"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

30 September 2014

The Land of Storms

Pass Lake and one of its officially unnamed companion lakes...

It's the first accumulating snow of the season. At least above eleven-thousand. Meteorological prophecy foretells of the snow-line possibly dipping to eight-thousand by Thursday morning.

Although I was buffeted by some Tibetan gales upon the Roof of the World, it was not nearly as blustery or cold as I anticipated. The snow was not that deep. Maybe three or four inches in most spots. Although, for some of the places I walked, I was grateful I opted to wear gaiters. The occasional small snow devil danced within my field of vision.

Back at home, a two to three-thousand vertical foot difference, it was partly to mostly sunny with a strong breeze. The high peaks on either side of the valley were not enshrouded in grayish-white cloaks. Looking west, toward the Roof of the World, the clouds were thicker. Being up there, some of the ridges were hidden behind veils of mist and snow and cloud.

This is the time of year when the jetstream dips to fourteen-thousand feet, where it shall stay until April. Part of the reason it can be so windy up here. Anywhere the continent splits in half and waterways flip a coin by virtue of gravity as to east or west, the winter storms can linger for days. Sometimes up to a week and a half. It is said, and there is empirical evidence to back it up, that mountains make their own weather.

I'd simply wager that along the roof of the world, doubly so...

There were a group of snowboarders desperately trying to pile up enough fresh snow to ride. The exuberance and folly of youth. I was out for another late-season alpine excursion. Soon enough, the landscape will be blanket in white that will not melt until as late as early summer. There are some snowfields where I live that I speculate have not melted since before this part of the world was covered with many-miles deep glaciers. Such a thought pleases me.

I don't know how many more excursions I'll be able to make to the tundra this season. I don't know when I'll be snowshoeing for kicks. It doesn't matter. Here and now, I was able to get into that region of my outback. After walking a few hundred feet, I had solitude, silence, and serenity. That alone brings a smile to my face.

23 September 2014

The Days of Gold and Rust

A lovely windbreak along the north ridge of west Loveland Pass. I named thee The God's Throne. Class, any guesses as to whose heretical backside may have sat there to take in the view whilst munching a trail snack?

Looking at Eagle Rock again. Obviously, autumn has up and popped here in our Sahel...

Up top of Mount McCellan at over thirteen-thousand feet. Torrey's Peak, in the distance, certainly is striking, and could lead to deep contemplation. However, I edged to that point at a crawl. Beyond that ledge was the naked space leading downward to the Steven's Gulch Trail some couple thousand feet below. I wanted the view, but not the vertigo...

Another from west Loveland Pass, this time around the krummholz. This may very well be one of the headwaters of the very river that runs across the street from my house...

It is a safe assumption that the aspens are peaking throughout our Sahel. There is a certain mysticism of walking through a wooded area with the golden leaves floating down like snow. The tundra is a riot of various shades of rust. Raptors soar upon the descending jetstream, hunting marmots and pikas as they scurry about in preparation for the coming winter.

I've been craving the alpine more than below timber as autumn advances. Soon enough, the snow will fly and it will stick. Up high, this means some places will present higher avi danger, therefore, keeping me away until summer comes once more. Somewhere like Loveland Pass, it means the Backcountry skiers and boarders will be out, and they are not always courteous to those who recreate in the snow upon snowshoes.

It's also hunting season. I am mindful of which wooded areas I go to as to avoid a case of mistaken identity. Certainly, I've established I'm tall. Freakishly so-superfreak, thank you-some have said. It would certainly to be awkward for someone with a rifle to take my walkabout rhythms as the movements of a lithe moose.

 Like the alpine inhabitants, I find myself hurrying before the snow really starts to fly. All those places I want to walk and explore before they're sealed off and I frequent my winter grounds. As I wandered Loveland Pass today, a red-tail hawk few past me at eye-level as it gained loft to hunt. It was fantastic. There were no greetings or goodbyes as our gazes met for that brief moment. We were just two creatures wandering the alpine, in search of our own goals.

14 September 2014

The Beach Weather of Indian Summer

Sabina's sunflowers are hanging in there, despite the fact we kissed freezing-with tongue-the other morning. And I name thee Defiance...

One last columbine hanging on...

The other day, I drove down-valley-two- thousand vertical-to our community garden plot amongst rumors of weather and visions of pesto pizza. Although, it had been breezy up along the upper western valley as it meets up with the Roof of the World, the sun was shinning and there were very few clouds. I would later document the high temperature of the day at sixty-eight.

As I drove east, the clouds increased. Within the span of fifteen miles, I had gone from sunny to murky. From the sixties to the forties. I put on my soft shell over my t-shirt and zipped up against the damp chill to harvest my basil, purple bell peppers, and tomatoes. Later that night, I donned a sweater. On the drive up, I noted how the murk followed me, causing me to remark later that the dragons chased me up the valley.

Job, for all our differences in theology, will sometimes tell me he lives to hear of the world as seen through my eyes...

It was not without a bit of a chuckle that I heard the first snowfall happened down below and we did not receive a flake-unless you speak in context of some of the snowbums that inhabit the area. Oh, the schadenfredude. Whilst it was cool the day after weather moved in, the sky was clear and the sun was warm.

"This is beach weather compared to Denver," a traveler said to me.

"It's always beach weather in the mountains," I said glibly, even if, technically, and, geologically, the last time there was an ocean in this state was seventy-some-odd-million years ago.

"Even in January?" The traveler asked me skeptically.

"Especially in January," I replied with smirk. "Just think in the context of McMurdo Station. Easy."

Hey, on equatorial Europa, our January weather would be positively 'pocalyptic in context of temperature, and meditate on that for a little bit of perspective...

My Friday's walk had a bit of bite to it, but there is no bad weather. Just the wrong clothes. I did note there are far less neighbors holding court on their porches. Another omen of the changing seasons; the summer residents returning to their winter nests. The sun now sets straight down the middle of the valley, which can be blinding when walking straight into it. Slowly, our nearest star will shift south, toward the ridge line of Pendleton. A portend of the long dark.

The planet's tilt on its axis is the reason for the season...

Succeeding days have been warmer. Meteorological prophecy has foretold of little chance of precipitation and mild temperatures. Beach weather. The possibility of grilling and chimineas without the heavy layers.

I've heard whispers of  indian summer. I just call it autumn. It's all in the perspective.

09 September 2014

A Hymn of Thaksgiving

I am surrounded by a sense of antiquity from a bygone age so close I can still almost hear their phantasmal voices, and stark, unyielding nature. Where the landscape is juxtaposed with rock and river and wind and storm and temperature. A kingdom of dragons, where the fantastical dances upon earthy feet. Where the Divine speaks in inaudible tongues of which you just might hear if you learn to listen. This dichotomy is fantastic.

I have found my bliss and follow it relentlessly, and I encourage you to do the same...

We exist in a world where there are still dinosaurs. Although, we commonly call them birds, thus removing the majesty and mystery. Then again, if you could see a T-Rex or a stegosaurus either in the wild or within the safe confines of a zoo, their magnificence might be considered old hat.

This is time when the future is now. Once upon a time, this was the purview of sci-fi; a world of hand-held computers approaching quantum speeds and the language of an atomic cosmos revealed. We have made our first forays off this tiny island into a great black sea. The most audacious of us will launch further into this inky black void of interstellar to explore, to perhaps find a new home.

There are those who might say these are the End of Days. Hell on Earth. Certainly, there are enough horror shows to go around and then some. And yet, these are just constructs, for the Wise will tell you we are the architects of our own imprisonment. In our hands, we hold the keys to a kingdom greater than any described by the flimsy religions of Man. We need only realize that.

These are, the best of times...

05 September 2014

The Turn

Sabina's sunflowers are finally starting to bloom along the back of the house...just in time for frost...

Looking up at Eagle Rock and our back folly. With a wrinkle, a squint, and the benefit of the doubt, you might see some of the aspens turning gold...

A birthday present from a friend. I have named it Clyde, and step into my parlor, muthafucka...

Standing at the tarn of Hell's Hole, the wind kicked up. It carried with it a whisper. It spoke of layers and ice and deep drifts and avalanches. In the moment, under turquoise blue sky with very few passing cotton ball clouds and warm sun, I noted how the bonsai-baobab bristle cones were striking, and smiled at the harsh tundra beauty. Along the trail, squirrels scrambled about, stocking up for the chilled days ahead.

"It's coming," Miguel Loco said a day before.

"I'm not ready," Sabina said two days later, pointing to already changing leaves. "Don't want it."

Want and ready really have little to do with it. It just is. The turn, much like any other natural event, does not bother to consult with a species of half-bald monkeys who call themselves Man. It is folly to wish or expect otherwise.

A meteorological prophet of whom I give some credence on account of odds called the day after my birthday most likely the warmest day of the rest of the year. It was a lovely day, with a gentle breeze, strikingly clear skies, and soft sunlight. Sabina and I wandered what we deduced were some old logging roads. I was fascinated by some of the rock formations. The landscape there looked to be conducive to a good snowshoe come winter.

That night, we had a chiminea with leftover cake and generous glasses of wine. It was a deliciously warm evening. The stars were brilliant and the first quarter moon, obscured by Pendleton, illuminated the ridge line in phantasmal hues.

Here it is the beginning of autumn. There was a dusting atop my personal Kilimanjaro, twelve-thousand, two-hundred, eighty-two feet high. In some places, it's late summer. Harvest time. In other spots, spring has sprang.

Time is an abstract...

There are places that have never known seasons. Voids where the nearest star is just one of the brighter ones you might see looking up at night. Locations that have never been-and perhaps never will be-insulted by a name given to it by a human being. There's poetry in that, but perhaps I'm just getting philosophical.

I know better than to thank or blame the time of year or the weather out my front door for my introspective and philosophical bents. These things just happen, like the turning of early autumn leaves from emerald to gold. It just is, simple as that.