Ok, admittedly it's a mad dog of a road. I took it easy though, inch-worming over boulders in lowest gears, slipping through skinny spots tighter than peg-leg jeans, tipping the least degree possible toward a cartwheel into a wild-flowered abyss. It wasn't so much that Bobbie was faint-hearted when she bailed on the last mile, just that she preferred to start what was to be a "short hike" early—at least that was the story she stuck to. So it was up to men and their machine, John Q, Boonie, and Walden Steve, and good dog Coffee Girl to grind it out. Coffee Girl adjusted quickly and actually seemed to enjoy the rock and roll gyrations. Ah, there's something special about a girl who loves to go four wheeling in pickups, no offense, Bobbie.
We headed up, up, up, through talus slopes of cadmium yellow and florescent fuchsia paintbrush, and columbines of an abnormally pale blue, as if starved for oxygen. Then came menacing clouds that fogged our lunar landscape with a foul mood. Ptarmigan cooed and fluttered about, oblivious to weather.
Eventually, a few ragged class IV spires speared the mist. I pointed, trying to get a rise out of Steve, indicating that it was our destination. Oddly, no one in the group missed a step. I realized that one goes to places like this to shed "white bread" routines, to put a little "ad" in their ventures. It makes us feel small and threatened, like a puny geek with lunch money passing a gang of bullies outside the school gate. It's why I love Glacier in fall when grizzlies are on the prowl—to see what it's like to exist at the bottom of the food chain. Recall near misses with grace and fondness; are we ever more alive?
We climbed on, surpassing 12, then 13,000 feet at Blue Lakes Pass. I worried about Florida Boy Steve with his sea level legs and lungs. I told him to slow down and act his age. Elevation sometimes slams you the second day, especially after a six packer the night before, by my count, but "only one," to hear Steve tell it. Ah, memory is the second thing to go, my friend, and they don't make a little blue pill for that.
A surreal scene awaited our winded arrival at Blue Lakes Pass. To the north, Mount Sneffels—all 14,150 feet—rising out of sight into a cloak of clouds that roiled like slow motion water on the boil. We could plainly hear rockfall and voices from unseen climbers in the mist, as if they were mere feet away...ghostly sirens of ships passing in fog.
Below, Blue Lakes went missing–lost in vapors resembling those that rise from dry ice. We waited and waited, hoping for an opening in the veil that would allow a glimpse of the "bride." Boonie caught a chill and headed down, victim of a cold sweat soaked tee shirt. Coffee Girl followed dutifully at his side. Of all in our group, she was the most oblivious to elevation...chasing chipmunks and picas up and down the talus in a fever of instinct. Perhaps it's Coffee Girl's "four wheel drive" that allows her to be so frisky and efficient up high, while her human counterparts move like slugs.
The beautiful Blue Lakes "bride" was shy, her veil stubborn—just a peep hole tease, as opposed to "the full monty" I had hoped for. Oh well, a day in the mountains is never wasted. It restores one's soul and perspective, that we are in reality small outside our normal environment. In mountains, we are like the little boy geek with lunch money, trying to skirt around the "bullies."
Peace out from the gang in Lovely Ouray...