Piñon Mesa Ridge

Sunday Sprocket and I drove up to Grand Junction to do a bit of shopping. I wish I would have had the stroke of brilliance just another hour earlier but at about 2pm I decided I’d had enough of the “city” and decided to head for Piñon Mesa—the prominence point of Mesa County. As it turned out, the short mid-November day was too short to accommodate about 13 miles of snowy driving and the short, but partially off trail, hike to the summit. I’ll definitely be back though—I couldn’t believe how close the La Sals and the Abajos looked from here!

Road to Pinon Mesa

Grand Valley

Snow and sunshine

Sprocket

Even though we didn’t get to the summit, walking through the cold, crisp sunlight made my heart so happy. Spending some time outside with Sprocket doing a bit racing and laughing through the snow and a little quiet staring off in the distance was just what I needed.

View from Pinion Mesa ridge

Snow and sunshine

Late afternoon. Early winter.

Sprocket

Sunset over Grand Valley

Amanda Shires

Shortly after finding out I’d gotten the job in Ridgway, I found out Amanda Shires was playing at the Wright Opera House in Ouray. Shires plays the type of singer-songwriter alt-country music that I really love so I immediately bought a ticket.

Then, about four hours before showtime, things got even better when I learned that Jason Isbell, Shires husband, would be playing guitar. Isbell played in Telluride awhile ago and I was so bummed to miss out. (You should totally check out the Death, Sex & Money podcast Confessions of a Nashville Power Couple featuring Shires and Isbell; it’s awesome.)

Amanda Shires

The show was absolutely worth every penny and the really snowy drive home. Shires was so personable and entertaining and the venue was one of the most intimate I’ve ever attended a show at. (It almost reminded me of the Village Club Series at Bates.) Watching these two perform together was also amazing.

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires

If you ever get the chance to see Amanda be sure to go! The show will not disappoint.

Colorado 13er: Precipice Peak

After spending so much of October immersed in my #damselNOTindistress project, I decided that it was finally time for me to get out and enjoy the last of the gorgeous fall weather that we’d been experiencing in the San Juans. Since I still wanted to have time to get back and keep working on the house, I chose Precipice Peak. It was highly appealing as a 13er that I can see from town and it’s a pretty short hike from the 4WD trailhead in the West Fork valley.

Precipice Peak

It felt so astoundingly good to be out with Sprocket after spending so much time going from work at school to work on the house.

Sprocket and Beth on the slopes of Precipice Peak

Cimarrons

I was reminded how small I feel in the outdoors and how alive that makes me feel:

Feeling small on Precipice

Sprocket on Precipice Peak

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The views from the top were some of the best that I’ve seen. I could see out into Utah spotting the La Sals and the Abajos. I could see a long ways south into the San Juans, enjoying views of mountains I’d climbed: Mt. Sneffels, Uncompahghre Peak, and Courthouse.

Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn, Matterhorn

View NW to Courthouse

We made great time heading back down the slopes. Sprocket entertained me by frolicking in the alpine meadows. ♥

Sprocket on Precipice

 

The Girl Who Goes Alone

Quite awhile ago, Sarah of JabberWalk, posted this poem by Elizabeth Austen, Washington State’s poet laureate. I read it and absolutely loved it. Recently, I found myself talking about the poem and how much I’d loved it.

Reading again it again recently, I found myself crying. I do go alone, often. And each and everytime I go alone, I have to justify how it was safe and wise to do so. Now, I find myself not only doing things alone in the outdoors but also eating alone, making life plans alone, sleeping alone, and dreaming my very own alone dreams. (Except for my fuzzy companion, of course.)

The Girl Who Goes Alone

Here’s the thing about being a girl
and wanting to play outside.
All the grownups grind it into you from the get go:
girls outside aren’t safe.
The guy in the car? If he rolls down the window and leans his head out, run,
because the best you can hope for is a catcall, and at worst,
you’ll wind up with your face on the side of a milk carton.

Even when you’re a grown-up girl, your father—because he loves you—
will send you a four-page article about how to protect yourself
while standing at the ATM, while travelling unescorted, while jogging solo,
an article informing you how to distinguish phony police
and avoid purse snatchers, pickpockets, rapists and thugs.

Tell someone you’re going into the woods alone
and they’ll fill your ears with every story they’ve ever heard
about trailside cougar attacks, cave dwelling misogynists,
lightning strikes, forest fires, flash floods,
and psychopaths with a sixth sense for a woman alone in a tent.

To be a girl alone in the wilderness is to know
that if something goes wrong—
you picked the trailhead where the ax murderer lurks
or the valley of girl-eating gophers—
if you don’t come home unscathed, the mourning
will be mixed with I-told-you-sos
from everyone whose idea of camping involves an RV or a Motel 6.
The message is clear: Girls must be chaperoned.

So when, at the end of the day, you zip up the tent
and lie back in your sleeping bag,
fleece jacket bundled
into a lumpy pillow under your head, the second
you close your eyes every least night noise is instantly magnified.

You lie there and consider the pungent heft of menstrual blood,
how even your sweat is muskier, louder, when you’re bleeding.
Not hard to imagine its animal allure—every bear for miles around
sniffing you on the night wind.

You lie there listening, running a mental inventory of any
potentially scented item—
did every one make it into the food bag hung from a tree?
Toothpaste, trail mix, chapstick, sunscreen—fuck.
Sunscreen still in your pack, nestled right beside you
where Outdoor Man used to sleep. So you’re up, out of the tent,
headlamp casting its too-bright spotlight, darkening the dark outside its reach
as you lower the bag, shove the sunscreen in on top of the trash
with its food wrappers and used tampons. Hoist and tie.

Far enough from the ground to elude the bears?
Far enough out from the branch to thwart raccoons?
Tree far enough from the tent to keep from signaling the proximity
of ground level, girl-shaped snacks?

You go alone—in part—to prove that though Outdoor Man has left you,
his body is the only geography he can deprive you of.
He can give his muscled calves and thighs, his shoulders, chest and hands
to another woman, but not the Sauk River old growth, snow fields of Rainier,
sea stacks of Shi Shi.

He can keep from you the sweet, blood-thrilling hum of his body, but not
the sweaty, blood-thumping-back-aching pleasure of a hard-earned
panoramic view, high altitude starlight or the singular blue of a crevasse.

The thing about being a girl who goes alone, who goes
again and again is that it freaks
the potential next boyfriend. He doesn’t want to be out machoed
and he doesn’t want to admit it and he hopes you can’t tell.
The thing about being the girl who still goes alone is that it proves
you don’t need him and no matter how you show him you want him
it’s not the same
and you both know it.

Zipped back into the tent you remind yourself you’ve never really been in danger.
When have you ever been in danger? Well there was that boy, but years ago,
a teenager like you, driving around bored and pissed at the world,
his BB gun and his father’s two rifles
and on the seat beside him. Lucky you.
The gun he leveled on the window ledge
lodged nothing more than a BB in your thigh.

The thing about being a girl alone in the woods is you know too much
about the grain of truth in the warnings.

Even if you seem impervious, weird good luck leaving you so far unscathed,
you know the other girls’ stories—your sister
date raped after a party in college, a friend
raped by a stranger at knife-point, the two women
shot on the Pinnacle Lake trail. The singer
killed by coyotes in Nova Scotia.

The thing
about being a girl
who goes alone
is that you feel like you shouldn’t go
if you’re afraid. If you go it should mean you’re not afraid,
that you’re never afraid. Your friends will think that you go unafraid.

This girl
who goes alone
is always afraid, always negotiating to keep the voices in her head
at a manageable pitch of hysteria.

I go knowing that there will be a moment—maybe long moments, maybe
hours of them, maybe the whole trip—when I curse myself for going alone.
When I lie in the tent and all I am is fear.

I walk in the wilderness alone so I can hear myself.

So I can feel real to myself.

I walk into the wilderness alone
because the animal in me needs to fill her nose with the scent of stone and lichen,
ocean salt and pine forest warming in early sun. I need to feel my body—
taxed and stretched and aching.

I go because I know I’m lucky to have a car, gas money, days off,
the back and legs and appetite
to take me there.
I go because I still can.

The girl who goes alone
claims for herself
the madrona, juniper, daybreak,
she claims hemlock, prairie falcon, nightfall,
nurse log, sea star, glacial moraine,
huckleberry, trillium, salal,
snowmelt, avalanche lily, waterfall,
birdsong, limestone, granite, moonlight, schist,
cirque, saddle, summit, ocean,
she claims the curve of the earth.

The girl who goes alone says with her body
the world is worth the risk.

Ridgway Life

Lately, life has been a little rough at times. I’ve been adjusting to life on my own and taking on a new career all while tackling my #damselNOTindistress projects.

However, looking back at the last week, I can’t help but smile. I attended an awesome Halloween party at The Sherbino:

Minion

Halloween 2014

 

Monday, I went out for burgers and beer with friends. Then Wednesday, we gathered again to eat cheese, drink wine, and play Cards Against Humanity.

Cards Against Humanity

Yesterday morning, our whole school gathered to send off our volleyball team to state. It didn’t hurt that the volunteer fire department escorted the bus out to the highway with lights and sirens.

Volleyball Sendoff

Then last night, I was driving home from yet another Home Depot trip and was absolutely astounded by the quiet beauty of the mountains in the moonlight.

Sometimes it’s just the little things, you know?

 

What little things are making you happy this week?