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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fear and Self Loathing in Lovely Ouray

It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous. Resign yourself to be the fool you are... we must always take risks. That is our destiny."  T. S. Eliot.

On the heels of being deflated by the Black Canyon Ascent, I'm thinking Mr Eliot has me pegged. I need to "resign myself" to being the "ridiculous fool" I am and just get back on the "horse." 

The objective, left. Little Sister, right.
It's not so much failing as it is falling short of expectations these days. Most people question my banal-anal self-absorbtion with stopwatches, why not smell the roses. Maybe they're right. Maybe it's time. It's a slippery slope, though. I guess my fear is that, without challenge and competition, I might slip into slacker mode. The general response to that is predictable. What's wrong with that?  
If I have to explain it you wouldn't understand. 

We chose to ascend on the "Old Twin Peaks Trail," a steeper but shorter route.

Oh I'll be fine. Another PR will come along and temporarily right my listing Self Loathing ship. In the meantime, Elliot reassures me that it is our destiny to risk and push, and that it's "harmless." Easy for him to say with a Nobel Prize for Literature adorning his hearth. 

Banal as it might sound, pushing through mountains and deserts is what I do. To a large extent, it's who I am... all I have that's meaningful, really. Something to show for my otherwise meaningless existence. Take that away and there's not much left but a little anonymous dust in the wind. Thus, I fear and loathe the "hourglass" that will ultimately embezzle living from my life. Oh Grim, spare me that fate worse than death...

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
                                     T. S. Eliot

With the exception of cliff divers and circus performers, no one dies from falling short of the net of expectations...at least externally. My trophy case is filled with half-full glasses and I'm still here. The good news is that, among species Male, anyway, bruised hearts and and battered egos respond well to "medicinal" beer. Albeit temporary, Redemption is only one PR away.

It could be worse. Who remembers fourth place finishers in the Olympics? I'll tell you who, only the competitor and his parents. After a lifetime of singular, purposeful training, they must live with nothing to show for it. Sometimes a measly hundredth of a second is all that separates them from an entirely different life. "it's the absolute worst, Canadian olympic cross country skier Devon Kershaw says of placing fourth. "It's first, second, third...then who cares." 

This week, Bobbie and I set out the front door for a summit assault on Twin Peaks, a tad shy of 3,000 feet of elevation gain from our threshold. Bobbie had a good energy day going up and, in spite of slippery, dry-marble trail conditions, she didn't fall once coming down. I wish I could say the same. Unfortunately a root-sprout snagged the toe of my hiking boot and wouldn't let go. It sent me sprawling head first (expletives deleted) down the trail. Oh well, as they say, It's not a good hike if you don't leave a little blood on the trail.

On another, more important, note:

Bobbie had surgery to remove a cataract on her right eye Wednesday. There were no complications beyond being grounded from strenuous endeavors for a week...and having to wear a ridiculous eye patch. Arrrg, mates, I'm a pirate!

Peace out,
mark and bobbie

Only a fool questions reality. I exist as I am, that is enough. Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.  Walt Whitman

The final push to a precariously windy summit.
Lovely Ouray...

The Million Dollar Highway... 550 south to Silverton and Durango.

Whitehouse Mountain.

Views to Grand Mesa...the distant flat-top mountain.

Obligatory Selfie...

Topped out on a windy summit.

Didn't dare stand up on such a gusty day...

Well, maybe long enough for a photo op.  Hang on to that hat, Mark!

Headed down...
Almost home = tired legs.


  1. Tomorrow we will be in Lovely Ouray, assuming our 37 foot behemoth sans "toad" makes it over the numerous passes from Durango on "the Million Dollar Highway". No hill for a climber...right? Speaking of which, exactly how many times have you hiked to Twin Peaks? Too many to remember, I'm thinking. Looks like snow is all but gone.

  2. Several times per summer...it's my "stair master" workout. Watch out for spring rockfall...some of those boulders could ruin your day!!!

  3. Disregard this post. Just set a new PR for the 7 mile Perimeter Trail Loop carrying two 8 lb. hand weights: 1:59:14.
    (PR without hand weights is 1:43:30)
    All is right with the world again! :)
    Box Canyon Mark...blissfully pooped.

  4. I am right there with you. I too question why I pour so much time and energy into arbitrary physical "achievements." At my core I'm not even a competitive person ... the metals and belt buckles and other "awards" I earn are tossed aside and eventually lost. But I have always valued the experience of striving for something, and the parameters of a competitive effort give shape and purpose to these experiences.

    Congrats on your recent PR! I went out for a easy-going recreational mountain bike ride yesterday, and came home to title the Strava post "Woooo Homestead PR!" ... so I 100 percent relate to your struggle and joy. :)

    1. Thanks Jill...it's a small "club" of crazies. Most people can't "relate," always evidenced by lack of "response." I can almost feel reader eye-rolls and mummers of "what a conceited ass" every time I post about such things.

      Like I said, " if you have to explain it, they wouldn't understand," the deep sense of joy to elation from having "pushed" to achieve a physical goal, one that has a side-effect of quieting "the demons." :)

      I also had planned a "easy-going" hike with hand-weights yesterday. But my legs felt strong on the first long uphill and, well, you know the rest of the story :).
      mark...a tad sore today.

  5. Always fantastic to see beautiful pictures of lovely Ouray from Twin Peaks! You have to earn that view. Hope Bobbie recovers quickly from eye surgery and can go a week just relaxing.

    1. Bobbie? Relax for a week? Ha. The only place she can relax is on a trail, you know that by now John :). Haven't heard any hints on whether you are coming to Colorado this year...Grandkids are like anchors :)

  6. "...pushing through mountains and deserts is what I do. To a large extent, it's who I am... all I have that's meaningful, really. Something to show for my otherwise meaningless existence. Take that away and there's not much left but a little anonymous dust in the wind."

    I beg to differ. I think your writing is meaningful and will outlast any physical PRs that you may set.

    1. Well...kinda hard to deny that :) The PRs, and attempting PRs, is what gets me through the day, tho. Without those I would need a shrink, plus a Shaman to exorcise the demons...
      But thanks...

  7. Even though I can't relate, I still look forward to your tales and photos. Glad to see Bobbie's recuperating very well.

    1. That's reassuring, Terri. :) It gets awfully quiet when I blog about the physical things that drive me.

  8. Love the Whitman, Eliot and of course the beautiful pictures. You are quite a literate ridiculous fool. When do you do all this reading? I'm the slacker of which you speak. Can't remember the last time I left blood on the trail. Glad I have you to do it all for me and show me those gorgeous views.

    1. If you keep kayaking amongst alligators there will be blood on your trail!!!
      :) mark

    2. Sherry, I don't know you but I think you are 100% right.

  9. What every satisfies the Soul is Truth, Old Walt nails it with that line and that's all you need be concerned with. In my book nobody is keeping score, it's your life.
    We don't have any problem waiting till September to be back in the San Juans as long as you keep posting those killer photos Mark.
    We did our annual visit to Yosemite Wed/Thurs, have to hear those falls and smell those dogwood flowers once a every year or we feel short changed on getting those spiritual batteries recharged and yes there were crowds but avoiding them is not a problem. In fact we discovered a new view of El Capitan that we had never viewed before, very gratifying to know but as big as Yosemite is we will never experience every view.
    Thanks for leaving the photos of the spill on the trail out :)
    Hey don't forget there are probably more people reading your blog than all of us that participate 5 times over ,and they probably are benefiting the most....but you'll will never know. That's something to think about.
    Stay Thirsty my Friends

    1. Tell Al I want to see some of his Yosemite photos, Doug. Could you see climbers on "The Wall" from your "new view?" Always appreciate your comments and opinions on the BCB. Thanks, mark and bobbie

  10. I guess chasing PRs is hereditary. Runs in our blood. I think there is more meaning to your life than running up mountains.. you have bestowed a lot of wisdom on me. I am still here! :)

    1. It is hereditary. And so are quite a few other traits (Sorry). Happy 39th birthday son. You brought/bring much joy (and worry) to my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything. We kinda grew up together :)
      love you, hi to Klimber Kelli,

  11. I was never a competitor, so I don't really understand the depth of your pain on not meeting your expectations. I do know that at the beginning of each race I ran I never knew exactly which me was going to show up. The strong me. The slow me. The having a good time who gives a ...well you know...me. No matter how I trained I just never knew. It's OK to have a race where you don't meet your expectations. Makes us all human. I'll get off my soapbox now...but will say I think you should live by that last quote by Whitman. Because we are all enough. You are too.

    1. I hear you, Dawn. My goal quickly dropped to "just finish." The joy of a good day on the trail...be it hiking, biking, running or just exploring more that offsets the occasional misery of falling short. Thanks for getting on your "soapbox." Sometimes I need a good kick in the butt to move on :)


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