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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mind Over Mountain-Matter

Left of center—scarcely noticeable when photographed at such an angle—lies noble Twin Peaks, two of the jewels in Lovely Ouray's mountain crown. "Little Sister," another jewel, stands alone right of center, a solitary lesser sibling, rivaling for attention.

I didn't start out to summit Twin Peaks...again. With legs still feeling the effects of Full Moon Basin's 5000 feet of elevation gain/loss, Bobbie and I had hiking sights set pretty low. We settled on Oak Creek Trail, a sturdy climb that falls just short of abusive.

But I get sucked in by the tug of fawning oak brush waxing green-to-gold-to-rust, and flaxen knee-high grass, blond as a Hollywood harlot. Throw in some intermittent aspen with lemon leaves quaking in the breeze and I'm the proverbial "putty," softened in the warm hands of Mother Nature.   

Bobbie's lucky that it's a workday and needs to turn back about 3 miles from home. I make the irrational decision to summit the "Twins," so we separate with a promise that I will ring her from the top...if I make it, I throw in as I wobbled off. 

Though not "feeling it," I am a firm believer that the mind is a powerful device, and can inspire my reluctant legs to cooperate with the "mission" (with a little help from caffeinated Shot-Blocks, the extra-large, Gummy Bear snack of champions. Dark chocolate covered expresso coffee beans works well, too). 

I'm surprised and disappointed to discover patches of "Bare Naked Lady" aspens. Then I'm struck by the stark contrast of their white bark against the deep blue sky, and framed up "Little Sister" in a portrait.   

It had rained hard and steady the night before, making for solid trail footing and a dusting of snow on mountaintops. The temperature—much too warm for this time of year—dropped as I gained elevation. Still, I'm sweating like a drug addict on Doctor Phil.

Legs turned a deaf ear to the mind's exhortations and insults, fumbling along like they were attached to some rose-smelling Geezer. Oak Creek Trail is the long-way-round to Twin Peaks and thus is not near as steep and loose my usual route. It's a luxurious change of pace, so I drop the ego and disconnect from the insufferable internal "stopwatch" and "personal bests" demons.  I have all day, after all. What's the rush?

There was great whooshing of wind in the treetops as I approached the ridge line trail to Twin Peaks. My cotton t-shirt was soaked with perspiration, not a smart combination wet and wind. I changed out the sopping dishrag for a warm wool pullover, and stepped up into a gale that threatened to blow my "Life is Good" hat to Moab. It's from the ridge that I catch the first views of Lovely Ouray, and 550 South, switchbacking out of town like a snake. 

15 minutes on the windswept ridge and I was able to take shelter a few feet below the summit of Twin Peaks. I have the mountain all to my lonesome self. 

The ridge continues on from Twin Peaks, leading wondering eyes to White House Mountain...now officially "white." After a snack and a call to Bobbie, I'm ready to face the wind on top and take a few photos.

It happened to be Friday, nearing 5 o'clock somewhere near Toledo, Ohio. So I decide to FaceTime Nephew Darin, maybe rub a little gorgeous, snowcapped mountains in his face. I figured he'd have a beer or two in him by then and would take my prank in stride. Apparently I misunderstood the time zone thing and caught him sober. 
Afterward, I felt guilty for flaunting my good fortune in his Face-Time.

Wandering around the summit in a wind that threatened to blow me off the peak, I decided not to press my luck and got the Hell down. Time to punish old knees that creak like nearby pines, bending to and fro in the wind. I stop to pay "Little Sister" a visit, just so she won't feel snubbed.

And a few more photos on the way back down...

Halfway down I make the decision to "pinball" down Old Twin Peaks Trail...a notorious, oft-washed-out toe-jam shortcut that cascades through a steep ravine of rockfall. The "fun" is long gone. I'm ready plop my ass a chair, have a beer, and fall asleep watching college football. Eventually, the trail peters onto Queen Street, which soon connects to Oak Street...my home stretch.  

At a certain age, time becomes our most important asset/liability. All in all, Twin Peaks was five and a half hours spent wisely, especially for a Geezer who, more and more, values time spent outdoors...especially when Ms Autumn is spreading her wealth of "gold" all around the neighborhood. 

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Mark Twain


  1. Wonderful pictures as always of your climb up the mountain and from the summit. Don't know how you do it. I'm inclined to listen to my legs when they say wait until tomorrow. Love the Twain quote.

  2. These are some of our favorite things and the Crown Jewel, Ouray, the greatest little town in Colorado!

    Thanks for showing it off on another great post, Mark.

  3. Another good post Mark! I like the Twain quote also. I just returned from a SCUBA liveaboard and remarkably, half the group (18 divers total) was over age 65 (which includes me)!! the oldest lady will be 79 next month. And the other half, minus one, were between 50 and 65; the minus one was 47. Age really doesn't matter :)

  4. so I drop the ego and disconnect from the insufferable internal "stopwatch" and "personal bests" demons. I have all day, after all. What's the rush? ---> love this!


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