Conviction

We're not quite at the point where it becomes a necessity to light the wood burning stove, but we're getting close. High 30's to low 40's in the morning (42° today) and we're reaching the moment where day and night equate. The battle between summer and winter is happening, evident by the rapidly goldening aspen trees and the low light, casting reflections long and thin. I need to get a small digital camera to capture it all, because it's a kaleidoscope right now and words don't suffice. The sunrise this morning from the switchback at 9,100 feet was orange, fiery and brilliant, made more so as it reflected off the yellow leaves. The best part was the glow on the ground, red and radiant, silhouetting a lone singlespeeder and his dog on the arduous dawn ride west to the old ghost town on the top of the mountain. 

***

Went on a little backpacking trip the past three days. Up over Pawnee Pass from the Isabelle side, over Pawnee Peak, down the scree and snowfields around Toll, camping on the high lake and then back down. If the first backpacking trip Elaine and I did was the honeymoon, where nothing went even slightly wrong, this one was more real. And I dare say, better. The climb up was tough, the trek down the backside of Pawnee downright scary at times and the sleep on the second night at the lake at 11,950 feet – basically non-existent. It blew and blew and blew and the Mega-mid, for all its wonderful lightness and simplicity, thoroughly sucks in wind (I may have to invest in one of those sweet Swedish Hilleberg tents they sell at my place of employment to remedy that situation). The night was a constant flap and bend and going outside to re-stake the damned thing, and just as constant laughter by Elaine and I at midnight and 3 am and so on at the heinousness of the situation. Only Stella the wonder-dog seemed un-phased by the whole thing. On the first trip she slept right through Mountain Goats roaming outside our tent. On this day, she seemed impervious to the fact that our tent might blow away and that it was flapping like we were at Camp IV on Everest. We got up early (what else was there to do?), packed up in the gale, picked our way down to Blue Lake and fired up the MSR for some oatmeal breakfast. The hike back down to the trailhead was bleary, giddy and euphoric. And the burger at the end of the day, even better.

Backpacking: It's when the shit goes bad that the good times begin. 

***

I hiked Spencer Mountain the other day with my wife. My old haunt. I
had not been back here in more than a year, pre-shit-storm (P.S.S.), and it was
pleasantly non-triggering. A realization. The mountains, the land don't
care so much about our human problems. There is a deeper spirit there.
I should have known better. Spencer was – as it always was – friendly.
I felt welcomed by the early changing leaves, the dense woods, the
little winding path to the top and the spectacular view from the mine.
That and the undeniable spirit of the place. Elaine and I went on
an excursion on this day. Up to the little side trail on the right,
straight up to the ridge, over to the Eldora alpine trails, up Ambush (steep!),
to the top of the front side, down LaBelle and then back to Spencer,
past the little lake, over Happy Pass and back down, completing a
circle. We even had a nice picnic of pepperoni and cheese from the
look-out. It was a good place to be. There were no haunting memories.
Just the moment, the place, and amazing company. I used to feel like I
was the guardian of this hill. No more of course. Then again, if a
fire-fight ever comes to that place I'll be there. But it felt
like…the mountain…was thanking me for all those days of keeping
the 4-wheelers at bay, picking up all that garbage, keeping it as pristine
as possible. And the mountain was saying, "it's all OK." And that felt
good.

***

Great new post on the Mongolia Chronicles. All about conviction and the things that matter by the master himself, King Nimby. A phrase I read that I can't get out of my head:

"I felt nothing but conviction. Deep, and wide. And over the years I
have found – that when my conviction runs deep – my energy is boundless and I am relatively unstoppable."

I've been thinking about this a lot. And I realize, the same is true for me as it is for him. And that's a good feeling, a confidence booster. Follow the gut, the love, the passion, the belief, and all good things follow. 

***

A few images from the backpacking trip. Enjoy.

P1015003 Stella looking particularly wolfish at our first night campsite.

P1015024 Camp 11,400, next to a tiny lake on the east side of Pawnee Pass.

P1015044 My two girls.

P1015050 Ridgleline between Isabelle basin and Blue basin.

P1015066 Mountain girl on the highest pass in the Indian Peaks. You are my world.

P1015070The other day I made a staff and attached this guy to the top. Sometimes it's fun to be a wizard!

P1015074 Elaine crossing the snowfield below Toll. I don't often drink water straight from the land without purifying it, but when it comes directly from rock and snow with nothing above, I do. Best damn water available. 

Till the next adventure!

4 thoughts on “Conviction

  1. Thanks for the stoke, been wanting to get out with just shoes and a backpack. Eszter I have been getting our camera needs from http://www.bhphotovideo.com/ which often has some pretty good deals. The latest toy has been a 12 megapx waterproof camera that was under 200 bones. The manual controls are lame, but so much information is recorded you can pull a lot out by editing. Its great for when I want to go lightweight instead of bringing my SLR backbreaker. Funny, my memory and photography have become unanimous.

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  2. Thanks Chris. That’s a cool link. Have you ever used those Flip cameras? Interesting concept. Dude, nice work on the Vapor Trail. I can imagine C.B. is just brutal on the legs, but it must be so cool to explore the big mountains our state has to offer. I’ve had fun reading up on your adventures with Eszter. And congrats on the wedding man. Take care.

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  3. Never have used a flip before.. but sure you could find reviews. Technology is constantly making things last years equipment redundant. Have a good friend with the new Iphone and it takes HD video. sheesh. Vapor was not my best ride ever, but just love those trails. Yea CB has crushed me. Managed to explode my knees in a summer. Now its just pump track and some ideas for stunts in the woods to feed the monkey. cheers.

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