We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Daily archives for September 3rd, 2017

The High Road

Lughnasa                                                                  Eclipse Moon

summit lake park, the highest city park in North America

summit lake park, the highest city park in North America

In fact, the highest paved road in North America. Which happens to be only 46 miles from our front door, the Mt. Evans Road. It’s a joint project of the Denver Parks System and the National Park Service with the NPS controlling admission to the road leading to the summit and DPS controlling access to three fee areas: Mt. Goliath (bristlecone pines at the krummholz level), Summit Lake, which is a clear mountain lake with a small glacier poised high above it on Mt. Evans, and the summit itself.

Last year Ruth and I drove up, but were too late to get any further than Summit Lake, the road continuing on past there closed for the season. This year, today, Ruth and I went again. This time we made it all the way to the top. But. The Mt. Evans Road closes every year the day after Labor Day and the summit had a huge number of people with the same idea we had. I knew it would be that way, but it was an incremental improvement over last year.

mt. goliath natural area

mt. goliath natural area

Next year, during the week, early in the morning in June, July or August. It opens on Memorial Day, if, that is, it has no snow.

The road itself, especially the segment after Summit Lake is narrow and, as the orange sign said, Damaged. That makes crawling up and down it with others entertaining. The downhill side of the road, which shifts as it snakes its way up and down the mountain, has no barrier and for much of the road virtually no shoulder.

Since Colorado has many bikers, both bicyclists and motorcyclists, sharing the road with a car in the other lane and a bicycle or two can be challenging. Not to mention the road damage which can include, and in fact often did today, chunks of road missing, eroded away. This phenomenon almost always presented itself on the downhill side of the road. So there’s that big SUV pushing its way up, you’re on the way down, a good long drop with plenty of over and over and over and over again potential if you make the wrong move, and a bicyclist or two, bless their VO2 maxed out hearts, struggling up or down. Yowza.

In visiting it next year I plan to visit it as a mountain deity, one which took my breath away today, even sitting in my internal combustion powered chair. Mt. Evans is our weather god, altering the flow and intensity of weather patterns as they come from the west and cross the continental divide not far away. The result, in our little Evansonian microclimate, is increased precipitation both winter and summer, but more in the winter. Remember that 200 inches plus we had the second winter we were here? Mt. Evans for the assist.

Mt Evans Summit

Mt Evans Summit

There was one mountain goat visible to me today. Improbably it was standing among a bunch of hikers above the Meyer-Womble Observatory, which, until an Indian Observatory opened in 2001 was the highest operating telescope in the world. Apparently the mountain goats lick the soil on the summit to obtain needed salts.

If you ever visit during the summer, let’s go. I’m always up for a visit to the mountain top.

Fear and desperation

Lughnasa                                                                      Eclipse Moon

20170821_200301_001The new work schedule is good. It’s essentially writing and workout in the a.m., then reading and other study, including Latin in the afternoon. Plus lunch and a nap. Along with the better sleep I’ve been getting this year thanks to thc and tizanidine, I’m able to do the work that only I can do.

With Beth Evergreen as a place for communal life, Jon and the grandkids as immediate extended family, and our home here on Shadow Mountain, life has a rich texture, perhaps the most substantial I’ve ever felt. In the second phase of my life when I focused on work and raising Joseph, daily life had a fullness, but it also had an undertone of fear and desperation that I don’t feel now.

Fear and desperation can cloud the world of career and family building. These latter two are in conflict, for both resources and time. On the one hand we fear not having enough for our kids and spouse, either of time or money, on the other not spending enough of energy and intelligence on work so that we can earn money, be recognized, move forward in our chosen field. The struggle between these two leads to a sense of mild, or not so mild, desperation, the conflict unresolvable.

alchemyNote that this is not the often discussed work/life balance, there is no such no thing. There is only life, during which we work, love, pass our days.

The third phase, if it allows to us move past family building and career, can put us in a life where the conflict does resolve. In our case here on Shadow Mountain, and before this in Andover, Kate and I have been lucky. We got there. The kids moved out long before she retired. With her 401k, our mutual social security and my pension, earning money fell away as a need. Now life can be, as maybe it could be all along if we figured out how to structure things differently, all quilting, writing, reading, grandparenting and being with friends.

Of course, it does come with death no longer far away, but looming. Still, this is always so, though we push the reality away during the second phase. In fact, the known nearness of death gives life a piquancy I find precious, a sort of flavor to the broth that enhances the others.



September 2017
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