[I’m trying something new here. Please let me know what you think.]
Thoughts–they can come and go so very quickly. I like to capture thoughts, tease them and play with them, hold them in my hands, and consider them. And for whatever reason, I like to sometimes share them.
So the following is a run-down or log of (not all, obviously) a lot of the thoughts I had last week when I camped in a grove of aspens in a cow pasture at the base of a 14er, got up at 4am and hiked for the next 9 hours–10 miles with 5,246 ft. elevation gain.
10:02pm — “aaah, I’m getting to bed early. I’m so responsible. And a book in hand? I’m good at camping.”
10:07pm — “Are cows dangerous? Cows aren’t dangerous. What if they stampede my tent in the night on a wild escapade! No, I grew up around cows. They are not concerned with trampling unsuspecting humans in the night. I’ll be fine.”
10:35pm — “what is that? Ok, cows mooing and coyotes bickering are one thing, but why is this truck so loud? It sounds like it stopped. Those voices are loud. Is this a mad max truck filled with hooligans? Are they coming to ruin me? Are they just farmers rounding their cattle so they don’t trample campers in the night? Whew, they went the other way. Why am I always so paranoid when I camp alone? …Seriously, what does that stem from?
**childhood contemplation and book reading for a distraction from irrational fears
11:06pm — “Now what is THAT noise JUST outside of my tent? It sounds to be about the size of a raccoon or a fox. Maybe if I don’t breathe it will go away. I’ll just turn my head and…OH MY GOSH! IS THAT AN EYEBALL PEERING IN AT ME? The truck is coming back. Good grief, my heart is a bass drum right now. More loud voices with that truck. Oh good it went back the way it came. I should have taken some melatonin. Deep breaths…Deep breaths. Getting trampled by cud-chewing bovines would kind of be a funny way to go. Would other people think it was funny after the fact though? Or would they think it’s lame?”
3:57am – “I’m awake. Which means I must had finally fallen asleep. Well, that’s good. I feel rested..ish. …oh…and of course my mattress pad has deflated per usual in the night.
**rolls off pad onto ground
3:58am – “It is a pain in the ass to inflate this once or twice every night, but I’m kind of endeared to it and the process now after so many years. It’s not all that bad. *song* Hey my alarm is going off in the exact minute I woke up. How neat is that? I guess I won’t re-inflate this.”
4:02am – “Ok, I need to put clothes on. Man, it sure was warmer last night than I anticipated. I can see my breath but it doesn’t feel that cold.”
**take down camp, eat a breakfast burrito & brew coffee, finalize pack and gear
4:43am – *holding open gear bag when sudden panic from far-too-late realization that hiking poles were lent to a friend weeks ago — “shit! ….oh well, it is what it is. This stick over here will have to work. Sorry knees, its going to be a bad day for you.”
*quick drive from campsite to trail head parking lot
4:48am – “This is a weird place to encounter traffic. At least he drives a Toyota. ‘good morning.’ I should try to poop so I don’t have to on the trail later. …. there are a lot of flies in this outhouse. I don’t very much like that. Oh well. Nothing is happening here. Let’s hike!”
4:55am – “And so it begins.”
5:15am – “This is pleasant so far. The beginning is always pleasant though. It’s warm. Really warm. I definitely wore one too many layers. Colorado mountain weather, you are so unpredictable. I want to take a layer off but I don’t want to stop. I have good early momentum.
6:08am – *the hiker from the toyota in the parking lot and his dog pass me and asks
“What are you doing?”
“I’m hiking. What are you doing?” I responded. But before he had opportunity to assume I was a 6am jerk, I answered the question I knew he was getting at, “I’m hiking Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache. And yourself?”
“I’m doing those and hoping to make it to Mt. Massive by Friday.”
“Wow. Well, enjoy.”
6:11am – “How are you going to ask someone who is obviously hiking ‘what’ they are doing? That’s the wrong question entirely. If you want to know where they are going…well, then use those words. I know people think I’m annoying for caring about word usage. I don’t care. Language, used well, has the ability to reduce confusion and clearly indicate the most accurate and efficient means of human interaction. … Why am I even thinking about this? Words are fine. I knew what he meant, so does it really matter?”
6:20am – “This sea of clouds in the valley is amazing! I hope I can get far enough out of these trees to really see it before the sun burns it off. This is good incentive to hike faster!”
6:42am – “Woe. Also, these work boots are non-comfortable. I’m going to switch to Chaco’s. I really need to get some hiking boots or shoes.”
6:44am – “This is fun. It’s like I’m playing a game of hide-and-seek or tag with the sun, as it chases me around this bend on its morning rise. Man, I’m glad we had extra breakfast burritos. I’m going to need the fuel from those. Thank you John! …beers and burritos, the two ‘B’s’ of hiking. I don’t guess that’s a thing, but it sure could be.”
7:01am – “Mmm. Smells like a barn. Ah. I love the musky scent of marmots in the morning.”
7:12am – “The sun and I are obviously no longer in the tag phase. It is above the ridge and I am definitely IT.”
7:13am – “Well I was going to save this second breakfast burrito for the top, but I’m hungry and I have a steep incline ahead. …so I’m going to eat it now.”
7:21am – “I am never going to lend my hiking poles to someone again! No, no, that’s not the right response Benjamin. I just need to not forget when I do stuff like that. Eh, I’m kind of fond of this little fire-poking stick I found anyhow. I’ll whittle the top and make it smoother for my hand. *whittles* Ah, yes, that’s better.”
8:00am – “Can I feel my toes? No, they are numb. Maybe I can feel the right one just a little bit. Should I put boots back on? No. I’m a strong tenacious individual. I’ll be fine. It’s not the first time I’ve had a numb extremity.”
8:23am – “I reached the summit of Mt. Shavano. 14,229 ft. That didn’t take me that long. *looks at clock* Three and one half hours? Man, that took me longer than it felt like. I guess that’s good. Is that good? I don’t know. I’m here though, and that’s good.
8:24am – “I can’t feel my toes, but I kind of feel like wearing Chaco’s up a 14er is like a Colorado badge of honor. …Chacorado! I’m just talking. I do this when I’m by myself. Eeeehyup, the sun’s coming up and hot on one side of this ridge. And it’s cold and windy and shady on the other. It’s kind of like life. …ok I need to get down to the saddle and up Mt. Tabeguache.”
9:08am – “Ok, I’m in the saddle. I did not enjoy that portion. Every other rock was tippy. This trail is like ‘now you see it!’ ‘now you don’t!’ ‘now you see it!’ ‘now you don’t!’ and hardly any cairns? What’s with that? There are always cairns.”
9:18am – “That guy has cool Colorado socks. I wonder where he is going. I can hear his music from here…no wonder he isn’t looking up at me. Why do people need music out here? Well, it’s not my place to judge, if that helps people…but it’s not for me.”
9:35am – “Ah, the summit of Mt. Tabeguache. I’m going to eat an avocado and some jerky. …sweet! My avocado matches my clothes! I bet I subconsciously did that on purpose. Who wouldn’t do that if they could?!”
9:42am – “This guy! Well, he looks like a regular. And like he knows the perfect gear.”
*chats with guy–turns out guy is Alexander Hamilton. Not the constitution guy. But as I later learned–the famous 14er guy who has hiked every CO 14er many times and has set numbers of records including hiking all 58 14ers in under 10 days, and hiking all of them during the winter season. “What a guy!”
10:25am — “I’m back in the saddle. Giddyup. If this is a saddle, then this mountain is a horse, and I would like to ride it, but I would hate to get bucked.”
10:29am — “This wind is ferocious! Why? Why wind? Why?”
10:47am — “Um…where am I? Next time I think I don’t try to stay low on the ridge to avoid the wind, because I’m not entirely sure if or how this will meet back up. Wind aversion tactics seemed like a good idea. Gosh, the rocks are even worse down this way, every other one teeters when I step on it. Oh, hey. There’s people up there!”
11:04am — “Beer time! aaaaah. Letting the feet air out is good. Drinking beer is good.”
11:30am — “I never regret bringing a beer or a little whiskey or something. Because at this altitude, it kind of hits you enough to lessen the pain and help the mind game. At least a little bit until it wears off. …I’m feeling kind of loose right now, which is helpful.”
11:45am — “The wind is harrassing me. You know what the wind is? It’s a bully. You are a bully, wind! Every time…well not every time, a lot of times when I go to step, you push my leg farther than I was intending and then I catch loose gravel. The number of times I have almost fallen I lost count of. The number of times I have fallen…only a handful. I can’t wait to get down this mountain.”
(I know. It’s upside down. I don’t know how to fix that.)
12:30pm — “This descent is uh…pretty long. I had beef jerky in my mouth I was chewing, and I went to sneeze and the bully blew the corner of my bandana into my mouth, so I just sneezed through my nose. That was weird. … I think it’s taking longer to go down than up. Not cool.”
12:41am — “Hey ptarmigan. What are you doing up here? You know this is like 12,000 ft. right? Ok, well bye.”
1:15pm –“I’m still not off this trail. I’m going to take a piss. My left leg is shaking like a leaf. I feel like I can barely stand. That would have been embarrassing if I had fallen over while pissing.”
1:27pm — “These are nice.”
1:48pm –“That tree has a lot of junk in the trunk.”
2:30pm — “Finally! I am off this mountain. I am shredding my clothes and sandals, blasting this A.C., eating anything I can find, and going home. I hope the woman who smiled at me by the sign and who is getting in that car thinks I’m hot with my shirt off. I feel like I am–being all accomplished and confident from my precipitous mountain climb and descent. Oh, she’s with him. I see.”
2:34pm — “Haha, cows are funny.”
Poncha Springs, CO ¦¦ August 29, 2018
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