NOTE: Open post and then Single Click On first Post Photo to view an album in a more detailed, larger format...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Absent Without Leaving

Not even my Bobbie App could remember when we last hiked to Hope Lake; 20, maybe even 30 years?  The only thing I recall is that we turned around at Hope Lake Pass...didn't hike the measly extra mile down to water's edge, something inexcusable by today's standards.

So neither Bobbie nor I experience a single déjà vu moment as we re-hike the trail to Hope Lake. Ah, so this is what it's like to wake up in a brand new world every day? Hmm, not near as funny as it used to be.

I do remember hiking to Hope Lake from the Telluride/Trout Lake side once upon a time a couple decades ago. But my Bobbie App says I didn't make it to the lake because I was wore out/hung over from back-to-back days of mountain biking with friends. I'll blame the post-biking pitchers of Margaritas friends Paul and Mary Nell served up at their cabin on Trout Lake...sweet iced elixirs of "truth serum" that drowns brain cells like bugs on a neon motel pool.

Aside from margaritas, I think I know why some of our old hikes are a bit fuzzy. Those were the sad ole days of working full-time and building spec homes on the side, trying to get ahead enough to quit jobs and hit the road while still young enough to explore it the way we liked, on foot.  

Those times seem like a bad dream now. I became a reluctant hiker as days turned into years that turned into a couple of decades of working after work, on weekends, and even using vacation time to finish up some spec home du jour. Seems a tad ironic, how sometimes one gives up the very things they're working for in order to achieve them. I became so single-mindedly possessed that wasting a whole day on some damn hike was the last thing I could afford to do. Though Bobbie knew it was necessary to get away once in a while, all I could focus on was house-flip "finish lines." 

When I did cave to the occasional mountain outing I was mentally and emotionally AWOL, absent without leaving. My mind churned on project details—How am I going to build out those dormers? What will it add to the cost? Can I get the house done and landscaped by spring—thinking of all the things I could be accomplishing instead of hiking. All that beautiful scenery...the mountains, flowers, lakes, and solitude...barely registered. I was more or less a robot, following Bobbie in a daze and wondering how much longer before she turns the fuck around. 

I'm pretty sure Bobbie wanted to hike on down to Hope Lake the last time we were there. Knowing me, I probably looked at my watch and mumbled something stupid that killed it. I'm thankful those days are gone, and that we lived long enough to reap the freedom we worked so hard to achieve. There is risk involved in deferred gratification, like sometimes you forget what you wanted, and sometimes you no longer want what you once wanted.Things change. People die before their time. 

I sometimes wonder, if I had it to do over again and knowing what I know now, would I, could I, do it again? It was daunting; year in and year out of blood, sweat, and tears. I'm amazed that our marriage withstood a dozen projects over the first 20 years. In hindsight—nightmares fading, callouses gone, no black finger nails from misguided hammers, no leaning off the second wrung of 20 foot extension ladders—yes, it was worth it. But ugh: I'm not so sure I would/could do it over. I know now that my life was out of balance, and so, too, was my perspective...which is really just another word for wisdom. 

Time is all we have, really. As with anything that runs short on supply, Time becomes more valuable the older we get. Only then does one begin to realize the true essence and importance of Time. It's like the third act of a play that you don't want to end...the "curtain" eventually must come down. 

In my youth, I chose to trade a good deal of pleasure in the present for freedom in the future. Shortsighted? Maybe so. Risky? Probably, because sometimes life is a one-act play.   

Hope Lake Pass

With child-like glee we bound down a rutted trail to Hope Lake...winding through remnants of fading wildflowers that remind us that summer in the alpine zone is all but gone.

Moments in places like Hope Lake remind to be grateful, to appreciate life and health, to treasure my reality. As deep and wide as Hope Lake is, it could never hold all the hopes and dreams and luck I had as a young man hellbent on freedom. Nor could it hold today all the love and appreciation I have for the woman who stood by me...working into the wee hours, holding the other end of roof trusses and floor joists, nailing shingles while tied off on the edge of a third story roof. 

I'm chagrined by the memory of all the times Bobbie dragged me kicking and screaming away from my insanity to beautiful places that, I'm embarrassed to say, I can't remember. So I wear a constant reminder now, an attitude adjuster in the form of a Life is Good ball cap. Out of sight on the underside it reads: Do what you like, Like what you do. 
I'm there...


  1. "Bighunk"! We like it. Have not commented in awhile. Been out of cell and Internet range. But, like you, we're living our dream on the road not knowing which act of our "play" we are in. Currently, in Cody heading for Mt. Rushmore after nearly 2 months in the mountains east of the Tetons. "Life IS Good". We'll be in Lovely Ouray in about 3 weeks or so. More than happy to buy dinner if you are of a mind.

  2. You're a lucky guy to find someone like Bobbie and live in such a beautiful place. I am at that point in life when I am realizing there is no "reride". I'm still lookin' and about to run out of "TIME"!

  3. When we were working, we frequently commented to one another that we were mortgaging our present for the future. We did get out early, for which I am grateful.

  4. Lots of things I love about you, Mark, but how much you love and appreciate Bobbie is one of the biggest. Great reading.

  5. Very well said, as always. Even though we've been doing this for almost nine years now, there are still many days when I just can't believe how lucky we are. Time really is all we have, and I hope our "curtains" don't come down too soon.

  6. Mark, I have read your blog for a long time but have never commented before. I have sent you a few emails in response to something you blogged about. Mainly, I'm a reader. But, this blog grabbed me and brought my chest heaving with a feeling that must be responded to! You wrote... "People die before their time." That sentence along with the beauty of your words about living and adventuring and experiencing life blew me away. More than that, your uplifting and spirited love for your wife and what she means to you really brought tears to my eyes. You are one lucky guy! Keep on keeping on and hug that girl of yours often. Thanks for the blog, the words, and the photos. My friend Inga lived to 103! Her favorite phrase in response to people asking... "How are you Inga?" was always the perfect answer... "I'm upright aren't I?"!!!!! Let's keep upright and uphill. I think they are the best places to be.

    1. Such a gracious comment. Agreed, let's stay upright and uphill and push limits. We can sleep when we're dead :).

  7. "that we lived long enough to reap the freedom we worked so hard to achieve" This phrase sums it up for me.
    Another great post.

  8. Well said, and a beautiful tribute to your favorite hiking partner!

  9. As Bobbie's friend since childhood, I am happy to know that she is so well appreciated.
    Christine Brooks

  10. "Time is a mouth to feed, every hour is ice in our fingers' heat" -Geographer. Love the writing!


If you like reading blog posts...from any blogger...consider leaving a "tip" in the form of a "comment" to the author, lest the blog might disappear from perceived lack of interest.