It was a Fall Sunday during what should’ve been the slow part of the year. My lodge in Colorado’s Tarryall Mountains had burned to the ground, and I was there dealing with it. I was sharing an old log cabin, which had not burned, with an 18-year-old intern—so, was not alone. On the day in question, I was piddling around the job site doing various rebuilding chores. Since it was our 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.
I could tell the story from my first Alps trip about the Swiss barmaid who was 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 made up of people of varying ages including, teenagers, a doctor who was even older than me, and my non-alpinism-experienced wife, Lori. As one of the leaders, I was making every effort to look out for the well-being of the group, but even so, interesting sorts of “things” kept happening.
I’m going to leave the details of those two events mentioned above up to the reader’s imagination and tell the one about Lori, Doctor Bob, and Big Chris crossing a glacier.
I was in Mexico’s Copper Canyon with a group 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 the same 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 been 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. While the refreshingly pleasant conifer forest up there was a welcomed surprise, the fact that we were in the midst of a well known part of Hawaii’s Big Island and that there was a camping shelter midway along the trail, was completely expected. We reached the elevated platform in the middle of the afternoon after several hours of hot and humid backpacking. 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 Liliko’I fruit, and shade before dozing off into dream world. 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.
A group of backpackers attempts to climb Lizard Head and learns the true meaning of climbing.
Lizard Head is a big peak just to the north and east of the well- known, long, and breathtakingly majestic line of mountains, ridges, and spires in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, known as the Cirque of the Towers. On one particular Outpost Wilderness Adventure trip, we backpacked with two groups of 7, via different routes up to Bear Lake. The lake sits just on the east side of Lizard Head and was the location for our backcountry base camp. Once there, we set up two close but separate camps. Each was located between the lake and the mountain. The plan was to use each spot as a base for exploring and adventuring in the area. Since it was during the Fourth of July holiday, we knew that there’d be a lot of people in the general area, but that few would venture into that particular neck of the woods. The plan for the day included either a non-technical ascent of the nearby mountain or fishing in area streams and lakes. And for a special Fourth of July “banquet” of sorts, we brought along freeze-dried hamburger patties, a cutting-edge item back in the ’80s.