"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

24 June 2014


It was with a sense of morbid joy I noticed the standing water in the freshly turned earth of Whistler's grave has all but gone away. By the willow, where the water is at its deepest, the yard Buddha we have resting in its hollow sits upon a patch of moist ground and saturated grass. Omens of runoff truly being done and over. Just in time for the monsoons, which is curiously funny if you think about it. A week ago, a neighbor referred to the standing water table as melted permafrost. I bit my tongue from asking how in the name of almighty fuck could it be permafrost if it melts every spring.

Grizzly Gulch is a trail sculpted by water, the level of which determines how one dresses when walking it. In autumn, boots and gaiters. Winter is when snow pants, taller boots, and either skis or snowshoes are in order. Come summer, even and especially as runoff abates, I walk the trail in sandals. At two of the water crossings it was knee-deep on me-some of ya'll may have needed full-on scuba suits-and that's the point where gaiters are useless and I'd rather have wet feet in my sandals than squishing in socks and boots.

I once read how you can have the latest and greatest gear as advertised in tabloids like Outside or Backpacker, but if you don't know what you're doing, at least the corpse you leave behind will be fashionable. Personally, I've never been good at, nor have I ever cared to be, fashionable. Despite the fact I was walking a High Country/Backcountry trail in sandals and cutoff BDUs, I had my layers and other necessities in my pack. I had no intention of walking all the way to the basin of Grizzly Peak. Even just past the first water crossing there was still snow, and the peak itself had some decent looking fields upon it. I deduced it'd be a given the trail would be covered by snow before treeline, and I'd be post-holing.

That snow I figured on was about a half mile from the third major water crossing. Between the second and third crossing is an avalanche chute. The bones of trees from a long ago slide still litter the drainage of the gulch and the sides of the trail. During the winter, this is pretty well the place you want to turn around.

If not...well, hope all's well between you and whatever it is you prey to and upon or try to ignore...

I could barely make out the still-deep snow where I got stopped. What got my attention more were the twisted and snapped and ruined remains of so many trees. This had happened recently.

"Oh, fuck me..." I whispered in a combination of shock and awe.

That's Grizzly Peak in the distance...

Colorado does not get tsunamis, what with being a land-locked state. Well, if one went back a couple hundred-million years ago when this was an inland sea, then maybe, but now we're just splitting hairs. An avalanche strikes me as the closest thing a tsunami in these parts these days.

A walked over snow and downed trees to about the center of the slide area, mesmerized by the sheer scale of the destruction. The dark clouds building over nearby Gray's and Torrey's Peaks and the chill on the wind of an embryonic thunderstorm gave a certain sense of macabre to the scene. It was more from some strange sense of respect for the dead than the snow under the broken trees that got me to turn back.

This was as far I was going, conditions not withstanding, it wasn't the time to go further...

I figure later in the summer, when the waterline is even lower, I'll make my bid for the basin of Grizzly Peak. One of my favorite spots in our Sahel. The snow will most likely be gone from this newest avalanche chute, leaving only the twisted and snapped and ruined remains of so many trees. As I walked by down, part of me morbidly wondered what else I might find twisted and snapped and ruined there, having been drowned by that tsunami of frozen water.


  1. Looked at the picture three times Robbie....I see some hints of snowbanks at the top, I don't see mud and displaced earth...avalanche? I've seen a place on Rock Creek that has evidence of a microburst, winds 200 mph, but it looked different than this.
    Runoff is kind of over here, but as I was reading this we finished a 45 minute downpour....
    And back in the day, 1975, I got an Oval Intention tent, from North Face.....the first geodesic pole tent.In Anchorage I felt that and a -10F sleeping bag were in order. Best tent I ever had. New stuff ain't all bad, and if you're going to die young, die fashionable.

    1. My phone's camera ain't the best, but it was certainly an avalanche. Even and especially with the pitch of slope above it all. The snow underneath had mud and pine needles in it. Given how warm it's been, I'd guess the upper layer of snow melted by early June at the latest.

      Two years back, up Silver Dollar Lake trail was one of those microbursts. It took almost a year to clear all the trees. I sometimes see evidence of those on other trails...and here I thought that kind of wind only happened on the planes.

      I actually have some great stuff. Buddy of ours runs a gear shoppe where he gets consignments and rep samples. The label whores, of whom I was referencing, don't get the deals, or the advice and instruction, I do.

      Aways good to have gurus...