“Play is the highest form of research.” Albert Einstein
"Life is good...it says so on my ball cap." mej

Header Photo: Bobbie, putting the finishing touches on one of our many backyard 13ers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Amazement Above and Beyond Senator Beck... The Aura of Higher Ground


"The highest goal man can achieve is amazement." Theories of Colours, Goethe.

Oh these mountains in which we live, they never cease to amaze. If Goethe is right, and I believe he is, we're on a streak this summer, kicking down those Goal-Posts nearly every single day, just going about our "business" in Lovely Ouray. 

In my current inspirational read, The Anthropology of Turquoise, Ellen Meloy free-verses about life in her (adopted) high-desert home habitat—a remote and dusty place, snuggled against the terra-cotta hoodoos and red bluffs of southern Utah. "Some days, high on the ridge, with a seventy-mile view in all directions, I feel compelled to strike up an existential query and a lotus pose, forming profoundly spiritual questions and throwing them out to the ethos. 
     What do I know?
     What is my place in the world?
     How little do I need to have everything?
     What are the obligations of living a certain geography, of narrowing the distance between eye and beauty, of making the visible world an instinct?"

Meloy gets it; The sacred relationship between Joy and "Place." One can't surmise such questions if they don't understand that principle.

For me, "place" is key to happiness. It began with a deep premonition that I needed a change from Les Miserable. When I looked far down the road I was on, all I could see was the same old thing, over and over and over. Where is the thrill in taking a road that goes in circles? I had to follow my heart, and to do that I had to "leave" in search of a better fit. Somewhere out there was a puzzle with one piece missing. My challenge was to find it. 

I eventually found my "place" amid the aura of Higher Ground, Canyons Red, Rivers Green, Lakes Blue. It girds me in the face of a population bombed world gone berserk with avarice and hate. Whether by the luck of the draw, divine intervention, or natural instinct—the latter of which, I believe, is nothing more than paying attention to the little things that brings joy to one's life—I found the puzzle with a missing piece. And now I have it in my grubby little hands, almost every day... the antidote that neutralizes the other world, the one on my tv screen every night on the 5 o'clock news. The unexpected bonus is that by sharing my/our journeys with you, purpose is added to my life. It validates choices made, roads taken, and commitments honored. Dad called it "the Jesus Paradox," how the simple act of giving something away gets multiplied and returned to the giver.   


Faced with prospect of a favorable forecast—the first in weeks, seemingly—we couldn't decide on where or what to spend our good fortune. Finally, a whole day without the threat of rain and lightning bolts... no looking over shoulders for Zeus and Thor. We had time enough to get far-view high, maybe even contemplate aesthetic phenomenons like the curve of Planet Earth against the backdrop of infinite blue space. We needed to "get small," retest the old axiom that, The bigger the mountain, the smaller the climber.


Bobbie and I rattled off possible destinations over morning coffee. We had all day, theoretically, since Meteorology does not, nor never will, make the grade of a "science" where outcomes are predicable and repeatable given same circumstance (sigh). 

One of us mentioned going to Senator Beck Mine (there is a disagreement as to whom). It may have slipped my lips, but I doubt it because I find the trail rocky and difficult to hike, not to mention a little boring. We've been there and done that a dozen times, and for what? A lone upright building, sore ankles, and flowerless meadows... thanks to the stinking manure spreading, overgrazing Mountain Maggots that gobble them up. Oh, and there's that 125 pound sheepdog, Goliath, known to kill anything that comes within a mile of his Maggots.   


Senator Beck Mine (Yawn)
I gave in to Senator Beck... thinking we could hike beyond to Ptarmigan Lake... a worthy view, tho I've seen it time and again and photographed it from every conceivable angle. But Mother Nature intervened. Oh how she loves to undo a made up mind. Much to my surprise, the alpine meadows above timberline were still awash in wildflowers.  

We overtook a couple of ladies. As they stepped aside to let us pass, we paused to exchange "nice days" and other pleasantries. Suddenly, one of them asked if I was Box Canyon Mark? I admitted as much, wondering what offensive thing I'd written that was about to come back and bite me. It turns out she's was a BCB reader from Montrose, and stumbled across the blog while googling nearby hikes. Affirmation of "purpose" is always short-lived, so it's nice to hear that someone out there is impacted by what you do.  With that, my "15 minutes of fame" expired, and it only took 90 seconds. We bid them farewell and trudged on. 

Wildflowers the Mountain Maggots missed... 






Above Senator Beck tundra gave way to rocks and patchy snow. The trail disappeared, so being GPS-less, we were left with only instinct and experience to guide the way up to Ptarmigan Lake. It seems that we take a different route every time. Three grueling false-summit ridges later we succeeded in achieving our mission. One must earn far-views around here.

Getting higher, getting smaller... Bobbie, dwarfed by "space."
After topping the final false-summit ridge we were met with a commanding view of Ptarmigan Lake and basin. Suddenly, I'm no longer bored; "Mother" has my full attention. The DSLR goes to work. I could shoot blindfolded up there; not a bad photo to be found. 



We couldn't help ourselves. Caught in the mystical vortex of electric blue, we eased down to the lake... losing precious hard-won altitude that, in short order, would need to be regained. In the distance, above and beyond Ptarmigan Lake, was the Jeep road to and over Imogene Pass that separates Ouray and Telluride. I made a mental note to ask Chris and Mindy if, in exchange for pizza and beer, they would consider dropping us at Senator Beck's Trail Head on their way over Black Bear to Telluride next year, then pick us up on Imogene Pass on their way back to Ouray. What a glorious hike that would be without all the downhill toe jam. 

Telluride Mountain... 13,150 feet.










After refueling with carbs and protein, we faced the ridge above, began a slow ascent out of the hole that sucked us in, passing in the shadow of Telluride Mountain. Hmmm.

"You know, we are so close. Maybe we should grab that peak while we're up here." Without a word of response, Bobbie alters course. Yes!


Altered course equals Higher Ground

It wasn't so much the Peak-Bag I wanted as it was to gain the higher connecting ridge as an look over the other side... maybe even look down on Telluride Town. 15 minutes later we sated my curiosity for the unknown. From our saddle perch, we eyed a chaotic abyss of rock, viciously precipitous and rugged. A tempting scree of teetering boulders lured me across to get a better photo... which brought a reprimand from Bobbie. 

A few minutes later, trying to extricate myself from a predicament I now blame on "curiosity," Bobbie yells, "I'm on top." I look up; she's found a sub-peak with a sporting view, but it doesn't include T-Town. I joined her on top. 




Telluride Mountain
God, the light and shadow was extraordinary... courtesy of passing clouds. I couldn't help myself... 



Somewhere, around the bend at the bottom of this cavernous basin, hides Telluride.


We made our way south, riding the ridge, hoping to catch a glimpse of Telluride. I've never seen such ruggedness; it fell away in heaps and gobs of disorder, danger, and rotten rock.
"Ok, mind officially blown! I wish nephew Darin could see this. It'd be at minimum a 500 picture day for him."


















We rode the ridge, taking in the show of light and shadow cavorting on the mountains and looking for a glimpse of Telluride. Finally, we were granted our wish... 

Telluride


Sometimes people spend money instead of time. But money is short-valued paper, and buys only temporary pleasure. Time, on the other hand, spent wisely, is "gold" in the memory bank. We "spent" an entire day soaking up awe and wonder in a landscape of sky-piercing peaks, and came "home" feeling enriched by new memories and philosophical reflections.

"The deepest thing we can learn about nature is not how it works, but that it is the poetry of survival."  English novelist, John Fowles.










29 comments:

  1. Words fail me again. Wow is such a cop out. Just WOW!

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  2. Thanks for the wonderful pictures, I do appreciate at least getting to see the trails through you lenses.

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  3. Mother of God.....you are blowing our minds this summer....and yes we will take you up on that offer to see the Killer lake @ GCG.
    Stay Safe

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    1. The pond might be frozen in October :)). Still worth seeing. Glad you guys are up for it!
      mark

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  4. Hmmm, Uber jeeping! We can certainly work out some type of deal. We do "almost" anything for pizza and beer. Beautiful, top of the world pictures, which make me miss Ouray!

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  5. Came upon your blog. We're here in Ouray for a couple of weeks. Your words capture my feelings of being "lost" outdoors. No better way to spend your time than up on a mountain! I hope the weather perks up this week Not looking too promising. I'll stick to some shorter hikes for now.

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    1. I know, this rain is putting a damper on our hiking plans too. :((
      Which campground are you in???
      mark

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    2. We are in Thistledown for a couple of weeks. At least there are a few trails close by I can sneak out too in the morning for a bit. Pretty buggy here.

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    3. We should meet for coffee and scrap cookies at Mouse's Chocolates... or Wings and a beer at Ouray Brewery!
      mark

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    4. Wings and beer sounds great! We haven't made it into town yet and my husband was eyeing the brewery as we have driven by. He works from the rig, but we could meet you there tomorrow or the next night? Happy Hour? Any time after 4 works for us Friday, Saturday we could do any time. Would love to meet you, thanks for the invite!

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    5. Somehow my comment didn't post. We'd love to meet you both! My husband is wanting to go to the Ouray Brewery and we are always up for wings! Any chance tomorrow, Friday night would work? Steve still works from the rig, but any time after 4p would work. Otherwise Sunday is pretty open too.

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    6. Hi Debbei... friday sounds good. Bobbie works till 6 at Bear Creek Gifts just down the street from the brewery, so how does 6:10ish work for you? Ouray Brewery has good burgers too. :)
      Thanks, Mark... email= mej4@mac.com

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  6. As we travel east to visit family, I am do virtual hiking with you and Bobbie:) Boy, that was an amazing day! Keep climbing higher, you never know what is over there. Awesome photos!! That header is spectacular:)

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    1. Thanks guys... Hope the weather cools down for your trip east, and the humidity backs off.
      mark

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  7. Great post Mark- top of the world= worth waiting to see Telluride- remember our visit there a few years back- enjoy every day-- Walden Creek R V steve

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    1. I remember it was foggy that day... and that you hiked those rocks in sneakers :)
      mark

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  8. Frikkin gorgeous...and darn poetic too!
    Nina

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  9. Amen brother. You two rock, as does your locale...

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  10. Sharing the views with the rest of us. Great post.

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  11. You inspire me to look beyond normal on a daily basis. Highest praise I can come up with.

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    1. Is that a "nice way" to say that I'm "Abnormal?" :))

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    2. Absolutely! You are welcome.

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