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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Critical Thoughts On Critical Thinking, then, Sorely Tempted On The Sunny South Face Of Sneffels

"Temptation is the feeling we get when encountered by an opportunity to do what we innately know we shouldn't."  Steve Maraboli

It was going to be hot in Ouray, pushing 90 degrees said the Weather Guessers. So biking's out. Perimeter Trail's out. Hell, even walking is out. We could go wedge ourselves into the Hot Springs Pool...with a million other tourists who may or may not be vaccinated. Not that the blossoming of new variants would put us at risk, or so it appears according to the latest data. I just think it's rude and ignorant, to be perfectly honest, that virus tracking scientific studies are demonstrating what we thought inconceivable a few months ago when hospitals neared capacity and health care workers risked their lives on a daily basis to save our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters...neighbors. One doesn't have to be a rocket or any other kind of scientist to see (with the application of a little bit of critical thinking) and believe for ones self that COVID vaccines are working. It's headline news, put in front of us every day in the New York Times, on PBS, on newscasts (except maybe Fox) that this miracle assortment of vaccines is enormously responsible for restoring America to a pre-pandemic "normality."  I mean, look at the fucking graph people. Do the anti-vacs think that it's some kind of fluke that COVID death rates have dropped precipitously since vaccines were introduced?  Do they think the earth is flat, too? Do they not realize how previous vaccines diminished and/or prevented the scourge of countless illnesses such as:

  •   Measles. ...
  •   Whooping Cough (Pertussis) ...
  •    Flu. ...
  •    Polio. ...
  •    Pneumococcal Disease. ...
  •    Tetanus. ...
  •    Meningococcal Disease. ...
  •    Hepatitis B.
  •    Mumps
  •    Influenzae Type B
  •   Shingles (FYI: a new more effective shingles vaccine now available) 
Skeptics will be quick to point out that some or even most of the above vaccines are not 100 percent effective. That is true, but I'm kind of a "numbers" guy. If scientific studies demonstrate that I can reduce my chances of being the recipient of a serious contagion by getting a shot, I think I'll get the shot. 

I'm just saying, think critically and listen to what experts in the field of epidemiology (or any hard science) have to say. Try to avoid letting "passionate politics" overrule reason and rational thought. Distrust any conspiracy theory that undermines rationale. Most are meant to disrupt, detract from and dissuade critical thinking. And most of all, do not seek "truth" from Social Media yahoos.  

The way I see it, we have vaccines to thank for pulling America (mostly) out of a worldwide pandemic. If only another 15 to 25 percent of the unvaccinated population got the vaccine shot, we are told that it could all but eradicate the current and variant strains in this country. They are not suggesting that COVID would be gone forever. It's natural mutant, and it will survive and become more difficult to defeat as long as it has unvaccinated humans for hosts. 

I'm thankful that we (the vaccinated) are now able to go to restaurants, indoor gatherings, sports arenas, theaters and family gatherings without fear. And, if none of the above nudges holdouts closer to getting vaccinated against COVID, then consider this: 

As reported on network news a couple days ago:  CDC data revealed that 99 percent of Americans who died from COVID last month (June, 2021) were unvaccinated. 
The vaccine works!
Food for thought.  

Moving on to "higher ground" now...

Last week Bobbie and I thought it was about time to check on snow levels above timberline so we could start planning a few summer hikes. Yankee Boy Basin is convenient enough, being only 9 miles from Lovely Ouray.

Stony Mountain, 12,698 feet. Bobbie and I attempted a summit via the saddle/ridge route about this time last year, only to be turned back by snow

Gilpin Peak, 13,694. We've had our eye on Gilpin for a while, but the route looks pretty sketchy to us. We hiked the ridge to get a closer view a couple years ago and could hear rocks falling with regularity. A man died trying to summit Gilpin earlier in spring this year.  

Another look at Gilpin...

It felt almost as hot as Lovely Ouray, way up in the thin air above Yankee Boy. There was some leftover snow to wade and post hole through, which at least kept our feet cool. To the left is Potosi Peak, 13,786 feet.  Recall we were on the back side of Potosi three or four times last year, trying to connect the Bimetalist Trail to Weehawken Trail. That's were Hiker Babe Jen fell, broke her leg, and had to be rescued. We finally made the hike in late summer with Hiker Babes Bobbie, Michelle and Ruthie. Looking forward to a repeat this summer...now that we are clear regarding the route.

The higher we climbed the more snow to trudge. Lakes starting to thaw, so no shortcuts. 

Another shot at the ruggedly handsome Gilpin Peak, so intriguing and winsome 

Cross basin from Gilpin is 14er Mount Sneffels...the highest peak upper right in the photo

When it holds, hiking the snow routes are easier and safer than crossing boulder fields

To the right in the above photo is Mount Sneffels, to the left our intended route to Blue Lakes Pass. The trail was clear of snow...till it disappeared into a steep snowbank just below the pass.  

The standard route to Mount Sneffels (left peak) is up between the two peaks on a precipitous slope of boulders, scree and remaining snow till a saddle is reached. From the saddle hang a left and find your way to the ridge, which will lead you to the summit 14,150 feet.

My "Hiker Babe"

Frome Blue Lakes Pass, Dallas Peak, 13,809 feet. Note still frozen Upper Blue Lake in the lower right corner

Lower 2 Blue Lakes

Looking up at the Blue Lakes approach to Mount Sneffels. Bobbie and I tried this approach once and lost track of the cairns and got "off trail." On this day a family of four were headed up that seemed to know where they were going. We watched them to see where we got off trail. Having never done this route I was sorely tempted to follow them and finally bag that route.  Maybe next time (sigh).

Headed down...

 Below is a video I took of a ptarmigan while on this hike. During winter the ptarmigan's defense against predators is their snow white plumage. When the snow is gone the ptarmigan's plumage changes to shades of gray that match the rocks and boulders. This one is in transition...a little white still left on the bottom with gray above. COOL!

Peace out,
mark and bobbie


  1. A nice reminder what it's like to hike the high Rockies. I had your description on the left of my screen and a topo map on the right following your route.

  2. Love the idea of following with a topo map. Maybe I'll try two windows open, your blog and Google earth. Wow stuff for sure.

  3. Cool ! Hey we will be looking for you both at the "Big Parade" in the am.....

    Happy 4th of July.........How bout that....our Country is back in BUSINESS AGAIN ! :)

    D & A

  4. The anti-vacs have staked out the Covid vaccine as "the hill they are willing to die on." And they surely will.

    1. As you mentioned/quoted on your blog in 2014: "Arrogant Ignorance -- holding to beliefs and opinions without questioning them and reinforcing our ignorance by repeating the arguments that support our views." Such a difference between "intelligence" and "ignorance." And, "indifference," I might add.

  5. Appreciated your comments on people still resisting vaccination-I’ve kept quotes of notables that remind of what is real; ex.,Benjamin Franklin “We’re all born ignorant,but one must work really hard to remain stupid” & M L King “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance & conscientious stupidity”.The children are so at risk from the unvaccinated .
    Very much in awe of your pics & of course awesome terrain.All the best.

  6. They can't even carry out a flag waving boat parade safely...guess they'll go down with the ship.

  7. Critical thinking ?! You read the NYT ~ you are brainwashed! A healthy guy like you should trust your own immune system to recover from the 99.97% recoverable wuhan flu. Where are the flu statistics for last year? I'll tell you, nowhere to be found. Make sure you check your statistics with the GLOBAL WARMING, too. They pick just the part of the graph that tells "their" story. You have to do the research yourself people. Don't rely on what "they" tell you.

  8. I recently found your blog and have enjoyed the photos and stories, since I too am a more "mature" hiker. However, this post has me wondering if I want to continue following you. It's this kind of attitude that fosters the division we are seeing in our country. Let's get the "cat out of the bag" right now. I'm conservative, though I agree with some liberal ideas. However, I strongly disagree with belittling someone who has a different opinion than mine....though I have done the same in the past and am ashamed of it. It seems to me that "tolerant" liberals are only tolerant of those who think like they do. Otherwise they call conservative ideas misinformation and remove it or block it. That's communism or fascism! Calling others who don't get the vaccine ignorant and implying that they are not as intelligent as you are is outrageous. I've researched both sides of the vaccine issue and am not comfortable getting it yet. I may at some point. Does that make me stupid? I don't think so! Holding to what PBS, NPR, and CNN say without questioning it is also arrogant ignorance. Calling others ignorant for not believing the way you do will only continue the divisiveness we now see in this great land. I know that there are many conservatives that do the same thing, including former president Trump. It's not right no matter who does it! I suppose you will delete this comment and that's your prerogative. Keep hiking and posting great photos - I may keep following regardless of our difference of opinions.

    1. San Juan Bob, thanks for your comment and I hope you do keep tuning in to my outdoor adventure blog...something we can agree on no matter our politics. I would like to point out tho, that I purposely used the word "ignorance." Ignorance in not necessarily a derogatory term, as opposed to "stupid" etc.. I am "ignorant" about a lot of things, but that does not imply I, or you, are less intelligent. I am not trying to divide this country any more than it already is, either. I thought that if there was ever something that would bring this country together...outside of an attack like Pear Harbor....it would be the long predicted, highly contagious pandemic that finally happened in our lifetime. I guess I am "ignorant" why a substantial number of people on the "right" decided to politicize it when we have the possible opportunity (according to epidemiology scientists) to eliminate this dreaded COVID disease if enough people would come together in agreement. It does appear that, since the vaccines, that the drop in COVID cases went into a free fall. I guess I just don't understand all the hesitancy that seems to be coming mostly from the right. I do wish you well, and hope you don't regret holding off, for what ever reason.

    2. Thanks for the sensible reply Mark. This is the way people should dialog who disagree on some things. Emotional outbursts never solve anything. Both sides are far too good at that. I am too at times but am working to try to understand other views. We need to stay focused on the things we agree on and act with respect, when possible, toward our fellow Americans. BTW, I’m nearly 67 years young and thoroughly enjoy you folks hiking adventures. Y’all are tough!


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