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:

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

Life’s Mysteries

Alpine View

Open the gate.
They await.

Unknown, unique;
Unanticipated,
Beyond imagination.

So simple,
So complex.

You might reach a summit
In the middle of a foggy night,
And stand on a rock looking out
At distant peaks
Poking out above the clouds,
And illuminated by a full moon.
It could happen.

Perhaps, you’ll walk for miles
Along a hot beach
To get to a place
Where you can see sharks
In a feeding frenzy,
And where Tapirs still
Roam around at night.
It could happen.

It’s possible that you’ll retreat
From a poorly conceived climb,
And walk-up on a naked beauty
In the middle of nowhere
Washing off under a waterfall.
It could happen.

It’s not out of the question,
That an unknown young Tarahumara man
Will walk into your camp
And invite you to a
Dutuburi.
It could happen.

Perhaps you will be lucky enough
To see elk calves
Sliding down a snowfield,
And being scolded by their elders
When they reach the bottom.
It could happen.

Maybe, an Andean wolf
Will appear
Out of the clouds,
On your way down
From a high-altitude hut,
Look you over,
And just disappear back into the clouds.
It could happen.

Sometimes:
Upper stories of hotels are uncompleted;
Moths fly into ears;
Anchors hold;
Treble hooks get lodged in eyelids;
Rattlesnakes don’t strike;
Storms end;
Trees go up in flames;
Boats show up with your gear;
The Corona truck falls off a cliff;
The fish are biting;
The trail just stops;
The Northern Lights appear where they’re not supposed to;
Handlebars break;
Your hair stands on end;
Shortnosed Spearfish take the hook;
The wind blows your raft upstream;
Climbing routes run out;

Don’t close the gate.
Just be ready for the unexpected,
Because mysteries happen.

Audio Version:

3 Climbers

The Search

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The Tarryall Mountains

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.

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Hell Canyon

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Up High in the Colorado Rockies

        

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.

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Nacho Kino

Missing a Tutuburi

Copper Canyon Kino Springs campsite
Camping at Kino Springs

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.

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Frolicking in the Alps

 

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A Rope Team

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.

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The Beer Truck

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Tarahumara house in Copper Canyon, Mexico

             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.

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Treble Hook in the Eye

A treble hook catches an eyelid in the backcountry.

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Controlled Fishing Chaos

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.

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The Fly

Hooking a fishing fly with a spinner

Fly fishing the Tarryall.

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.

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