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”

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 Endless Trail

Backpackers ascending a trail in the mountains headed toward a summit
Summit Trail

Cruising down the trail,
With a tailwind at my back.
Got a bounce in my step,
And extra room in my pack.

No sweat on my brow,
Or cold fingertips.
My lungs are full of breath,
There’s a smile on my lips.

The Middle Fork’s just ahead,
In the valley down below.
I have a favorite campsite there,
Where the river’s got good flow.

No thought of rain,
We’re walking fast because we can.
The need to get there quickly,
Isn’t in the plan.

Once we’re there and the tent’s set up,
I’m gonna take a nap.
Then there’ll still be time for fishing,
And to sit around and yap.

Bugs and snow have gone away,
The Aspens turning gold.
I stop and drink right from a creek,
The water’s clear and cold.

I’m thankful that the air is fresh,
And sunshine warms my face,
Cause I remember those other times,
When such was not the case.

The sign said fifteen miles to go,
So I figured seven hours.
Now we’re almost there in three,
And that’s with looking at the flowers.

It’s true the trail I’m walking,
Is full of climbs and bends,
But I rejoice in the simple fact,
That this journey never ends.

Audio Version:

A backpacker hiking up a trail cut into the bare rock
The Forever Trail- etched into the stone

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”

The Night Hike

Sunset

Into the night,
Intently gaze,
And while you do,
A mystery plays.

There were 9 teenagers in Will’s group. He was sure of it. He knew each of them by both their name and quantity of snacks they possessed. They’d been backpacking in the boonies for 10 days and he’d headcounted them a bunch of times. Making sure everyone was accounted for, was one of his prime responsibilities as the group leader. The nine kids and two leaders made for a total group size of 11, a fact engrained in his mind.

Continue reading “The Night Hike”

Trail Supper

Copper Canyon Trail Supper

Out on the trail,
Leaning against a rock,
Cooking supper, and
Watching the water boil.

I’m hungry,
But have to wait.
And so,
I feast on tales.

We begin with a story
About noodling for Catfish.
Which seamlessly leads to
A discussion of Black Holes.
And then, there’s a description
Of how to set a cedar fence post
In rocky ground.

The lasagna will take 20 more minutes,
But no worries…….
Because there’s plenty more food for thought,
Waiting to be had.

Further proof
that dessert,
Is often
Best eaten first.

Audio Version:

The Trail

Backpacking

Like a ribbon,
That snakes from here,
To there.

Starting,
Then disappearing,
Into thin air.

The path,
The way,
The natural trail.
Where does it lead?

Dirt, sand, gravel, and rocks.
They’re all a combination
Of individual grains
That rest against each other
And connect the first one,
To the last.

It begins,
It ends,
With plenty in between.

Just because
The whole of it
Can’t be seen
All at once, together,
And from start
To finish;
Doesn’t mean
It isn’t going somewhere.

Audio Version:

A Long Bridge

Hiking in the Rain

Soaked and cold
Through and through.
Dirt’s turned to mud,
The rocks are slick.

No more sun,
But lots of fog,
Clouds, and a wind
That stings the skin.

Too cold to stop,
Too tired to walk.
And raingear gets you
Wet from sweat.

Inside your boots,
Feet are sloshing.
While in your mouth,
Teeth are rattling.

Saturated, frigid,
Miserable, and brutal.
Words of pain,
Share the air.

Bone-chilling
Comes to mind.
But you slog on anyway
Toward the darkening sky.

Because you know,
That just beyond
The ridge ahead,
Awaits a cabin
And warm bed.

Audio Version:

Rain Brewing

 

Recipe

On the Summit

Water,
Sand,
Snow,
And rock.

Fly fish,
Cycle,
Ride,
And walk

Gravel,
Grass,
Mud,
And scree.

Backpack,
Wander,
Scale,
And ski.

Mountain,
Cavern,
Dirt,
And ice.

Explore,
Trek,
Cave,
And climb.

Talus,
Forest,
Stream,
And crag.

Summit
Surf,
Sail,
And cast.

Tundra,
River,
Lake,
And hill.

Yoga,
Swim,
Camp,
And chill.

Ocean,
Desert,
Cirque,
And peak.

Prepare,
Proceed,
Persist,
And Seek.

Simple,
Treasures,
Pure,
And sweet.

Audio Version:

On the Road

Goin’ to Golden Lake

Golden Lake, Wind River Range

No set trail will get us there,
But we’ll get there just the same.

It seems at first a lonely place,
Of monstrous rocks and alpine lakes.

But the Golden Trout are many,
The mountain climbs aplenty,
And the wildness more than any.

So, deep into the Winds we go,

Up there,

The fish are bightin’, the creek’s a roarin’,
The waters clear, and the mountains soarin’.

The camping’s good, big rocks for sittin’,
And pondering there, is only fittin’.

The place’s tales are sometimes frightenin’,
But in the end they’re all enlightenin’.

Through the trees the wind is whistlin’,
Talkin’ to those a listenin’.

Gettin’ there takes plenty of walkin’,
A good bit of guessin’, and lots of talkin’.

How was it found, all are wonderin’,
Was it fate or all that thunderin’?

When we reach the lower lake,
We know we have arrived.

Whatever hardships block the way,
Are just the price we pay.

It will be there, it always is,
Because
It’s embedded in our minds.

Audio Version:

The Rock at Golden Lake
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