“Whenever I see a photograph of some sportsman grinning over his kill, I am always impressed by the striking moral and esthetic superiority of the dead animal to the live one.”
― Edward Abbey
Hi folks, my apologies for the long delay between updates. I am very pleased to report that we have reached Interstate 70 at Copper Mountain, Colorado. We recently took a much needed break in Cheyenne, WY. We have spent the majority of the last section on the Colorado Trail. I have done several sections of it in year’s past and my anticipation of the mosquitos, umpteen ascents and descents, and magnificent views has proven true. We decided to take the Creede cutoff alternative route out of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This path bypassed much of the San Juan Mountains and the deep snow pack still above 11,000 feet on most of their peaks. The route we took was no walk in the park. Once we hiked back up to the official trail we encountered a 70 degree inclined snow field. The traverse across was a bit disconcerting but worse yet was the following day when we descended down the Trout Creek Trail. If we had checked the forest service’s website and the conditions prior to hiking down this route, we would have seen that this trail was closed due to the numerous blowdowns. The pine beetle infestation has decimated the forests in this area. After seeing all the dead and rotting trees I am certain that burning the entire forest is the only real solution to this problem. The fire hazard in this region will always be high as long as their is such a ready amount of fuel awaiting a lightening strike. When we weren’t high stepping, ducking under, or navigating around the numerous blowdowns we were forced into extremely strong river fords. Steady is a bit of a professional in crossing these rivers but I am very shaky and lack the confidence in making these fords. We were forced to cross the Trout “Creek” six times before finally I lost my balance on a ford and luckily was able to turn around. If not for my trekking poles I would have probably been sent on a trip down into the class 3 and class 4 whitewater rapids. By process of elimination, we decided to bushwhack up the side of a very steep mountain through some scree and thick blowdowns. After only making .7 miles in two hours we finally came to a forest road and were able to escape. This was the first time I have ever been in the woods where I felt a sense of panic and anxiety closing in on me.
A few days ago I found myself squatting over my cat hole and lo and behold I saw a Great Horned Owl looking at me. Owls are eerily similar to humans. The way their heads move and eyes makes it seem like they have no neck. Another thing I have been tuned into lately are bird calls. I lost my Ipod back in the aforementioned snow field and so I have been forced to listen to the sounds of nature a lot more often. Birds have become fascinating to me. Some of their calls irritate me due to their redundancy. Others are very complicated and melodic. We also saw a porcupine the other night making its way right towards Steady. I put my headlamp on him (the only time I have used it this trip) and it stopped him cold. He looked liked an unnatural animatronic carnival attraction as it tried to twist and contort its body around. It was moving in very slow motion until finally it faced the other direction. I was half expecting it to shoot a volley of quills at us but luckily it slinked harmlessly away.
Another setback has been my contraction of Giardia lamblia. I started treatment this past week on a 5 day supply of Metronidazole and hopefully I will be feeling better soon. I have had some nausea but mostly it has just been the discomfort of having very low fecal viscosity plus the sensation of having two feral kittens fighting over a scrap of food under my stomach and intestines. My stomach is constantly gurgling and grumbling like an angry volcanic fire god that was not properly appeased. The worst part though is the diarrhea. I have even entertained the idea of using Depends undergarments to control the leakage. A recent commercial I saw while in Cheyenne was one where Depends are now marketing to a 35-50 year male demographic. I was thinking it might be nice to have one for just hanging out playing video games and eliminating the need to take bathroom breaks. Now instead of using them recreationally it will be out of necessity. Unfortunately this bout of lamblia has exacerbated my weight loss considerably. I am now at a lean 140 pounds when soaking wet. I am down almost 20 pounds total and we still are not even halfway done. Good news has been the recent sale of my house! Interesting to me is the meaning of the word mortgage. In french it literally means death contract. I understand that being tied down to one property offers security and a piece of mind to some people but I view it through a literal and decidedly french lens and see it as an albatross of financial commitment until my death. I feel so much better to have my possessions down to what I can fit in my car. I am happy to be free of my “death contract” and have concluded home ownership is not for me. The classic Fugazi lyrics come to mind: You are not what you own.
We have also made the decision to flip-up to Glacier National Park and begin hiking southward back to Copper Mountain. The main reason for this is to give us a slightly longer time frame for completion and to change-up the scenery. My mother was generous enough to drive us up to the border. Obviously being off trail for a few days and being weakened by Giardia; It will take a little time to get back into shape but we are planning on doing some small mile days initially. Mostly we are just happy to have left Colorado!!! Onward and southward!-Skeeter