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Friday, July 19, 2013

Walden Steve, A Sea Level Floridian Leaps Into Thin Air

I wish I was as practical, philosophically, and literally, as my Pal Boonie. While I'm at it, I might as well wish that I was as smart, too. Sometimes I feel like I need Cliff's Notes and Webster's Dictionary to make sense of his posts. He has garnered quite an intellectual audience—people who actually get his metaphors, symbolisms, and references to long dead writers that I've never even heard of. 

On his "Why Climb Mountains II" post, Boonie and his cerebral celeb commenters exercise their brains—laying out respective thesis's on how and why the intelligentsia would climb a mountain. Sheesh. For me, it's not all that complicated. Simply put, one, I'm pursing peaks in order to exercise my body on something other than a machine. Two, I'm exorcising my mental demons on something I "get," as opposed to Jesus (no offense Lord, but you never speak to me like you did to my parents). And three, because mountains are there, and I'm a curious sort of guy. 

Now I'd be lying to you if I discounted the challenge involved in making it to a summit. Bobbie and I have braved rain, snow, sleet, hail and lightning while climbing 50 of the 54 14'ers in Colorado; being outside and moving is/was something we both enjoy(ed), and doing it together makes it more enjoyable.

But everyone is climbing 14'ers nowadays; it's hard to find a parking place at the bottom, and it's too crowded on top. So we switched to 13'ers, and suddenly, we're all alone. People ask us, "When are you going to bag the last four, you're so close?" Probably never. There is challenge enough in a 13'er; a few hundred more feet and a throng of Range Rover east-slope urbanite yuppies outfitted for a Kilimanjaro trek isn't going to put a smile on my face. I do like to "summit," but I'm not as fanatical as I once was.

But I am a little fanatical about sharing mountains with friends, whether a summit is involved or not. Conversation comes easy when one is short of breath, above the fray of timber and heat. Wildflowers are responding to recent monsoons, proliferating on lush slopes of alpine tundra. I enjoy wading through them, and sharing a few special places with new and old friends. I also enjoy sharing my photos on the BCB to a most appreciative audience. It is the least I can do to give something back. If I tend to get a little rah rah sometimes, please pardon my exuberance; this magical place is what breathes life into an otherwise empty vessel.


Walden Steve braved a 15 hour drive and night time mudslides on Red Mountain in order to join our group-hikes for a few days. Fearing afternoon monsoons, I arranged for an early start. We all piled into Petroleus Rex, put Coffee Girl in the toppered bed, and drove poor Steve back up old Red. It was good that he came over in the dark because there were some pretty big rocks in the remainder of those "mudslides." 

We drove into dense cloud banks, some higher, some lower. At 11,000 feet timber stands began to sputter; we turned onto Black Bear Pass road, a jeep trail that goes to Telluride the hard way, and continued to climb. Senator Beck Mine trail is not marked, so Bobbie scanned for it's faint path while I kept Pet Rex upright on the crooked and narrow. "There." she said, so I pulled into what was more of an economy car parking spot, and we bailed into the mist. 

Walden Steve impressed us with his Florida "gills." He didn't lag behind at all, and wasn't breathing that hard for an old geezer :) We love you Steve...Brooke says hello. Thanks for coming out and blessing us with your great outlook on life. 

Here's our skin moisturizing hike to Senator Beck Basin. 

These lovely flowers are called Elephant Heads...a fitting name.

We met two gals, packing in...

A solar powered weather station

Taking a well deserved breather near 12,000 feet


  1. Stunning! Love the cloud/fog effect.

    Note: the flowers are not as spectacular here in Grand Lake/RMNP as they were shaping up to be (and are in your photos) in Ouray area. Though with rains coming frequently ans sometimes heavily now, perhaps that will change.

    Metamorphosis Lisa

  2. Your area is unbelievably beautiful. Great pictures. I'm hoping next year we get to Ouray.

  3. Beautiful eye candy today. Thanks.

  4. Stunning photos. Can't wait to see some of those wildflowers myself. We'll be at Ridgeway SP next week. Enjoy your time with old friends :-)

  5. Walden Creek rv steveJuly 19, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    Mark and Bobbie- I could never find 2 better guides in the whole state of Colorado- Just know your efforts were truly appreciated- I cannot recall having a better time on road trip- maybe take away the mudslides during pouring rain in the dark! BUT actually I come to Ouray for the adventure-I got it!! As far as working out- all those trips keeping fridge stocked with IPA- was also good!! Next year!! say hello to your neighbor for me! take care

  6. one of my favorite... elephant heads. looking forward to adventures and being fodder for funny mark posts. -susan
    maikel says fodder. yep fodder.

  7. Wow. It has been four years since my summer wild flower visit to Ouray. Thanks for the photos to remind me of what I need to repeat one of these years.

    Crowded trails does not make for a pleasant hiking experience. Gave up the 14ers after that discovery and did 13ers. There were times I was on a 13900 foot peak -- all alone -- and watched the ant trail of hikers on the ridge of a 14er, heading to the 14er summit. My hike was more pleasant.

  8. Beautiful hike...love the effect the fog and clouds have in your pictures and as always, the wildflowers are spectacular.

  9. The "13's" and "14's" refer to the thousands of feet past good oxygen they rise?

    Beautiful shots.

  10. Beautiful! Love that hiking with the clouds.

    Sounds like another great visit/hike with friends.

    I've never seen or heard of the elephant head flower. Very appropriate name. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I laughed at one of the early photos that showed Steve gesturing (and jester-ing) to the rest of the group. Only the dog wasn't listening to him. (grin)

  12. Your photo's always are great, but today's post they're even better!


  13. Lisa,
    Yes, the flowers are higher up now...above timberline. Hey to Hans...keep on exploring!

    Thanks...it's easy to photograph this time of year. I could almost do it blindfolded :)

    You are welcome...thanks for your faithful attendance.

    LIve Laugh,
    Maybe we can connect for a hike while you are in the area! Email me if you guys are up for it...or we can just do drinks and pizza :)

    Walden Steve,
    Thanks, man. You get what you pay for, you know :)
    We hope you follow through on your promise to hit the road next year...in an RV yet to be determined!

    Maikel and Suz,
    Me? make fodder of youse guys? Nooooo. See ya in a few hours :))

    Wandrin Lloyd,
    Senator Beck is a hike we did with you...remember the sheep dog that was guarding his flock? What do they call that breed? I know we were in his territory and it was a little spooky.

    Gay and Joe,
    Thank you so much...you guys are fun to follow and pretty good with a camera.

    Good Luck Duck,
    Yes...thousands of feet...an inverse relationship with oxygen :)) thanks for commenting.

    John and Pam,
    It is a cool flower, aptly named. thanks, guys.

    Well, can you blame her? Just kidding steve :))

    Thanks for stopping by! I'll try and keep it rolling for you flower power aficionados.

  14. --> "There is challenge enough in a 13'er; a few hundred more feet and a throng of Range Rover east-slope urbanite yuppies outfitted for a Kilimanjaro trek isn't going to put a smile on my face." Ha Ha this put a smile on my face.


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