Thursday, June 11, 2009


How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. - Henry David Thoreau I read Thoreau's Walden as an assignment for a college philosophy class. I believe that I should go back and read it again, in my more "mature" state of mind. I remember it being quite boring and more a method of inducing sleep than getting me to think about nature.

However boring the book may have seemed when I was an 18-yr-old teen, I do believe that it has some real merit. I think that experiencing nature is a wonderful thing. I believe that you can do so from the comfort of your own home (which is why I have two birdfeeders in the backyard that Darin at times despises), but it is so much more exhilerating when you experience it in the natural world.

In nature...or in the natural world, I have discovered that by just getting off the beaten path a few miles can lead to fantastic vistas. Also, by going out during "poor" weather has led to some pretty wonderful adventures. By just allowing yourself a little effort can lead to fantastic rewards.

I hope to pass on to Kyra that the outdoors offer more than just a summit of a fourteener and that sunny, warm days can turn into hellish experiences when thunderstorms break out. I also hope to let her know that experiencing nature is sometimes giving yourself a break and letting it all in. All of the gear and all of our goals are one thing...sometimes it is the (*safe*!) "failures" that offer the best stories...

Here are some pictures from our first "failed" attempt on Yale Peak, six years ago. They are some of my favorite pictures of a missed goal (scroll down for the story...):

It was a cool weekend...Labor Day weekend actually. Darin and I were in our prime: we had climbed at least 10 or 11 14ers that summer and we were feeling very confident (over-confident?). We found a great campsite, studied the map, and fell asleep before getting up well before the sun did to get ready for our hike.

That morning, I got up to "use the facilities" (in the natural way). There was a spider on my leg when I came back into the tent...Darin and I argue about whether or not my life was in danger when the little bugger began crawling up my leg (and closer to my femoral artery). After a horrid scream "DAAARRRRRIINNNNNN....PPLLLLEEEAAAAASSSEEE HELP ME!" By all accounts, the spider was approximately 3 mm in diameter (including legs).

Anyway, we got over to the trailhead and were concerned about the weather. Marine layer? In Colorado? It probably wasn't. We could do it, though!

We started up the trail as the sun began illuminating the clouds on the hill across the valley. Breathtaking. We took a break, since I wanted to take about 4,000 pictures. We decided to look at the map. Upon closer examination (of the map), I noticed that our trailhead was nowhere to be seen. Then I saw the title of the map..."Princeton." Crap. Well, I had remembered that we needed to hike due north and make a left turn at the saddle and go...due west on the trail to the summit.

We found our junction on the saddle and began happily hiking along (after Darin discovered a pair of cheap sunglasses and an umbrella which took me at least 4 years to get him to part with). Suddenly, the fog enveloped us and we got confused. I said to him (being the keeper of the GPS), "which way is west." How confidently (there's that word again) Darin points in the direction he is walking and says "this way!" I follow. We find a trail..."yay!" I look at the trail more closely and I say, "Darin, does this look familiar?" Yes, it was the junction...on the saddle...again.

Darin pulled out the gps, which proudly showed the route we took to get back to where we started. It was comicle...I should have taken a picture of that. We started back on the trail...going west (as per the GPS compass). But, the weather was turning all the more fouler. We found a nice spot to have our lunch which overlooked another valley. We willed the weather to clear up...and we pouted.

But, I never tire of telling people the "Which Way is West?" story...and I got my own compass.

No comments:

Post a Comment