i am not


I have stepped to the edge and looked down.  I have felt the air pushing me both directions as I stood in the vortex of buffeting currents.  I have closed my eyes and the beauty of the day was still so firmly emblazoned on my mind that I gasped with joy.  I have.

I will climb more mountains and marvel at the rolling peak lines stretching away from the folds in the earth.  I will raise my arms at my sides to feel the pressure wrought winds crashing up and down the majestic valleys.  I will keep my eyes wide to catalogue every detail I can for the moments when I am far away and longing to return.  I will.

I am aware of how many camping and backpacking photographs I have posted this month.  I am sure that many of you have grown tired of them and hoped my choices would be a bit more diverse.  I am being truthful when I say it was not my intention to have the majority of this month’s blogs be pictures from my beloved mountain adventures.  But, sorry I am not.

there will be adventure


It was colder than it looked, and each step took me higher up into thinner air and lower temperatures.  But, each step also took me closer to a freedom I only feel when I am ten thousand feet up, straddling timberline with the broken forests ranging below me and the desolate, yet beautiful, peaks rising above me.

The clouds dropped lower to obscure my view, but I didn’t mind.  I would be up where they were soon enough and I would still see what they were keeping hidden.  I wasn’t reliant on anything but my own two feet and power of my determination, and therefore I would not be denied my success by any distraction.  I would make it to the pass.  I would make it to the next camp.  I would make it back to the trailhead and, eventually, the real world.

There might be cold days, or hot.  There might be rain storms, hail storms, or thunder storms.  There might be long days where my body aches and begs me to stop.  There might be injuries to overcome.  There might be.

There will be adventure.

Truth and Fiction 3


The Truth:

We were lost, not for the first time on this trip and not for the last time that day, but we weren’t really lost.  We had a map and a compass and a pretty good idea of where we were and where we needed to be even though the trail we’d been on had led us astray.  We took a moment to study our situation next to this glass lake, its mirrored surface only being scuffed by the occasional splash of sunlight filtering through the trees behind us.  The pristine reflection of our lake, courtesy of the calm nature of the morning, echoed our own state of being.  It was early, we didn’t have too far to go, and we would make it there eventually.

We did, of course, make it to our next destination.  After taking our bearings, finding some landmarks we could match up on the map, and determining the most likely way to the correct trail, we headed cross country in search of it.  The gentle rise of the hillside between the layers of lakes was accepting of our meandering and we found our correct path exactly where we knew it was supposed to be, without ever really determining how we had missed it in the first place.  The unsolved mystery was just part of the adventure of it all.


The Fiction:

Two trails led to the same lake.  We took one trail the day before when we were just out exploring the scenery, deciding the other branch must be our route out only to discover that they ended up in the same place.  My feet have left their mark on many miles of backcountry trails and never before have I come across a trail intersection that ends up headed to the same destination.  Making trails is hard work and it doesn’t make sense to waste that kind of duplicative effort and energy.

But there was a lot about this part of the wilderness that didn’t make sense to me.  The trail signs always seemed to only be visible if walking one direction, and somehow that was always the opposite way from how we were headed, so we were always missing our junctions and having to backtrack.  Sometimes the trail would just disappear and we’d have to scout around to pick up again in the absence of cairns or other identifying markers.  And, then there were the instances of the cairns that led nowhere.

We missed this lake when we were supposed to hike by it, but then found it later when we went out looking for it specifically, though it took a long time and we nearly gave up.  Then we found it again later easily when we were trying to get to a different lake and hadn’t intended to swing by it again at all.  I couldn’t explain what happened.  None of us could.


I had every intention of actually telling a fiction story this time, but then the truth came out again.  Perhaps I’m just in a truth telling mood… or, perhaps the fiction is the fib that I’m going to tell you an untruth…  Or, perhaps I’m just tired and still on the mend and none of this makes any sense to anyone but me.

Truth and Fiction 2


The Fiction:

The sun descended towards its bed below the horizon, casting one last loving glow upon the day that had been.  A light breeze cascaded down from the high peeks and pushed across the otherwise still water, blurring the mirrored image of the light caressed rocks.  The day ended shortly thereafter, as is often the case at high elevation where night seems to holder greater sway than elsewhere.  The departing sun took its warmth with it and a chill settled in to keep company with the looming darkness.

The night was nothing to be leery off, however.  The stars, more than can be counted, clustered and scattered across the sky and shone fiercely, bravely, lovingly.  The sight was, and always is, beautiful.  Our sun had set for the day, but so many others would twinkle and sparkle through the night.  They were a constant companion and a reminder of how big we should be dreaming.

Soon enough the sun would grace the sky with its presence again and warm the other side of those same peeks.  The unknown noises of the darkest stretches of night would soon be forgotten.  The long hours bundled away from the cold would soon be replaced by long hours toiling away in the heat of the day.  And so the cycle would continue to repeat.


The Truth:

This became our longest day.  We somehow got on the wrong trail and ended up doing the same stretch twice, downhill once and uphill once, before deciding on a camping spot and then ranging across the landscape to find the trail we had missed.  It was beautiful country, though I am biased unabashedly for I love the Sierra, and I managed to enjoy the extra miles and extra hours despite not feeling well still.  I think the adventure of it provided ample adrenaline and excitement to continue carrying me forward long after I would have otherwise reached the end of my strength.  I actually took heart in how well I had done and that gave me the courage and peace of mind to know I could make it through whatever the remaining days held.  Even sick, I would not be disappointed by my beloved mountains.


And now that both parts are written, there really isn’t any fiction to either piece.  Perhaps I should name this series something else…?

Truth and Fiction


The Fiction:

The sun warmed my skin as I stalked the edge of the lake, looking for a likely spot for my prey to be hiding.  The various islands from which the lake got its name were good places to start, so I cast my line out close to one of them and slowly reeled in the fly, hoping it would catch the eye of a hungry fish.

The lake was calm, only the movement of my line betraying the stillness of the surface.  It seemed almost wrong to disturb such serenity even in the pursuit of my dinner.  I couldn’t let such sentiments get to me, though, for there are only so many fishable hours at high elevation and my stomach would severely object later were I to abandon my hunt for a meal.

Back and forth I flicked my rod, drying the barbed fly, in a rhythm that had become so much a part of me I could no longer remember when I had first learned it.  Then I let the line free and watched carefully as it sailed over the smooth water, only to reel in and repeat over, and over, and over.  There were fish in the lake, I knew it.  Birds of prey had plucked them out while camp was being set up.  They would not rise for me though.


The Truth:

I’d had a fever the night before, at least that is what I attributed the chills and body aches to, and hadn’t slept well at all.  Morning came too quickly and not quickly enough at the same time.  I helped break camp, shrugged off the questions of how I was doing and forged ahead… barely holding it together.  It was a short day, thankfully, only a couple miles and yet I still took a two hour nap after helping set up camp.  Then I rose to greet the late afternoon determined to enjoy the experience as much as I could.  I rigged my pole and traipsed around the lake, trying to coax some fish out from their hiding spots.  It was a beautiful day and a gorgeous lake, and I was far sicker than I’ve ever been in the backcountry before.


And now that they are both written, I can see that they are both truths, except for one line of fiction buried in the first story.  But, it’s a start.  Here I am, writing again…