I was sitting on the couch with my wife, daughters and Mozzy the Man when my personal and work cell phones rang simultaneously. Having spent most of my adult life as a firefighter / paramedic, I knew that this meant that “its time to go to work.” On this night, it was a wind driven fire, originating in a home under construction and spreading to occupied homes in a neighborhood south of town that beckoned. Crews were on scene fighting flames, high winds, low temperatures and a constant freezing mist generated by their hose streams that encased apparatus, equipment and firefighters. A second alarm had been struck, mutual aid requested & received, and Chief Officers called in for support, so off into the night I went. Continue Reading
This and That
“A specific point of view in understanding or judging things or events, especially one that shows them in their true relations to one another.”
“… The ability to see things in a true relationship.”
The waning beam of my headlamp cut a dim swath through the inky blackness, making an already graduate level desent downright spooky at times. The horns and cape of a trophy bighorn ram added weight to my pack and purpose to this excursion. Soaked in sweat, despite the chill of the night air and fresh snow on the ground, I worked my way down off the mountain and into the grasp of chokingly thick willows.
Bouldering down the steep pitch while fighting willows took the last of the strength from my legs and I found myself face down next to the raging mountain stream I’d been walking in.
With my resolve on life support, I struggled back to my feet and joined my partner, to finish off the trek to camp. One o’clock in the morning found us concluding our inglorious return to a cold camp on a wispy second wind. Thirty minutes later, meat and hide hung high in the trees, a raging fire cut through the frosty air, dry clothes were donned, and water was boiling for our dehydrated dinners.
Life seemed doable again, even thrilling, as if there was no other place on earth I’d rather be. My perspective had changed for the better, allowing me to enjoy and appreciate the “now”. Throughout the 16 mile pack out to the trailhead, involving horse wrecks, 50 mph winds, bone chilling cold, and snow, my attitude waxed and waned, but my perspective never changed. This was the adventure of a lifetime, and I relished the opportunity to work through its struggles.
When I made the left turn into the restaurant parking lot, the first thing I saw was a 5 year old girl dragging a garbage bag full of clothes. Close behind her was her younger brother with a similar bag and their mother pulling a beat up suitcase, with purpose, trying to get to the Rescue Mission “before it closed” for the night. After her husband took the car and abandoned them that day, the 3 of them gathered up all they had left of their worldly possessions, and were walking across town for help. Continue Reading
I know this is a a simple video… 16 seconds of nothing but drifting smoke on an occasionally gusting wind, that can be heard working it’s way through the trees and coffee getting blacker & gaining more flavor with each burbling perk in the pot. I think that’s why I like it; because it brings me right back to the high mountain lake I had backpacked into the night before I shot this video and the chill air of the morning as I waited impatiently for this pot to finish percolating.
Crazy how even now as I sit in my comfy chair at home, I can feel the heat from the dying coals of the driftwood fire and smell the combination of clear air, woodsmoke and cowboy coffee from that morning on the mountain.
It’s memories like this (and the dulling of the effort induced pain of the backpacking trip) that keep me up nights planning the next adventure and missing early mornings in the high country. Soon enough, the mountain peaks will shed a winters storehouse of snow, the passes will open, ice will thaw, trout will rise, and my coffeepot will earn another layer of campfire soot on the shores of a nameless lake.
I can’t wait! See you on the Mountain.
Frozen Eyelets, Frost nipped Fingers… and Hot Fishing
By Shane Klippenes
I clearly recall my first attempt at fly fishing the famed Missouri River. I hit the water with my wife in a pair of borrowed kayaks, dressed for the heat in shorts, Keens, and a tee shirt when an elderly “gentleman” walked by. He was outfitted from head to toe in the latest gear and garb, looking like he had just stepped out of the pages of a high end fly fishing magazine, and as such ought to be a good source of information. After a few words, I let him know that we’d never fished the Missouri before and were wondering if he had any advice. The man paused, seeming to collect his thoughts and said “You’ve never fished the Missouri before? Well then, you’re screwed”. Having dispensed these pearls of wisdom, Mr. Snobby Pants got into his fishing guides shuttle vehicle and drove off.