NOTE: Open post and then Single Click On first Post Photo to view an album in a more detailed, larger format...

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Gift Of Luck

"In life, there is no gift (so) overlooked or inevitable as failure." Can't Hurt Me, by Navy Seal, David Goggins 

We've been struggling to get above timberline this summer. It's our Happy Place. But, for one reason or another (abundant snow being one reason...monsoonal thunderstorms the other) it's not working out. That has to change. 

I worked on putting up the last blog post till 10 AM on Friday, which put me late getting "outside" where I belong. The Weather Guessers forecast (why do I even look) was for cloud cover to move in by afternoon, but, surprise, no thunderstorms. "Clouds" are generally not a photographer's best friend, at least when they are solid. I figured if I went somewhere close old Sol might take pity on me for I a few wildflower and landscape shots. I grabbed my pack, told Bobbie I was headed for Bullion King, and flew downstairs. Unfortunately it was a workday for her.

Recall our previous attempt on Bullion King three weeks ago was met with roadblocking snowdrifts. We opted to just hike. About a half mile from the lake, it started to rain and groppel and blow. Then Thor unleashed a few of his "bolts," which, along with being faced with a sketchy, near vertical ice/snow crossing, we turned around.   

This time, however, Jeep road was clear of snow and I was able to motor all the way up to the parking area. The sun was in and out, but they were the cool kind of clouds...tall and cumulous, and far enough apart allow considerable blue sky. 

I felt strong so it ended up being a quick power-hike to Bullion King Lake. Usually the basin is covered with wildflowers by this time...maybe even fading a little. But there was nothing "usual" about this past winter's record snowfall. I'm hoping wildflowers are going to show, just a few weeks late. Time will tell...

I shot what few flowers I could find, then decided, in the absence of color, to head up to a rocky saddle instead. 

Snow just coming off...some of the tundra hadn't ever greened up yet

In heading for the saddle, I crossed a couple large, inclined snowfields. They seemed solid enough to support my weight so I eased across, using my hiking pole for balance. 

All of a sudden the snow gave way and I broke through up to my knees. I landed hard, with my left shin shoved against a jagged rock. My forward momentum caused left me thinking I was going to face plant...which allowed the jagged rock to puncture through skin to my shin bone. My hiking pole broke through the snow, too, wedging between a couple rocks and bending it to a perfect "L."   

I dug my way out...tried to straighten the pole. I've never had much luck straightening a bent pole, and this one was an aluminum one we bought at Walmart. What can I say, we're cheap. Actually they're pretty good hiking poles—half the price of most others—until you kink one. 

I was left with two short poles instead of one long one, neither one long enough to reach the ground. I hung on to the half with a handle and strap, in case I needed something to use as a brake in case a glacade gone wrong.

I made my way across the basin, dodging snow and water as best I could till I reached a slope of talus that was to be my "Stairway To Heaven." And by "Heaven," I mean the saddle with a view.

The talus was so steep that the rocks were heavily under the influence of Newton's Laws of Gravity and Motion. It be my luck to find the "keystone" and set the rocks flowing like a water fall. 

Static Energy!

From near the saddle, a view of T-10, 13,477 feet of elevation. Bobbie and I summited T-10 a few years ago...then tried to run the ridge (left) over to Black Bear Pass.  It got a little too gnarly for us so we just settled for a 13er that day.

Beyond Mud Lake a few miles lies Telluride... full of 2nd and 3rd homes for the mostly rich and famous. "Servants" must commute from more affordable houses in Ouray, Ridgway, and Montrose due to T Town's Ski Resort real estate prices.

I took a seat a couple hundred yards above the saddle, gazing at the view toward Telluride. Huh, the skies were mostly clear. Looking back over my shoulder, however, it was turning black. "Trouble" would depend on which way the clouds were moving, so I kept an eye on them.

Looking south, beyond Silverton into the eye of the "Needles" range.  Three 14ers in there, Eolus, Windom, and Sunlight, all of which we've climbed.

Another view of T-10 and the gnarly connecting ridge... 

Mud Lake...not living up to its name

The only shelter...in case of lightning. 

 Looking south across Bullion King Basin again 

The short route up T-10...tempting.

Bullion King Lake lies at the foot of that ragged mountain ridge line.  Getting darker over there. 
I was just about to lunch on a power bar when I heard a long roll of thunder from the "rumble wagon."  Hmmm...I guess the storm's moving north toward my saddle perch. 

No time for food. I shot a few last photos before tiptoeing down through the killing field of tipsy, rock n' roll  talus.  

Coming down...
The storm caught me right whee talus meets tundra. At least I could move a little faster on tundra...not that there's any protection in moving fast but it does feel better. The reality is, Lightning doesn't give a shit what, where, when, or who. I attempted a shortcut back to the parking area. But in doing so I got hung up...as in cliffed out...on three different ledges. I ran each end to end, looking for a way down. Rain increased. Thunder rolled. 

I pulled on a wool sweater and donned my rain jacket. Thunder was almost continuous. I'm pissed that one, I let it sneak up on me, and two, I'm wandering around on cliff faces looking for a way down. I should have went back the way I came.   

Above and below, a couple quick shots I took looking back at some of the cliffs I got hung up on...

Just need to skirt some mine tailings...get down to that strip of snow that will lead me to the car...if it doesn't collapse into the stream flowing underneath it. 

Score: Bullion King 2, Mark 0.

Looking at doing Mount Abram next...weather gods willing.

Panorama, before the storm:  Scroll →


  1. Your Church of Heaven Ever Lasting was very inspirational ....just a little lonely though: Im sure it's a sign of what's to come, for Human Kind.

    Have a great week


  2. I can never decide if you are crazy, brave, or just Mark. The views are spectacular as are the photos.

  3. After seeing the refernce to Goggins' book and reading these two reviews, I've had enough. Good luck, Marc.

    Generally a great book, very motivational, and in all sincerity quite inspiring. BUT I absolutely HATED the misogyny in some of the chapters. Why would you ruin an otherwise amazing book by including a few chapters riddled with unnecessary passages clearly intended to degrade women? Just a few examples: “gaping vaginas weeping and quitting like whiny little bitches” (p. 107), “Do you have some sand in your p—-y? (P. 134), etc., etc, Some of us women also kick ass and are hard. Please don’t minimize us or what we’ve worked so hard to achieve. Hope Goggins reads this and says, “Roger that” in response. Otherwise, it’s a fantastic book.
    1,729 people found this helpful
    Thank you for your feedback.
    Comment Report abuse
    Amazon Customer
    1.0 out of 5 starsThe language is extremely vulgar
    December 5, 2018
    Format: Hardcover
    I think this would have been a much better read if he could have left out a large amount of the foul language. I understand it’s who he is and most likely how he talks in real life, but it was over the top. I’ve read other books by military members or Navy seals and always know I’ll have to over look a lot of language, but this was really excessive and over powering in this book. I wanted my boys to read this book and I love to share good books on social media and/or with my friends, but I won’t be encouraging anyone to read this book simply because the language is really too intense. To a point where it’s vulgar and embarrassing to recommend. Was disappointed. :(
    835 people found this helpful

    1. Yes, I thought he could have cut back on some of the "Motherfuckers" and still got his points across...as well as his references to male recruits who are not "cutting it" without comparing them in derogatory ways to being "women" and "little girls" and so on. Unfortunately, THAT was the mindset and language with I was in the Navy...and apparently it hasn't changed much, if at all. I came out of the service with a few bad habits I didn't go in with...cursing (especially the F word) and drinking more than anyone should. I hope, if he had it to do over, or, upon revision, Groggins cleans up some of this as swearing and belittling women is not necessary to get his motivational points across. It needs to change...but the military is slow to do so and I guarantee that he learned most of that shit in the service. It was so prevalent and accepted when I was in the military...and the Navy seemed to be the worst. After basic training, most recruits couldn't compose a sentence without two god damns and three F words. Still, in spite of that, I did become motivated by his examples of pushing harder and toughness...even set some new goals, physical, mostly, because that's who I am. I accept and agree with your comment. Change needed...


If you like reading blog posts...from any blogger...consider leaving a "tip" in the form of a "comment" to the author, lest the blog might disappear from perceived lack of interest.