26 January 2009

Piety is not religion

Pixilated presence leered over my shoulder
Impetuous confidence exuded the stench of
saltwater left to winter
in a caliginous closet.
He professed no apologies for
theomanic visions,
puissant neurosis,
religious leverage.
Proscribed my moral direction
demagnetized by megalomaniac mendaciousness.

Yet the more he spouted recklessly
the more he swayed in his interlunar lunacy -
stronger at midday -
more forceful with a fortified diet -
cigar afterwards -
brandy snifter pockmarked by chapped lips;
A satiated gourmand,
mouth aflame and sullied brain.

Awaken after his bacchanalian recourse
he launched vociferously into dogmatic digressions
to an empty cupboard and an idle-brained audience
of him
& Him.

For I left alone,
taking the long way round,
Fearful of being mistaken for a zealot,
or worse still,
An epigone,
poor both in manners and money,
plagued by theological halitosis.
Forgive me Father for I have sinned.
The incense flutters past The Stations no longer.
I know the hill where I confess my love of man
and donned mortality once more.


I felt the cold rain before the approaching sun.
The chilly respite caused me pause,
contemplation of its icy staccato.

There is light and warmth unblemished
outside the trance of this nightly nadir.
Shivering, I beckon the acquiescence.

The mist dissipates into the twilight.
The scene transmutes into ocher folds,
sandstone spires stand sentinel in the sun.

The fluttering flight of a grosbeak breaks the horizon.
Untouched by eons, it relents to instinct,
throaty song a harbinger of my rebirth.

My wrinkles have grown on me

Let's try this life on;
tailor-made cosmopolitan
tweed tied tightly as a garrote,
A lil' snug 'round the neck.

Wash and wear instructions;
faded sanskrit indecipherable
like prerogatives over a cell phone,
Was that double entendre?

Clearance sale rack bargain;
Blemished and irregular fit
No refunds or returns allowed,
I just got used to this kabuki mask.

20 January 2009

Because somebody has to do it

I sat looking at grey creamy snow, whipped up by the melting rays of the sun and the slush produced by parking cars. Peering towards the rearview mirror, I spied the twin pickets of my skis; a pair of Thunderbirds gazing back with lidless eyes.

I shifted in my seat, legroom made cramp by the ski boots I donned 10 minutes earlier.

A wave of goose-bumps synchronously lapped over me as I listened to a man, a simple man, over two thousand miles away address the throngs eagerly sipping up every word, satiated by the ambrosia of hope that rushed forward like a fountain from his mouth.

I can honestly say I have never had a politician inure such a reaction in me - and I have sat in press row back in college during a trip by Clinton in the 90s (Yes I'm dating myself).

But a man cannot change a country of millions. That is up for the republic to decide; whether to continue to live in ignorance and excess or to subscribe to a little charity and humility. We'll find out.

As soon as the words, "God bless the United States of America" finished ushering from the President's lips, I was turning of the radio and getting on my skis.

I mean somebody had to go and enjoy the natural splendor of this great country. Why not me?

See this guy? Cute, ain't he? Looks rather innocuous and was a rather good companion when he flew in and started hopping towards me, emitting little cheeps.

The Mountain Jay, or also known as The Gray Jay or The Hiker Jay, due to their seemingly lack of fear of man. They are known to land and perch in people's hands. I've seen the photos.

Well, I'm guessing in those pictures, the birds aren't January hungry. He was an aggressive little guy, dancing to within a few inches of my boots, then scooting off and then swooping in close, hovering a mere foot from my face before landing.

And then the solitary jay became two, and then six. Soon I was vigilant as I ate my lunch. But with three directions on which to spy, I let my guard down. That's when I heard a strange scratching sound near my ear.

The initial jay tried landing on my ski helmet and was now hovering in front of my turning face. I shooed him away and hurriedly ate the final bites of my apple, before hucking the core 100 feet.

That bought me time to shove a PB&J sandwich in my gullet. But I was noticed and the second wave of harassment commenced. I tore up a couple of corners and tossed them to gain a few seconds of solace in which to finish.

Looking down valley during a rare moment of tranquility

Since soaking in the sun and the views was out of the question, I skinned back up the long slope I just skied down. About a third of the way up, towards the point where I would have to put the skis on the pack and boot up, I turned my head and noticed a parade of the same jays fluttering from tree to tree on the periphery.

I was being followed. And the thing is whenever I would look over there, I swear to God, they would act inconspicuous. Seriously, like, "Oh nothing to see here. We're just foraging on these branches."

Anyways, while the goods weren't that great, it still was a great day. Calm and warm weather, so much I was skiing in a shirt and my Moonstone rainpants (good call on my part to leave the heavier snowpants at home)

Looking out from a 5 1/2-foot deep snow pit. Nice consolidation on the slopes. The snow is setting up perfectly..... as long as you ignore the 6 inches of facets that all of these tons of snow sits on. I don't want to be around when these gigantic hard slabs decide to go.

I did three laps, though each subsequent skin/boot up was a little less as high. By the time I was doing the third lap, I was looking for the rope tow. And I knew I had about four miles to ski out on an icy, hardpack trail.

The goods. Over 1,000 feet of skiing.

About halfway up while taking a breather

Looking across the valley to Mt Machebeuf. That's a fun ski. I'll have to do it again this year.

The day previous I spent the afternoon bouldering at 3 Sisters. It was a great day as evident by the picture of my climbing without a shirt.... in JANUARY!

Found some new stuff and gave it a go. Worked this project until finally if felt like my left calf was going to separate from the bone doing my 12th heel hook.

While eating a snack, I heard a man constantly calling out in the distance. I discerned after a few listens that he was searching for his dog. Well, after shouldering the bouldering pad, I heard a jingling behind me. I turned around to see a black and white shepherd come bounding towards me.

She stopped about 20 feet away abruptly when she realized I wasn't her owner. Looking at me confused she let out a low growl which tapered off into a whine. She was scared. She was happy to see a person but it wasn't the right person.

I knew what I had to do - and why do I always choose to do the right thing? I'm going to get a reputation if this keeps up. So I beckoned the dog towards me and started breaking out cross-country towards where I last heard the guy calling out from.

I urged the dog on with reassuring cheerful calls and she would bound after me happy, and then distrustfully remembering I'm a stranger. But she came.

Finally the guy called out again in closer proximity. I responded telling him to keep yelling out. Soon invigorated calls began coming one after another and I looked back at the dog. She knew where her owner was now. Gleefully she bolted away towards the voice.

Thirty seconds later, I heard a "Thank you" reverberate from the pine trees.

13 January 2009

A perfect rest day

The plan was to do nothing but maybe clean the condo today. Then I stepped outside....

Less than 10 minutes later I was heading towards the hills, clothes changed and backpack with stuff shoveled in haphazzardly with the snowshoes lashed on.

Life is about having fun, playing hard and eating well. I accomplished all three today.

Since it was a late start, I just went to Deer Creek Canyon. The conditions were perfect; so good I never put the snowshoes on, just took them for a nice day out.

After a little bit of trail, I decided to try my straight-up climb of Mt Herman. Normally you need a good dumping and good consolidation of the snow to make the 45-50 degree slog not miserable. And Tuesday was the perfect conditions.

Picking a way through the never-ending thicket

It's funny. It was my fourth time up to the top of Mt Herman, and I've never ever gotten there by the trail that goes to the top.

The unspoiled trail which I intersected just shy of the top

Summit Rocks

Looking down on the affluent neighbors

Reversing my way would have resulted in much sliding, bruising and stabbing. So I decided to actually take a trail. Gasp!

On my way back down, I noticed a broad ridge across the drainage which was beaconing me. I had to oblige. Some steep hiking and some rock scrambling brought me to the top of Plymouth Mountain.

Summit Rock. A wet and snowy V1 on the east face and on the south side. I gently padded up the slab, loving my mountaineering boots for edging so well and not falling on the tumbled blocks which would dice me below.

Only fell flat on my ass once on the steep way down, when I stepped on a snow-covered slab. Oops!

Some natives nibbling a late-afternoon snack

Of course one should end a day with a terrific meal polished off with a glass of Camenere. It was the best meal I have had in a very long time. The sad thing is I could make it again and not capture the culinary magic which occurred that night in the kitchen.

11 January 2009

When stubborness and stupidity prevail

When I drove through Evergreen, the bank clock read 28 degrees. I put that thought out of my mind as I made my through town and parked at my home away from home.

I had plans to go bouldering with Rak after work on Sunday. So I tidied up everything at my job, handed off the reigns to a coworker and gleefully skipped out of the station.

Called Rak and he was confused. He was at work finishing up a design project and forgot about the bouldering session. Well, I'm still going.

It was cold but it really didn't affect me as much as I thought it would. Oh sure the fingers would go numb after crimping up a problem. But blow on them, stick them in some gloves for a couple of minutes and they were back to normal.

The worst part was the wind. After an hour I got tired of having to chase down my windstopper jacket and crashpad as the gusts would send them skidding across the forest floor.

Well Rak told me to bring the camera so I did. And just taking pictures of a rock is just plain boring. So I was my own model. I do have to add this wasn't posed. I actually started off on the left side of the frame and traversed over and up from a sit-down start.

And yes, those are wool dress pants I am wearing. Let me explain.

In this modern world, companies have spent time and money researching the perfect cold-weather performance fleece pants. And yes you can spend $80 for such a Patagonia pair or something of the ilk.

Or you can go to the thrift store and spend $3 and have a pair of wool pants which do the exact same thing. Hmm.... that's a tough one.

Plus the bonus is, I can just change my shoes and shirt and then go to a fancy dress party!!

I surprised myself and spent a good hour climbing. It got tricky at sections as snow built up in cracks and on holds, so sometimes you had to improvise on lichen-painted slab 20 feet up.

Walking back I decided to do some exploring. The wind nearly knocked me over a couple of times as the crashpad acted like a parasail on my back.

We nearly ran into each other. I came around the corner of a fold and he came up. We both looked up at the same time about 15 feet from each other. I backed up fishing the camera in my pocket to snap a photo.

He came forward.

So I went forward.

He backed up.

I backed up and he came forward. Are we waltzing here?!

Finally got the camera took the picture and shooed him off.