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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

"Jesus Loves Me This I know;" Gray-Copper Gulch to Red Mountain #1 Summit

Bobbie had to work yesterday so I would be flying solo. I was in desperate need of a summit and not just any summit would do. No, I needed a mind-blowing, Land of Oz, come to sweet Jesus and weep kind of summit.

When I was young I believed that "summits" had the power to heal my anger, boredom and unhappiness. I never was any of those things while standing on top of the world. It was cause and effect...if this then happy. Per Steppenwolf, I couldn't be "evil, wicked, mean or nasty" while standing on high...especially when high.  

Anyway, while it is indeed curative to stand on top of a mountain, I eventually realized that the cure is more from the act of ascending than just standing up there with more gasoline than sweat to show for my effort.  "Cures" are verbs, people. Like everything else worthwhile in Life, they require action.

Juicy Spring Green

The trail was pretty steep right out the car door. I eventually found my rhythm and second wind and fell into a mindless groove...a slightly anaerobic condition where the brain flits from "flower" to "flower" like a hummingbird. 

It comes across my mind, while walking through oozing mud, that the happiest people seem to be busy people...the ones who never seem to run out of "mountains" to conquer. The glory of their success and achievement, most will tell you, lies not so much at the "summit" as it does in the effort of "summiting," the millions of tiny steps required to achieve their goal

Somewhere in the recesses of long ago memories, I can hear my dear ole Preacher Daddy saying that he got more joy out of anticipating a vacation than the actual vacation itself. Reality seldom lives up imagination, son. That's why we love fiction...

Perhaps this explains why the sweetest fruit of "endeavors" always grows way up at the top of the "tree." Plucking it involves work and risk. We are told by Wall Street charlatans,  the greater the risk the greater the reward. But they seldom mention how high you are off the ground while "plucking fruit," and that you risk losing your interest, your principle, and your LIFE.  

I plug along, wondering where my hummingbird brain will flit next. Aspen leaves are juicy green, they quake in the breeze and bake in the sun. Forests of spruce and fir are so dense and dark I remove my sunglasses.

The Bible (or was it the Byrds?) told us, To everything a season...a time to every purpose under heaven. For me, the purpose behind summiting is to motivate me from my lazy boy chair and put me through a little bit of “Hell,” because, as we all know, exercise exorcizes demons. (This could be a teaching moment, so I pay attention here)

There is a price to be paid for “Heaven,” and while summits make nice teasing "lures," it’s actually the laborious ascents that teach me the the lessons I need to get through life with some sense of purpose.

Not all summits are created equal. They are like your children, you have "favorites," you know, the ones that never disappoint. Mine are Red, and they are linked together by enticing ridges with panoramic vistas enough to make eyes bleed. 

Post-holing now. Gaining elevation and crossing high-running creeks on last year's flimsy logs. Notes on the trailhead sign-in sheet spoke of multiple bear sightings. My head goes on a swivel; eyes turn every dark stump into grizzlies; ears turn creaking trees into spine-chilling growls. 

Mile after mile of unfocused thoughts is like rebooting your computer. Afterward my brain is faster and reorganized. Shots along the way...    

Some post-holing, of course... 

My first clear views of the objective come near timberline 

Not all mountains are Red...just the pretty ones.

Gaining the ridge is a puzzle...dodging snow and cliffs and mud

Getting close the the ridge that will take me to the summit. I see it's lined with snow...

I have a choice between "Sun-cupped" snow or loose scree. I choose the Sun-cups as, for the most part, it supports my weight.

This is a really long ladder!  12,400 feet and still climbing...

Getting close

That next hump is the true summit...

Red Mountains 2 and 3 to the south

I'm there! Red Mountain's fiery ridge snakes off like a sleeping dragon.

Looking down from the summit of a beautiful life

Looking toward Silverton

I did not see a bear, much to my relief/disappointment. Nor did I see another human being all day, which pleases me to tears. The only "noise" was that of nature...falling water, wind whistling through pines and the crunch of snow, ice and gravel underfoot. 

It is only in complete silence that we truly hear...

Peace out,

Part II will follow at some point. My "trigger finger" got a little carried away. It always does up in the "Reds."


  1. So beautiful!! Spring green, red and blue and earthy brown! How did the name sun-cupped snow originate? and why does it do that?

    1. Terri, per Wiki: Suncups are bowl-shaped open depressions into a snow surface, normally wider than they are deep. They form closely packed, honeycomb, often hexagonal patterns with sharp narrow ridges separating smoothly concave hollows. For a given set of suncups, the hollows are normally all around the same size, meaning that the pattern is quasi-periodic on 20–80 cm scales.[1][2] The depressions are typically 2–50 cm deep.[3]

      Suncups form during the ablation (melting away) of snowy surfaces. It is thought they can form in a number of different ways. These include melting of clean snow by incident solar radiation in bright sunny conditions,[3] but also during melting away of dirty snow under windy or overcast conditions, during which particles in the snow accumulate on the crests between hollows, insulating them.[4]

  2. Cool also: that's one of the prettiest hikes you do.
    Will pray for a juicy Monsoon Season. Better do as Terri says and maybe get a new pair designed for mud!

    1. The Kiwi's know a thing or two about boots designed for mud :)

  3. Nice post. Sometimes being so isolated can be a bit scary....or maybe thats just me.

    1. Yeah...one of these days I'm going to break down and buy an "In Reach" Sat-Phone. Been saying that for years, tho. :)

  4. Stunning vistas...the norm in your part of the country, you lucky, lucky man!

  5. Your posts on the Red Mountains are always my favorite. They are so beautiful especially with some scattered snow. We've only summitted one peak that looked like your photos from the top of Red and that was in Jasper NP. I'll never forget standing on top almost equal with all the other peaks and the light snow capping from a very early Sept snow fall. Being alone and so high above was magical. Your photos are just so spectacular. What a fantastic day to be above:)


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