“Be not the slave of your own past—plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wednesday Sprocket and I set off looking for some adventure. We started off hiking up the Weehawken Trail just outside of Ouray. The trail switchbacks pretty much straight up a hill and just doesn’t stop. Our goal was to get to the Alpine Mine remains.
It was such an absolutely beautiful day. We weren’t in much of a hurry and it was pretty great to be up in the mountains with this guy:
The mine itself was a bit of a letdown but we decided to not stop there and work our way up to the ridge above the mine. I’ll admit to thinking “Just one more highpoint” more than once as we worked our way along. I had to finally give up when I reached a slope that I wasn’t comfortable leading Sprocket down alone.
Here’s the view from the furthest point we made up the ridge line, not too shabby:
After work on Sunday, Sprocket and I took a detour on the way home. We took County Road 1A instead of County Road 1 and found it to be a bumpy road without much purpose. We did get to check out this sweet canyon though (and let’s be honest, I love wandering a dirt road to no purpose whatsoever, especially with Sprocket and/or F).
The whole point of taking 1A was to tap into 1B which puts you into a nice chunk of BLM up on the mesa. The public land is crowned by McKenzie Butte (8,017′) and that was our summit goal for the day. It’s not far from a small parking area off this road to the summit of the Butte, but that was just fine for Sprocket and I.
That horrible awful sound? What was it?
It wasn’t a “crunch” and as we creeped forward, it continued. I hopped out of the jeep, took a look, and then calmly said, “Uh, set the e-brake. There appears to be a rock in the fender.”
That rock got kicked up, passed over the wheel (hitting the tub the whole way and making that awful sound). We looked at it a bit, and decided the course of action: letting all the air out of the tire.
Fortunately, we carry a compressor on board so we could do this, that rock was wedged in there tight!
I asked Forrest if he’d ever had that happen before and he said he’d heard of it but never seen it. (Sounds like some crazy Jeep legend. But here I am, with photo evidence to tell you it’s true.)
Ever had just a weird event interrupt an adventure?
I just finished reading The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1978-1960. Weighing in at nearly 500 pages, I was worried that the book would get “old” or too in depth. I was completely wrong!
The Quiet World details the men and women who fought to save Alaska’s wild places from extractive industry (mining, timber, over fishing and hunting). The author, Douglas Brinkley, is clearly a strong environmentalist. There is little sympathy in this book for multiple use or even responsible extractive industry (except for maybe on the part of Native Alaskans). I was able to deal with this bias just fine because, well, it’s just like my own: the short term cost of keeping wilderness wild pays dividends beyond what we can imagine in the future.
The book introduced me to lots of new (to me) names in Alaska’s environmental history but I was most excited to learn more about Gifford Pinchot, William O. Douglas, and Teddy Roosevelt. (Teddy was the focus of Brinkley’s 2009 book The Wilderness Warrior which is going to be one of my next reads!) I found the end of the book a little weak, just stopping with the early 60’s prior to the adoption of the Wilderness Act of 1964, but that was made clear when I read the acknowledgements: the author is writing Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carson, Stewart Udall, and the Modern Environmental Movement 1961-1964. Brinkley is conceiving of The Wilderness Warrior, The Quiet World, and Silent Spring Revolution as being the beginning of a complete series of American Environmental History.
The book was well written, covered a lot of ground, and gave a great background on how we managed to have so much of Alaska preserved in various federal agencies. It also made clear how precarious that protection can be.
We’ve been itching to get up to the high country and haven’t been very successful between work and snow. Last Sunday, we finally headed up Corkscrew Pass. We didn’t have a very concrete plan, just that I had to be at work by 3:30.
As we reached the end of Corkscrew Gulch and started climbing towards the pass, I was astounded by the colors. The blue sky contrasting with the bright red of Red Mountains #1, #2, and #2 backed with gray snow covered peaks was just breathtaking.
From Corkscrew Pass, we skirted the basin of Cement Creek on our way to Hurricane Pass. The views continued to be amazing as we climbed higher and higher. (Sprocket was apparently worn out by sniffing and took a nap.)
After enjoying the view at the top of the pass, we studied our map and decided to head home via Poughkeepsie Gulch. Poughkeepsie is supposed to be an awesome jeep road and would have made a nice loop for us. Unfortunately, the start of the road was still blocked by snow so we settled for some awesome views of Lake Como and then headding out via Animas Forks and California Pass.
We were starting to be a little short on time so we had to hit the road. We’re looking forward to stopping to explore the ghost town of Animas Forks, run Poughkeepsie Gulch, and take Sprocket swimming at one of his favorite new lakes!
“Freedom of movement is the very essence of our free society — once the right to travel is curtailed, all other rights suffer.”
-William O. Douglas
The other morning, I woke up and started doing some clean up around the house. I ventured outside at one point and noticed that all of our prickly pear was blooming. Most of the time, we’re cursing these low lying cacti that seem to disappear until you step on them but oh man were they breathtaking in bloom:
Laying on my bed, reading, I pondered if I’d gotten too much sun laying out among the trees that afternoon. A little pink, I decided, but it’d be fine.
Unexpectedly, my lazy pup, leaped to his feet and ran to the door, just sitting. He settled in, laying down and staring intently out the door.
I had a sneaking suspicion, we had some furry friends outside. I smiled to myself, proud that my dog doesn’t chase animals.
Sure enough, my buddy and these guys were just watching each other.
It’s those little happy moments that let me know I’m doing something right.
Have you had one of these moments recently that just make you smile?
“I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars make me dream.”
-Vincent Van Gogh