The Osa

Backpackers learn the importance of avoiding high tide due to the realities of sharks and crocodiles in the area.

Backpacking on the Osa Peninsula beach
Beach hiking in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Hiking on the beach sounded like fun. I pictured us walking barefoot on the sand and carrying light packs. In my vision, there were palapas off to one side and multiple limbo contests happening on the other. In reality, a gentle sea breeze played with our full heads of hair and kept the temperature within the perfect zone. The surf perpetually crashed onto what seemed an endless white sand beach. And the waves showered us with refreshing breaths of ocean air as we walked into the heart of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.

             But that’s not exactly how it happened. Instead, it was more like this:

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Resbaloso, which is a Spanish word meaning slippery in English, is “that” word and also the name given to an infamous trail descent into the town of Creel.

The Resbaloso
Riding down the Resbaloso during the La Onza bike race in Creel.

Just seeing the word Resbaloso, much less speaking or hearing it, gives me an adrenaline rush. It’s a Spanish word that translates to “slippery” in English and is the name given to an infamous trail descent into the town of Creel, Mexico.

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Boquillas Canyon

Canoeing and rafting down the Rio Grande through Boquillas Canyon.

The entrance into Boquillas Canyon

The third time I floated the Rio Grande River through Boquillas Canyon, things went smoother than they had on the first two. That simple fact was especially good since it was my first time leading a group into the backcountry. On that trip, our group of twelve included ten teenage boys, and we were paddling two per aluminum canoe. We made the 33-mile excursion down the river on the east side of Big Bend National Park over three days, with two nights spent camping out along the way. The trip was a big success. Many in the group experienced wild and scenic backcountry for the first time, there were only a couple of minor technical canoeing problems, and everyone learned that all drinking water doesn’t come out of faucets. Other than dealing with a certain amount of teenager chaos, I mostly just went with the flow, gazed out at the mighty Sierra del Carmen mountains rising off to the southeast, and pondered the majesty and complexities of the massive cliff walls surrounding us.

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The Oriente

An interesting adventure trip down into the Oriente of Ecuador.

Crossing a glacier near Switzerland's Matterhorn

One main road snakes its way down into Ecuador’s Oriente, or Amazon Basin, from the highlands, and that’s how our bus went. We left the mountain town of Banos in the late afternoon and immediately began descending. A massive cliff loomed just outside the bus windows. The sight of it only added fuel to the worry-fire that had ignited when we saw the murals in the Banos church depicting angels rescuing vehicles falling off cliffs. Soon after the bus began moving, we noted how the local passengers kept leaning into the hillside at regular intervals and wondered what that was all about. Then, one of our group looked out of their window and saw little except hundreds of feet of thin air separating our bus from the river far below. At that point, we understood that everyone was leaning into the hillside to help the bus stay on the road.

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Broken Window on Isla del Sol

An inadvertant broken window in Yumani, Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca.

Rock climbing- Fremont Canyon, Wyoming

I stutter-stepped, planted my left foot, and exploded past the 9-year-old defender to his right and took the open shot. I hooked it hard and missed, at least the goal part. The ball did hit one of the dining room windows in the small combination Isla del Sol house and hotel and shattered it into more pieces than I wanted to count. The game stopped, and we all stood, frozen in place as we tried to determine the next move. Our goalkeeper’s mother had already been outside, scolding the kids about being careful to not break anything. And so, I was prepared for her wrath, although not clear about whether or not I’d be lumped in with the other soccer players since I was probably older than her.

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Backpackers and a Stranger

A group of backpackers encounter an unexpected trail visitor while descending from the Lost Creek Wilderness.

Backpackers in Copper Canyon
Backpacking- Copper Canyon, Mexico

He yelled at us to stop, from out of nowhere, it seemed. It was startling, and one of the last things on my mind, as I led the group of 9 teenage backpackers down the trail, headed back to our Base Camp facility after a week out in the Lost Creek Wilderness. We’d be back in less than an hour except for whatever was about to happen. He was ragged looking, probably in his 40’s, had a Pit Bull by his side and, thankfully, kept his distance across a dry wash.

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The Summit

Summit perspectives.

Measuring the summit elevation of Ancohuma
Summit of Ancohuma- Cordillera Real, Bolivia

The stillness was almost eerie. I’d never been on a mountain summit when there was anything less than a stiff wind blowing. Since I didn’t have to try and find any sort of wind break, there was extra time to sit and take it all in. A pure luxury. There was plenty of time, no approaching storm, and all kinds of sunlight. And to top it all of, we all had full water bottles and snacks to spare. Continue reading “The Summit”

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 a lightning flash hit the ground but wondered if there was one up there that had one of our names written 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 Tarryall Mountains needed it. A real downpour might put an end to both the monstrous Hayman Fire, and the smaller thing was that was visibly burning above us on the mountainside.

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