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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Defiant and Undeterred in the Face of Failure

I have this addiction to "summits," you see. So, in spite of historical snafus that invariably arise when one jumps the "seasonal" gun, I'm prone to come down with a case of short term memory loss. "But this year we will find a way," I say, and off we go in search of a peak or pass to bag, farting rainbows like a couple of unicorns.

The problem with Old Twin Peaks Trail is the initial 1.2 vertiginous miles of stairs and switchbacks that you feel for a week post-climb. This "halfway point" comes with an elevation gain roughly equivalent to the Empire State Building. Oak Creek Trail is a friendlier alternate route, but adds almost 3 miles to the halfway point where "new" intersects with "old."  From the "intersection," it's 1.3 miles on up to the summit. That's where the trail circles around to steep north-facing slopes, dark timber... and snow

The halfway viewpoint.
Early on we can spy our lofty goal, the fuzzy knobs of Twin Peaks, just right of center.

Looking across the "Camp Bird" drainage.

Looking south toward Mount Abram and the "Crevice" of Lovely Ouray.

Oak Creek

"Little Sister," right, and "Twin Peaks," left between the two pine trees.

Snow-crossings are fraught with drop-offs into "the abyss." Post-holing through razor sharp crusts of ice, thin-skinned bare legs are soon crisscrossed with bloody slices... boots  fill with with snow, resulting in soggy feet and frozen toes.  

I try to carve somewhat level "foot tracks" across avalanche shoots for Bobbie to follow. I'm nervous as she crosses, jabbering at her to be on the ready to do a self-arrest if she slips or the snow gives way. "You'll need to flip over on your belly and jam your hiking pole into the snow with both hands." 

She asks if I have "the rope."
"Uh, no... it's in my other pack."  

I quit taking photos after the initial two crossings in order to keep a better eye on Bobbie as she tiptoes across avalanche shoots. Finally, we get beyond the big one that usually turns us back. I'm thinking, if we can just manage another half mile... get through the deep snow and deadfall of dark timber, the south facing ridge is clear and dry. 

But the deadfall and deep snow slows us to a crawl. We're breaking through every other step... into a jumble of sharp branches that bloody legs and deaden hopes. Though not on the "trail," we are close to the ridge, I can almost feel the sun on my face and dry soil underfoot. 

We're soon drained and stop for a snack. I want to press on. Bobbie's thinking about all those "crossings" we have to do to get down safely... without a rope, Mark! We agree to go on, see if there might be a light at the end of this "tunnel" of dark and downed timber. Of course there isn't... there never is in May, the bitch. I take off my "Waterproof"  boots and pour a half cup of ice water from each... then wring out several more ounces from wool socks. Down we go, squishing, raw-toed, tails between legs yet again. Maybe next year. We'll bring our snowshoes!
Just another day in Lovely Ouray... 

Now to a warmer subject. 

Below, on the left, is an unfinished pastel painting I'm working on. There is much "cleaning up" to do, but it's coming along. Barb handed us a photocopy of one of my calendar shots (Bobbie gave her one of our calendars for Christmas). Barb cropped the sides off the original "landscape" photo and made it into a "portrait." 

"What do you think about painting this?"
I told her, "impossible." Too much detail, especially for a second painting. Sheesh. Talk about "raising the bar!" 
Anyway, I decided to take a few "artistic liberties" and, like our annual Twin Peaks summit-attempt-that-always-ends-in-failure, just started putting one foot in front of the other, one layer of color upon another.

It could be better, but then again, it could be a whole lot worse. Not as "likable" (meaning that it didn't produce a gag reflex) as my "Canyonlands" painting, but I'll keep toying with it... try to keep it out of a "landfill." 

My idea for the "focal point" didn't work out as planned, at least I don't think it did. I had hoped to take the viewers eye up the trail (that part works) and then, as it gets to the big boulder, pull it back left to the main feature (intended focal point) which is the saguaro cactus. Perhaps if I made the blossoms bigger??? Oh well.
With bloody legs and bruised ego,
Your Defiant and Undeterred Artist/Summiteer, 


  1. I think you need some bumps/texture in the trail...it looks a little like a river, which takes my eye down, not up as intended (said from my broken armchair.) Otherwise nice! And nice cloud photos on the peaks hike!

  2. Bear in mind, I know nothing about anything. But a quick critique...the trail is too straight, smooth and manicured. The ground cover IS to low. Should have been more "shrub"-like, like the photo. And, there should have been more than one Sagauro...at east one other, smaller, behind. See, I don't know s%&t about art. :) But, you ARE coming right along. I'm impressed.

  3. I like the painting better than the hike. Beautiful.

  4. You and I hiked Twin Peaks back in July 2011. I remember the outstanding summit view of Ouray and the surrounding peaks that made the strenuous hike worthwhile.
    I can see you and Bobbie not wanting to give up the climb but the trail sure looked risky for a slide off the snow. Better to return safe for a chance at another day. Great painting of Saguaro Cactus! Sharp colorful contrast between greens,blues, and yellows.
    John Q

  5. My legs are still sore from hiking Twin Peaks about 10 years ago. And the painting is really nice.

  6. Great post. The painting doesn't make my legs and knees tingle plus a great sky! Great trail photos, but they make my knees and legs tingle.

  7. Sorry about your hike:( But you were putting yourselves in too much danger. Glad you turned around:) Nice painting...maybe enlarge the flowers some and "bumpy" the trail!? Keep up the good work:)

  8. I'm with Sue Malone here. Painting is beautiful. Actually, your pic of the half-way point is VERY beautiful too, just wouldn't like "The Crossings". No way Sir that I woulda crawled across those avalanche chutes, well that is unless you threw me a rope. But that was in another pack.

  9. Glad you two survived the hike with no rope. I would be sad if either of you went down a snow covered mountain side. I think the trail needs some rocks, it's Arizona, all trails are rocky.


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