The day after a profound autumn downpour in Lovely Ouray, Bobbie and I joined a group of hiking friends and their dog-children for a hike up to (one of several) Ouray Overlook viewpoints. There is nothing quite like the aroma of wet leaves and foliage, a dusting of trackless snow on the trail, and the feeling of drawing deep breaths of chilled air to better set the mood for a transition to winter. Ahhhh...
We rendezvous at the Weehawken trail head, only a ten minute drive up Camp Bird Road. Tamera and Bruce introduce us to their friend, Gretchen and her dog, Luke, and we introduce to her our friend Lenard, and we are off. Having been diagnosed with a serious "bone spur" on his heel and now enduring the five week waiting list for surgery, old "Leon" shouldn't be hiking. But lifelong athletes don't deal with "sedentary orders" very well. When it comes to a choice between enduring pain or losing one's sanity, pain is a forgone conclusion. He gives it a go...wincing with every step.
After a little over a mile, Leon's done in by his bone spur. He limps over to a canyon's edge to meditate away some of the angst, pain, and frustration of being out of commission. That's the last we see of him. At least he got outdoors...a "consolation prize" at best, especially if he can't attack it.
The rest of the gang moves on, shedding clothes as the trail ascends at hypoxic gradients that twist through recalcitrant aspen groves, refusing to change into their fall wardrobe.
|Anorexic pines, left in the above photo, remind me of Alaskan forests|
|Imogene Pass in the upper right corner. No Jeeps today, I bet.|
The trail ultimately dead-ends into a precipice payoff; Lovely Ouray, cradled in the bosom of its mountain mama. The aspen forest's lack of fall color is made up for by the "blowout's" brilliance, red cliffs, and a white capped skyline.
My thoughts return to Leon as I jog back down the trail. It's Hell to be on "injured reserve;" I know this and can sympathize because it's a place I frequent. Below is a selection from Leon's writings...something he does when on I R....
Somewhere inside of pain and suffering is the mystery of existence. To a "life is good" athlete, to live well is to suffer. We recognize pain as necessary, that to keep the body from decaying we must accept pain...not only accept it, but seek it, live it, flow with it, and learn not to fear it.
Pain is always personal. One’s pain can not be felt by another.
Get well, my friend. I miss you out on the trail, post-holing through waist deep snow. I miss racing our mountain bikes up Log Hill, too...but I don't miss you beating me to the top. :)
I feel your pain,