Two Miles High : A Rocky Mountain Tail : Chapter One

Chapter One: It All Begins Here

I woke up this morning with a wave of excitement. Today was the day I had been planning for for weeks. Of course the recent course of freak spring storms has brought a good amount of snow to the higher elevations and I have been contemplating moving my hike to a bit lower elevation, but I have been training hard all spring for this one time trip.

This was my solo trip of the year… me and my dog… my favorite pack and a few miscellaneous items I carefully put together, weighed and weighed again, to be sure I wasn’t carrying more than I felt I could handle.

I had prepared 7 dinners, 7 lunches and plenty of coffee and carbs for a good morning start each day. I afforded myself the luxury of 3 cliff bars… even though they added almost 2 lbs to my load. All my water filtration gear was in order, the last thing I need is giardia or some water pathogen that would render me unable to hike on to the rondevue at the end of my seven day sojourn.

I lie in bed and go over the specifics of the hike. The three passes I have to climb, all three over two miles high. A few years ago there was a huge fire in one area I will be hiking through and I have heard that there is a lot of dead timber for almost two miles of the hike. I was also told the Trail monitors had been out and keeping the trail clear and well marked. I had six major stream crossings and one big river that I am sure has swollen far beyond its banks… but I was told that the monitors had built a makeshift backcountry bridge and the crossing was safe.

My pup jumped up on the bed and broke my trance. He was making sure I knew it was time to feed him and go for our morning walk. This was the start to our every day together… morning belly rubs, kisses, and food then a walk. This trip was going to be my break from my mundane existence… a chance to see what I was really made of. Even with months of preparation, I still felt a twinge of fear, but I am writing it off to my women’s intuition telling me to proceed with a good healthy caution.

The morning wore on at a snails pace. I packed and re packed. Checked my list and rechecked it three times until I felt I had packed everything just perfectly. Hoisted the pack on my back, adjusted the straps and shoulder pads until it sat just right and I could bend and stoop without getting off balance… last thing I needed was a twisted ankle or busted head from something as silly as falling over. I can see it now… ” hiker found wandering around in a daze from busting her head open on a rock”… great headlines. I had no intention of becoming some statistic.

I made a call to my support team. We went over my plans and the rondevu time and place seven days from now. I went over the pick up and drop off of my car. I went over the check in times and the emergency contacts. As much as I hated the added weight I brought my 32, my Garmin and my big multi tool Leatherman. These three items alone added 5 lbs to my load… that’s 5 lbs I can’t eat or won’t keep me warm or dry… 5 lbs all the same extremely necessary. I felt confident all the bases were covered. Eight am… time to get going.

I piled my pack in the back of my FJ and double checked the map and the latest weather forecast. I opened the passenger door and Breeze hopped in. He seemed to know we were off for a long walk in the woods and was as eager as I was to hit the trail. His doggy back pack held two days of his food, 6 little sausage treats and his favorite toy. All set… time to get to the trailhead. I fired up the FJ and flipped the radio to The Grateful Dead channel and set off to the High Uintas.

Arriving at the dirt road that lead to the trail I could see the damage caused by all the Spring run-offs. Patches of snow still held tight to the shady grottoes of the mountains and the few streams we crossed were flowing well beyond their banks. Rounding a corner I saw a mama moose and her cow grazing waist high in the marshes caused by the over flowing streams. Driving on the canyon opened up and I was delighted to see endless fields of yellow and blue flowers. The flowers blanketed the hill sides and fenced in pastures.

I pulled over to snap some pictures and let Breeze out. A silence overcame me and almost hurt my ears. The azure colored sky was brilliant. A soft cool breeze foretold of the cool evenings to come and yet the sun was high and felt scorching on my bare skin. The pine trees stood tall against the deep blue sky in a contrast of colors and shadows. I felt a rush of emotion overcome me. This is why I try to do this this time of year. Another thirteen miles to go.

The further in I went the worse the road became and I was glad I had good ground clearance. There were times I had to cross small roadside streams that had been diverted across the road creating pools of dark muddy water. Throwing caution to the wind, I plowed through each pool and straddled each rut and finally arrived at the trailhead.

I know that I tend to be a little absent minded so I shot a picture of the trail and area with my phone so if I got distracted I could refer back to the picture and get back on track. Breeze is pretty good with direction too so between he and I we should be good. At the check in for the trail there was a notice of high water conditions and to take care at stream crossings. I signed the register and double checked my car to be sure I didn’t forget anything. Breeze ran around marking every rock and stump. He had a puppy type hop to his movements even at 9 years old.

I secured Breeze’s pack and adjusted the straps so nothing hung low and there were no straps dangling to possibly get tangled or caught. I secured my pack and it almost immediately felt like an old friend. I chugged my celebratory Trail beer, grabbed my hiking poles, locked the car making sure the note I always put on the dash was in plain sight. It was just the final precaution I always took when hiking solo. One last look behind and we were off.

A Proud People

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Weekly Photo Challenge

What’s in a Word?

Is it me or have any of you thought that there are certain words in the English language that are “strange”, “funny” or just downright not right?  At times I will be writing and a word just doesn’t look right.  The thought I am trying to convey I just can’t find the right word for.  It makes me chuckle at myself and the word.  I’m not talking big college words… just normal everyday words.  Not the words that someone uses and you have to look it up because you can’t even begin to fathom what the author is trying to say… no matter in what context it is used.

We have so many descriptive words… I would wage more than just about any other language out there.  Even with these descriptive words that range from describing a touch, feeling, sight or sound… I hear so many times any number of four letter words used instead of any of the thousands of descriptive ones.  Sad… and I must chuckle again.  I find when I am writing I want to sound so sophisticated, so schooled… but why?  Isn’t it enough to describe an incredible sunset as such?  There are so many other words like magnificent, wonderful, marvelous, spectacular, phenomenal, prodigious, breathtaking, extraordinary, unbelievable, amazing, stunning, astounding, astonishing, awe-inspiring, staggering, formidable, impressive, supreme, great, awesome, superhuman, fantastic, terrific, tremendous, stupendous, mind-boggling, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, out of this world, far out, or wondrous! Who’s ever seen a prodigious sunset? Even with all these words do any really describe the awesomeness of nature?

oxford-english-dictionary-websters-third-new-international-dictionary-e1467149649706How about words like wife? A simple word that describes a person that is married to another but a silly word in my mind. Ass?… a donkey, a part of the body, someone incredibly rude, something to get a “piece of…”, a fool… another funny word.  Did you know that according to the Oxford English Dictionary: there are full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as sub-entries. How does a word become obsolete? Some claim there are almost a million words in the English language… does this include the “obsolete” ones?

I must admit I used to sit down with one of the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary when I was a kid and read words and meanings so I would know lots of words I would probably never use… sounds like a boring childhood now… oh an when did Mirriam get tacked onto Webster? Is she his wife?!?  Chuckle

Surprise! Digging Deep Into the Curious… A Photo Journey

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We all know… I think… that Alpaca Wool is from these guys. What you may not know is how the wool from these guys is colored so brilliantly and woven into symbols, animals, and the softest, warmest wool. They use everything from bugs and plants, to earthen dyes. Quite a surprise to see this actually happening in a mountain town in Peru.

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Dig deeper into the foothills of Cotacachi, Ecuador… you can see how the bricks to build the homes in the towns are made… by hand!

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Off the beaten path in the Great Basin area of Utah and Nevada… a strange little town pops up out of nowhere. First thought was LSD exists here… or perhaps a government witness protection town?? Strange is a good term…

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Baker, California… on the way back to Utah… flash floods in the desert… BIG SURPRISE!

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If you know where to look… you can find some images from indigenous North Americans another desert surprise…

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Growing Old… What No One Ever Tells You

1934631_1064507425797_7494734_nIn my younger days I was very active. Even earlier I thought I was invincible, as so many do in their teens and twenties. My body was fit and muscular. I was strong and full of energy. Then I hit forty… when did that happen? I found myself like an old car… not too eager to get started on cold mornings, bits and pieces not working quite right. Constant nagging pain in the joints. The things I once was able to do so easily before, now was taking a lot of effort.

As the years go on I feel like some major change is going in my body. I grasp at everything out there to attempt to diminish the constant nagging pain. Herbal supplements, alternative medicine, exercise and finally after 6 years of pain… not being able to do the things I enjoy… I sought major medical attention and surgery.

So here’s where the gist of the story comes into play. Growing up no one ever teaches you about bank accounts, finances, getting a house and what the body does as you get older. The first few things you can figure out by trial and a lot of error. Getting and growing old is not as easy.

14089045_10209635286791852_8714905202713412984_nI believe that nobody wants to talk about it much because it is down right depressing. When I could no longer go hiking without two knee braces, row my raft or fly fish without shoulder pain, I found myself getting frustrated.  Soon after I found I lacked the motivation to do the things I love… but forced myself to do them and paid for it for weeks on end. I tried shots of this and that, I tried going chemical free, and physical therapy.  It always came down to just grin and bear it. Then the doc says…”you’re just getting old!”  Those are the worst words anyone can ever hear. It’s almost like a death sentence. This is how it is and it’s not going to get any better. REALLY??!!

I, however, will not just throw up my hands and succumb to “getting old”! I am always looking for the silver lining. This is the driving force for us to quit our job, sell everything and hit the road… before it’s “too late…” There is enough research out there that shows stress is a contributing factor to shortening your life. Pain is a cause of stress too. My hope is by alleviating that stress in my life, eating better food without chemicals, laughing instead of wanting to kill someone or something all the time, be able to be active on a daily basis instead of weather and pain permitting… I may be able to grow old gracefully and in less pain.

Lets face it there is no manual on life. No “How to Live for Dummies”. We all blindly go where each man/woman must go… and go alone. It’s just sad that the mind is willing but the body says… no I don’t think so. This too shall pass and I will overcome this temporary limitation… I hope…

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