NOTE: Open post and then Single Click On first Post Photo to view an album in a more detailed, larger format...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Freedom Rings On The Summit Of Mount Abrams

"Marathon Man," Lenard...  pondering a San Juan Mountain sunrise while contemplating the pros and cons of a conversion to "Mountain Man."
By some miracle of fate I ended up being off-duty on the busiest (read Craziest!) day of the year at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. There must be a God, and I think she's beginning to approve of me—now that I'm getting all soft and sentimental in my old age. 

Forth of July Freedom; what to do, what to do... go climb a mountain, of course. So we ditched nuts-to-butts crowds, food festivities and the traditionalwater-fights (a brutal sport where teams of combatants use fire hoses with streams of high pressure water to knock each other to the ground),  grabbed our new friend Lenard ("Marathon Man," as he is a born again runner) and headed off to summit Mount Abrams, a classic, but imposing, pyramidal peak towering above Lovely Ouray like some Box Canyon Bouncer.

Did I mentioned the monsoon season arrived? Yes in-deedy, thunderstorms are now part and parcel to all hiking expeditions above-timberline. They roll in every afternoon on a schedule tighter than the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Train. I'm not complaining, mind you, after June's not-one-single-drop of rain and skin desiccating five percent humidities. Clear blue skies and sun are pleasant, but it's been drier than butter-less popcorn around here, which gets a little hard to swallow day-in day-out. 

We countered the threat of thunder and electrified air with an early start, one that made Lenard groan with dis-anticipation. I told him he could sleep when he's dead and it seemed to shut him up. 

Lenard, standing in the shadows of a chilly, early morning start. Bobbie is the white dot in the background. She had to pause in order to tend to a pesky nosebleed. 
The air was as thin, brisk and pure as the women guys dream of marrying. Right out of the box our route ran steep and slow; we were huffing and puffing like steam engines. It felt good, though, cleansing, if you will, to expand lungs beyond the shallows of normal breathing. About halfway up to our ridge-line goal, morning sun splashed our faces with warmth, melting sleep from eyes that were in for a real treat. We motored on, running green on solar power and oatmeal. 

To our backsides, Red Mountain rose from the shadows and shouted with color. "Hey, turn around... look at me!" Indeed, girl, look at you... all dressed up in your pretty red dress.

"Put on your red dress mama, cause we're goin' out tonight"
Recall, Bobbie and I fought our way to Red Mountain's bloody summit in gale force winds just a few weeks ago... an exercise in determination and "character building." I realize that we could, maybe even should, have called it quits... turned around and returned on a better day. But I have this pet whose name is Peeve. He runs around in my head barking that "we," as a nation (me included), are growing "soft." In this modern day and age machines do most of our work for us, some even think for us. We don't roll up rugs anymore, lug them outdoors in order to beat the living dirt out them with broomsticks. No, we just flip a switch and bend an elbow. 

You don't see too many parents walking their kids to school anymore; bus stops, maybe, but the Minivan is so convenient and easy. When's the last time you walked to the post office or corner grocer? That's what I thought... cause this is Californ-America: "We drive... even if it's only a block." Most of us would be pushing up daisies in a matter of weeks if time-capsuled back a hundred and fifty years or more. 

I guess my point is this: Our comfort zone has become way too comfortable. There is nothing I hate more than wind, so facing my discomfort... yea, embracing it as a separate exercise apart from the climb... made for an "experience" truly outside my comfort zone, a little like Pal Boonie embraces winter cold.

Bobbie and Lenard, "Going To The Sun," working their way up to a ridge-run to Abrams
Petroleous Rex is parked way down by that little lake in the right-center of the photo. It only took an hour to get this far, not because we were particularly fast, with the nose bleeder and all, just that it's not as hard as it might seem... Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

As we approached the ridge to Abrams our route leveled into sweet rolls of tundra. I find ridge lines wonderful, especially above timberline. They afford far reaching top-of-the-world views in every direction, including down. 

If I had to put a title to this photo? "Depth of Field"

While tiptoeing our tundran skywalk, Lenard mentioned something to the effect that he was stunned by the beauty of this hike. When we told him that it was actually one of the less spectacular climbs his jaw dropped about a foot. "Oh wait till you see Ice Lakes," crooned Bobbie, "You ain't seen nothin' yet." 

It was the God's honest truth, but for someone who grew up in central Texas, it was probably difficult to imagine something more spectacular.

A "runner" walks up here...

I love this shot... it literally pulls the viewer into an alpine vortex. Can you feel it? 

Ironton, one of the few straight stretches on The Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton

Lavender rock, Red Mountain and Blue sky... all smiling at little ol' me

If "variety" is the spice of life, this is some "sauce."
The final approach to Mount Abrams lofty summit

"Finish Line" That's one happy Texan

Lenard didn't want to leave... we had to drag him off the mountain. A storm set in just as we reached the safety of our truck

We had Abrams all to ourselves on the Fourth of July, "Let freedom ring."

Cotton-ball precursors to thunderheads... Time to head down (sniff)
If you felt "The Vortex"
share it with the world
by clicking the appropriate icon below 
Thanks for dropping by the 
Box Canyon Blog...
Official Sponsors of
"Getting High On Life"


  1. Amazing views and colors. You really gave that Texan a work out.

  2. Gaelyn,
    Thank you. Yea, he was up to the task tho. It takes awhile to adjust to the thin air at 13,000 feet. Another couple weeks and he'll be leaving us in the dust.
    thanks, mark

  3. That vortex shot really does draw you in. Awesome photos. Never been up there and it's way cool to go vicariously with you.

  4. Am noticing how much visually clearer the air seems to be at the higher altitudes.

  5. Spotted Dog,
    I hope "someone" will take me "up there" when I can no longer go. I love wide angle shots... they can really draw you in. Heal up and Head out... thanks.

    Bayfield Al,
    Today you'd be swimming mists of clouds above Ouray. Good thing I have to work at the Hot Springs Pool, I guess. Since the monsoons rolled into our little Swiss Village the temps have been hanging out in the low 70's for highs... 50's for lows. I hope your "cold front" ushers in some relief so you can get outside. And yes to your blog statement that fall is just around the corner; it is the best time of the year.
    thanks, mark

  6. I really need to solve my foot problem. You make me want to go there again. Yes, the timberless ridge lines are the best!

  7. Mark, it's dpwnright chilly here in Glenwood this morning, need a jacket.

  8. Tesage,
    I understand "foot problems," at least of the Planter facetious kind. It's crippling, painful and a real bother.

    Spotted Dog,
    Chilly in July... I would bet a lot of people would trade places with us :))
    thanks, mark.

  9. I can NOT wait to get there. We're leaving SoCal next Monday--after a week and a half on the Dolores River, we'll be in Ridgway. I'm looking forward to the thunderstorms!

  10. Try "living" th experience and not surmount it. There is a difference... Great words, feel and photos as always. New camera... ?
    Sorry we will bypass you for now... on to Salem to pick up "Terra Explorer". A new Sponsorship Hack with reverse and 2 wheel drive when needed! Imagine the options... Lost we will be soon on those roads we cannot now ride!

  11. Cindi,
    The storms have sure cooled things off. We used to live "downstream" in Ridgway... another nice little western town. The State Park @ the Reservoir has wonderful camping FYI.
    thanks for commenting

    Ara and Spirit,
    Wow! Two wheel drive motorcycles? You will be SET UP!.
    I must see this machine... so we've got to cross paths soon... here, or out on the road. Thanks for checking in with the news, this is exciting!

  12. Hey Mark, saw your comment over on Al's blog. I spent a summer there in Ouray a few years back and used to take the dogs every day down to the river, there by the gravel operation, to chase sticks in the water. One day a black bear was there giving us the eye, so we went elsewhere. And My cousin Gary lives in Idlewild and was having problems with a young bear in his fruit trees, so he got out his bearitone and scared it off playing (he's in the Silverton Brass Band). LOL

  13. Spotted Dog,
    The bears are coming into town more this year, I guess because of our dry spring. The editor for the Ouray Plaindealer News had a bear cub slip through a slightly open (for ventilation) window... raid the fridge and cabinets and then beat a retreat with the goodies to his mama who was waiting outside. She trained him well, I guess. And of course you probably heard about the old lady who had been feeding bears for years up at her cabin from a chain linked front porch. Well, last year a bear she was feeding reached under the fence, grabbed her legs and drug her out. She was quite disfigured when they found her... face and tummy eaten away.
    Double sad because she died and the bear had to be put down.
    Thanks for the story comment :))


If you like reading blog posts...from any blogger...consider leaving a "tip" in the form of a "comment" to the author, lest the blog might disappear from perceived lack of interest.