Happy Winter Solstice

Alone in the woods in the coldness and darkness of the Rocky Mountain winter Christmas and the New Year holidays become meaningless dates on an arbitrary calendar, nights to be endured not celebrated… The birth of Christ, celebrated all over the world by families almost certainly did not occur exactly on the 25th of December anyway. In those Spartan circumstances another date becomes meaningful, tangible and measurable. It is the solstice, the day when the sun halts it’s southward journey assuring us that the next day will be a little lighter, for some an encouraging concept even if only a few seconds at first.

Fortunately the great celestial moment is not quite as important to me this year. After a decade of sickness, death and hardship I am finally on the rebound with a new town, a new job and a new home. Amazing what modern insulation, a solid roof and a good furnace can do to ease the hardship of a Colorado winter!

Rest assured the birth of my Saviour has not been forgotten, in fact the miracle of a new start making me all the more appreciative of His great mercy and divine provision. Personally I subscribe to the belief that He was born on the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles, the clue given by the Apostle John as he describes His coming to tabernacle among us. 

Although I will not refrain from the joy of the traditional holiday season this year, I feel no guilt in also celebrating the wonder of His magnificent creation, marked today by the amazing annual astronomical event in the heavens 

So it is my sincere hope that my readers will also receive some comfort in knowing that the light of day is on the increase and the warmth of spring is not that far off!

Happy Solstice!

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Withdrawal

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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!

Life’s a Beach

The nightmare week of snow is finally over with, the sun is shining and it appears spring may be trying to make a comeback. I have to say, it was not a pleasant week, the snow was wet and sticky, horrible for snowshoes or ice trekkers. The colors were too dull and gray for anything but black and white pictures and the fog and snow removed any semblance of contrast from the landscape. I did venture out a couple of times to see if I could find the wildlife and a brief encounter yesterday did yield a not too impressive image of a deer herd that looked a bit curious as to why a human would be out in that mess.

Beach-Walk-2.jpgThe time was not wasted though, I took the bad weather opportunity to scan some prints of models that I had previously produced and uploaded them as prints and Rights Managed Stock on Pixels.com. It was an enjoyable journey through better times as I looked through my portfolio for the best images to scan. Life seemed easier then, summers longer, springs much more pleasant. Each image I reviewed held a story, a moment of fun, joy and a testament to good times. Unfortunately in the chaos of our cancer battle waged over the last few years I have lost track of my model friends that I worked with to create these images. Prior to FAA it was a real struggle to market these images, which is how they wound up in a box in the first place, but I’m sure they would get a kick out of seeing them published now!

So this morning in the pre dawn chill I have uploaded a few more to my FAA and Pixels.com site, but it is warming up quickly outside now and I will need to give some thought to other activities. Don’t think the melting snow and mud will make for very good hiking, but it might be a nice day to go to the gym for an indoor workout as I prepare for a spring and summer assault on higher ground not accessible in the dead of winter! Last year after an entire year of inactivity I was not ready for the higher elevations until fall. This year I am hoping for a much more active summer πŸ™‚

Winter 2016

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.

Summit-HikerIt 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.Β  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.

InclineFebruary 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 πŸ™‚

Change

The rains of last week have given way to heavy snow today. The north slope of the peak is covered with a fresh white mantle of snow and it is obvious that change is on the way.

Snowy-PeakWe were hoping for change on the cancer front as well as we finished our last day of radiation treatment on Friday. However, hopes for significant improvement have begun to fade. Prior to the treatments the radiation doctor assured us that pain would be reduced and tumors would shrink but at this point it doesn’t appear that there is going to be much change in either problem.

Most of what we enjoy together has been taken from us by the cancer. Walking, hiking, shopping and cooking meals together have been reduced to wheelchair walks to the library and the coffee shop. Now with today’s snow I am filled with dread at the thought of being stuck at home with nothing to do but watch movies and look at Facebook.

But I know that God is good and He is merciful. We are told that the affects of heΒ  treatment will continue to develop over the next few weeks and there is hope that her God given immune system will take advantage of this time that the cancer has been weakened to provide the cure. And there is always the hope of a direct intervention from the Great Physician Himself.