"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

08 April 2014

Cement Snow

A few days back, one of my neighbors was going on about how sick he was of snow. Sure, it's gay and fine in December, January, and February, but he was ready for hummingbirds and fishing. Soft heavy flakes were wafting down upon the mountain winds at the time.

Shortly after that, another neighbor mentioned how he didn't mind the snow this time of year. It was warm and didn't hang around all that long. The sloppiness of mud as a backlash was just what you deal with up here this time of year.

Unless it snows a foot the night before and is relatively cool the day after, the snow is not so good for snowshoeing. Even up high. It's a matter of ambient air temperature and solar radiation. The snow is soft in the morning on and crust by afternoon. Cement snow, as a buddy of mine calls it, and, love him as I do, I think that's being diplomatic.

Part of the magic and mystery and coo-coo-ka-chu of where I live is the amount of trails just within walking distance of home. The county's bastions of civilization-and that's taking a whole lot for granted-are surrounded by either national forest or wilderness area. My Kashmir is nicknamed Sahel within the walls of my skull because of its borderland aspect; front range and High Country, past and present, settled and wild. Walking a couple miles from my door, and, boom!, Backcountry. No phone signal and a way to disappear into the ether, either, and or if I so wanted. A man could lose himself in place like this. A man could find himself. Local apocrypha speaks to both happening.

Ain't that the way?

It was that deep cement snow to reach the ruins. Another bit, more snow, and vertiginous narrows, and I'd have crossed that Backcountry border, wandering into our outback. I sometimes parallel our mining ruins as the closest we get to the antiquities of Egypt, Greece, or Cambodia. Accepting the ancient cliff-dwellings, of course. As a documentary film maker I met the other night expressed, out east, nothing is completely abandoned. Here, in the American Maghreb there lie the bones of whole towns and civilizations. Stories kept silent unless you know how to listen.

I took in the view; grand peaks and town just below. A and I fucking live here! moment. I was only going as far as I could in soaked and mud-encrusted boots and gaiters. That's only as far as I wanted to go. Some of my most profound walkabouts are the ones with no set destination or even mileage. The other secrets and mysteries further out will still be waiting for me. Their phantasmal whispers tease my ears and ruffle my hair in the mountain breezes. Sooner or later. I have time and relentless curiosity.       


  1. Yeah, know in some ways what you mean. On a simple trip to the store, I see the Pintlar's off to the west, the highlands to the south, and the East Ridge to the east. 10 miles to the north, a griz ate a bunch of a ranchers chickens. It's fun living here.

    I'm a few decades down the river from you, and I sense there is still a bit of exploring left. If I'm not off base here, I suggest you see what's out there. I know you've been around the block, travel-wise. But one can always be surprised....you know the rest.

    1. Shortly after I finished this, I ended up on the phone with one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was within our conversation I express a sentiment I state often; I ache for the lifetime of a star. There is so much to see and do and learn. This is why I say I have neither time nor inclination for the triviality of death,

  2. How beautiful. Thank you for sharing your part of the world with us, it makes me remember this quote:

    "Life is waiting everywhere, the future is flowering everywhere but we only see a small part of it and step on much of it with our feet." - Hermann Hesse

    But I feel as if I've seen a little more today, having read your post.