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Header Photo: Just an average hike on an average day in Red Canyon Country.



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Thursday, December 8, 2016

What's In Your Closet?


"I know this mantra from other failures… The endless agonizing recycling of what might have been… followed by a litany of rationalizations and self-deceptions as I struggle to reconcile the void between the person I want to be and the person I fear I am."   High Exposure… an enduring passion for Everest and unforgiving places, By David Breashears, Director and Leader of the Everest IMAX filming expedition.

A million years ago in high school, I fell in love with novels... devoured "suggested reading" lists like they were bags of Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos (a tormenting childhood weakness that haunts me to this day). Sometime in my late 40's, I noticed a slow, subtle shift toward nonfiction... journals and biographies of real people and real-life endeavors, like John Wesley Powell's journal. I was enthralled by the story of this intrepid, one-armed man's expedition to float the Colorado River through Grand Canyon's cavernous gouge in the earths crust. 

I went on to read biographies of George Washington and other founding fathers, then to historical figures in general (not nearly as exiting, but enlightening). Now, I have another addiction to add to "Doritos," which is, any biography that has to do with dramatic events or acts of bravery that takes place in an outdoor setting... particularly adventures like climbing mountains, exploring polar caps, sailing big seas in little boats, and so forth. 

I do not mean to disparage fiction (forgive me, Darin); I cut literary teeth on the likes of Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck, to mention a few. The last two were "contemporaries," and had an ongoing "tiff" with each other... or maybe "competition" is a better word. Men, you know.

Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" really impacted me as a senior in high school, second only to "To Kill a Mockingbird."  Though "Grapes" and "Mockingbird" are works of fiction, they are solidly based on real-life events. The "hook" for me was, even though the characters were made up, I knew the events were real... the poverty, suffering, and death were truths. Perhaps "Grapes of Wrath" was the basis for my eventual migration to nonfiction. 

I realize the same argument could be made for most works of fiction. After all, subject matter for novels is drawn from the lives and stories of real people. Alas, there is no such thing as writing in a "vacuum." 

Thus, when I read this post's opening quote in David Breashear's real-life biography, "High Exposure," it was infinitely more compelling because I identified... not so much as an extreme outdoorsman, but with his struggle to overcome his childhood. 

Breashears essentially and expertly leads readers on a "climb" up his "life's wall," through all the gritty emotional turmoil, training, sacrifice, loss, outsider loneliness, and the real life circumstance of watching fellow climbers get swept to their death, all because the mountain "shrugged." It must have been the culmination of emotional angst and brushes with death that led to his penning of that oh-so-powerful and insightful profundity at the top of this page. 

Deft in prose, Breashears describes in detail the courage and dedication it took to rise to the top of his chosen path... the self-control required to suppress terror while clinging to a 3000 foot vertical wall of ice and rock one hundred feet above his previous anchor, one that was sketchy at best. But Ice picks and Crampon spikes are useless when the mountain shrugs; wrong place, right time. Goodbye. It begs the question: From what well does such motivation come? 

As it turns out, positive things often spring from deep, dark wells. Breashears developed an insatiable drive to prove himself to a cold, indifferent military father, one who never expressed love nor pride in anything he ever accomplished. Such things must eventually come out of closets if we are to grow and reach our fullest potentials. They bear heavy tolls, particularly in relationships. Breashear's marriage failed because he loved mountains more than being loved, perhaps because he didn't know what love was yet... or perhaps because he was already married to the mountains. Maybe his marriage to a real person was just an "affair." 

Some, perhaps most, have to overcome their "childhoods." I know this because I am one of them. In so doing I became adept at "rationalization," mastered the art of "self-deception" to the point of getting my own way with little guilt or consequence. Problem is, once one starts believing their own "lies," the "compass" has no "pole" to guide them home. It no longer knows "North."     

When George Mallory was asked what motivated him to risk life and limb to order to climb Everest, he simply replied, "Because it's there." I would argue that, more often than not, it's the "demons" in our closets.

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Bobbie and I explored Gooseberry Mesa's rim 3 times this year. The first time we drove to it with Jim, Gayle  and Chris, via route 59 to Smithsonian Butte Road.  Rose and Andre followed along and brought their bikes in order to cover more of the wonderful single track trails offered up there. 

A couple weeks later Bobbie and I did it by ourselves, a long hike, right from the Rv park. The last time was with Maikel and Susan, and believe it or not, they are still friends :). With nearly a thousand feet of elevation gain, it's a real grunt. The worst part is extremely steep, loose, and pushes the limits of sanity.  But oh the rewards. Walking the colorful, vertiginous rim with soaring 270 degree views is now one off our favorite things to do...
Peace out from Lovely Ouray, where it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Post Script: NOTE: IN THEIR INFINITE, GREED-DRIVEN WISDOM, THE LUNATICS AT BLOGGER REDUCED THE SIZE, AND THUS, RESOLUTION, OF UPLOADED PHOTOS FROM A FORMERLY CRISP 1600 PX DOWN TO A BLURRY 320 PX. THEREFORE, IN ORDER TO BETTER VIEW PHOTOS THAT ARE ACTUALLY IN FOCUS, PLEASE TAKE A SECOND AND VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD OR ANY PHOTO. I WOULD APPRECIATE ANY AND ALL FEEDBACK IN THIS REGARD, I.E., IF READERS NOTICE MORE CLARITY AMONG PHOTOS VIEWED IN THE ALBUM FORMAT AS OPPOSED TO THE BLOG PAGE. THANK YOU,
MARK


















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16 comments:

  1. fuzzy pictures or not, its kinda hard to look at warm weather pictures right now. With this lovely cool front we have going on, feels like 19 here in Arkansas.

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  2. I am afraid to admit it but with my ancient eyes, even with my new glasses, the current pictures are just fine. I wish I could see better but it is not within my ancient eyes abilities.

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  3. Close brushes with death certainly makes one look inside and dig a little deeper. I know we have been experiencing that these past few months since Chris had his close encounter with electric lines .
    On my Mac laptop, your pictures still look sharp and clear! They warm the soul as we deal with the negative wind chill factors.

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  4. I am not seeing a significant difference between the slide show version and the photo in the text. As a test, I just loaded a full size photo to a new blog post and it stayed large. I do not use the slide show because when I want to leave something REALLY big, it won't let me.
    To see what I'm talking about, go here.

    http://retiredbicycle.blogspot.com/2011/05/munich-to-garmisch-with-two-stops.html

    Anyway, I wonder if you're being victimized because you do use the slide show. It can be turned off, and then maybe you'll have better control over pixel count. I almost always resize to 800 pixels because that's the cut off for free storage.
    But, the scenery is lovely as always.

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  5. They never looked better Mark. Ok lets see how "Little Switzerland" is living up to it's winter reputation. No crampons .and ropes necessary. Would love to see some shots of lovely Ouray all trimmed our for Christmas ,maybe on your rounds between the Buen Tempo and the Ouray Brewery.
    Stay Warm my friends
    D&A

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  6. Are you on the Twitter? Blogger has been tweeting that that are there to help.

    https://twitter.com/Blogger

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  7. I clicked on the photos and it made a huge difference!!! Wonderful photos indeed!!!
    Don in Okla.

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  8. I didn't see any problem with the photos. As a matter fact, many of them had an eerie 3-D effect. I thought all the photos were fantastic!

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  9. I'm viewing your photo's on my Ipad and they look great. Quality is excellent.
    Getting our first dusting of snow this evening here in Indy. Just enjoying Thursday night football, a Blue Moon, and the colors of a lite Christmas tree. How many inches of snow are on your deck?

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  10. The current photos are only fine until you look at the larger resolution in the album, then it is clear. No pun intended. I hate crumbly rock. Years of hiking in the Northern Idaho mountains ancient shales and slates, slipping and sliding, fighting slippery roots of menziesia ferruginea and 70 percent slopes ruined me for that stuff. Made me old and tired instead of strong. I now love a real trail, with a real view, and slickrock to stand on sideways without slipping. (We know slickrock isn't slick at all). So I'll stick to your red rock hiking and look forward to the less slippery ones in Lovely Ouray...someday hopefully.

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  11. On my monitor your pictures were sharper in the slideshow. Wonderful photos and thoughtful post. Thank you- Mary Lou

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  12. I don't see a lot of difference nor do I find any evidence that the 1600px has bee scaled down to 320px.

    What I did find is that the blog page shows the 0678.jpg picture as being 640px × 431px (scaled to 640px × 430px). Whereas the slideshow version is at 1,600px × 1,077px (scaled to 780px × 525px). The 780x525 will probably appear 'sharper' at the same resolution but not that I can detect.

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    Replies
    1. Ed,
      Your comment/observation came in just as I was asking Bobbie for her opinion, i.e., could she see a resolution difference between a photo on the blog page as opposed the same photo viewed in the Slide Show mode. To me it is obviously better in the Slide Show, nice crisp edges. Bobbie could see some difference as well. That you found that it is 1600 px on the Slide Show version and less on the blog page lets me know that I'm not going crazy, that the problem is not just "in my head... or eyes."
      I'm sure Google made these changes in an effort to speed up page load speeds. Now if I can just figure out how to incorporate the Slide Show viewer as the standard/default mechanism for viewing my photos :(( Doubt that...
      Thank you!!!!
      Still holding on to my 20/20 vision
      mark

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  13. It took me decades to figure out who I was and sometimes I still have a moment of doubt. Overcoming childhood...it may be the biggest obstacle in life.

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  14. Your closet looks a lot like mine. Maybe we were shopping at the same stores all these years! Photos look fine to me, the Gooseberry rim is hard to beat for views.

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  15. On my laptop today the photos look just as good either way, but I know sometimes it makes a difference, especially in landscapes. If you don't mind I'm stealing your idea to put that suggestion right up top though for my readers too! I've mentioned it within the post a few times when I've noticed the difference but didn't think to make it a permanent suggestion.

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