My favorite place in the world is the alpine tundra high above the treeline and it seems like forever since I have been there. Definitely feeling the effects of adventure withdrawal 😦 My last summit was Mt. Columbia in the summer of ’16. Since then it has just been one thing after another… Money, injuries, truck repairs, you name it 🙂
Finally though, the settlement for the work injuries and the down payment for a house and a new start in a new town with a new job! With the hardship, problems and bad memories of Woodland Park behind me I was looking forward to exploring my new piece of the Colorado Rockies! But then, the fateful grinding noise from somewhere in the bowels of my truck. Best guess… Throwout bearing or flywheel bearings 😦
Looks like the snowshoes, micro spikes and poles will remain in the closet indefinitely while I wrangle up the funds for yet another repair. No trails within walking distance here, not that I can find anyway.
On the other hand, the economy is finally picking up and I am starting to see a pickup in print sales, my bread and butter when it comes to photography 🙂 Maybe it won’t be so long! Maybe a view like this one from the summit of Mount Elbert will not be so distant after all.
Also my photo lab has added a ton of new products including some that would make for cool Christmas gifts including the latest, yoga mats custom made with one of my images 🙂 just click the print sales button in the menu to bring up my image galleries and once inside a gallery just click your favorite picture to see all the cool products that are available!
Today was a milestone of sorts… I hadn’t noticed until I transferred the images to my laptop, but today my camera rolled over 10,000 images and started over at 00001. And as fate would have it, #10,000 was my favorite one of the day. I was at the library in the reading room checking out the new issue of Outdoor Photographer when I saw the storm roll in over the peak. So I grabbed my camera and went out onto the deck for the show.
So today reminds me of the day two years ago that I purchased this camera, a Canon 70D, down at Mike’s in the Springs. It also reminds me of an online discussion I was reading one time about what exactly is a professional photographer. Some argued that it meant you made a full time living from it, others said you were a professional if you were paid at all for your pictures, others said you were professional if you acted professionally while performing your art. One guy said you were definitely not a professional if the first thing you do in difficult financial times is sell your equipment for cash.
Well that last one is certainly not me! Two years ago Tricia and my 40D passed at about the same time, along with my living as a caregiver to her while she was dying of cancer. So a few people sent me cash to help out with the death expenses and when I received my final check from the medical company that I worked for I put it all together and spent everything I had to acquire this camera. I could not imagine being without a camera… I felt like an incomplete person without one!
Since then, this camera has been to countless sporting events, festivals, hikes, on top of seven of Colorado’s 14ers… and more I’m sure! Well anyway, here’s to number 10,000 and here’s to a joyful and prosperous future!
Hot weather is fast approaching and a pair of Keen Targhee low hikers looked like just the ticket for summer hiking comfort. The Targhee is a durable leather and mesh waterproof boot with just the right mix of protection, weight and breathability.
Colorado 14ers are my passion but summiting one of these beasts means many hours on the trail in every kind of condition that Mother Nature can throw at a person. Conditions can range from the heat of summer at the base of the mountain to the dead of winter above treeline.
The Targhee comes with the patented “Keen Dry” waterproof membrane, a material that keeps water out while allowing good airflow for comfort in the heat. The waterproof membrane also provides a decent layer of insulation as temperatures plummet in the high terrain.
I deliberately purchased these boots a half size large to make room for an extra layer of blister preventing sock liners and for a thick memory foam foot liner. After a few hikes and a couple full days at work on the brutally hard floors I have to say this may be the most comfortable pair of hikers I have ever experienced. The durable rubber toe shield provides excellent protection from rocks and the Keen Dry water proof membrane appears to perform admirably. After miles of constant wear I didn’t experience any blister causing friction points or toe curl, even with my somewhat wide foot profile. If you are an ankle roller, or if you are planning a lot of hiking on rock strewn trails, it might be a good idea to consider going with a mid or high profile boot.
At $125, this Keen hiker is a bargain. I highly recommend Keen hiking boots for rugged outdoor wear, whether in the rugged mountain terrain or on the flat dirt trails of the midwest.
Winter is flying by and spring is nearly upon us! The holiday weeks passed by so excruciatingly slowly that I was dreading the “dead of winter” weeks and months with their extreme cold and long boring hours of darkness. But thankfully it has been an eventful and rewarding two months, starting with a discussion with one of my church buddies about climbing a 14er. He said, “the trailheads don’t look good for a winter ascent.”. I thought, hmmm… although Elbert is the highest peak in Colorado, it has a fairly approachable trailhead and although steep, it is very climbable so I said “What about Elbert?”. I saw the gleam in his eye and knew immediately that we were going to do it. Got the call from Ralph and we had a good weather window, so the trip was planned. Friday, January 22nd was the day and we were off for Mount Elbert at 5:30 a.m.
It turned out to be a beautiful day and a successful climb. We encountered a couple of obstacles on the way up, including an unmarked snowfield that I didn’t think we were going to be able to cross. But using my ski poles I was able to feel the packed trail under the windswept snowfield and we eventually made it across. Near the summit the trail was also not marked and we became somewhat discouraged as we discovered not one, but three false summits along the insanely steep approach to the top. We made summit right at about 2 p.m., just as we were starting to think we would never make it. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when we got there, but it wasn’t long before the wind kicked up and made a summit rest a short lived idea. Back down we went. On the way down we discovered that we had taken the long way up and were relieved to avoid the path right past the 2,000 foot deep cirque and the steep icy non-trail back down. The hike back down seemed to go on forever, but we finally made it to the truck at about 5:30, just as it was starting to get dark.
I thought we would have some time off from such difficult adventures, but as a snowstorm was forecast to dump deep snow on the mountains, it seemed like a good idea to try to bag the west face route up Pikes Peak. Saturday, January 30th was the day before the storm, so we hit the trail early in hopes of getting up and down before the weather began to change. One wrong turn took us a mile the wrong direction, but we felt we were still making good time so we continued the trek to the summit. Once again, the trail was covered with snow and the tracks from previous hikers led us straight up the treacherously slippery side of the western access. Finally we made the top of the ridge and the peak and summit house came into view. 50mph winds at our backs were not enough to convince us to cancel the attempt at the summit, but we were discussing the idea of going down the other side on the Barr Trail to avoid the ice and wind. We spotted a rock wall and decided to make that quarter of a mile or so and take a lunch break. However just as we got our packs off and started our break we were suddenly knocked over by a hurricane wind which was blowing snow up the mountain and probably a thousand feet in into the air. What was a bearable temperature suddenly became unbearable as the wind driven snow felt like gravel on our faces. The wind was blowing snow so hard it was going between my glasses and my face causing ice to build up on the lenses so I was barely able to see. I could see Ralph’s face was beet red from the pummeling it was taking from the wind driven ice. I wandered around a bit trying to see if I could find the trail we had taken, but could not. I said to Ralph, we have to get off this ridge now, but I can’t see where we came from! And we knew there would be no time to get out the GPS… we had to move. Ralph had done that route before and spotted a rock pile that was on the way. We quickly agreed and ran towards the pile. Soon we recognized the tundra slope we had come up and began running down. Just as it had been so many other times on the big mountain, just getting a few feet down from the summit was enough to make all the difference. We were laughing on the way down that God had tried to warn us away with the 50mph winds, and when we weren’t deterred the Almighty blast was hurled at us as if He was saying “Get off My mountain NOW!”. The winds quickly scaled back to the previous 50 mph or so and it was considerably warmer. By the time we got to the parking lot it was 50 degrees and the snow was melting furiously. It would not be so the next day though, as the biggest winter snow yet enveloped the Pikes Peak Region.
February also brought some adventure to my life with two winter climbs on the Manitou Incline an one summit of Bald Mountain on snowshoes. 50 degree weather has replaced the frigid start to the winter and spring feels tantalizingly close. I have stepped up my daily workouts at the gym and on the Pike National Forest Trails as plans are being made for spring and summer summits. 2015 was an awesome year with hikes in Cheyenne Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, Red Mountain and the Intemann Trail still fresh in my mind… but 2016 is shaping up to be one of my best years yet! I am hoping for that and a good spring and summer for my friends and fans as well 🙂
So I put the COMPLETE stamp on summer by finishing my Intemann Trail article for the Examiner. It was quite an adventure that took pretty much all summer, starting with a two and a half hour “short cut” from Red Rock Canyon over to Manitou Springs in quest of my press pass for the Pikes Peak Ascent.
Mountain Goats on Mount Bierstadt
It was a great summer that included a bunch of things I have been meaning to do for years, the whitewater festivals, visiting the wolves in Guffy, the mountain goats on Mount Evans, climbing 14ers Bierstadt and Yale, climbing the Manitou Incline with my brother and meeting Robin and best of all meeting new friends in person that I had only known through Facebook prior to this summer.
The fall colors come early in the Colorado high country, in fact it still feels like summer in the lower elevations when it is time to go up for the fall pictures. Fall felt like it officially started yesterday with the running of the annual Pikes Peak Road Runners Fall Series I race in Bear Creek Park down in the Springs.
I have to say I am not looking forward to the short days and long hours of darkness but the summer has left me with a bounty of over six thousand pictures to work with over the cold months. I am also looking forward to working on some new projects, including the re-start of my portrait photography services and a new line of T-Shirts now available on my Fine Art website along with many other products that are available there.
So anyway, have a great autumn everyone, I am certainly planning to 🙂
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.
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!