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Monday, May 28, 2018

Going About My Business

So I'm sitting in my faux leather hearthside chair. It's early of a morning and my abused, aching legs are gently propped on a padded footstool. I'm half crippled from vigorous back to back days on the trail. 
My iPhone pings; a short text from Leon reads: "Log Hill?"  Ugh...

I try to come up with a worthy excuse to get out of an invitation that will put me in rehab. Bobbie returns from her early morning walk saying, "The County's putting Mag Chloride down on 17 beyond the bridge." 
Thank you Jesus!  A timely excuse falls from heaven.  :)  

Texas Transplant, Leon (Leonard), has completed 90 marathons after setting a goal to run a 100...  years and years ago. Too many 10Ks and Half Marathons to count, and 10s of thousands of miles of bike riding on pavement and backroads. 
Not a big fan of "texting," here. I find it an inefficient, impersonal, if not imbecilic, way to communicate.  I answer Leon's text with a call, to better explain why "Log Hill" is not on my "to do" list for a couple days (at least). And now there's a nasty, sloppy coat of Mag Chloride, waiting to attack everything metal. 

But Leon needs to do "something." He suggests a hike up toward Bridge to Heaven on "Old Horsethief Trail."  Ugh... 

Colorful Iron bleeds from 

I'm hurting from head to toe due to the previous day's Perimeter Trail run, a 7 mile PR at that, up and down with 8 pound dumbbells (ironic name) in each hand.

A couple minutes later I'm pulling on hiking boots and limping out the door. The lengths I go to for a little Male Bonding. 

Bobbie has to work at Mountain Fever Gifts for a couple hours, but says she'll meet us on the trail somewhere as we come down. I have serious doubts that I can't make it 5.5 miles to the "Bridge" (recall last years Posthole that took 10 hours). Thus, I set my sights lower...maybe the "Ridge to the Bridge," still 3,000 feet above Lovely Ouray, but half the mileage. 

You can almost throw a rock to the trailhead from our deck. Leon and I set off on foot. In a few minutes we're switchbacking our way up a mountain of scree. Miles evaporate. Legs ache. Lovely Ouray shrinks from view over sweat-soaked shoulders. If only we didn't have to hike back down, I think.

Leon pauses to cool off with icy creek water 

About 40 minutes shy of the Ridge to the Bridge Leon and I pause for lunch. His feet are feeling every rock through light weight running shoes. He decides to turn back, vowing to order new hiking boots as soon as he gets home. I push on and up... up, up, into dried out tundran grass and through volcanic formations that tease the eye and tickle the heart. The snowcapped panorama is both vast and all encompassing. 

The south facing side of The Ridge is dry as bleached bones.  Normally lush with grass this time of year, it withers and crunches underfoot like it's late September. I pray for a summer filled with Monsoon Moisture...otherwise we will be dealing with forests ablaze. 

I walk the ridge taking photos of Lovely Ouray and beyond. The north end of town is blocked from view by a forest. If I could just get a little higher I might be able to get the whole town in my viewfinder. I set off on a little use trail to the west, toward a couple volcanic conglomerate mounds. I notice bike tracks. And you think I'm crazy?

Complete town view cut off by the landscape... 

Following this little trail ... with bike tracks!!!

The little trail leads to a prominent slender ridge. It falls away near vertical on the east side and abrubtly on the west. I can tell that the photo I want is at the end of this ridge. Tired legs begin to tremble at the thought. Hmmm....

Not a knife-edge by any means, but with wind gusts and weak legs if felt that way. I had to crouch down a couple times when wind (and nerves) caused unsteadiness. 

My hiking pole points the way to,the photo I want 
Just another 50 feet, but the ground, along with my courage, falling away...

Finally! A view of the whole town, nothing to block my view.
Wow! I can see the new Hot Springs Pool...Fellin Park...the river...our house.

I spin 180 degrees and shoot north. Black Lake appears tiny from up here. I look at my watch. It's after noon, Bobbie should be starting up the trail. The Eye Doc told her she could hike, but I doubt he had this in mind. 

I zoom in, trying to find our house...

Not a great shot but there it is, lower righthand corner and immediately to the left of the red roofed house. Do I have to walk all the way back down there on shaky legs? 

Accompanied by the familiar tingle of adrenaline, it was time to retrace my steps off the ridge. What's with the constant WIND this year???

Safe. It was a tad sketchy due to wind and tired legs...but worth the shot. 

I take another photo (below) on the way back down. It shows the "ridge-walk" from the sheer east side. 

An hour and a half later I meet Bobbie coming up the trail. It's hot and she's had enough. Don't want to push too hard till the Doc gives her the green light. Her vision is noticeably improved, so that's good.

We switchback our way down...facing the sun, back through bleeding rocks on a sliver of a trail due to gravity-induced rockslides.

It was a good day, glad I didn't stay home. Maybe tomorrow I'll rest and write this blogpost :).

The next day, on foot, on my way home from town, I gaze up, up, up...to the ridge to the Bridge of Heaven. There, an apex slab of volcanic rock stood out as familiar. I stop in my tracks and study what, from town, appears as a tiny nub. Yesterday I climbed 3,000 feet, walked a tightrope, just to sit on that conglomerate nub and peer down on Lovely Ouray...all the cars and people going about their business, me going about mine...

“In a sense I feel I know what (death) will be like, because we were all “dead” once, before we were born.”  Scott Kelly, Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery

“If you were doing something safe, something you already knew could be done, you were wasting time.”  Scott Kelly

A highly recommended post-hike beer that caters to those with an finely tuned appreciation for hops...


  1. I'm with you on aching legs after back to backs but clearly I'm a wuss, I'd have gone back with Leon. But thanks for the FANTASTIC pictures.

  2. Thanks for "walking the tight rope" for that awesome photo! A little crazy but we enjoyed the results! I'm tired and all I did was read about your hike on tired legs. Good for you to head back out:)

  3. Wonderful tales and photos of course! Thx for sharing. Boots, now that's a worthy subject. I have a different boot for every activity, boots for ants and burrs and manure in a pasture, boots for standing for hours on a ladder scraping old paint, boots for hiking, boots for riding horse, and boots for dancing :) each is designed and made for its specific service. Everytime I go somewhere outside, I look at the other folks' footwear; it says a lot about them :)

  4. Isn't it the truth that when you don't want to get out there but you do that you're always glad you did. Wonderful story, and as always, wonderful photos!

  5. So glad that someone (you) is willing to push the envelope we we can all sit in our chairs and see your amazing photos. Maybe if I lived in lovely Ouray I would hike more? How can you resist. But hiking for me isn't about pushing the limit, it is more about what I can see by hiking that I can't see any other way.

  6. I love that you had to be cajolled but then continued the trail after your friend dropped out. I would have climbed out on that ledge too ;)

    1. Yes, but I would have a rope around you! Dad would kill me if anything happened to you :)

  7. I often think you are a gluten for punishment while I do admire your gumption and really love to see the resulting photos.

  8. Cool: and that view from town speaks volumes, please take a couple days off would ya?


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