Indecent Exposure

As I gasp and wheeze around the trails in the mountains, I am often informed by three books written by these folks, Anne and Mike Poe. They are the best trail guides I’ve found so far, and together they cover the territory around Paradise very well.

These books appeal to me because they contain tons of photos, comprehensive details on the walks and how to get to them, and all of the hikes discussed are above treeline.

Not that Colorado doesn’t have lovely forests to wander in, but I’ve done woods-walking all my life. What this state offers is a richness of opportunities to get that feeling of freedom that being above it all provides. (I know, I know, this from a guy who gets the willies climbing a stool to get something on the top shelf in the kitchen.)

If this weren’t enough to inspire me, Anne has alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, an inherited illness which resulted in her developing COPD. So what I tell myself whenever my spirits are flagging and my butt is dragging and I really really want to turn back is this – Hey, Bozo, Anne C. did this as an older woman, with emphysema!

Most of the books on walking in the mountains that I’ve personally scanned include a word that I watch for very carefully. That word is exposure. The photo at right shows people hiking a part of a trail that has quite a bit of exposure, which, loosely translated, means places that I will never intentionally be.

All of the books on walking in the mountains that I’ve personally scanned include a word that I watch for very carefully. That word is exposure. The photo at right shows people hiking a part of a trail that has quite a bit of exposure, which, loosely translated, means places that I will never intentionally be.

If a portion of a trail is mentioned as being exposed, I immediately cross it off the list and stop reading about it. This is because I know myself well enough that if I did somehow go up this particular path all the way to the top, I would not be able to force my body to go back down. I would simply set up camp on top and live there for as long as I could on the Clif bars in my pack, then make my peace with the Universe and quietly expire.

Using the Poes’ books allows me to make sure that this last scenario never happens.

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One unfortunate side effect of Covid-19 is that it has driven more and more couch potatoes out into the fresh air since so many indoor activities and gathering spots have been closed. There they compete with more deserving types, like me, for available camping site reservations. Before this deuced virus came along, you might have found that it was hard to get a good spot if you called on the 3rd of July, but at any other times there were way more spaces to choose from than there were choosers.

Not any longer. We’re expecting guests at the end of June, guests who we are taking camping, and have basically found that most of the spots we wanted were already taken. We did finally reserve the time we needed, and at a very good location, but it was literally the last one available through mid-July in the area where we wanted to go. Last available reserve-able space, that is. There are always the first come-first served sort of campsites, but if you’ve ever driven several hours to a distant campground and found there was no room at that particular inn and were now scrambling for somewhere to lay your head, you know that this arrangement is definitely second-best.

So we will take our friends to the West Dolores River Campground and we will have a fine time. They may never know how close we were to using the WalMart parking lot in Cortez.

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