat.

He guzzled a jar of whiskey,
But spilled some on his coat.
His manner was sure,
Though he drank like a goat.

The outside was gray,
And the tavern was cold.
Except near the stove,
Where the story was told.

There was a moment of silence,
As he stared into the gloom.
Then, he started the story,
His words filling the room.

“These days, most of us is livin’ here in Kentucky.

We knowed each other from Big Bone Lick,
Where we wandered and hunted by day,
Then come here in the evenin’,
To drink and have a say.

We weren’t none of us borned here.

We ain’t the settling down type.
But’d just ended up here in the East Bend,
After decidin’ our days of roamin’
Might finally’a seen their end.

After years a trappin’ Beaver,
Livin’ rough, and scoutin’ new.
We’d done trapped out the Bone Lick,
So, the coop we thought to flew.

So, we decided to spend our days what’s left
Roamin’ wild with those we knowed.
To head out west and to a place
Where none of us had ever goed.

And since we was so inclined, that’s what we did.

It were true we had our beaver dreams,
And thoughts of riches colored gold.
But it were mostly cause we wanted free,
And to forget that we was old.

They was 20 of us,
Trappers and hunters all.
Some was Indeans, some was Frenchmen,
Some was short, and others tall.

Some was black, some was white,
Some was big, and others small.
But all was hardened by the land,
And I did trust ‘em, one and all.

So, we cross’t the river at Rabbit Hash, and the journey then commenced.

It were the fall of 1821,
When we struck out on our own.
Headin’ west toward old Santa Fe,
Crossin’ country still unknown.

They was times we rode our horses,
On beaten trails of dirt and rock.
But they was times we walked for miles afoot.
And got too tired to talk.

We follered cricks and rivers,
The Verdigris, the Arkansaw, and others with no name.
And after weeks of hills and meadows,
To the mountains we done came.

Our days was filt with movin’,
Huntin’ game, and lookin’ west.
Then we stopped beneath the Spanish Peaks,
To set a camp and rest.

I’d never seen such.

We’d heard tales of lotsa mountains,
Full of beaver, elk, and deer.
Way out yonder ‘crosst the prairie,
Many miles away from here.

From far away the mountains seemed
To be a wall of rock and ice.
But once up close we was pleased to see.
It were country mighty nice.

They was glades and hollers
Cricks, and trees.
Elk and bear,
And lotsa honey bees.

Eventially, we cross’t the mountains
And come to Taos then Sante Fe.
Up to then, they wasn’t many folks,
As we moved along our way.

Except we run’t acrosst some Spaniards
Traded with Ietans, Cheyennes, and Arapahos.
Was guarded by the Kioways,
And had to worry with some Crows.

They was a fandango for us in Santa Fe,
We drank our fill and had a feast.
Then we turned around and headed back
To all awaitin’ in the east.

We headed back with a good bit of meat,
Not many pelts, but lots of tales.
Of scary faces, unfound places,
And all manner of travails.

After 18 months of livin’ wild,
We cross’t the river and was home.
Brim full of life, despite the strife,
And with no more mind to roam.

Yessir, it were a good adventure.”


The story finished, he sat back in his chair,
And silence filled the room.
He took a deep breath, then let out a laugh,
As sunshine broke the gloom.

Audio Version:

The Colorado Mountains

Joy Bluff Rising


Full Moon Over Joy Bluff

Over the bluff,
A Full Moon rises,
Casting its glow,
On the summer below.

Erupting the dark,
With light shining bright
Awakening the shadows and defeating the night.

Limestone cliffs return to life,
Ravines get deeper and hills get higher,
Cedar thickets spread their arms,
Deer become more than dark flashes,
Tree limbs come out of hiding to dance in the wind,
And silhouettes of monstrous Cypress line the river as it bends.

Then, smell and sound join in,
Campfires flicker across the hilltops,
Cedar smoke fills the air.
Far-off drumbeats keep the rhythm,
And bits of story, song, and laughter,
Faintly echo from beyond.

Rejoice in the moonrise,
And the change it’ll surely bring.
It’s done this many times before,
And I hope there’ll be many more.

Just like those who watched before,
Invite the moon into your eyes.
Ponder the days that are yet to come,
Embrace the times that came,
And rejoice that the moon you see,
Still rises just the same.

Audio Version:

Joy Bluff- Hunt, Texas

Climbing Simple


Rock Climbing

Go up the rock,
The climb is sweet.
It’s best to mostly
Use your feet.

Don’t complicate
The moves you make,
Because if you do
You’ll likely shake.

Your free to use
All cracks and nubs,
And if you must,
Include the shrubs.

Focus on
What’s just above.
Make that mostly what
You’re thinking of.

But do be wary
Of what you hold,
Be sure it’s solid
And good as gold.

Just don’t hug
The rock too tight,
Cause if you do
You’ll take a flight.

Take advantage of stand-on ledges,
Solid flakes, and all nearby faces.
Go with the flow and use what happens
Gladly embrace all that graces.

Climbing simple
Is sometimes best.
Especially if
The view’s your quest.


Audio Version:

Using the rope

Fetching Water


Waiting for the water to boil

I headed to the creek to get a pot full of water.
And tripped on a root on my way back to camp.
I staggered and stumbled but didn’t fall,
Then dropped the pot and spilled it all.

Continue reading “Fetching Water”

Part of the View


I climb to a high place,
And savor the view,
So much to see,
My world seems anew.

Ground ripples below
Until it reaches a stream.
That’s flowing along
With water agleam.

Bright shiny reflection,
Small, but intense.
Catches my eye,
Creating suspense.

A big Douglas Fir,
Sways to and fro’.
Seems guarding something,
From what I don’t know.

Squirrel scampers across
A branch to my side.
It notices me,
And begins to chide.

The light moves on,
And the magnificent buck
That’s resting under a pine,
Looks more like a duck.

Out of the forest,
A trail comes forth.
Crosses below
And heads to the north.

Some animal runs,
Its movement a flash.
Then abruptly jumps into
The creek with a splash.

A rock falls from the cliff
Off to my right.
Its crash at the bottom
Creates quite a sight.

Above the horizon,
Beyond what I know,
Big mountains arise,
All capped in snow.

Where clouds meet the ground,
And land becomes sky.
The near disappears,
And far enters my eye.

Then, I realize,
That the things that I see.
Are simple, yet complex,
And all part of me.

Each time I gaze,
At the world all around.
The sights may be different,
But they always astound.

It’s heartening to know,
I have a role in the view.
I’m a cog in the world,
A part of the stew.

So, I stand up and turn,
Then go on my way.
Ready to face,
What comes as it may.

Audio Version:

Seeing the Sunset



Backcountry afternoon
Wind River Range, Wyoming

Happy trails
And happy snails.
Happy whales
And happy tales.

Happy days
And happy craze.
Happy phrase
And happy stays.

Happy times
And happy chimes.
Happy climbs
And happy rhymes.

Happy sight
And happy night.
Happy light
And happy mite.

Happy spots
And happy dots.
Happy oughts
And happy thoughts.

Happy trail
And happy snail.
Happy whale
And happy tale.

Happy places
And happy faces.
Happy races
And happy spaces.

Happy talks
And happy walks.
Happy hawks
And happy squawks.

Happy sounds
And happy towns.
Happy bounds
And happy grounds.

Happy sights
And happy nights.
Happy lights
And happy mites.

Happy time
And happy chime.
Happy climb
And happy rhyme.

Happy songs
And happy throngs.
Happy Kongs
And happy wrongs.

Happy theres
And happy bears.
Happy wheres
And happy pairs.

Happy words
And happy nerds.
Happy birds
And happy herds.

Happy talk
And happy walk.
Happy hawk
And happy squawk.

Happy spot
And happy dot.
Happy ought
And happy thought.

Happy sappy
And happy yappy.
Happy snappy
And happy happy.

Audio Version:

Trail Supper

Marching Always


Backpacking in Copper Canyon

Marching to the drummer
Across the canyon
From where I walk.

Rhythmic echoes, pounding drumbeats
Like the ticking
Of a clock.

Miles of trails and distant rivers,
Manzanitas, Oaks, and pines.
Hardened heels and herds of goats,
And long-forgotten mines.

The only time that matters,
Is how long until the night.
Move like the Raramuri,
Who keep following the light.

Dancing fiercely o’er the mesas,
With partners
Made of rock.

Often soaring skyward,
Flying freely
Like a hawk.

Layer upon layer
Of color fills the sky.
The magic of the distance
Inundates the eye.

Subtle tailwinds urge me forward
And gentle headwinds hold me back.
But like the local people,
I maintain an onward track.

Then the drumbeat fades away,
Yet still, the land has much to say.
I close my eyes and faintly hear
A beating heart that’s somewhere near.

I realize it’s underfoot,
The sound is rising
From the dirt!

It’s good to know
That even though
The drummers come and go.

The land I cross
Lives on and on,
And the beat is never gone.

Audio Version:

Marching into the canyon

The Long Way


A Nice Place to Sit

Let’s take the long way back,
And cross the river ‘round the bend.
If our feet get wet,
We can dry ‘em in the wind.

There’s a trail down there
That no one knows about.
And it leads to a fishin’ hole
That’s full of big ‘ole trout.

Since we’ve got our poles,
We can wet a line.
If you don’t have any flies,
You can use some of mine.

Once we’ve had our fill of that
We’ll head into the trees,
To a big red rock
With a view that’ll bring ya’ to your knees.

From there, we’ll keep goin’
‘Till we reach the Highline Trail.
We’ll follow it across the meadow
Where I once got caught by hail.

Just on past that meadow, there’s a gully
Full of berries of some unknown type.
I don’t know much about ‘em,
‘Cept they taste good and should be ripe.

We’ll fill our bellies there
And when we’ve had our fill,
Head into some Aspens
And move on up the hill.

Our path will pass
By old cabins and mines.
And once up high,
There are Bristlecone Pines.

There’s a good sittin’ spot at the top,
Where we can take a break.
No doubt we’ll need to rest when we get there,
Since our legs will surely ache.

Then, we’ll walk along the treeline,
With the treetops down below.
Huge mountains fill that skyline
And the wildflowers steal the show.

As we walk along the tundra,
The lack of noise will astound.
There may be wind, or planes, or talk,
But the silence is profound.

Soon, we’ll reach the spot
Where the trail begins to drop
After passing through black timber,
We’ll reach the valley where we’ll stop.

Another river fills that valley,
And we’ll round another bend.
We’ll wade into the stream
And take the long way once again.

Audio Version:

Base Camp area trails
Passing through the Aspens

Monster Shadows


Where monsters lurk

Cast your shadow,
Moonlight bright.
Wake the moment,
Stir the night.

Treetops sparkle,
With muted light.
Boulders hiding,
On my right.

Something scampers,
Taking flight.
It’s small and quick,
With stripes of white.

Night sounds near,
But out of sight.
Do I run,
Or stand and fight?

A distant shriek,
Causes fright.
But nothing gets me,
And I’m all right.

Back to the campfire,
Flickering bright.
Its guarding sphere,
A realm of light.

Flames mostly yellow,
A few are white.
At first, I stare
But then look right.

What is that there,
Beyond my sight?
Out in the darkness,
Of the night.

Unseen monsters,
I think to fight.
And once again,
I ponder flight.

Then magically,
There’s no more fright.
The monsters flee
It’s first daylight.

Audio Version: 

The forest at night
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