“Play is the highest form of research.” Albert Einstein
"Life is good...it says so on my ball cap." mej

Header Photo: Bobbie, putting the finishing touches on one of our many backyard 13ers.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

On Chronic Remorse For Repeat Offenders.... Absolution verses Penance

     
“It is the confession, not the priest, that gives absolution...”
"The Picture of Dorian Gray," Oscar Wilde

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Twas The Grump Before Christmas



Twas the Grump before Christmas and throughout Lovely Ouray
He was stirring moodily about in the middle of the day
Twas icy and windy... a big storm rolling in
As a last minute shopper he's weary and grim

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Walking In A Winter Wonderland




When NOAA says it's ten below zero in Lovely Ouray, and The Weather Channel says it's 10 above, whom does one believe? Either way, we had a sky clear as a crystal glass bell. The temperatures were low enough to warrant consideration of long underwear and snow-pants. I decided to compromise and wore long underwear under shorts. A Mountain Man would rather freeze his "chestnuts" blue than abdicate pride.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mountain Bike Mecca Walks






Convenience aside, the overriding argument against camping amid the human detritus of Ground-Zero Zion is to be able to  hop astride the ole Cannondale at Ground-Zero Virgin... where BLM backroads and single-track serenity awaits just beyond camp's doorstep.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What's In Your Closet?


"I know this mantra from other failures… The endless agonizing recycling of what might have been… followed by a litany of rationalizations and self-deceptions as I struggle to reconcile the void between the person I want to be and the person I fear I am."   High Exposure… an enduring passion for Everest and unforgiving places, By David Breashears, Director and Leader of the Everest IMAX filming expedition.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Soul To Sole...


Jack Frost nips at the corners of our living room's Surround-Vision Imax Windows. The "movie" is Winter, and will run for another four or five months. I've seen it before, know how it ends, so pardon me if I take leave in the middle.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Last Dance



Yesterday, in snow and freezing rain, Bobbie and I had our last dance with Southwest Utah. This morning we are packing up in the cold; a layer of ice covers everything outside, our bikes, lawn chairs, hoses, and cords. Surrounding mountains and mesas are white with snow. I'm stalling...

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Subway Concluded... and A Few Thoughts on Solitude


Difficult as it was, we took the easy route to The Subway. There is also a top-down hike from Kolob Terrace, where one gets to experience the entire slot canyon... all the way to the surreal "tube." The "catch" is that it requires climbing harnesses, ropes, wet suits, and training, not to mention a near dawn to dusk effort. The past couple of years I've thrown the "bait" out that maybe our gang of geezers should try it, only to be answered with scrunched faces and a polite, "No thanks." This year, however, I had a few "nibbles." 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Confession, good for the soul of an Addict



The sun did come up after all, so a few members of "The Gang" went in search of a little Slot Canyon Solace yesterday, an attempt to put the election behind us, renew spirits, hopes, dreams... directions. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

many pools hike



Well, I haven't seen the polls yet, but the good news is that I think Don finally put himself out of our misery (and future) last night. The bad news is, Hillary is going to be our next President.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Keep on churnin'


If one analyze's their travel dreams like good little Sigmunds, they will eventually realize that contentment isn't so much about the destination or style one goes in as it is that they just go.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday Anniversary Ride... Almost



It was easy to laugh off Jim's crash and burn in the Klondike. We replayed the wreck over and over, over beer, burgers, and burritos at Eddie McStiffs in Moab. Jim seemed to be feeling pretty good for a guy who had just suffered a sprained neck, severely bruised ass, and bloodied leg after going airborne and landing on a boulder. Of course the Valium the ER nurse gave him might have helped in that regard.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Last Secret



With the post-wedding rush to get the rig on the road and the giddy rush to set our shoes and wheels to churning on red dirt and slick rock, I have been remiss in keeping the BCB faithful fully appraised.  Where to begin? How about with the un-forecasted snowstorm that greeted us on the morning of departure day...

Monday, October 10, 2016

My Big Fat Italian Wedding Hangover


Caleb and his groomsmen pause for a "Best Boxer Shorts contest" on our deck, while Best Man, Justin, grabs one last handful of cheek from the betrothed. From the left, Nick, Justin, Caleb, Nate, Tom, Matt. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Blaine Basin, The Other Face of Sneffels


"It's not the mountain that wears you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe." Robert Service

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Over Red Mountain and Through The Woods to Silverton...


Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns. George Eliot

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Anticipation


We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway, yay
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasin' after some finer day  
"Anticipation," Carly Simon

Monday, September 26, 2016

Autumnal Interlude in "B Flat" cont.


For apparent lack of alternatives, and thanks to a still fully charged Energizer Bunny hiking partner, I commit to the task of making Richmond Pass, climbing on, going higher and getting smaller... till shrink-wrapped like a some provisional plaything for the amusement of capricious gods.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Autumnal Interlude, in "B flat"


On the heels of Last Dollar Road, Whipple Mountain, and a pint of bitter at the Brown Dog in To-hell-u-ride, we moseyed up The Million Dollar Highway to have a peek at Ms Autumn's progress.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Last Dollar's Canopy of Gold


Autumn days. It just doesn't get any better around here, a time when Summer's heat and tourism are on the downswing, and every leaf becomes a "flower."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not So Mellow Yellow


Though within a Nolan Ryan's stones-throw of our mine shack, it had been some 15 years or more since we'd hiked Old Baldy. The lasting impression I had was that it had been a rutted, steep, and extremely HOT hike through uniform-green oak-brush that provided scant shade for refuge from a July sun. At higher elevations sun and temps can beat a hiker/climber into a state of desiccated submission. By noon-thirty all I could think about is puckering my lips to the brim of a sweaty 20 ounce mug of well hopped IPA. But this is mid-September, cool and clear as the spring water that spills from our mountains. Hillsides around Lovely Ouray are alive with on-fire red and orange oak brush leaves, and pockets of yellow-flamed aspen lick at cobalt skies.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Gimme Shelter


The promise of a fair day was quickly broken by dark clouds and white sheets of Corn-snow. For a good while it pelted with some fury, stinging bare legs and arms like a swarm of bees. On with the jackets, on with the hike to Silvercloud Mine, on with the "show," even as thunder rumbled from afar.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Someday Country


I sometimes fumble along the written page here amongst the walls of Box Canyon. Putting into words the physical and emotional connection between a man and his geography is difficult. My tongue is often defeated by its meager vocabulary, so when the phrase I desperately seek to "turn" doesn't budge, I resort to someone who better expresses the concept. This being one of those moments, I offer David Malouf's words from "An Imaginary Life:" Here, the immensity, the emptiness, feeds the spirit, and leaves it with no hunger for anything but more space, more light—as if one had suddenly glimpsed the largeness, the emptiness of one's own soul, and come to terms with it, glorying at last in its open freedom." 

Friday, September 9, 2016

True love requires "true grit"


I had hoped to do a prenuptial photo shoot of Caleb and Kelli on The Dragon's Back summit of Red Mountain 1. But once again, the weather didn't cooperate with the forecast. Winds gusted near 40 mph while we waited, and waited, and waited, for Old Sol to show his face through threatening black clouds. I wasn't about to tempt Zeus and Thor on some exposed ridge line... risk a funeral instead of a wedding. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"It's better to burn out than fade away..." Out Of The Blue on Redcliff


From my September Plaindealer column: Not far from Lovely Ouray, in the hinterland depths beyond Owl Creek Pass and under the shadow of iconic sentinels Courthouse Mountain and Chimney Rock, a meager but passable dirt road parallels the West Fork of the Cimarron River. The road’s vector inches nearer and nearer the West Fork’s boulder-ridden riverbed, where it soon deteriorates into a bone-jarring 4X4 trail rough enough to rearrange internal organs.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Fly on a Rhinoceros's Ass... Connecting "Dots" on Saint Sophia's Gnarly, Bloodletting Ridge


...The inner voice that drives and disturbs me, that will tomorrow push me again along the paths of life; that voice is not the wisest one in my soul, it is the spirit of agitation for which the earth is too narrow and which has not known how to find its own universe. Isabelle Eberhardt, "Writer, Explorer, Radical individualist," 1877—1904.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

"Rage against the dying light"




"It has come quickly... this crushing, industrial love of paradise. The pervert-free, less-trammeled, hundred-mile-view days were little more than two decades past, not so very long ago." The Anthropology of Turquoise, by Ellen Meloy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Postcard Pimp


Ellen Meloy had a glorious childhood. She ran amuck golden foothills of the Sierras in California, where grandparents carved a living from a sprawling family homestead. Roots ran as deep as the snow on Mount Whitney. A great aunt of hers spent summer's working fire-watch in a remote, ridge-top tower during the war, withstanding loneliness and lightening strikes and boredom. Ellen had access to a family hunting cabin in the high-up forests above the ranch. She'd sprawl out under gargantuan ponderosas on soft beds of pine needles, centuries in the making, surrounded by pinecones the size of beavers. She remembers staring at lazy clouds through pine-bows, torqued by a Pacific breeze. It was hypnotizing, the faint mixed scent of ocean and pine imbedded aromatic memories that would never be forgotten.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Irrational


Sweat streaming, shirt soaking wet, but Twin Peak's summit was mine-all-mine, or so I thought. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Neither Rain nor Fog nor Darkness of Day nor Falling Rock... Headed up Black Bear


It's been raining so much around here that we've had a difficult time squeezing in hikes for Dehui. But he wanted one more morning hike on his departure day, something close and not to long. "Bear Creek," Bobbie and I said in unison.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Columbine Lake, Part II... Dehui's Second Wind


Now that you've had a few days break from this summer's Wildflower Spam, I will attempt to put the wraps on a season of wonder and begin the inevitable transition to (gasp) fall in the Rockies. All the signs are here... the chill in morning air, preseason football on tv, alpine meadows going from green to blond. Yes, as summer's incredible crop of incandescent candles go to seed, so does the end of our condensed summer hiking season draw near. While the rest of the country sweltered, there was skiff of snow on the peaks above Lovely Ouray after Monday's storm lifted.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The downside of fatalism (revised)



For those on the edges of their seats waiting for Part II of Columbine Lake (all two of you), I beg your indulgence. My Ouray County Plaindealer Column deadline snuck up on me again and it was a struggle this time. I was out of my natural "element," over my head trying to pen what ended up more of a political op/ed piece entitled, "Praying for Satan." I will get back to Columbine soon, but something happened to Bobbie and I yesterday that brought us about as close to the "end of the road" as we've ever been... which is saying something since we tend to hang out in that neighborhood quite a bit. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

To Columbine Lake, the "Milky Way"


From the land of sky-blue waters... 
Yes, Columbine Lake... pretty enough to be in a Hamm's Beer commercial.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sharing our "good spots" with Dehui... and a few Mountain Maggots


We've spent a couple of glorious days hiking above timberline with Dehui Yang. My concern that wildflower season might have evaporated before his arrival proved misspent.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

BCB's Revolving Door


Son Caleb and fiancee Keli showed up about midnight Friday night. First thing Saturday morning they are ready for a hike with a "payoff." I chose to summit Red Mountain 3, that little orange nub beyond the meadow of wildflowers in the above photo, and damn near 13,000 feet. Jackpot!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Precious Gems of Turquoise and Sapphire


Above the stifling morass of a dreary, bug-infested forest, in the cool, uncluttered, wild-flowered atmosphere of Heaven on earth, lies not one, but two, alpine pool gems. One is sapphire, hemmed by a fiery crown of ragged ridge-line, the other turquoise, cupped in the bosom of a glacial cirque. So beautiful are they that neither Frost nor Yeats could ne'er pay them their due in verse. At least, I will fail in good company.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

An Imperfect Storm


In the throws of wildflower season, wading waist-deep through blossoms of shimmering purple Delphiniums, shin-deep through rainbows of neon Paintbrush, over and around incessant mounds of startling Blue Columbine, Bobbie and I are aghast at this year's apparent Super-bloom.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Fun Adult Toy... and it's Deductible!



Last night we hosted a convergence of nomadic types at the Mine Shack. Some brought beer and goodies, others wine and goodies, the hosts, pizza, and one guy brought his new toy... a sophisticated drone, with surveillance cameras and GPS guidance software. Oh boy!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Life is a Verb


Shakespeare advised that brevity is the soul of wit. I would take it a few steps further and add that it is also the soul of all things short-lived and precious. Scarcity creates value, be it diamonds, gold, real estate, or wildflowers.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Neither Rain nor Snow nor Darkness of Clouds


It's one thing to be "caught out" above timberline, surprised by an un-forecasted thunderstorm and lightning after being assured by the weather-guessers that it would be a "fair day" in the mountains.  But it's another thing altogether to go "up there" after being forewarned that it would be best to stay home and live to hike another day.  These mountains of ours tend to make a mockery out of meteorologists' computer models. The San Juans are as unpredictable as Donald Trump's mouth, both of which tend to make fools out of anyone who tries to put them in a "box." But we went anyway, and took John Q. and Joalenn with us. I'm sure John was recalling one time a couple of years ago when he, Bobbie, and I had to run for our lives down the Bridge of Heaven Trail.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The "Halves" and the "Halve Knots"


A change of scene. The San Miguel Mountains, from Lizard Head on the far left, to Sunshine, to 14'er Wilson Peak on the far right. Hiding behind are 14'ers, El Diente and Mount Wilson. Been there; done those; lived to tell. Today, however, we will play it safe, be content with a leisurely stroll around Telluride and view them from afar.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Out of Bounds, Part II







Having a power bar lunch on the shore of Silver Lake, I bemoaned the scarcity of wildflowers to Bobbie. It was getting on into the afternoon and I was feeling spent, ready to head back to the car, maybe stop in Silverton for a 20 ounce IPA at the Avalanche Brewery.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Out of Bounds


Yeah that's me... off route again, getting high the hard way. To be honest, there was an old steel cable to hang on to, but it just seemed to get in the way. Other than this little speed bump (well, there was the snow cave... that was a little sketchy, too) we had a fantabulous hike to an old mining camp on the shores of Silver Lake, way up above Silverton, Colorado.

Standing on The Corner of Happenstance and Serendipity



Wanting a long hike, I bailed out of Petroleus Rex near timberline in lower Yankee Boy Basin; 10,800 feet. The air was fresh and cool. Wildflowers blossomed in all shades beautiful, animated by the breeze as if waving a welcome. My disposition was nothing short of excited-bordering-on-ecstatic. A day on top of the world.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Through Caleb's Lens, and "Tweaking Reality"


Our hearts soared as one from Abram's summit, smiles broad and genuine. Though we reside in Ouray, home is "up there," on high, where breath comes in desperate gasps and contentment flows like a river.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Spirit Basin, A wildflower season primer—then, a Pastel Painting (lack of) progress report


Bobbie thought the wildflowers up in Spirit Basin might be starting to bloom by now; it's aspect is open, somewhat south facing, and awash with sun. We checked it out on Tuesday and found it at about 50% from peak. In a couple more weeks it will warrant another trip :).