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.

To the campfire,
Still 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

Inside a Bolivian Mine

Unexpected Footbridge in Mexico

My wife, Lori, and I ended up in the city of Potosi on the last part of our Bolivian vacation. After considering various things to do around the city, we selected 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 found out, it’s dominated by a big mountain named Cerro Rico, which has been mined regularly for silver since the Spaniards were the rulers.

Continue reading “Inside a Bolivian Mine”

Guaymas, 1971- Revisited

Unexpected Footbridge in Mexico

It was Christmas break of my sophomore year in high school when Jake and I took off from Denton. We geared up and drove his parent’s VW Camper/van (with their permission), bound for Mexico with a stop in Douglas, Arizona. The plan was to meet up in Douglas with an older, more mature person named Jim, whom I knew from the summer camp where I had worked the previous summer. From there, the three of us would travel to Guaymas, Mexico, where we’d camp, have some quality beach time, and experience a bunch of “neat adventure stuff.” In the van, we had scuba gear packed away under one of the seats in cardboard boxes, places to sleep, and we must have had some food somewhere. (Note- I’m not sure how we got our parents to agree to the plan. Although I do remember it being a good thing that we would be under the supervision of someone older).
Jake and I drove to Douglas, where we connected with Jim at his parent’s house. We spent a day there doing “the friends visiting from out of town” routine, which included supper across the border in Agua Prieta. The next day we loaded Jim’s baggage into the van and took off across the border toward the coastal city of Guaymas, which we had randomly chosen as our destination.

Continue reading “Guaymas, 1971- Revisited”

Morning on the Trail

Backpacker hiking up slick rock in Mexico's Copper Canyon
Backpacking up the slick rock in Copper Canyon

Out of the tent and into the morning,
What will the new day have to say?

The fresh morning air is crisp and clear,
The soon-to-be coffee will be hot and dear,
And my mind is most certainly full of cheer.

The air is filled with a calming breeze,
I ponder how last night it got down to 38 degrees.

Heavy dew got everything wet,
I was that way, too, but mine was from sweat.

High in the sky, movement catches my eye,
I focus and see it’s a hawk floating by,
And I wish that I could also fly.

Two chipmunks scurry between nearby rocks,
The big one squeaking like a chatterbox.

I also hear the tumbling creek,
Yesterday, things were looking awfully bleak,
But today, we’ll forget that and climb the peak.

Sunlight is shining on the summit we seek,
Looking at the steepness makes my knees feel weak.

I’ll worry about that later on,
But for now, I’m just gonna relish the dawn,
And enjoy watching the newborn fawn.

Since we’re climbing Big Sandy, then returning here for the night,
We can limit our gear and travel light.
.
For the climb, we won’t need a big backpack.
We’re only taking raingear, water, and snack,
And can fit all of that into a knapsack.

I need to get the group up and going,
Before the wind starts really blowing.

The storms have started building every day at noon.
Just like during monsoon season, but it’s only June.
All the more reason to get going soon.

Thank goodness my rain jacket’s been working well,
It’s kept me dry and it’s only a shell.

The climb’s gonna be long, so I need to fill my bottles with water.
Look over there, is that an otter?
I swear those rocks are beginning to totter.

My thoughts sharply focus on the pending climb,
And I realize it’s become that time.

The sun’s rising fast,
The time for leaving has almost passed.

We won’t be cooking oatmeal,
Cause beating the storm’s, a big deal.
Our need to leave has now become real.

“Get up, pack your stuff, we’re leaving,” I shout.
“If we wanna beat the rain, we need to get out.”

“Just eat a snack,
While you get ready and pack,
We’ll do some cookin’ when we get back.”

“And zip up your tent, before we head out,
If you don’t and it rains things will get wet no doubt.”

After the flurry of action, we finally head out,
With the peak our goal, but without a route.

We cross the creek and see it’s full of trout,
And suddenly that’s all we’re thinking about.

We stop and talk about our goal for the day,
And decide it best to fish and stay.
Plus, avoiding the storm will help make it okay.

So, we turn around, and off we tramp,
From where we just left, it’s back to camp.

Once we get there, most get out their poles,
Then head back to the creek and the various fishing holes.

I stay behind and consider what’s changed,
And ponder the plan that’s been disarranged.

The climb to the top would’ve been fun,
Especially, that is, if the summit we won.

But the fish grabbed our attention,
And changed our intention.
As soon as we saw them, there was no more ascension.

And now here we are, on the banks of the creek,
Instead of climbing toward the peak.
We still have a “goal,” so to speak,
But it’s no longer the summit, it’s Brookies we seek.

Days are full of changes to plans,
Partly because there are so many cans.

Relish the moments, both subtle and profound,
Embrace all that happens and keep looking around.

Continue reading “Morning on the Trail”

Bonking (also known as Metabolic Acidosis)

 

Mountain biking in Colorado
Mountain biking in the Tarryall Mountains

Ryan had never bonked before, at least in the metabolic shock/ overexertion sense of the word. When he started to bumble around and lose more and more of his edge, I knew that something was up and figured that’s what had happened. Not realizing what was going on, he kept on trying to mountain bike further up the Colorado Trail, although with diminishing returns. The big patches of snow that remained on the trail, even though it was June, were probably a good thing since they ultimately turned us all around. His disrupted mental and physical state likely made the retreat more palatable to the 13-year-old, since he wasn’t one to be prone to turn around before his goal was reached.

Continue reading “Bonking (also known as Metabolic Acidosis)”

Sitting on the Summit– Revisited

a mountain climber sitting on the top of a mountain and looking at the surroundings
So much to see

On top of the mountain
Looking out,
And thinking about,
What you see.

Clouds float past,
Racing fast,
Where do they go?
Perhaps that fact,
I’ll never know.

Something shining and changing,
A reflection I suppose.
Not moving, just bouncing
The sunshine as it goes.

A road across the valley,
Headed toward the hill,
Passes by a frozen lake,
And I can feel the chill.

Crows passing by,
High in the sky.
Flying is something,
I’d like to try.

Rest, relax, ponder, breathe.
Soak it in.

Sitting still,
A moment longer,
Thinking harder,
Feeling stronger.

And then,
There’s even more to soak in…..

A Marmot scampers,
A warm wind whistles,
A sweet smell fills my nose,
A distant storm erupts,
A Pika chirps,
A lone Columbine catches my eye.

No mystery has been solved,
No thing resolved.
More questions,
Than answers.

But for another moment,
Rest, relax, ponder, breathe,
Soak it all in.

Audio Version: 

Man and girl sitting high up above Copper Canyon looking down at the surrounding area

Mourning Coffee on Huayna Potosi

Rope team ascending Huayna Potosi in BoliviaAdventure Recommendations

 

It was cold and restless sleep at our high camp on Bolivia’s Huayna Potosi. As I think back, it was actually more like quiet time, except for the constant banging of the tent flap out in the frigid, high-altitude night. Sometime in the very early morning, I got up and went outside to relieve myself and, while doing my business, marveled at how clear and full of stars the sky was. But that marvel was tempered by my personal acknowledgment that ultimately the clear skies would just mean even colder temperatures. At least, I reasoned, since there was no threat of snow, I wasn’t going to have to get up and shovel any of it away from the tent in the wee hours of the morning. I quickly got chilled, and so, once back in the tent, I pushed myself deeper into my minus 25-degree bag and cinched the hood tightly down around my head. Cinching down and tightening the hood, along with a persistent need to go outside and relieve myself, periodic dozing off, and a mental organization of the rope-up logistics, occupied the bulk of my supposed sleep time.

Continue reading “Mourning Coffee on Huayna Potosi”

I Keep On, Keeping On

Mountain climbers nearing the summit of a mountain
A sawtooth ridge

The sawtooth ridge,
Goes up and down.
And other peaks,
Are all around.

Talus, boulders, and
Rocky slabs.
Slippery scree,
That’s sliding free.

Clumps of ice,
Looming clouds.
Bits of snow,
Cold winds that blow.

It seems to be,
A jumbled mess.
The chaos,
Causes mental stress.

Scary heights,
Gurgling gut,
Hands are cold,
There’s no foothold.

A little voice in my head,
Says it’s time to stop.
But nonetheless I move ahead,
And keep on, keeping on.

And then it happens,
I round a bend.
The summit soars,
With mighty roars.

The clouds depart,
The sun breaks through.
To light the way,
And cheer the day.

A marmot chirps,
A Pika hides,
An Eagle floats,
A small bird chides.

A field of flowers,
Fills the sky.
The reds and yellows,
Make me cry.

The rocks give way,
To grassy slopes.
Now easy going,
No need for ropes.

And then, I’m there,
Flatland’s below.
I’ve reached the top,
Rewards bestow.

I’m glad I listened,
When he said,
Take one more step,
And move ahead.

Mountain climbers on a summit ridge
Headed toward the top

Elk in the Mosquito Range- Revisited

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 I 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 getting into a position to see a big bunch of wild animals was not one of my goals for that day.

Continue reading “Elk in the Mosquito Range- Revisited”

Big and Small

 

Tent on the Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska with a glacier travler moving away from camp.
Glacier Travel- Maybe a big thing?

Morning coffee,
By the creek.
Pondering how,
My day I’ll tweak.

Climb the mountain,
Rising high.
Knife-edge summit,
Fills the sky.

Gulp of water,
Clear and cold,
No sight of flecks,
Dirt, or mold.

Trail ascending,
Miles to go,
Heavy packs,
And thigh-deep snow.

Sardines with honey,
Such a treat.
Sweet and filling,
Hard to beat.

Unfathomed darkness,
Fills the cave.
To enter deeper,
Must be brave.

Cross a log,
Above the stream.
You don’t fall in,
Or even scream.

Mountain bike,
On sketchy trails.
With massive cliffs,
And no guard rails.

The best 12 peas,
I ever ate,
Were hard and crunchy,
But filled my plate.

Roaring river,
Drops and chutes.
Scary options,
So many routes.

It didn’t snow,
Or even rain.
Now sunshine rules,
And clear skies reign.

Climbing rock face high above.
Footholds, handholds, and lots of gear.
Keep your focus and your balance
Have strength of mind,
But never fear.

Strike a match,
Start a fire.
Warm your hands,
Cold not so dire.

Massive snowfield,
Long and steep,
No run-out,
And the snow is deep.

Things that happen,
Are both big and small.
But remember that,
They matter all.

Audio Version: 

A backpacking trail group takes a break while hiking a trail
A Welcomed Trail Break
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