Saturday, October 20, 2007

I am still alive...

Catching up. Been way to long. Lots of things have occurred. Some good, some bad. The bad seem to have affected my motivation with blogging. Luckily I’ve been hit with a few good moments in the last couple months when I’ve been temporarily able to see that there is more to a person’s life than trying to figure out what to do with it. I’ll have to give the short account of each, because the time period I’ve failed to record here can’t be described in full without needing a editor and publisher.

I mentioned a trip back west in last months entry. Alison and I spent a week in the Black Hills of SD in between my job at the shop and my current new job. I may not get to share pictures, because our hard drive crashed before I had a chance to back them up. (Another reason the blog’s been dry.) They may still be on the camera itself but it’s coming back from the shop as well because we broke it on the trip. Not a good month for our gadgets. I’m waiting for my cell phone to fritz out.
It was a wonderful, recharging trip back out West. Some may not consider the Black Hills to be much on the mountain scene, but that’s what make them great. They are in fact very impressive to those that come to see them, them being a much smaller number of tourist masses than the Rockies see every day. This means more wilderness for each visitor. We hiked, climbed, paddled, and pedaled. It rained much of the week, but it was surprisingly very relaxing to lay in a tent reading a good Edward Abbey novel listening to the rain and smelling the fresh air at 6500 feet. Definitely moments of peace. I think I could camp for a year and not miss my bed. Maybe. I have a nice bed. But I would not miss the city or work.

Next adventure was this year’s edition of the Headwaters 100, which I missed last year on account of our first attempt and permanent western living. Park Rapids is a much different part of MN than the Twin Cities, and I can solidly say it is better for me. Slower, cleaner living. People seem way more at ease. Passing through the Northwoods fall colors for 109 miles on a trusted bicycle next to friends one doesn’t see enough is a great way to spend a Saturday.

Somehow I found my way back to Rocky Mountain National Park for three non-consecutive days. Work sent me on a rather confusing three week long training trip to Denver, and due to the lack of organization of my schedule, I ended up with some days to get out of the hotel. I’ve been to the Park before, but due to my solo status and lack of any agenda on this round I spent more time hiking and simply sitting out in some of the world’s best scenery. I’d have to say the most memorable moment was hiking up to Mills Lake in Glacier Gorge, underneath Longs Peak. Glaciers are one of God’s best paintbrushes. I sat and stared at what was in front of me for a very long time before reluctantly heading back down the trail which would take me to my rental car and hotel back in the city. When I got back to my room, I opened up a Backpacker magazine, and to my surprised, flipped to a picture of the exact place I had just been. The editors there have apparently put Mills Lake on one of their “Life List” hikes that everyone loving to hike should see. I will have to agree with their pick. I’m going back when I can take Alison and share the experience. I’d also like to return in the summer to hike some of the alpine tundra above 11,500 feet. It’s a completely different world up there. Something to see at the right time.
Also of note in the Park is that the elk were rutting. It’s quite a thing to witness when two bulls within 200 feet of you decide to lock antlers over who gets to do the year’s honors. I’m glad Alison agreed to marry me without my having to ram my head into anybody.

Last night I went “Into the Wild”, directed by Sean Penn. It’s the theatrical version of Jon Krakauer’s book about Chris McCandless. I blogged about the book a couple years ago, as it’s a favorite of mine, based on a true story of a young man that left a life of wealth for a series of outdoor experiences, ending up in Alaska. I recommend the book and the movie, even if you’re not a outdoor enthusiast. It’s interesting as a story on human nature too. You won’t experience the account without it getting your mind moving.

And to get closer to wrapping up, I went rock climbing in Taylor’s Falls, MN today with a friend that just moved to the area. We had a sunny, 70 degree, windless day after a whole week of rain, and it was fabulous to be out on the basalt guarding the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. I miss climbing regularly, but MN doesn’t house many climbers. I’ll have to soak in the most I can of the rare days like today.

I’ll try not to be such a stranger as I pass further into fleece and wool season. I’m hoping to find ways to enjoy the long Northern Winter that I know is probably close at hand.