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.
It wasn’t the easy way out of the predicament. But we ended up choosing the more physically painful of the two options and climbed up the steep ridge and then over the saddle that led us out of Paradise Park and down into Hell Canyon.
Missing a Tutuburi
The countryside opened up as the Silver Trail left the Valley of the Churches. Our group of seven had passed a young Tarahumara man (the indigenous people of Mexico’s Copper Canyon) earlier in the day. And I’d asked about Nacho Kino, an old Tarahumara whom I’d met while mapping the Silver Trail a few years before.
I could tell the story from my first Alps trip about the Swiss barmaid hovering around outside of my tent late one night asking for my tentmate, Matt. Or the one about Matt and I racing our Swiss guides back down from the top of the Argentine Miroir (a famous rock climb) to a nearby café where our group was waiting. Both occurred amid an adventure trip that the two of us were leading. It was made up of people of varying ages, including teenagers, a doctor who was even older than me, and my non-alpinism-experienced wife, Lori.
I’ll leave the details of those two events up to the reader’s imagination and, instead, tell the one about Lori, Doctor Bob, and Big Chris crossing a glacier.
I was in Mexico’s Copper Canyon with a group of adventure traveler “Chavochi’s” (non-indigenous/devil people as some of us gringos are fondly known among the Tarahumara). Some things happened while we were down there in Batopilas Canyon and the town of Batopilas, which may or may not be related to each other. I think they are.
A treble hook catches an eyelid in the backcountry.
Thankfully, we only got a few miles up the Wind River Range’s Middle Fork Trail, before stopping and setting up our first night’s camp. As it turned out, the whole treble hook situation would’ve been way more complicated had we gone further into the backcountry that first day.
Hooking a fishing fly with a spinner
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. The most obvious solution would’ve been for me to just give him one. Normally that’d be a simple and straight forward thing to do– but since, in this particular case I didn’t have any, it wasn’t even an option.
Interesting events late at night during a 24 Hour mountain bike race.
Things got progressively weirder as the Utah mountain bike race, known as the 24 Hours of Moab, continued. It was an event where riders, in teams ranging in size from individuals to up to 8, rode as many laps as possible within 24 hours. I was doing it solo, which among other things, created some intriguing late-night moments. At some point in the middle of the night, two tandem bikes with riders dressed as frogs rode in from a direction that had nothing to do with the race-course. During the previous lap, I’d been concerned when another racer didn’t correctly yield the trail on a long climb. But by the time the frog thing happened, nothing of that sort was bothering me any longer. I was just pleased that they were stopped and waiting off to the side of the trail for me to pass before continuing. From that moment on, as I rode up toward the crest of that hill each time, I kept looking for the frog riders and continued to be concerned that they might be riding that same section of trail. I hoped that if so, they’d at least be going in the same counterclockwise direction as the rest of us.
Since I outweighed Quentin by 60 or so pounds, I was confident that I could hold him if he were to break through the ice and fall into a crevasse.
Backpackers crossing from Waipio to Waimanu Valleys on the Big Island are treated to some interesting guests.
Our day of backpacking up the Z switchback on the Mulawai Trail as we hiked toward Waimanu had was hot at first. But a breath of fresh and cool air had hit us smack dab head-on once we got up on top of the ridge. The refreshingly pleasant conifer forest was a welcomed surprise. But the fact that the trail on Hawaii’s Big Island we were backpacking had a camping shelter conveniently situated from the trailhead was fully expected. We reached the elevated platform in the middle of the afternoon after several hot and humid backpacking hours. Since there was plenty of daylight left and we were all physically drained, everyone picked a spot and stretched out on the shaded and relatively clean plywood for a quick nap. As I drifted off, I thought contentedly of black sand beaches, juicy and sweet Lilikoi fruit, and clouds before dozing off. Josh and I were the oldest and the leaders of the group of 8 or so teenage boys, a fact that would eventually come into play. But for the moment, we all just slept.