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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

"Just The Two Of Us, We Can Make It If We Try..."

It's our 34th anniversary and, of course, Bobbie wants to celebrate by going for a hike. A short discussion ensues, followed by a decision on destination. It will be 13,000 feet. There will be snow. How far can we get? It's all the unknowns that drives excitement.

We motor up and over Red Mountain Pass, then down a bit and hang a right. After miles of smooth pavement, a rough and rocky four wheel drive road jolts us every which way. Poor Sue Bee. But we continue to climb, dodging sharp rocks and straddling anything less than Sue Bee's 9 inch ground clearance. Up, up, up...above dark and dreary infestations of forest to where nothing blocks hundred-mile see-forever views. We're not "Peak Baggers" anymore and try to avoid well worn, dusty trails to overcrowded 14'ers. Any ole 12 or 13er will do, or any ole rugged ridge, for that matter. Like today's...

Happy to be leaving the stuffy forest below

We've climbed most of the peaks and ridge-saddles where we are headed today. But familiar, challenging re-dos can be fun, and it sure beats staying home. 

Heading up into Prophyry Basin

When your vehicle can go no farther, you know it's time to start hiking. We get a rather chilly reception, though, wind and snow right out the door. But the snow is frozen enough to support our weight, so no post-holes today. And the wind? Bobbie always says, Never stay home on account of elements or forecast...wind, cold, rain, sleet, snow, whatever. In other words, Suck it up Buttercup. Otherwise, it's a perfect day...with lenticular clouds that stream across a backdrop of peaks that pierce azure skies. 

Ahhh. Prophyry Basis casts a delightful spell. What a feast for the eyes...
A while back, Bobbie and I ran the ridge in the above photo (from right to left). We found some car sized boulders to negotiate, but ultimately made it to the "peak," only to discover on a map that our summit had no name. Likely it was due to a slightly taller connected neighbor near Black Bear Pass. I thought it might be one of the Three Needles, which soar to elevations ranging from 13,400 to 13,600 feet. 

That day we gazed down at a string of creeping ant-like Jeeps, snaking up and down Black Bear's notorious switchbacks. And we had our little no name sub-peak all to ourselves.  

Prophyry Basin is a eye-candy cirque if there ever was one

We've also climbed the "peak" to the far left in the above photo, as well as the saddle to the far right. The saddle has heart fluttering vistas of numerous peaks that surround Telluride and the ski area. 

The creek featured in the photo below tumbles out of Bullion King Lake, which has rainbow trout as big as your forearm. 

Bullion King Lake

Bullion's wind-rippled surface denies Bobbie her "reflection photo"

Headed to the backside of the above mountains...

But our task lies elsewhere...beyond the lake, up and over a south ridge to another basin view that flutters the heart. It's the drainage for Columbine Lake, which ranks up there with the bluest of all the lakes in Colorado. We hike on, hugging the base of a jagged ridge in the Three Needles continuum of conundrums. 

 From the ridge above Bullion King: Views south toward Silverton and beyond, to the shear sweeping upslope of 13,864 foot Vestal Peak (Dead Center) in the Grenadiers. Then, 14'ers, Eolus, Windom, and Sunlight peaks in the Needles Range to the right of Vestal. Have mercy! We checked off Eolus, Windom, and Sunlight a coupe decades ago. Eolus was a bugger, as we got off-route :(

The gentle ridge that separates Porphyry Basis from Columbine Basin

Now we're talking. I absolutely love this mountain's assemblage of stacked boulders, not to mention its fierce sun-burnt umber finish. I could stare at it all day. We circle around, hugging its base, oohing and aahing at the spectacle. Then...

BAM! Ragged monolithic spires and needles, shedding talus, weathered to perfection. Bobbie and I have oft hiked to the snow-covered saddle on the extreme left. It also looks toward Telluride, and features Blue Lake. 

So all this time I'm figuring our objective is a redo of the snowy saddle. But the ragged, jagged ridge line steals our gaze and attention. Bobbie whispers, I wonder if we could get up there? She had me at, I wonder.

Got to love a woman who's always up for a challenge.

Hmmm. I think so. Let me give it a go. Sometimes it's steeper than it looks...not to mention it appears to be freaking sand-dune loose.

Yeah. I think we can do it!  Come on up, Bobbie.

We choose the spire as our objective. We are both smitten with the spire...

The Back-O-Beyond Porphyry Basin...

The climb begins, but the talus is loose...as in one step up, slide back down. Purchase is like fiction...it doesn't exist.

She'll be on all fours soon...

Looking up from from about halfway.

The slope is steeper than it looks. All these rocks? It just takes a touch to send them sliding down-mountain.

No fucking hand-holds! 

Finally, a hand-hold...

Getting closer...

Scree Sucks!

After a long, agonizing exercise in frustration, we finally reach a few rocks with "roots." 

At the top...looking back into Prophyry Basin.

Looking down ridge...both directions

Happy Anniversary!

After a bazillion photos (Sorry, I can't help myself in places with such drama), it's time to head down.

Wow. 34 years of marriage...plus 2 years of living in sin. Where does time go? We both agree that we wouldn't change a thing! Time is like currency...spend wisely and it's always well spent.

Life Is Good...
Peace out,
Mark and Bobbie


  1. Happy Anniversary and what a great walk to celebrate. Stay safe.

  2. Absolutely incredible views!! I love those high elevation lenticular clouds :)

    1. Yep, loved those clouds too, gorgeous views, dramatic climb, great photos showing steepness and scree issues. Looking forward to more Bobbie and Mark adventures!

  3. Happy anniversary! Can’t think of a better place to spend it! Just need a few million vivid paintbrush to finish it off.

  4. Thanks for taking me up another tough hike, now I can relax! Looking forward to the high elevation flower pictures, which I assume will be coming soon. :-) PS.. new beer recommendation.... Lagunitas Day Time Ipa. A light crisp, low cal ipa that won't make you groggy.

    1. And I have a Lagunitas for you guys..."Super Cluster." 9% Alcohol, and yes...it makes you groggy :) Lisa will love it, tho!!!

  5. You two never cease to amaze me, although I should know better by now. BTW, I LOVE the 11.5" clearance on my Subi - now, if it had a bit more power I could get in more trouble, quicker! ;-

  6. Now that's the way to Celebrate an Anniversary! Congratulations Kids and keep on doing what you do best.

    D & A

  7. You guys are amazing. Keep on keepin on into your 80s and 90s. You're an inspiration to us all. Happy anniversary and many many more.

  8. That looks beautiful but the downclimb would be scary for me!

  9. Happy Anniversary! Love the photos, especially the video of Bobbie coming down the steep and slippery slope.

  10. Happy Anniversary! You two are amazing! Stunning views as always.

  11. Happy Anniversary, belated. So many yikes to that scree slope. You two are perfect together.


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