Sometimes They Really Are Worth More Than the Paper They're Printed On

January 31, 2017

Originally posted Dec 12, 2011

I'm adding a couple of new photos to the website: "Kids on the Rocks" and "South Arapaho Peak."

The "Kids" photo is pretty much self-explanatory. A couple of summers ago, I was privileged to spend three days with Weldon Lee - one of this country's outstanding wildlife photographers - on a high country photo safari. I took literally hundreds of shots of mountain goats. They really don't seem to have much fear of humans and will allow us to approach remarkably close to them so long as you don't invade their personal space or do something as stupid as try to touch them. [Saw a kid almost get butted in the ass for that, and he deserved it] The young goats, the other kids, were of course a special treat. They never get too far from their mothers but nevertheless will wander around in groups of three or four, almost constantly in physical contact with one another and gamboling about. Goat adolescents.

I hope you like this photo. I myself can't look at it without smiling.

I can't look at the photo of Colorado's South Arapaho Peak without a smile either, but for quite a different reason. The picture was shot in April of 2008 from the Peak to Peak Highway. I don't think the photo is any world beater, and will be quite surprised if anyone ever buys a print of it.

But it will always be an important mountain to me. See, I climbed that sucker...all 13,500 feet of it...on August 9, 1974. If that date seems to ring a bell, it was on that day that Richard M. Nixon became the only U.S. President ever to resign the office. And because of the significance of that date to the world at large, almost forty years later, I can still tell you the exact day I stood on the snow shrouded peak distant in that photo.

South Arapaho, at 13,500 feet, misses being a "fourteener" by 500 feet, but don't let anybody tell you it's not a long way up there. Because you need to be off the summit by, say, 1:00 p.m. to avoid the afternoon thunderstorm build-up and accompanying lightning strikes, it's a good idea to be on the trail shortly after daylight. As I remember, this mountain took some five hours to climb and three hours to descend. On the top, there is a round bronze plate, set in stone, that has the line of sight and distance to other mountains as far away as Pike's Peak, which is clearly visible. There's also a tablet in a metal canister sunk in the stone, where you can write your name and make an inane comment if you wish. I wrote, "It was a long climb up, but the view is worth every step." Profound, huh?

I was a young man in August of 1974, but it's been some time since I have been able to claim that status. In subsequent years, I tried Long's Peak and got up to the boulder field before being weathered off the mountain by a summer snow/hail storm. I still dream of standing atop Long's but most likely that's all it will ever be now. Along with August 9, 1974, a remembrance and a dream of a man no longer young.

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