Bucket List

Was sitting at the computer a couple of nights ago feeling a bit blue about the waning days of summer and the fact that I had not achieved one of my major goals, which was to climb a 14er. For real, not just the quarter mile stroll from the parking lot to the Mount Evans Summit. I have been looking at the maps all summer and all the peaks are either too far away, too hard to get to or too hard to climb at this stage of my preparation.

Pikes Peak

14, 115 foot Pikes Peak

So I was starting to give up and finding it easier to just sit on my butt instead of heading up my mountainside for strength training. Earlier in the summer I had noticed a lot of posts coming through from the facebook group 14ers.com so I was curious and joined. Haven’t paid a lot of attention to it but one post caught my eye, an “I did it!” post from a woman who had overcome some serious health problems. So I read the article and the 14er she climbed was Bierstadt. I had heard of it but had to look it up to find out exactly where. When I saw it on the map a light when on, “I know this mountain, I can do this!”. It’s within driving range, my Miata can get to the trailhead and the trail is not too long.

Funny how one little ray of light can pierce the fog of discouragement and provide the inspiration to go on. So anyway, I’m going to climb that one and I was thinking, “Yay, I’ll be able to say I climbed a 14er!”. But as I read more posts on 14ers.com I realized that it will actually be number four. I have already climbed the 28 mile Barr Trail to the summit of Pikes Peak countless times, Mount Evans for real one time, which is a story in itself, and Mount Sherman, which for some reason I didn’t realize was a 14er. So I am thinking, that’s a good start, “I wonder if I can climb them all before all I can do is play bingo?”.

So I made a list in a note that I put on my facebook page with the three peaks that I have climbed. Soon I anticipate adding Bierstadt, and who knows what the future will bring? Perhaps by the Grace of God I will climb all the 14ers in Colorado, or perhaps it will just be a worthy goal that keeps me inspired. Either way, stay tuned, my camera will be along for the entire adventure, however it turns out!

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Pikes Peak Ascent

Wow, what an adventure today was! Last night I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. to get an early start on my day photographing the Pikes Peak Ascent, but the alarm proved to be unnecessary as I awoke at 4:20 a.m. on my own wired up and ready to go! One cup of coffee and a couple of toasted frozen waffles later I was on my way down the pass. My parking plan worked perfectly as I pulled into the end spot in the free parking area at the middle school. A short walk down the hill and I was in the midst of the action, albeit an hour early.

Finish Line

Pikes Peak Ascent Finish Line

I needed a few minutes to get my equipment ready and talk to the race officials so that was fine with me. A couple of nice people described to me in detail how I would be able to get a ride to the peak in the media van and I just wanted to pat them on their heads and say to them, “Silly people, if you only knew me you would know that there isn’t a chance on God’s green earth that I will be in that van when it leaves.”… Got some great shots of the race start, including some of our next Runners World Cover Girl, Jill Howard 🙂 Sure enough, when the time came the media van was nowhere to be found but I fortunately ran across the guys hauling the time keeping equipment to the top and hitched a ride with them.

Pikes Peak Highway is amazing. It winds around all over that mountain giving fantastic views in almost every direction imaginable. From there I could see Woodland Park and Rampart Reservoir, the Springs, South Park and from the summit you can probably see the Atlantic and Pacific if your eyes are good enough! Well that could be a slight exaggeration, but suffice it to say you can see a long ways.

On my way through the Summit House at 14,115 feet I reached into the pocket of my photography vest to get my sunglasses and felt a piece of paper. What do you know if it wasn’t a $20 bill. So I bought some food and as I ate breakfast I knew this was going to be a great day! It only takes the fastest men a little over two hours to run the thirteen miles from Manitou town center to the top so that only left me about 20 minutes to get into position. I hiked down the mountain a few switchbacks and found a spot with a good view and waited for the action. It wasn’t long before I had the first place man and woman in the bag so I headed down a bit further for a different view.

I had found out from Jill what her predicted finish time was and I liked my original location better so as the time for her finish drew near I hiked back up the trail to try to get a shot of her nearing the finish line. And right on time, there she was with a big smile and a greeting! After all these years I finally met her in person 🙂 At that point with almost 500 images on the chip I decided to just make my way to the top and chat with her and William for a while. So great to talk with them in person after so many years of internet friendship.

I heard the train whistle for the Cog Railway and I have been wanting to get a shot of that train for so long… so up to the peak for the train shots. Word to the wise.. there could be two trains, not one! The train headed out and I ran along the tracks to get a shot of it descending down the mountainside when I heard another whistle right behind me. Yikes… a second train bearing down on me. Fortunately it didn’t have time to get up much speed at that point so I just hopped off the tracks and took advantage of a second chance at the pictures 🙂

After that, nothing much to do but get back down to Manitou. There were plenty of shuttle vans taking the runners back down and my handy staff and press pass badges were good for a free trip back to the bottom. Once my feet were on the ground in Manitou, dressed for 14,000 feet I thought I was going to die in the 90 degree heat. Luckily it was only a few blocks to my air conditioned Miata. Now… to process 500 pictures and write an article for the Examiner. I’m sure it will be an easy task to write of such an awesome experience 🙂

Be sure to subscribe to my Examiner news feed so you will be sure to receive notification as soon as the article is published!

What about One Sparrow

I have heard it said recently, “God does not care about one lion.”. I beg to differ. The earth and all that is in it is a masterpiece created by the hand of God and there is nothing that was created that was created by accident. From the book of Matthew it is said, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”. So if God has His eyes trained on each and every sparrow, how much more is a sentient lion with offspring and emotions worth? Or for that matter, an elephant or rhino or monkey in a cage at a testing lab terrorized every day for it’s entire miserable life?

Sparrow in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

Sparrow in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

From the very first man Adam, it has been the responsibility of man to name and care for the animal kingdom and we are not doing a very good job of it. According to the Washington Post, lion populations in Africa have been reduced from 100,000 to 32,000 in fifty years. The Guardian quotes Dune Ives regarding elephant populations, “This species could be extinct in our lifetime, within one or two decades, if the current trend continues,” Dune Ives, senior researcher at Vulcan, a philanthropic organisation run by US billionaire Paul Allen, said. “In five years we may have lost the opportunity to save this magnificent and iconic animal.” Many other predator species including America’s treasured wolves and wild cats are rapidly headed for extinction at the hands of poachers and trophy hunters. These animals are important to their Creator and to the environment itself. When too many of them are killed the species lower on the food chain tend to overpopulate causing habitat destruction and sometimes even rampant disease affecting both animal and human populations. Even though the current outpouring of grief is for one animal who endured terrible suffering for a day, the bigger issue is the massacre of wildlife that cannot be replaced once extinct.

I have heard the animal rights activists who were broken hearted over Cecil called wimps for their grief over “one lion”. Would be somehow be tougher and more manly if we were impervious to the suffering of one of God’s creatures forced to endure an entire day of agony from having been wounded by a trophy hunter’s errant arrow? Even if no human being cared about the “one lion”, the God who makes sure that not one sparrow falls to the ground without Him was with him every step of the way. God cares for the “one lion”, all the wildlife on the continents, the Marines killed at Chatanooga and the millions of babies murdered in the slaughter houses of Planned Parenthood. His love is not limited to one species, one race of people or people of a certain age. And He has appointed watchmen to care for it all, some for the animals, some for the babies, some for the poor and some for the sick. Recently hundreds flocked to the Salt River to save a band of beloved wild horses. Are they somehow evil because the did not instead flock to Chattanooga to mourn for the Marines killed there? Of course not, they answered the call of their Creator and sprang into emergency action and saved the herd. Thank God for those who can still hear the call when it comes.

In the end, the Bible predicts that mankind will not be able to gain control of his hatred and greed. He will unleash his weapons of destruction to destroy the earth and it’s inhabitants, but God will not have forgotten His precious creation and will finally take vengeance on those who destroy it. From the book of Revelation, And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”. Best not to be on the wrong side on that day.

Chapter Complete

I wasn’t going to go to Denver today. Only had three boxes and it wouldn’t be worth the trip, but they were bugging me. Three boxes standing between me and being finished with that chapter of my life. I can’t stand something like that hanging over me so I loaded them up in the Miata and headed down the pass. It seemed like a much longer trip than it does in the pickup but I made it before the loading dock closed.

Tricia

Tricia

So it is done. Twenty seven years of memories, business ventures, projects, household goods and memories left on a loading dock on Santa Fe Blvd. I have looked in each and every box that was packed to determine what should be done with it and where it should go and it is all done. Just a few scraps in my storage unit to bag up and take to the dumpster. I did keep a few momentos to remember her by, including the sea shells she worked so hard to collect on the beach in Hawaii and a few German Steins she found for me. And of course I still have my photography studio stuff that I’m not sure what to do with just yet. Don’t think I’ll ever have a studio again but I have a lot of nice stuff including some cool shiny metallic backdrops in every color. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them, Tricia worked so hard making them for me.

It didn’t take long to unload the three boxes and I was soon on my way. But there was one more thing I’ve been wanting to do so I decided that today was the right day for it. I’ve been wanting to have lunch at Romano’s ever since this heartbreaking journey began last March. Romano’s on Littleton Blvd is where we had our first date all those years ago and it is also the place I wanted to say goodbye. The place still looks the same as it did when we first met. Prices must be the same too because after I did all the calculating, the tip was the same as what I used to leave as well. I didn’t remember getting so stuffed, but then I guess we used to split the small calzone.

The journey is complete. She never was much of a mountain person so I think it would have been better for her if we hadn’t come here. She loved Littleton with all its quaint amenities, South Glen Mall, the pretty houses and lawns, Highline Canal and some kitchen place on University that I don’t remember the name of, the Christmas store on Santa Fe, and the antique stores and thrift shops on Broadway. Littleton was the place we fell in love and that will be the setting in which I would like to remember her I think. Rest in Peace my Love.

Diversity

The killing of Cecil the lion has surfaced some interesting animosity. It seems many people think their cause is the most important and everyone seems to think their cause is superior to those working to preserve wildlife and the environment. All causes are important and God has made all people with unique personalities and desires. All causes need the attention of of humans and God has mercifully spread out the burden by making each person different.

No one person could possibly invest time in each and every problem that needs the attention of someone so instead of disparaging someone else for working on something that is not important to you, people should be thanking others for taking care of the thing that isn’t first on your own list. That way everything can get done without overwhelming any one person with too much work to bear.

Furthermore, the people doing the disparaging are assuming the people working on one cause are not working on another when they have no idea what another person’s circumstances may be. Caring about animals for example, does not preclude someone from caring about babies starving in Africa. Caring about animals does not automatically stop someone from protesting abortion.  Caring about animals does not prevent someone from also working on behalf of homeless people. I applaud anyone who cares about something because the world is filled with people who care about nothing.

So stop making condescending posts about the causes other people are working on. Nobody knows what all someone is working towards and it is counterproductive to discourage someone who is passionate about something, whatever it is. The enemy is not other life loving people, it is the evil that is actively causing suffering and death in this world.