Stories

The Mountaintop

A Colorado Mountaintop

Finally on the summit,
The top’s beneath my feet.
For a moment I rest upon the throne,
Where the mountain is my seat.

I gaze into my surroundings.
Distances of every kind,
Add to the puzzle,
And overwhelm my mind.

I see the route that led me here,
And the places I could go.
For an instant, the world is at my doorstep,
And possibility stirs below.

The “what might be” almost overwhelms,
As “could” fills up my mind.
With thoughts of hope and treasures,
And riches of every kind.

Then a new plan comes to life,
And it’s time to head below.
I’m excited by what awaits,
And the places I may go.

Continue reading “The Mountaintop”

The Joy of Riding Uphill

 

two mountain bikers riding up a dirt road in Bolivia
A long uphill in Bolivia

Ride the momentum,
To the top.
Since it’s down from there,
No need to stop.

Spin the pedals,
Think going faster,
Picture circles,
Then ride on past her.

Keep looking at,
The crest ahead.
Smile, relax,
And show no dread.

Breathe loud and proud,
From the gut.
Don’t hide your breath,
Or try to keep your mouth shut.

Loosen your grip,
And relax your neck,
Stay on the trail,
Avoid a wreck.

Don’t look back,
But think instead,
About what you’ve passed,
And the trail ahead.

Then suddenly you’re there,
And all the up’s behind.
That’s when you can sit back and cruise,
Because there’s no more grind.

Remember that
The climbs are fun.
Cause when they end,
That game’s been won.

Continue reading “The Joy of Riding Uphill”

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”

Infinitense

Rejuvenance awaits

Head west and follow the sunsets,
Toward horizons always yonder.
Keep the distance in your sights,
As you hike the trail to infinitense.

Beyond the edge of what you see,
Countless moments wait to be.
And once you’re there,
You’ll set them free.

Distant magic waits to happen,
Out of sight, but not of mind.
Wake it with your presence.

So, cross the valley,
Ford the river,
Climb the ridge,
And engage the magnificence that awaits,

Infinitense beckons.

When you get there,
Drink in every drop of what you find.

See the
Thundering waters and towering waterfalls,
Huge forests teeming with life.
Desert mountains full of quandary,
Rolling prairies of waving grass.

But don’t just saturate your heart with awe.
Embrace the treasure,
Join the moment,
Replenish, refresh, reload,
And remember…

When you reach one horizon,
Another is born.

So, keep hiking.

Infinitense never leaves,
It’s forever just ahead.
And there’s always a trail that’ll take you there,
To the place beyond compare.

Audio Version:

Indian Blankets for a moment

The Heartbeat

 

Distant rope team crossing the Kahiltna Glacier
Crossing the Kahiltna Glacier in Alaska

Touch the ground with both your feet.
Feel the rhythm calmly beat.
Even through the rock and grass,
A heartbeat faintly rumbles.

Persistent pulsing
Soft, but lively.
Listen closely,
Answer wisely.

There are times it talks with words of thunder,
Howling winds, or crashing wonder.
But it’s mostly through peaceful silent breaths
That it tells its awesome tale.

Let it pull you with its rope,
And fill you up with hope.
Though you may not know the words,
It will magnify your scope.

Hear the music with your eyes,
See the clouds across the skies.
Bask in rays of winter sunshine,
And watch as waves approach the shoreline.

It is…

Star-filled nights and crispy mornings,
Tornado funnels without warnings.
Rolling dunes of glassy sand,
Forgotten places beyond man’s hand.

Gentle streams and roaring rivers,
Monstrous cliffs that give you shivers.
Fields of tundra filled with flowers,
Afternoons consumed with showers.

Rock towers covered with Bighorn Sheep,
Canyon walls so very steep.
Ocean trenches mighty deep,
Sights and sounds that make you weep.

Mountain crags and endless deserts,
Places thriving on the outskirts.
Caves reaching ever inward,
Jungles vast and still unhindered.

So many chapters in the story,
Sometimes gloom, but always glory.
So, touch the ground beneath your feet,
And feel the rhythm calmly beat.

Audio Version:

Fisherman standing on a rock in the middle of a mountain lake

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)”

Mired in the Mud

Backpackers crossing a creek
Crossing a creek

Backpacking down the trail.
I come to a creek,
And look for a crossing.
It’s a dry one I seek.

Suddenly I’m stopped,
Mired in the mud.
A boot gets stuck,
And I fall with a thud.

I feel my body,
And nothing seems hurt.
I decide to get up,
And wipe off the dirt.

Except…

The dirt that covers my hands and legs,
Is gooey, wet, and awful sticky.
And to clean it off now I realize,
Will be a task that’s mighty tricky.

So, I wade into the stream,
Where the water is wet.
Wash off the mess,
And loudly scream.

Now that I’m clean,
But thoroughly soaked.
I continue across,
My dry crossing revoked.

I clamber out of the water,
On the other side.
Drenched to the hilt.
And I begin to slide.

The weight of the backpack,
Pulls me back.
Toward the water,
And I begin to totter.

Once again I fall,
Onto my back this time.
My pack’s submerged,
But without the grime.

My stuff’s all soaked,
My elbow aches.
Getting up is hard,
And my body shakes.

Finally, I’m up,
And proceed once more.
This time careful,
As I reach the shore.

Then, it’s out of the water,
Up onto the bank.
This time it’s easy,
I have two fails to thank.

Audio Version:

backpackers on the trail
Backpacking

The Mountain Bike Race

A muddy mountain bike racer

The race is on.

Spin the pedals,
Faster, faster.
Time is of the essence.

Reach the forest first,
Gotta make them chase.
Hide the pain,
That’s on my face.

Take the inside lines,
Make passing tight,
No time for crashes,
Show no fright.

Spin the pedals,
Faster, faster.
Time is of the essence.

Push the pace,
Stay in the lead.
Heart is pounding,
Keep up my speed.

I cannot crack.
Must maintain edge.
See big root,
And watch for the ledge.

Spin the pedals,
Faster, faster.
Time is of the essence.

It’s okay to breathe loudly.
Ride the rut.
Must miss the tree,
Can’t feel my butt.

Getting thirsty,
And hungry, too.
Now, I creep,
Before, I flew.

Spin the pedals,
Faster, faster.
Time is of the essence.

I hate to ride,
I’m sure I do.
These times of pain,
Are surely through.

But then,

I cross the finish line,
And the race is done.
I love my bike,
I had so much fun.

Audio Version:

Rider in a mountain bike race in Moab

The Incessant Wind

2 people standing on a rock and looking out at the mountains
Watching the Wind

Turn and face the wind,
And feel the voice,
Touch your skin.

Close your eyes,
And drink it in.
To your past,
You are akin.

An unknown something,
Makes you stir.
What’s behind you,
Is a blur.

Some people, paths, and places,
Are familiar yet unknown.
You see no one with you on your journey,
Yet you never feel alone.

Yesterday is always there,
Standing quietly by your side.
Forever it is with you,
As your mentor and your guide.

Whether it slaps you in the face,
Or nudges at your back.
The wind is your friend,
And helps you down the track.

No matter if it roars,
Or sings a lullaby,
It always blows around you,
And will never say goodbye.

So, rejoice that it’s there.
Know the power of your yore.
Seize the moments of your day,
And treasure times that came before.

Descending into a valley in Bolivia.

Wilderness

A photograph of a mountain lake reflecting the surrounding mountains

The wilderness welcomes with whispers and wind,
Vast deserts, huge mountains,
And forests unthinned.

A place where rainstorms, blizzards, and droughts,
Coexist with the fog,
The clear skies, and mist.

It beckons and hides,
Lures and derides.
It comes and goes,
Just like the tides.

It conceals vast treasures,
But opens its arms,
To all who would seek them
And sounds no alarms.

Constantly changing.
Extreme to serene.
From wildfire and thunder,
To calm and wonder.

It comes in all shapes
And in many sizes.
Its horizons expansive
And full of surprises.

Even though
Many folks never go
To lands faraway and wild.
It’s good to know
They still exist.
That frontiers yet persist.

Whether you hike into such places
With your body or your mind,
Rejoice in the magic that there you’ll surely find.
As you immerse yourself in its wonder,
Take a moment to relish and ponder.

And don’t try to make it better,
Nature’s working on those tasks.
Just leave it like it is,
That’s all it ever asks.

Continue reading “Wilderness”

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