You can see Bobbie the middle foreground of the above photo. She's leaning into the final pull up Old Horse Thief Trail, where it intersects the Ridge to the Bridge of Heaven. There, at the apex of our climb, we agreed that, after nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain, the good news was, It's all downhill from here. And the bad news was, It's all downhill from here.
We weren't sure we could pull off (what we thought would be) a ten mile hike with 3,000 feet of elevation gain...and loss. But if there's one thing we've learned in both our work lives and outdoor lives, it's that the road to success is often paved with bricks of disappointment and failure. Ask anyone who placed fourth in the Olympic Games.
"We can always turn around if were not feeling it" I promised, attempting to persuade Bobbie that this was a good idea.
Ok, maybe it's time to cut back on caffeine. Or maybe beer. Or sugar. You know, all the things that, when combined, fuels a false sense of confidence. But caffeine is what it takes to get me "up" these days. In the post-haze two-cup high, I feel 25 years younger. This, while I'm sitting in a recliner, next to a warm fire, and after popping 3 extra strength Tylenol. The sugar part is a backpack pouch crammed full of Shot Blocs and Cliff Bars. And the beer? A little something to help me fall asleep, usually during the 5 o'clock news.
Whatever the cause for my naive proclivity to invite challenges beyond my age-bracket grasp...adrenalin based notions that delusional halfwits conjure up to prove they still "got it" and/or to self-medicate bouts of boredom, is beside the point. Crazy is as crazy does. I know it when we see it in others, yet fail to recognize it when looking at the stranger in the mirror every morning. But how—beyond cocktails of caffeine, beer, sugar and pain killers—does an old man fuel his mojo to act on irrepressible urges to wander mountainous playgrounds in search of random "gauntlets"?
I guess it's my way of letting off the steam and stress of a politically divided world gone whacko, and viral pandemics that attack in successive waves and mutate faster than epidemiologists can tweak vaccines. Then there's my pet peeve, corporate pharmaceutical greed. Top it off with the onset of climate change—devastating hurricanes, floods and drought that we were told (by some) not to worry because it was way off in the future. Right.
So whether it's hiking, biking, exploring or just rambling, it's the "unknown" I crave/need to offset the madness. Two of the many valued things my daddy taught his halfwit son is that, You'll never know if you don't try, and have the guts to try or suffer the regrets. Dad modeled his mottos and set indelible examples for his children, living what he preached... always humble in success and graceful in failure.
So try we did, Bobbie and I. Maybe it's not a big deal to anyone else, but it's who we are and what we do that makes life worthwhile. It's what we've always done, and, hopefully, will continue to do until we draw our last breath. We figure the only way to achieve that dream is to never stop hiking. Recall your high school physics class: An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.
In the previous post Bobbie and I trudged up Old Horse Thief Trail toward the Ridge to the Bridge of Heaven. For reasons I can't recall, our legs were exceptionally tired. We fell short of making it to the "Ridge Bridge." But it was such a splendid day, a day so warm and winsome that we dared not waste it indoors.
While laboring up Old Horse Thief's switchbacks on that hike, it occurred to me that a potential loop hike could be made by continuing over the "Ridge Bridge" and descend its north side to Dexter Creek. From there we could connect a few county backroads and make it all the way back home. Bobbie wasn't quite as excited with the idea as I was, but, in the end, went along with my usual overconfidence.
Our legs were suffering through a bout of elevation-fatigue when we arrived at the base of The Spires. Our forest trail suddenly turned to a rubble of loose scree from rocks that calve from the towering monoliths.
|Gaining the Ridge to the Bridge of Heaven|
|Winding down to Dexter Creek through a dormant aspen grove...leafless and stark, kinda like winter.|
|Passing by Lake Lenore on a County Road. We guess a little over three miles to home from there. By the way, we find the cadence and repetition of road walking far tougher on legs than trail hiking!|