Love Letters: Sawatch Range/Salida/Buena Vista

Dear Sawatch Range/Salida/BV,

There’s something about you that just makes me want to keep coming back.

I’ve climbed all fo your 14,000ft peaks, and while I can’t say I’ve loved them all (mainly not those to the south), I can say that there is something about your wild side that has me mesmerized.  Hiking the Collegiate West, I feel a little bit like I’m on the new frontier, connecting me to the many men and women who risked everything to be here.  I hope I have at least an ounce of their grit.

Only ghost towns may physically still exist, but the souls of those who died here are still intertwined with the trees, rocks, and railroad tracks left behind.

Speaking of trees…

Quaking Aspen, do you have a message for me?

“S” mountain, decorated as a Christmas tree, you may be one of my favorite Christmas trees, second only to the one in my dad’s living room that has been up for 20+ years.

Salida, I must say, you’ve got to be the coolest, weirdest town I’ve ever known.  Eclectic only begins to describe you.

BV, you seem pretty neat too, though you don’t have Moonlight Pizza.  And thanks for your 2 minute shower for 4 quarters.

Needless to say, I’ll be back.

I’ve only touched exploring your depths upon which your nickname “high lonesome” stands.  But how could I ever be lonely, when I’ve got YOU, mountains, wildflowers, mountain goats, alpine lakes, and spirts to keep me company?

Until next time.

Love,

Ray & Pacer

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(Photo credit for above pic to Peter Maksimow.)

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Heartache and Healing in the San Juans

Okay, that title is a bit dramatic.  But it was the best I could come up with, so I used it.  Anyway…

For any of my regular readers (do I actually have any of those? No?  I don’t blame you.  I admittedly am not a blog reader myself.), you probably could read between the lines in my other blogs.  My relationship with the boy was coming to an end, in a way that was slow and then abrupt.  I’m not going to share the details here.  But with any breakup comes the need for healing, though this time through my healing was more for my soul than for my heart.  In some form of luck, I was already planning on heading to the San Juans, aka Heaven, for my last big adventure of the summer.  Because of the circumstance I was in, I just had to bump up my leave time…which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing!

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Pacer and I actually started our trip with a hike up the backside of Mt. Massive.  We did this 1) because Sandi had told us how beautiful it was when she did it earlier in the summer and 2) the drive from Estes Park to Ouray is LONG and I wanted to break it up.  It was also nice to start somewhere fairly familiar.

 

(Favorite radio station that come in in Leadville: 92.7)

From Leadville, we headed to Ouray and camped at Thistledown Campground…not the free dispersed camping we prefer, but it was the shortest drive and had good trail access for the morning.  Day 2 was supposed to be an easy day as I wanted to attempt Wilson Peak the next day, which would be mine and Pacer’s 40th 14er together.  Except I picked the road/trail leading up Imogene Pass.  And then I didn’t want to turn until we reached the top of the pass.  And then when we reached a pass a mountain (Telluride Peak) was right there with a nice trail going up!  And then I missed the turn on the way down to where we parked, and we added on an extra (few) miles and several hundred feet of elevation gain to get back to our car.  And so our easy day turned into 4.5ish hours.  Pacer hadn’t been feeling up for long back to back days, so I knew we still needed to take an easy day…so off to Telluride it was!

 

(Favorite Ouray/Montrose radio station: 103.7)

I was hoping to stop at the Ouray Hot Springs on the way to Telluride to shower as it’s the cheapest in the area and doesn’t have a time limit, but the skies that afternoon were bluebird and it was 75ish degrees out, so that was out of the question with Pacer in the car.  I did, however, stop at the mountain shop in Ouray to get a new headlamp (mine died) and a new running leash for Pacer, as I forgot hers and it’s so much easier to climb up a mountain and have my hands free.  After the unplanned shopping spree, we headed over to camp at Alta Lakes near Telluride.  To be honest, I don’t really like Alta Lakes.  I had camped there with my twin a few years before, so remembered it being free.  However, a lot of the lower campsites now had signs up for restoration, so I had to drive all the way up the rocky road to the campground, which was free, but nearer to other people and buggy because of the lakes.  Yes, it was pretty.  My mind just wasn’t in it, and I was thinking how far I had to drive back down the road to actually get to Telluride in the morning.

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In the morning, we woke up early and I realized I was being a bit dramatic about the camping space.  Still, we hustled down because I had work to do on the computer and I knew it would be cool in the morning and safe to leave Pacer in the car with the windows partially open (40ish degrees).  I drove to the only bakery/coffee shop I knew in town that wasn’t on the main street and I could park outside the doors.  I was slightly dismayed there was no vegan bakery items, so settled for a coffee and settled in to a spot with a charger and got most of my work done (when I have a time limit, it’s pretty impressive how much I can accomplish!).  I also met a local trail runner, who gave me a recommendation for a quiet trail for a true easy day that I could hike with Pacer later on.  Except it was still overcast when I finished my work, and I knew it was my chance to shower.  We headed down to the Telluride Pool/Camping area and I paid for a shower…$3 (in quarters) for 5 minutes.  Not exactly ideal, but eco-friendly I suppose.  And then we hiked for about 2hrs on the Deep Creek trail, which to be honest I didn’t really love, but it was quiet and at least easy to turn around, unlike the day before.  After lunch near the waterfall, we headed to the Lizard Head Wilderness Area and the Navajo Lakes Trailhead, the start of the route to Wilson Peak!

(Ooo, I also found a chocolate bar in my car…which is amazing that I actually forgot I had chocolate in my car!)

Okay, so actually, I wasn’t a total exclamation mark, at least at first.  As I mentioned before, Pacer and I were finishing up our list of the 14ers I thought a dog could do.  And the past few had been hard.  Mostly class 2+, but I knew this would have some class 3.  Could we do it?  Was I pushing Pacer too much?  On 8/29, I wrote in my journal:

“Currently at the only campsite by the Navajo Lake Trailhead.  A little nervous about Pacer (aren’t I always?) but excited for tomorrow’s attempt up Wilson Peak.  (I was nervous but was able to switch it around.  Biggest worry is Pace stopping in the middle of it, but I have booties!). ”

My prayer was “Mother Nature, grant us safe passage and give me the courage to turn if needed” and “watch over Pacer.”

The next evening, I was busy getting Thai Pie from Avalanche Brewing in Silverton, so it wasn’t until 8/31 that I wrote in my journal again:

“Supergirl submitted Wilson Peak!  In combo of the distance and technical terrain (class 3) it was our hardest.”  Our 14er project was a fun goal to have, but truly, I think I can speak for me and Pacer (not that I don’t always) when I say that we are excited to repeat our favorite 14ers next year with class 1 & 2 terrain.  (The only 14er we attempted but did not summit was Challenger, as there was too much loose rock.  We were slightly off route when we tried because of snow, so there is a tiny chance we will try again, but after reading other’s reports, it seems the terrain stinks regardless.)

I’ve also had to admit to myself that Pacer doesn’t love going over 8 hours anymore, or long back to back days.  She is NOT getting old…truly, she is 7 going on 3 (slightly maturing from last year when she was 6 going on 2), I just think she is a cuddle bug and sometimes rather be on a comfy bed sleeping…and she knows she can get her way.  So, I may just have to adapt and there may be more hotels interspersed with camping trips next year.

 

(On Saturday, we did a short hike by Paradise Basin…and then Pacer sat down in the middle of the trail, so we turned around and she started walking again.)

On Sunday morning, still in Silverton,  I woke up early, much earlier than I wanted, to run up the road and then up the trail to Ice Lake Basin, so I could let Pacer sleep in the car while it was still cool out (I was back before it hit 60 degrees and the windows were open. The sky window is one of the best features on my 2002 Subaru!)  I wasn’t able to make it up to the lakes, but I was so joyful on that run and had the biggest (and probably goofiest) smile on my face because it was so beautiful and the trail was so awesome.  After breakfast at the campsite, I headed into town to call my dad and wish him a happy birthday. (He treated himself by sleeping in until 9:30…he’s been waking up before 5 a.m. since he was a little boy.).  After driving around the mines a bit, getting a Thai wrap to go at Avalanche Brewing (Saturday I had the Thai salad) and completing the Thai triad, we started the drive towards Durango, where we had a hotel for the night so Pacer could rest and I could get some work done not sitting in the car, getting wifi from the visitor center.  Back to my journal:

“Almost instantly I was sad to be leaving.  I had forgotten how far away Durango is (50+ miles).  It’s like leaving Heaven, knowing you’ll be back when its your time, but still sad you can’t stay longer at present.  (I have thought about moving closer, but I couldn’t do the winters in the San Juans, and the nearby towns of Montrose and Durango don’t do it for me.). Budget Inn in Durango was a little creepy and old, but Pacer was super happy to have a bed and I was happy to have a shower and not to have to work from my car.”

I was also able to get our grocery shopping done and pick Pacey up some treats and wipes from Pet Haus.  I made dinner from the motel and half-watched a Hallmark movie, then Monster-in-Law.  In the morning, I was happy to awake to a spry Pacey.  We walked to the Animas Mountain trailhead and not much farther.  The trailhead sign says dogs must be leashed, but of course they weren’t.  A woman pulled up in her truck and let her energetic dogs out and they ran right towards us—they stopped short, but poor Pacer!  (I love dogs, its just Pacer and I have been attacked by off-leash dogs several times, and its not fair when Pacer has a leash and muzzle on, which I do for extra safety as she is reactive/sensitive). Another reason not to move to Durango!

Anyway, I then walked over to the rec center ($6.50 for the day) and ended up taking a spin class from Rock N’ Roll Bob.  Afterwards, I headed over to the thrift store for a book (I picked up The Ten Trusts by Jane Goodall and Marc Beckoff) (super nice store owner) and the The Coffee House (hotel only had a coffee pot in the lobby) and spoke to a friendly guy there as well.  Actually, almost everyone I talked to was friendly besides the woman from spin class who was annoyed with me for rolling my bike backwards to put it away (I stand at almost 5’4″, so the bike was nearly as big as me).  And then it was off to Creede with Pacer, rather than back to Silverton.  I felt like I had enough heartbreak the first time leaving the San Juans, but I still nearly cried leaving Durango.  I know the sadness comes from being blessed enough to have been there, which takes a bit of the edge off, but still hurts.

(Every time I enter Durango, I look for the Siesta Motel sign for a good laugh.)

In the end, I think heading to Creede was the right choice.  Pacer and I got to re-summit San Luis Peak, the first time we did it having been a side trip on our Colorado Trail thru hike in 2015.  It was slightly disorienting for me to do it from the opposite direction, but still felt good to be back and be on a trail that was mostly runnable.  My proverbial cup felt pretty full after that.

 

(September 2019, August 2015—Im so grateful to the guy who took our picture, as it too a bit of maneuvering with reactive pup, but he could’ve waited until Pacer closed her mouth! lol)

From there, we headed to Salida, first getting my favorite bottle of wine from Vino Salida, and then heading to our regular spot near the Shavano Trailhead.   “Am I ready to go back?” I journaled. “Good question.  Part of me wants to keep adventuring from trailhead to trailhead and part of me wants to shower and start my practice (Wanderlust Counseling).  I know I’ll be back.  And I want to explore my backyard more (Rocky Mountain National Park/Indian Peaks).  But I’ve been so far away from the rest of it.  Hopefully all goes smoothly tomorrow afternoon and getting my stuff.”

(Fav. BV/Salida radio station: 92.3…actually, this is one of my favorite stations period. I didn’t shower in Salida, but if I do when camping its usually at the Salida Hots Springs Aquatic Center, and in BV its back by the river park, again where you have to start with shampoo in your hands because it’s a few quarters for a few minutes.)

We finished up our trip with a 7ish mile run/hike to Ptarmigan Lake near Buena Vista, which was just as glorious as expected.  Then it was time to face what laid ahead, trying up a few loose ends that we had left behind.

At this moment, all is well.  I got to play in my backyard yesterday and run up to Odessa Lake in RMNP.  Girls on the Run starts today, and we had enough girls sign up for two teams!  I’m debating if we’ll stay and play near home this weekend, or head back out to the Sawatch Range one more time.  No wrong decision there.  Fall, change, is coming.

(Pace “helping” me prepare for Girls on the Run)

Perhaps the main reason I love the San Juan mountains is that they have this way of breaking you open.  They wrench at your heart, tear you down, and build you back up.  They’ve been doing this for decades (and probably much longer), from the Native Americans traveling through the hills, the mining families who dug for a better life, the mountaineers who’ve climbed the majestic peaks, the runners who’ve attempted Hardrock 100, the backpackers finishing their Colorado Trail thru-hike. There’s loss, but if you keep the hole open, you end up receiving so much more light and beauty than you could have ever expected.

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(Over looking the Colorado Trail and San Juans on one of my first trips to the area, near Molas Pass.  The first time I stoop at this spot, I fell in love.)

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Smiles,

Ray & Pacer

 

 

 

 

 

“Be Careful”: Misadventures with a Moose, Saved by Supergirl (again)

Monday night, the boy and I got into an argument as I talked to him on my cell phone from my camping spot near Cottonwood Lake near Buena Vista, CO and he in North Carolina for his daughter’s high school graduation.  I picked up my phone a little disgruntled, feel weird to be talking into a box in my hand while out in the wilderness, above 9,500ft and quite a few dirt miles away from town.  I was looking forward to some quiet time, and probably should’ve have communicated better, in a loving way, that I needed some time away from technology.  Anyway, a few minutes into our conversation, he told me “be careful.”  I started to explain to him that I understood his intent behind the statement, that he cared about me, but he interrupted and said something like “that’s on YOU if you feel that way.”  I quickly said goodnight and ended the conversation, before I refuted with something I didn’t mean.

You see, “be careful” can rub me the wrong way sometimes, especially when middle-aged white men tell it to me while I’m out hiking.  Again, though I know they mean well, I still know there is a doubt in my ability, because I am a woman.  As a woman, I know this is not just an assumption, as some well-meaning men might make it out to be.  I’m not going to dive too deep into this topic now, as I’ve talked about it before, but I can say with confidence and without an enlarged ego that I have a decent amount of experience in the wilderness, both alone  and with a group, learning from others who have decades of experience, plus Wilderness First Responder certification.  I also always think about mine and Pacer’s safety, both at night in my tent and hiking during the day, considering what are my safety tools.  On my Colorado Trail thru-hike, I had repeated to myself “dog, hiking poles, bear spray, and knife” several times, so if anything did happen, my reaction time would be quick.  I also know that every time I go out into the wilderness, there is a risk, which I like to think of a  calculated risk, which I try to keep pretty low.  For example, I’ve learned to start all my mountain climbs early, and have learned when to turn back (albeit I still tend to go a bit farther than I should before making that decision, as the story below illustrates.)

3 days after the argument with my partner, my carefulness was put to the test in way that I couldn’t have expected.  Could I have been prepared more?  Probably a little.  Did I make a mistake?  Yes, but not as much in main experience that put Pacer and I in a dangerous situation.  And, I am happy to report that the boy did not shame me experience later on (I had already done that, regardless of what I could and could not have done), but supported me in acknowledging the inherent risk in adventure, in life, that even the most experienced adventurist can fall upon the unexpected.  What follows is mine and Pacer’s story, that I say with some embarrassment, as I did not think something like this could happen to someone who respected nature.  I questioned telling this story, for what cause?  My hope is that if I share my experience with others, that they can gain experience from my story, without having to actually go through it.  Of course, I always find some catharsis in writing too, even if I put  myself at risk for being judged, for I know someone else will understand and appreciate my words.  So here it goes.

Pacer and I started our hike just before 6am (about 30 minutes later than planned) Thursday morning in Lost Creek Wilderness.  I was somewhat familiar with the area, first going through it when backpacking the Colorado Trail and then returning twice after to get to know the land a little more.  This time, Pacer and I had a 27 mile loop planned.  I had been thinking about it since last June, when we ran the Colorado Trail section with the boy, and then learned of the loop popular* among runners.  Pacer and I were going to fast pack it, as I was still healing from a calf strain and had been instructed by my PT to keep it flat when running.  Hence why we were starting so early.

*Popular is relative in the Lost Creek Wilderness area, as it is pretty remote area, between the “towns” of Bailey and Jefferson, which are very teeny towns.

We cruised the first few miles, both in our excitement for adventure and because the trail was mostly flat and smooth (great for running, I had thought).  About an hour in, maybe less, we came to a cool looking rock cropping, off to the side of the trail, which we stopped to take a picture at, then got back on the trail.  We continued to pass empty campsites, and the trail became slightly more technical.  I figured we were supposed to get some elevation in, so it seemed okay.  We also passed another hiker, who stopped to ask me where we were on the map.  I told him where (I thought) we were, and it sounded like he had missed a turn and was hoping to get a ride back to his car from the Lost Creek Campground.  Pacer and I continued on, following a dirt path up and down near a stream, that got increasingly more technical.  Before I knew it, we were in a canyon and following cairns on boulders.  We did this for awhile, before I decided this was getting to dangerous, and I wouldn’t put Pacer through anymore of this terrain (she has amazing athletic ability, but boulder hopping is not her favorite thing.). I figured we could hike back to where we started, and start heading out for awhile on the trail we were supposed to loop back on.

We got a bit lost heading back, with me first trying to take an easier path back.  Eventually we back tracked, finding a familiar point, and then re-tracing our steps from there.  From my experience, back tracking is ALWAYS the answer (okay, maybe 97% of the time).  I was happy with my decision to turn.  I can’t remember how far back we traveled, but we were still on part of the trail that had some ups and downs.  Pacer started picking up speed, and I knew she smelled something.  This is a familiar experience, as it is almost a daily occurrence on our runs or walks near where we live in Estes Park that she smells or sees a deer and starts pulling me a long.  She was looking across the creek, so that’s where I look too, following a weaving trail.  Then we turned and entered a bit of a clearing, and 15ft in front of us was a bull moose.

At least I think it was a bull moose, I think I saw antlers, but everything happened so quickly after that.  The moose started charging towards us, before I even had a chance to think, only to feel fear. Pacer was barking madly and pulling at her leash, which I dropped.  I watched as this huge, 1,000 pound animal ran over my dog, my heart, while I screamed.  It then stopped and turned towards me, and I stupidly put my hands up, using bear technique, which I usually think about more that moose tactics (usually I just think “stay away” for moose, as I had always first seen a moose at a distance).  All I can remember is it continued to run towards me, then I was down, he was over me.  I can’t remember how I fell, if I did it on my own or if he pushed me down (I have bruise on my shoulder, so maybe he pushed me with his head?).  I don’t remember the position I was in when I hit the ground.  It wasn’t that I was knocked out, it just happened so fast that I can’t remember.  Out of the corner of my eye, I think I saw the moose stop and turn towards me again, but by that time Pacer had recovered and was running toward him.  I screamed more, as I was worried for her safety (something happening to her is my worst nightmare.)  But she continued to run after him, and he ran away through the trees.  Not long after, Pacer ran back towards me, and I was awash with relief that she was okay, we were alive.  I was also in a state of shock (not to be confused with medical shock, which can be life threatening).

First, I processed what Pacer, aka Supergirl, had done.  She had protected me, against an animal 10x my size, and 20x her size.  Again, she had saved me.  First from myself years ago, and now from a potentially terrible injury.  (When I told this story to my parents, I didn’t not use the word fatal, which moose attacks certainly can be.)  I then assessed myself.  Nothing seemed broken.  My right calf was hurting and swelling, but I could walk.  Being a WFR, I assed my own level of awareness.  I was A+O x 4.  All good.  Miraculously, Pacer and I were relatively unharmed.

And so, I got up and continued to hike out.  Pacer led me gently out, knowing I was hurting a bit.  Mentally, I did my best keeping myself together.  We had to get back and I didn’t feel like explaining my condition to another hiker.

My thoughts were like a frozen berries in a blender, though not as tasty.  There was bewilderment of what had just happened, blame for putting me and Pacer in the situation (even if it was partially just bad luck), and admittedly, even some anger/sadness that my joyous adventure day was ruined. And fear.  While I feel like I’ve always had a healthy fear, a respect for the wilderness, this was new.  The place that I had always felt at home at, the place I had first felt like I belonged, was now doused in a very visceral fear.  It was like a burglar had broken into my house.  Would I ever be able to go back inside and feel safe again?

Eventually we came back to the cool looking rock-cropping.  I noticed what looked like a trail on the other side of it.  We walked passed the rocks, and I looked at a fallen sign post by my feet.  The wood was pointing in the direction of the trail I head been on, but someone had lightly etched “Wigwam Trail” into it with an arrow pointing in the other direction.  Fudge. (Okay, I probably swore.). I had considered that we may have taken the wrong trail, but thought it was perhaps at one of the water crossings.  I knew there was an obscure trail on my map that I wasn’t supposed to take, but this wasn’t what I pictured. I had thought at that if the trail was obvious, it would have at least been properly marked.  But I had missed it.  Poor on another layer of self-blame, heavy like fudge, but more like sludge.

We made it back to Surry (short for Surrender-supposed to be a good reminder for me) the Subaru, put Pacer in with extra treats and fresh water, left a note in the camp fee box that asked to fix the trail sign and warnings of an aggressive moose (I did not mention the attack, as many moose who attack humans are euthanized, and I believe the moose charged out of surprise and his own fear), and drove the 20 miles back down the bumpy dirt road until I got cell service.  I had been debating on whether to call my sister or the boy first.  I just needed to mentally lean on someone, rather than hold it all in.  I chose my sister, as I still had the boy’s “be careful” warning in my head.  I choked up as soon I started talking, not being able to hold it all in any longer, but not wanting to worry her either.  Really, just needing to hear a calming voice.  I talked to her for a bit and then I called the boy, who was boarding his plane back to CO.  I repeated the story, him making sure I was okay to drive the few hours back to Estes Park before we ended the call.  I felt okay, so we went home.

The drive was uneventful, but I could feel the pain in my calf increase, could tell the swelling had continued.  I had my  NOLS Wilderness First Responder book in my car, so I looked up Compartment Syndrome.  Symptoms include:

  • Pain out of proportion to the injury or stimulated by stretching or movement (Kinda.  Walking hurt. Touch hurt.)
  • Palor: Pale or cyanotic skin (Nope!)
  • Pulseless: Diminished or absent distal pulse (Still good here)
  • Pressure: The muscles may feel tight or full. (YES)

Treatment: Rapidly evacuate.

When we got home, I hobbled inside holding onto Pacer’s leash.  The cats were happy to see me (and wanting to be fed) and one brushed upon my leg (which was now comparable to the cyclist with calf implants in the Liberty Mutual commercial) which caused me to scream in pain.  Still, I managed to shower, then lie on the couch with my foot elevated.  I can’t remember if I called the my insurance’s nurse hotline first, or scrolled through Netflix.  I think it was Netflix, so I’ll start there.

Of course, I had to check Facebook before going to Netflix, and vides of Gabe Grunewald, the professional runner who recently passed at age 32 after battling a rare form of cancer for several years.  Then I went to Netflix, scrolling through the “comedies” section,  needing a laugh.  My mouse hovered over “50/50” which looked good, until I read the description that it was about a young man who had received a cancer diagnosis with a 50/50 survival rate.  That was it.  The dam had broken, flood gates open.

Because the truth is, what I had been holding back wasn’t simply the fear I had felt in my experience earlier in the day.  What I had been holding back for weeks was there fear of my older sister’s (second) cancer diagnosis, something I have chosen remain private about until now.  The truth is, I’m terrified.  She’ll find out if the newest treatment has been working on my and my twin’s 31st birthday.  It has to be working.  There’s no other option.  I can’t even handle the thought of it not working.  She’ll turn 35 years old, 2 weeks after my 31st.  She is too young not to live.

Once I stopped sniffling, I finally chose “Julie & Julia” which I had never seen before (great film besides all the dead animals used for cooking).  I then decided I should call the ER, who turned me to my insurance’s nurse hotline.  After going through my history and current symptoms (looked like cyclist from insurance commercial, yelling at the poor cat when he touched me, but could wiggle my toes!) she told me I should go to the ER, that I should have someone else drive me.  My twin offered to come up from Boulder.  The boy said to call our landlords.  I stubbornly drove.  (Feeling safe to do so, knowing I wasn’t putting others at risk!)

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I know the quality of this pic is terrible, but it gives an idea of how much my leg swelled.

To make the story a little shorter, I’ll wrap this part up quickly.  Because Estes Park is a small town (without the tourists), I saw the doctor right away.  He quickly ruled out compartment syndrome, as when he touched my ankle, the whole compartment didn’t hurt and the pain would be more constant.  I got X-rayed. No broken bones.  Again, a small miracle that I neither Pacer or I were badly injured, which I in part owe to my mom for praying for her 3 daughters every morning.  With instructions to rest, ice, (compression was out because it would’ve hurt too much), elevate*, and take ibuprofen, I limped back out of the hospital.  The boy got back home an hour later, food in tow.  Pacer laid under my leg, helping me to elevate it as I ate and watched Julie & Julia.  My Supergirl.

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Recovering with Supergirl.

*RICE is not a proven treatment for musculoskeletal injuries, and NOLS stopped teaching this practice in December, 2017.

A few days later, my leg is still swollen, but I was able to (forcibly) pull on my skinny jeans.  Now that the swelling has gone down some, the bruises are starting to appear.  I’m cycling, but still days out from running.  Pacer is eager to go on long walk tomorrow.  I’m looking at 14ers.com, checking out the snow conditions.  When will I be able to climb up again?  Pacer is lying on the other side of the pillows elevating my leg, eyes closed.  Sampson the cat is scrunched up on the other side of the pillows, close to me and twitching in his slumber.  I still haven’t processed the event, mixed in with the rest of life.          I know I’ll go out again, just me and Pacer, but I don’t know what else besides our gear I’ll be bringing with me.

I know the likelihood of being charged by a moose again is rare.  However, stories like this are no longer something I just read about.  Now it’s real.  I hope my friends don’t have to have an experience like this, and that they, you, can continue to spot moose from afar, enjoying their massive grace.  Still, as what I feel is my duty, here are a few tips from beprepared.com if you are ever charged by a moose:

  • Back off and run. Make sure you get behind the nearest tree, fence, or building that acts as a strong barrier between you and the moose.
  • Curl up in a ball. If a moose knocks you to the ground, curl up into a ball. It may continue running, start stomping, or kicking you. Curling up will protect your head and vital organs.
  • Don’t get up until the moose moves a good distance away. If you try to get up while it’s close, it could attack again.

Here’s a link to the full article: https://www.beprepared.com/blog/15573/7-signs-youre-going-to-be-attacked-by-a-moose/

(Articles also state to keep dogs on a short leash when hiking through moose territory-there are a reason for the leashed dog signs!-which have worked for Pacer and I in past encounters with moose.)

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Moose seen safely from our tent on the Colorado Trail, near Molas Pass.

Safe & Happy Adventures,

Ray & Pacer (aka Supergirl)

Fleeting Beauty

6/29

Yesterday, I turned 30 with Sandi in Chamonix, France.

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Already, the day is nothing but a nostalgic moment. A beautiful memory.  I want to cling to the moment, but as soon as I grasp, it is like a cloud escaping my clenched fist.

I want to go back to the moment, standing on alpine ground with the wildflowers all around.  The marmots hiding behind rocks.  The avalanche in the distance with its powerful sound cracking through the sky.  Witnessing all this with my sister by my side.

Or that moment where we stood inside the glacier, surrounded by icy blue, magical walls.

But those moments, the ones I want to last forever, like when I am in the “land of in-between”*, or on Christmas Eve when I’m surrounded by love ones and joy, that go by so fast.

I try to stay on the mountain top, but the sun moves, the clouds come in, and I grow cold.

It is all impermanent.

I realize all I can do is be present, accept the present that I am in.  To soak it in, and move on with the precious moment now inside of me, part of me.

And I let myself be sad.  When I let the sadness come in, I realize I am also rejoicing.  Rejoicing the blessed and beautiful life I am living.

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Me and my other half on our 30th birthday in Chamonix, France.

*The places between Heaven and Earth.