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Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Rain, The Park, and Other Things...



Wonder Dog Aspen struck a snow-pose on a recent walkabout. Aspen's Master, Tamara (Bobbie's hiking buddy and summertime employer) was surprised she held the pose long enough to allow me to fetch my camera from its pouch. Good girl, Aspen. More on that hike later. Let's start with a "Rails to Trail" stroll along the Uncompaghre Riverway path.
 It appears our two-week "January Thaw" is kaput. The last couple of days brought 20 inches of snow to Lovely Ouray, ugh, just as the mud was finally drying out. It dawned clear as crystal this morning, the kind of Eagle's eye clarity that fills the high altitude vacuum of a recently departed winter storm and plunges thermometers below zero degrees Fahrenheit.



Pre-storm, we frolicked in a respite of warmth and sun like a bunch of cabin fevered kids. One pleasant day we headed off to Ridgway for a river walk. Most of the Eagles had moved on by then, but we managed to spy a few stragglers, hunting field mice from upper limbed perches of surreal Cottonwoods. It's hard to fathom that on a hot summer day one mature cottonwood can pilfer streamflow at an astonishing rate of 100 gallons per hour. Multiply that times thousands of trees per mile and it's a wonder any water escapes Colorado at all.   


The paved trail passed a collection of weathered, horse drawn wagons and farm implements from yesteryear. At least poor ranchers and sod-busters didn't have to worry about flat tires...





Now to the Ice Park Loop Trail. We stopped by Tamara's house as she and Aspen wanted to join us. Their muddy Jeep is typical of all vehicles in Ouray during winter. Feeding coins into a carwash machine is a waste of money till the end of April.



Along the way, ice climbers readied ropes in preparation to rappel into the Ice Park's canyon. The metal contraption is fitted with hand/foot holds for those who want want to test their skills against negative slope. 




Up canyon from town ice continues; it's created by spraying water over the edge when nighttime temps consistently drop below freezing…usually in late November. It can be a bitterly cold sport as low winter sun doesn't reach far into the canyon. It's also dangerous; hazards include falling chunks of ice (or other climbers) that can knock you off the wall. Lead climbing is particularly dangerous as one climbs above their rope, trusting that a fall will not yank out their last ice anchor. But it is "ice," after all, not rock. Here's a Youtube link that will give you a better understanding of Ice Climbing in Lovely Ouray.




Tamara, Bobbie, and Aspen…slip sliding back into town.



Oak Street in Lovely Ouray. Notice how little snow there is on south facing slopes. What a difference two days and 20 inches of snow can make; from color to black and white, overnight. It was so warm it began as rain…unusual for Ouray in January!!! 













 I dug out an Art Table from down in the garage and placed it in front of the Imax window in our living room, hoping it would inspire me to take up a brush. Excluding a couple of mediocre exceptions that never reached the finish line, it's been years. Watercolor is a "bike" you can fall off of in spite of previous successes. Being one who doesn't take failure any better than being laid up, I danced around the table for days before getting up nerve to…well, "fail." I started with a winter mountain scene of Courthouse and Chimney Rock as viewed from the Little Cimarron side looking west. An hours worth of effort is visible in the lower right hand corner of the above photo. 

I'm determined to post my efforts...the sequential steps and finished products, no matter how good, bad, or ugly. Trust me, writing is "safer" than watercolor painting. There is no going back if you lose or ruin your "whites" as there is no such thing as a white watercolor that will cover mistakes. 

Tip number one: Preserve and protect areas of white paper. You will need it to contrast the juicy dark rich blends of blues, reds, and greens.

Till next time,
Go Broncos,
mark on the mend.










22 comments:

  1. never heard of ice climbing ... but then as I've said .. I've still young, lots of things I haven't heard of. that does seem extremely dangerous... rock climbing, to me is dangerous... backpacking is dangerous to me.. lol.. ah... beautiful, Mark. Lovely Ouray is beautiful. always enjoy your photography and narration.

    It's wet and cold and gray and blah here in Little Rock ... if I had your view? I doubt I'd even go outside ... so?! I guess it's a good thing I don't, I'd really be a hermit.

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    1. Yes, I have the exercise bike in front of the south facing Imax for snow/cold days :)

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  2. Glad you are feeling up to inspire us all. Your photos and words do a lot of good for us winter stranded wannabe outsiders. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks Gumo, I hope you can hit the road more often soon. You really seem to belong out there.

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  3. Mark, Just living in Lovely Ouray in a house seems to be quite an adventure. I'm learning in older age to just take the adventures where ever I find them. I make some of them happen and some of them just happen to me as I also live in an interesting place, but without the snow and ice stuff. :O) Health issues, we are stuck with, but watercolors? :O) A good distraction.
    Bob

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    1. It is an "adventurous" locale, but I'm with you on snow and ice…I get my fill in the month around Christmas. I do like to play in the snow, but then leave it behind.

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  4. The snow looks nice, but I would hate to have to put that many clothes on to go outside. Would probably opt for the exercise bike and just look out your Imax windows.
    Gayle

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  5. Whatever the season, Ouray is absolutely beautiful!

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  6. Must be nice to get a taste of Spring weather in January. Bobbie can always get you started on the water color painting if you need a coach. And yes, Go Broncos or as we say in Indy Go Broncolts!

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    1. The Broncolts were a no show :(
      Yes, Bobbie is a valuable reference for my watercolors...

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  7. Those ice climbers are truly crazy. But I do hope to someday get there to watch them climb. That ice is beautiful!!

    You certainly have a magnificent canvas for your viewing everyday!

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    1. The ice takes on a deep glacial blue as it ages and thickens. Someday I will give it a go with lessons. Thanks

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  8. That spectacular winter scenery sure makes for beautiful photos. Really like your editing effects as well. Sorry about the Broncos. We 49er fans were rooting for Denver also...

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    1. Yes, we were rooting for the 49'ers to beat the Seahawks…
      Thanks, winter can be beautiful, but it helps to be younger to really take advantage of its recreational opportunities. We do love to snowshoe the high passes on sunny days.

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  9. You made me smile through tears tonight. Aspen looks a lot like our Chelsea, and she also loved the snow. I still miss her so much. Thanks.

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  10. Surely with a view and a desk like that, I could paint......SOMETHING besides a stick man? Wow, I can just hear the muffled sounds of silence from all that snow. If you have to be "grounded," at least it is with a million dollar view. (Thanks for that Cowsills earworm, by the way. Just what I wanted. "I knew, I knew, I knew, I knew....")

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    1. Suzanne…wow, you nailed the old Cowsills song. I didn't think anyone would remember it!!!
      to finish your "I knews,"
      "she could make me happy…happy…happy
      Flowers in her hair,
      Flowers everywhere…"

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  11. Well hernia is not hurting your blog abilities take care. Walden creek rv

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    Replies
    1. Good to hear Steve :))
      You got a new Dog?

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