The Solo Storm

A stormy evening in the mountains…….


Lightning was striking everywhere and each time it did, there was a bright flash immediately followed by the almost deafening crash of thunder. When it’d first started, I figured it was time to do something, although I didn’t. But once the bolts started lighting up individual trees, I sprang into action.

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A herd of elk in the Colorado high country

The Colorado Rockies

There must’ve been close to 100 elk filling the valley below me, and I was astounded. I didn’t want to do anything to call attention to myself, so just sat there quietly peering over the boulder from afar. It was some sort of luck or fate that put me in that right place and at the right time, because I certainly hadn’t been thinking about it as I I’d climbed toward the top of yet another ridge.

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The Handlebar

A broken mountain bike handlebar in the Colorado backcountry leads to an interesting fix.

mountain biking in the Aspens
Mountain biking the Colorado Trail

It was a long downhill and flowed well. I’d ridden it before and knew that even though we were going down the valley toward Lost Park, I needed to pedal most of the way, in order to keep my speed up. That particular section of the Colorado Trail keeps dropping slightly and slowly for miles as it winds its way down the mostly open Craig Creek drainage and since I’d ridden it before, I knew that it’d be fast, fun and effortless, save for the pedaling. Sure, there were plenty of obstacles all along the way- loose, unfortunately positioned rocks, encroaching Potentilla bushes, and washed out ruts, but only a few consistently tricky spots, all of which occurred where side creeks, thick with willows, came in. While the trail obstacles could be dealt with by using vigilance and technique, the creek crossings required something a little more. With their mud, roots, big rocks and water, they were simply best done on foot. Despite all of the downsides, it was Rocky Mountain mountain biking at its best.

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Two Mountain Stories

Adventure perspectives.

Ascending a steep mountain ridge.
Practicing ice climbing near the top of Black Powder Pass

It was all a matter of mountainperspective.

 Mount Borah

Tuna Surprise, was a very nice way to describe it. We were positioned on the lower slopes of Idaho’s highest peak, 12,662’ Mt. Borah, ready to do a night ascent. Doing it at night would be a good way to make an otherwise arduous and steep summit climb less mentally difficult, I reasoned. We were able to drive right up to our embarking point, so had the relative luxury of being able to carry whatever sort of bulky, non-trail food we wanted, along with a large propane burner. The plan was to have a good, filling and early supper, followed by a few hours of sleep and then a projected five or six hour long ascent, beginning at midnight.

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Fire in the Tarryalls

A tree catches fire in the Colorado backcountry at a particularly inopportune time.

CRT Mark 2003 046
Penitente Canyon, Colorado

Lightning streaked across the sky and was followed instantly by an explosion of thunder, telling me that the thunderstorm was somewhere right above us. It was unsettling, but there wasn’t time to worry about it. I didn’t see any sort of flash hit the ground, but had to wonder if there was one up there, wherever it was that lightning came from, that had one of our names on it. The wind kept blowing relentlessly and the constant gusting made the whole situation seem all the more chaotic. But, where’s the rain, I thought? The Tarryalls needed it. A real downpour might put an end to the Hayman Fire as well as whatever it was that was burning up above us on the mountainside. Continue reading “Fire in the Tarryalls”