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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Proof of Life

As we become more experientially enlightened (get older) we realize that nothing in life comes easy, that if we want to get "somewhere" it often requires pushing limits. Being experientially enlightened means that we have long realized that Life isn't fair. Life is like the mountain, in that regard, it doesn't give a lick if you fall to your death. 

Now that I'm on the short end of life's fuse, time is no longer a luxury I can squander like some youngster. When I was a teen, 35 seemed old. I couldn't imagine living that long, my parents—hell, everybody's parents—looked old and over the hill. Now, pushing 65, I've noticed an impostor in the mirror. Who is that guy? 

Da  "Basketball Jones" Johnson's… we all topped out right at 6 foot 4 inches,  my dad, Brent's  dad (my brother) and brother (my other nephew) and my son. 
That point was really driven home when I came across this old photograph of Nephew Brent and I on the way up Bierstadt make that Quandry—one of 54 peaks in Colorado over 14,000 feet, 50 of which Bobbie and I have summited... some multiple times. I think Brent was about 21 years old when this photo was taken, which would have put me… well, let's just say "pushing 40." I don't know why we are both wearing Hot Pants. I guess (hope) it was in style.

Wow, the second thing I noticed about the photo was how much smaller our foreheads were. Today, Brent and I both suffer Male Pattern Baldness, an ego disabling disease that has no known cure (sniff). 

Already bored with our familiar hikes, I pronounced it "Adventure Day in Lovely Ouray" and prepped the old 29'er for a ride up Camp Bird Mine road… hopefully, to the Mine itself. Bobbie said, "Have fun," meaning she didn't want any part of silly macho male antics. Did I say, "ride?" Make that "grind," as the elevation gain is 2000 feet in less than five miles.    

Not enough room for guardrails...

A small memorial to a high school student who fell to his death one Forth of July night, shooting off fireworks along Canyon Creek.

What's left of a winter avalanche that swept across the road and into the canyon below, completely filling it with tons of snow. A nice big horn ram with a harem of ewes trotted across the road and up the hill here. But I was not swift enough to get a photo :(
At the Camp Bird Mine… made it in 1 hour and 34 minutes. Proof of Life after Geezerhood!!!

Still snowed in up at Camp Bird Mine, and a tad chilly when sweaty from grinding out the uphill bitch of a road. 

Ah, but the descent is an oh so sweet adrenaline rush reward… 

Single lane in several places… note the colorful "Blowout" left of the 29er. Our Mine shack is right at the bottom and across from this colorful geologic feature. I've been known to take a few visitors up into the Blowout. Scheduling tours now for those who have no fear of heights (Suzanne?) 

An abrupt flashback to Camp Madera, now, the day before our departure: 

Our naturalist/birding authority friend, Sandy, hosted a party at her quaint adobe home in Green Valley. It was her birthday, excuse enough. Sandy was Bobbie's VISTA partner on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Coyote Canyon, New Mexico, an out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere place for two young gals to end up fresh out of college. 

Must have been 12 or 14 great people at the party… enough that we needed name tags :) Wandrin Lloyd showed up in his traditional jazzy Hawaiian shirt. Now off the road after 13 plus years of roaming, it was nice to reconnect with Lloyd. He's settled in Tucson, but tries to get to cooler climates during the heat of summer. Considering Lloyd's been through the ringer with Chemo and Radiation for the big C, he looked no worse for the wear on the outside. I'm sure it was a different story on the inside. Stand up to the "mountain." On to a complete remission/cure, Wandrin Man. Prove there is Life beyond Geezerhood. I hope you swing by Lovely Ouray this summer… the spare bedroom is always open.


  1. Those hot pants and the "look" are a hoot! Good to know you're still alive after all these years. Like you said there's nothing quite like the mountains to push those limits and make you feel both the struggle and the exaltation of life.


  2. Interesting, and oh-so-correct, your use of "struggle" and "exaltation" in the same sentence. Without struggle, there is little in the way of exaltation, we need the former to understand the latter. Relativity, you know…
    Thanks Nina

  3. The black and white is gorgeous and perfect for the flashback to those fabulous legs. Getting older is a bitch but you are definitely doing it in style streaking up those inclines. Beautiful pictures but 2000' in five miles. WHEW!!

    1. Yes, I love that B and W photo too… make me want to see what's around the corner :)

  4. At last we see what drew Bobbie in, those legs.


    1. Hey, it took more than "legs" to get my Bobbie… she wanted a brain, too, which almost killed my chances :)

  5. I sure have a hankering for some Lovely Ouray! Stunning photos Mark....
    Are you sure you didn't photo shop your heads in that picture...that is quite the pose!

  6. Summer must be approaching, I cut the grass for the first time this year, the tulips and daffodils are blooming, and Mark and Bobbie are back in Ouray. Time does fly by, I had the pleasure of meeting Sandy and Lloyd back in July 2009 at your place in Ouray and had wonderful conversation.
    I think you should go retro on your hiking shorts and start a new trend. Now that I think about it, not sure at age 65 you want to start a new trend.

  7. Been up that road a few times, walking, jeeping, quading. Can't remember riding a bike. It must not have happened since I'm still breathing. It's absolutely gorgeous back up in there. Yankee Boy is my favorite.

  8. My only fear of heights is the fear that I wouldn't have the lungs to climb them at 14,000 ft!

  9. A real pair of hotties. Aging may cause a loss of hair amongst other things but activity keeps you thinking young. You have that cornered.

  10. Love the Hot Pants!! Who ever thought those looked good!? Thanks goodness times have changed.

  11. I actually had my daughter check my grays the other day because my hair suddenly looked so light I thought the sun was the culprit but alas they were gray and not blond!


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