Mountain Scrapbook #179

MG accepts submissions for our monthly Mountain Scrapbook department. All mountain-related photos are welcome, the funnier, the better. Send submissions to keith@mountaingazette.com.

Each month, we pick a winning photo, and the winner receives a year subscription to the Mountain Gazette, along with a Gazette bumpersticker.

Letters – #178

Goddamned Things
Greetings John. First of all, thanks for bringing your “Bottoms Up” book signing and reading to Crested Butte last summer. It was a pleasure to witness you in person and, believe it or not, it gave me a better appreciation for who you are, what you are like and that you are better in person than my imagination could muster from reading your articles and letters in MG.

That said, I just finished “Eating Wolf,” by Tricia Cook in MG #176, and I have to say I found it a bit contradictory that she twice described her “unbelievably amazing day” as being “Goddamned.”

I am an avid backcountry skier and live in God’s backyard up in Crested Butte, CO. I get out regularly to ski up the valley floors to the aspens and into the pines and ultimately into the high alpine above timberline. These places are my sanctuary. I don’t need to attend a church or claim one religion as my answer and savior to all my problems. I just need days in the backcountry to remind me how insignificant so many of the “God Damned” things are.

Even without a religion or some book’s definition of God, I get the feeling that on occasions certain things are “God Damned” out in the backcountry, but often they are “God Blessed.”

When knucklehead friends call and convince me to meet them at the trailhead and the digital thermometer on the dashboard says 42 degrees below zero … that’s Goddamned cold!

Occasionally, the skin track will be warmed by the sun enough to melt the snow just enough to free up some moisture that lingers on your skins long enough for you to reach the next shady spot where the cold snow instantly seizes to the skins like a warm tongue on a frozen chairlift. That’s a Goddamned bummer. But it shouldn’t be about “Goddamned Glop Stopper.” God didn’t leave the Glop Stopper at home … I did.

Then there’s the nuking ridge line when it is blowing so hard it takes you four tries to get your jacket on and your skins get wrapped around your face and shoulder when you rip them off your skis … that’s Goddamned windy.

I ski with a guy we called the Pit Bull because he is so darn tough. He’s smaller and shorter than all of us, but he had the fattest skis and heaviest set-up of everyone, but he’d charge ahead nonetheless, click clack, click clack. Those Goddamned sounds resonating from the Goddamned heavy-assed AT bindings he’d be stomping up the mountain on. There are lighter, more quiet bindings that are not Goddamned. The Pit Bull has evolved to a higher binding … he’s now the Tasmanian Devil.

Lastly, there are days that register as “the best day of our life.” One of my friends continues to acknowledge each new “best day of his life.” I keep wondering how we can keep raising the bar on bluebird powder days with stable mid-packs and bottomless powder and grippy skin tracks in great temperatures with just enough air movement to keep the sunglasses from fogging. I’ve been a party to multiple “best days of his life” and I don’t recall ever acknowledging them as “Goddamned great.” We reserve those days for labels like, “Freaking God Blessed Great” or “Bloody God Blessed Awesome.” That’s because those days are truly blessed and all the Goddamned things seem to disappear. There’s nothing damned about them.

May we all have many more “God Blessed best days of our lives.”

One thought for the road. Never attempt to pour ashes from an urn from the window of an airborne Cessna. I got a pretty good taste of my mother’s ashes that way. The cloud of ash filled the cabin and nearly blinded the pilot who made us stop the ash distribution because he couldn’t see and was freaked that he might crash the plane. That would have been a Goddamned shame. Once safely on the ground, we thought about our mother and how Goddamned funny she must have thought that scene was.

When in Doubt … Go Higher … words to live by.

Cheers from Crested Butte,

Allen Hadley

Leg Up, Franzy!
Mr. Fayhee: I picked up last month’s MG just as I got news my best canine friend, Franzy, had bone cancer. It couldn’t have been more appropriate that #176 was the annual dog issue. Just as my entire being became focused on all things related to helping my furry buddy, I was happy to see MG was right there in the orbit with me. He’s getting a second chance at life, now as a “tripawd” dog, and is constantly reminding me what resilient and strong creatures dogs are (I’d be crying like a baby for weeks, he was running after one week). Cheers to all of our furry friends who join us in the adventures of life. Thanks for an enjoyable issue.

Megan Ruehmann, New Mexico

Little Dog #1
Hello, Mr. Fayhee: You don’t know me from Adam, but my boyfriend, Brian York, said I needed to write to you concerning “Little Dog” Casey (“Little Dog,” Smoke Signals, MG #176). I’m not a writer, my grammar is poor and I don’t know where or when to start or end a paragraph, so please put up with me and struggle through this note. If you’ve already returned Casey to the rescue, go ahead and delete the message. Life’s short. Don’t waste it on the frivolous.

I’ve attached a picture of Hanxious. You see, I too had THE perfect dog. It wasn’t Hanxious though. It was Baily, the German Shepherd BEFORE Hanxious. I found Baron (that was Hanxious’ name when I adopted him) on a German Shepherd rescue page — even the rescue wouldn’t take him in because of his health problems at age two, but they were willing to post his picture for the family. I knew if he ended up in a shelter, they would euthanize him immediately, so I met him and, long story short, brought him back to Summit County with me in December 2004. Hank was my “Casey.”

I too just couldn’t find that bond. He wasn’t Baily (who had died in Oct 2004). Had I done him a disservice? Did I bring him home not ready emotionally? I really did have the perfect dog in Baily. I knew from the start he couldn’t keep the name Baron. It didn’t fit. PLUS, as an added bonus to his health issues, I found out he was socially retarded. This isn’t a joke. He would run toward dogs barking and making a ruckus. Ninety-five pounds, big ass, but friendly, g. sheps CANNOT do this as others who didn’t know him interpreted it as “oh shit … ” as the fight-or-flight response was kicking in. Yelling “Hank” made him seem less scary than yelling “Baron.” Even with training, this was a habit we couldn’t break … nor could we break the neurotic chasing his tail … nor the masturbating after dropping and chasing his tail. Lovely.

For months, and I mean MONTHS, I tried to bond. I kept asking myself or telling myself, “We met for a reason. Our paths crossed for a reason. You’re supposed to be my dog. Can you please show me why?” In October 2005, 10 months after Hanxious (Baron) came into my life, I found out why Hanxious (who no longer responded to the name Baron) was in my life.

I had been very busy at work and had neglected my duties as an owner. Hanxious needed to go for a good hike and so did I. We hadn’t had a good walk in three days. So, we got up early in the gray light on a quiet October morning on Buffalo Mountain. It was a cool morning. No snow on the ground yet. Dry trails. Empty trailhead, as it was very early and that fabulous “between the seasons,” when there are very little, if no, tourists around. A benefit of the dog training was that Hank didn’t need a leash, he stayed within eyesight, and never chased wildlife. Off we went on our hike. Very beautiful. Very quiet. We were both enjoying the peace of a day off in the forest. Then I heard the “SNAP.” I just then realized how QUIET the forest was. No squirrels. No birds. No people. Nothing. Hank heard the SNAP of the tree branch also. He did a 180, dropped his tail, ears up and listening with solid stance and an intense look up the trail behind me. Hank really WAS a German shepherd, not just some genetic and social misfit in a black and tan coat. I had never seen this in him. My gut told me, “this is bad. I’m in the grey light of morning. It’s fall. There are mountain lions on this trail. You’ve seen the paw prints, you dumbass (me, not Hank), and there is NO ONE on this trail other than you.”

So of course, I tell myself, “must have been a squirrel.” And continue walking, less than 50 feet down the trail, another SNAP. Hank again turns, displays his “game on/bring it” stance, and it’s not a play stance. He looks at me, he looks up the trail, he looks at me, yet, barely moving any muscles. The “SNAP” we heard is at the same distance behind us, following us. I know it’s not a squirrel. I know I now have to start thinking survival. I look for something to make me look bigger. With a glance behind me, I see nothing, but Hank isn’t moving. He’s holding his ground. I find a good, four-foot tree limb. I pick it up and think, “God help us. I just killed myself and my dog by making a stupid decision this morning. Walking in the grey light … ” Hank sees me pick up the stick and he thinks, “ooooo! … fetch!” and starts jumping around. I give him the stick and he starts swinging it and jumping with it (he’s now taller than I am) and running around me with it … and scared off whatever it was that took off into the forest behind us. Aha! We’ve found it!  The bond! Hank is here to protect me when it’s needed. Other than that, he’s just going to be a goofy, socially retarded, masturbating-is-better-than-Prozac kind of dog. He knew his job, he had never had the chance to show me though.

As the years passed, I did have to travel quite often with my dog, and he did his job. No one messed with me or my truck. If I had to stop at a rest stop (you know, those along the road with the blue signs on the highway with the signs that say “no dogs allowed”), he’d walk right into the women’s restroom with me. Not a single highway patrolman writing his reports at those rest stops at 2 a.m. saw him. Amazing! A 95-pound invisible German shepherd. However, he WAS visible to truckers and other over-the-road travelers, and without a word or a bark or a growl, he could make them step off the sidewalk as we approached. He wouldn’t have hurt a fly intentionally (he wasn’t really well coordinated), but he knew when to “look” like he meant business.

So, if you’ve made it to the end of this rambling, kudos. I don’t know what has happened with you and Casey. I think she is bonding with you. She’s a “BIG” dog. She’s had a lot happen to her before you met her. She hasn’t had the chance to truly bond. She’s had approximately a year of living on her own (think of it in human years, could you imagine a kid trying to adjust after seven years of being shuffled around?). Give her a chance to drop her guard and feel safe in your home. Did you ever think she’s looking at you oddly or not responding to the name, “Casey,” because it’s NOT her name? Give her the name YOU like and that YOU see in her. Hanxious (Hank) wasn’t Baron in my home. We adapted to him.

Jokingly, when we knew he was getting anxious (thus Hanxious), I say, “chase your tail!” cuz I knew he was going to do it soon. Then I’d give the command “masturbate.” Friends would laugh and ask how we taught him that. I’d tell ’em we adjusted his commands. It’s a skill he came with.

Give Casey time and see what skills she has brought to the table. Your paths crossed for a reason. Hang in there.

Thank you for your time,

Denise Fair

PS: Of course, when I told my dad that trail story (a former K9 cop in the Bay area), he just said Hank didn’t scare the mountain lion off … the mountain lion took one look at Hank and thought, “I wonder if stupid is contagious?” and ran away.

PPS:  After years of daily medicines, lots of love, thousands of miles in the car and on trails, Hank’s genetics allowed one disease that he just couldn’t beat and the meds made him sicker. Brian and I said goodbye to Hank in October 2010. A very sad day because, although he was never Baily, he was the BEST dog I could have had.

Little Dog #2
Fayhee: Take the dog back and get a big dog for your small mind.

Thank God you never had a gay child.

Charley Wrather

Little Dog #3
Hey: I truly hated my “new” dog for about a year after I adopted her. Now, six years later, can’t imagine life without her. She’s part of me. Actually had an ex-boyfriend say he never felt like he had all of me until we had the dog with us as well. Another simply said he was jealous of her and didn’t like her. Obviously, that one didn’t last long

Sometimes, it really just takes time, just like any other relationship that means anything.

Hope whatever you decided, it works out for everyone.

Shawna Bethell, Durango

Little Dog #4
Dear John: In reference to “Little Dog” in the most recent Mountain Gazette, I think you made the right decision. That was you, your mutt, and your wife in the Silver City dog park the day I met you not long ago. There is no accounting for the bond between the man and his dog, and like you I’ve loved a dog or two dearly. Of the two dogs going down my life’s path, I’ve often yelled at Merlin, “Get your scrungy arse off my pillow!” But usually to little effect … I seldom reproach the other dog, Noche, but when death overtakes either of them, I will weep buckets of tears.

Don Sterling, From Gunnison and friend of George Sibley and the gang

Little Dog #5
Hi John. I recently sent the Feb./March 2011 Mountain Gazette to my 70-something-old aunt who lives in lower Manhattan. Roz lost “her” dog (Girlbaby) about two years ago and I thought your words were ones she would relate to. She has read “Little Dog” on several occasions and after each reading comes away with something different!

Now living with two cats in a small studio, she is still coming to terms with her loss but that a “new” dog is in the future for her. Just when and where this will happen, nobody knows and that’s OK.

Thanks,

Paul Seelig

PS: She thinks it would be good for both you and Casey, if you decided to keep her, to have another dog around.

Little Dog #6
John: Your insight in the article — that we may only have one canine total-bonding-experience in our lives, if we are lucky — resonates with me. We had one over here with a rescue hound dubbed Shoshone. But maybe you’ll be fortunate to experience it a second time.

Anyway, it takes some courage to try.

R. Udall

Little Dog #7
John, Your readers want feedback about your dog.

Below is feedback from the animal world.

Fayhee Sucks!

Charles Kerr

Way of the Mountain #178

Besides the dazzling performance of Sandra Cisneros, the highlight for me at San Miguel de Allende’s Sixth Annual International Writers Conferenced this past February was the Carnitas Fest at Simple Choice Farm on the road to Jalpa and the Talking Gourds Fire Circle, co-led with poet/teacher Judyth Hill of “Wage Peace” fame — shadows of cacti and bougainvillea tinkling like wind chimes in the full moonlight.

I was surprised and deeply honored to be named Poet Laureate for Colorado’s Western Slope at the first (very successful) Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival in Carbondale this past March. Karen was the former editor of MG’s poetry page and a fine writer and poet with many posthumous works still to surface. The Norwood Post published the best account of that event in their March 30 issue.
Art Goodtimes

Delivery to Lakota (an excerpt)

…There’s a right way
to put fire
and water together.

The lava rocks …
They bring the men back
to their senses
back to the table.

I was a delivery boy from Colorado.
We’ve got volcanoes
we don’t even know how to use.
— Stewart Warren, Albuquerque

Winter Cracked Open

Winter cracked open;
there lay spring,
soft colored thing.
Take me, she said,
swallow me whole.

And summer did.

Summer burst open,
there was autumn,
audacious thing.
Watch me, she said.
Just watch me fall.

And winter did.
— Wendy Videlock, Poetry mag regular, Grand Junction, CO

Walking Like Water

At the high end of the arroyo
you abandon your feet to gravity
you avoid straight lines
you are drawn to the outside of the curve
you inspect all cutbank holes
you waltz below boulders humming softly
your feet etch lines in the sand but
you never look back

in town others will talk as
you follow the grade into traffic
your curves confuse other pedestrians
you look for burrows where there are none
you walk in circles below trash cans
and even when you drag your feet
the ground will not receive
your passing
— Peter Anderson, MG Poetry Editor Emeritus, Crestone, CO

Lone Swimmer, Lake Powell

And what should I make
of you, your light

cast on the world just outside
of the world, the island

just around the corner.
Your breaths pull tides, your eyes

half open. White cap, black suit,
body pushing through night,

I would give over completely
to understand

the flooded world
settling below your wake.
— Cameron Scott, Poetry Editor of “Rise Forms”, Basalt, CO

According to the Yuma

It is the deer
who draw the light
into their bodies
each day.

What is left
men call
darkness
— Steve Sanfield, “The Rain Begins Below” (Larkspur Press, Kentucky, 2005)

Mountain Scrapbook – #178

MG accepts submissions for our monthly Mountain Scrapbook department. All mountain-related photos are welcome, the funnier, the better. Send submissions to keith@mountaingazette.com.

Each month, we pick a winning photo, and the winner receives a year subscription to the Mountain Gazette, along with a Gazette bumpersticker.

Letters – #177

Envelope: By M. Ward.

We’re in the market for decorative envelopes to help beautify our Letters pages. If you’ve got an artistic envelope bent, pull out your weapons-of-choice, decorate an envelope with our snail mail address on it, mail the resultant envelope to us, and, if we print it, we’ll give you a year’s subscription to the Mountain Gazette.

Bad trip
Hi John, Read “Bad Trip” (Smoke Signals, MG #175) with a sense of déjà vu.

After finishing training in family practice in the early ’70s, my then-wife and I were invited to look at small town practice in western Kansas, Oberlin to be precise. Like you, I figured not too far from Colorado, so we would give it a look.

So, on a cold November Friday, we headed east and lost sight of the mountains in the rear view mirror at Limon. There are two colors out there that time of year, grey and brown, which reflected our mood as we pulled into town. Oh yeah, the wind.

We were met by the “doctor search committee,” and I immediately sensed desperation on their part. The group of about five or six included the bank president, a Kiwanis leader, hospital administrator, board members and a very bedraggled looking physician who had lost his only partner six months ago to a Colorado mountain community. The town doc tried to put the best spin on the situation, but it was pretty clear from the onset that this place was meant for a physician committed to his patients but not much else, including family, recreation or sleep.

The next day was the town tour, which included prosperous farms, the grain elevator, Main Street and the hospital. Nice enough people, but we felt the pressure growing as the day progressed.

Scheduled that evening was the dinner in our honor. Held at the VFW Hall, my wife and I were a bit shocked to walk in to a room with about 30 citizens of Oberlin and environs. Unlike you, unfortunately, I had to face this whole ordeal sober. (I think Oberlin is dry). The search committee director gave a nice positive overview of a medical practice in western Kansas and abruptly asked for a decision yes or no will I come to Oberlin. I have no recollection of how we declined their kind offer, but I have ended up working in the mountains for next 35 years.

By the way, with age, I have learned to appreciate the wide open spaces and haunting beauty of the high plains and the kind, resilient people that live there.

Always look forward to the Mountain Gazette.

Best,

Jim Oberheide

Say what?
I’m hear [sic] at a bar. There is beer, and right now I’m too lazy to read, so thanks for these great photos … but if you ever have a little extra white space, maybe a crossword? And if you do, [sic] do a crossword, how about one that’s all about beer?!

Respectfully inebriated,

Reader Number 082568 aka, Tee from Denver

Hitchhike Hard with a Vengeance
Dear Mountain Gazette: I just finished reading “In Remembrance of ‘Boy’,” by Rosco Betunada (December 2010 issue). I have been hitchhiking around the United States for most of 14 years and it is amazing who picks you up.

Once I was hitchhiking in Idaho and this guy picked me up.  He told me that his friend was hitching north of Twin Falls. This old pickup pulled over and he got inside and looked at the driver. The driver looked at him, smiled and said, “Yup, I am who you think I am.” It was Bruce Willis.

One time I was hitching in western Nebraska and these three guys picked me up. I got in the back seat of the car and we were going down the road when the guy sitting next to me looked at me and asked, “Aren’t you from Ames, Iowa?”

“How did you know that?!” I replied totally surprised.

“I picked you up a few years ago and you gave me a copy of your book.”

That guy later told me that he got a ride from Missouri to Iowa in the late 1970s with a guy named William Least Heat-Moon. Least Heat-Moon later wrote the best-seller, “Blue Highways” (first published in 1982).

If you are interested in my hitchhiking travels, you can read my book “High Plains Drifter: A Hitchhiking Journey Across America.” It was published in 2008.

My home base is between the Missouri River and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Sincerely,

Tim Shey, Bozeman, Montana

A Matter of Pride
Dear Editor: In MG #173, I find two new names on your masthead as senior correspondents — Richard Barnum-Reece’s and mine. On the behalf of now-dead Richard, I’d like you to know that he would be really pleased by this designation, as he and I always pictured your magazine as the ultimate in alpine truth-telling. This is the only publication we ever found that consistently understood what we thought it was all about.

He and I were introduced to MG when we first saw Dick Dorworth’s ’70s article “Night Driving.” We held (still do) his writing and accomplishments in the same esteem as that of Edward Abbey, Yvon Choinard and other big mountaineering names of the time. Thirty-five years later, that same sense is still true for me. That you would name a dead guy “(RIP)” as a senior correspondent (maybe a first in magazine journalism) validates MG’s courage, sense of humor and sense of what’s right.

For my own part, this mention is going on my resume with a great deal of pride. To be listed on your masthead with Dorworth and the others there is a major milestone.  Thanks.

Dave Baldridge, Albuquerque, NM

Perfect
To Human Companion Bob Welsh in Mountain Dog photo, MG #176: While a picture is worth a thousand words, the picture may not portray reality, but allow me to go off on my impressions of you and the picture you appear in on page 23. The photographer is identified as a woman. If she doesn’t love you, you are still lucky enough to have a woman who is gracious enough to at least put up with you AND your dog. Your dog loves you, is at ease and looks forward to working with you and is gracious enough to put up with you when your attention is diverted. The photo was taken at an out building. Its windows haven’t seen glass for a long time. These features, along with your clothes and complexion, mean that you work some land that comes with a personal history. The beautiful brace of birds came from that land, your land, from walking distance. You didn’t drive for hours on a Saturday morning to get in line at public land to chase birds that were stocked the day before.

Bob, if only so much as a word of this is true, your hat may as well be a crown. You are young and strong and king of your world. That’s what I see in that photo.

Charles Green, Boise

High Praise Indeed
Hey M. John: I just picked up the latest issue, #176, of the Gazette: “4th Annual Mountain Dog Photo Contest.” Actually, as always I picked up two copies. One to leave in the shitter at work in an attempt to spread some appropriate perspective to my co-workers during their otherwise busy days, and one for home, which, incidentally, often finds its way to my shitter as well. Mind you, this business about the Gazette finding its way to the shitters that populate my life is not meant as an insult. Quite the contrary. Only the best of the best makes the cut. In my world, there’s no greater status reading material can attain than to cross the carpet/linoleum boundary and find a home atop “the oval office.”

Bathroom talk aside, when I got around to cracking open this latest issue, I couldn’t help but notice the issue month read “February/March.” In a panic, I rushed to the computer (don’t worry … I washed my hands), to check and see if the Gazette is going to an every-other-month publication schedule. I just don’t think I (or my relaxing co-workers, for that matter), could go a full two months between each issue.

So, what’s the scoop? Have I just somehow missed that the Gazette combines a couple months as in years past or is this a new development in the publication schedule?

Thanks for any clarification and thanks again for the fantastic mag.

Mike Gerhardt, Boise

Editor’s note: We now publish 10 times a year, with double-month issues appearing February/March and August/September. This gives our staff time to hit the road for a spell without falling even further behind than we already are and always will be.

Little Dog #1
Dear M.J. Fayhee: I’m sure my email is one of the dozens you have now received regarding your heart-wrenching article in the latest Mountain Gazette (“Little Dog,” Smoke Signals, MG #176). You may have already relinquished Casey by now, but I’m writing to contribute my unsolicited two cents worth.

I too had a “soul mate,” my little Ute, a red Aussie mix, only 35 pounds. He died in my arms at age 2 1/2. There have been two dogs since: Harvard, who eventually stayed with the ex-husband, and my current dog of 10-plus years, Willow. There will never be another Ute, no matter how short our time together was. And while I have loved both Harvard and Willow with all my might, the relationship is not the same.

I’ve also had some experience in the Land of Enchantment, which is not very enchanting for many of our canine friends. Notoriously the opposite. I lived for a short time in the village of Corrales, and heard various stories of how folks came by their pets.  One fellow that I dated briefly got his dogs on one of the local pueblo lands where he was doing work. He coaxed the smaller, more feral one, out from under her bush and was successful at grabbing her after various attempts over a period of time. She domesticated somewhat, but once chased my neighbor’s cherished little brown hen and yanked out several tail feathers. Running down birds was probably a staple of hers out there on the res. Another woman had rescued her dog when she spotted it trapped in an irrigation ditch (luckily dry at the time) with the chain around its neck. No collar, mind you, just the chain. No one ever claimed him, so she kept him.

The fact that your Casey has still managed to maintain her sweet disposition after her eight months of wide-ranging experiences speaks volumes to her inner nature. She has not tried to viciously attack your cat, plays with other dogs and is up for new adventure.  Can you teach her to stay closer on your forays to the woods, your deal-maker? That could take time.

I got my Willow when she was “3-5 months old.” Again, it was questionable. I adopted her from the Clear Creek Animal Shelter in Dumont, though she has a chip in her head from Denver Dumb Friends. My guess is that her original litter went to Denver and she was adopted out from there. For whatever reason, that lasted only a few months, and she ended up in Dumont. She has always gotten along well with other dogs, and even had a little cellmate at the overcrowded Dumont Shelter. Perhaps her other little incarcerated comrades had been more of a staple in her life than people had.

I adopted her on Halloween, 2000. She was my reaction to cancer — not mine, my friend Karel’s. Karel had died just two weeks before on October 19th. I had just moved back to Summit County after a six-year hiatus and was living in Wildernest. I wanted a dog to hike with me, though I had just bought a townhouse with almost white carpet. Not the most practical decision I have ever made. Karel had been 49 when she died. My mind set was, “Life is short. If you want a dog, get a dog.” So I did.

Unfortunately, Willow and I did not immediately bond, even though I was rather devoted to her. Had to be, actually.  If she needed to go out, so did I. But there was something rather distant and standoffish about her. She didn’t need my constant attention, didn’t beg to be petted, didn’t really crave it. She tolerated it, but didn’t seek me out. I imagined that I had adopted a dog with attachment disorder like those sad eastern European orphans that can’t stand to be touched. She has always cowered from an outstretched hand, and still ducks her head when you want to stroke it. She especially hates the big gloved hands of winter, and it has been with constant vigilance that she does not bite those fingers. One very short-lived boyfriend once reprimanded her and she immediately squatted and peed on his polished wood floor.

Regardless, we became good roommates and pals, though she slept alone on the landing where it was tiled and cool, and I snuggled under my down comforter alone. We explored the trails of Summit County, played in Lake Dillon, but still, there was this gap. She would have gone along with anyone who had a dog, often did. Almost jumped into strangers’ cars. Anyone else with a dog was a good as me. Then, the following summer, June I remember, she suddenly seemed to look at me, really look, and I became hers. I have no idea what triggered it. It had been almost eight months since we met, and by my best guess, she was almost a year old. A gestation period, perhaps? I had outlasted the other humans in her life twice over by then.

She’s still my dog and the devotion goes both ways. We now have a man in our lives, have had for eight years. She’s always liked Alan. He ignored her growling when he first folded himself into my little Mazda, and fed her cheese from our trail lunch. He gives her confidence, and they’ve hiked many miles together without me.

I think Cali has spoken, you just haven’t quite gotten it. Your instincts led you to this New Mexico orphan. She’s not a Colorado dog — she won’t have Mayflower Gulch in her backyard. She’s in YOUR backyard, and feels safe there. So … I hope you will give Casey a chance. It sounds like she has so many good attributes that can be worked with. You’re right that she needs time to become her own dog. Then she’ll have the ability to become your dog. She’ll give you her undying loyalty, when you give her yours.

Best of luck with your decision.

Lynn Fox

Mountain Gazette welcomes letters. Please email your incendiary verbiage to: mjfayhee@mountaingazette.com.

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As the climbers make their way up the mountain, they will be tracked in real-time through Everest 3D, a first-of-its-kind project developed in partnership with 3D RealityMaps, DigitalGlobe, the German Aerospace Center and Peak Freaks. Using high-resolution images and precise 3D maps, every user on the web can track their expedition and visualize the experience from home.

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Download the application to view the climb.

Letters – October 2010


The List Guy: Thoughts About Cool Things and The Fine Line

Editor’s note: After priming the creative pump of both yours truly (Smoke Signals,“Listing Who We Are, MG #166) and the MG Tribe (via the two dozen or more Letters we have run on the subject), Dave Baldridge, whose idea it was for people to list the cool things they have done, has come back to us with his reflections on the whole process.

This is a lot deeper water than I ever imagined. The list was kind of spontaneous, and now I’m thinking about what it’s worth, if in fact it’s worth anything at all. At least the psychic rummaging around has been heating, in kind of a weird way, as editor Fayhee aptly puts it.

It’s allowed (forced) me to think for the first time about whether there are patterns in my list. Re-arranging it in chronological order, I see a lot of self-testing, especially in the older things. There’s also a lotta need for validation, but that’s never been any secret, according to my friends. My abundant search for approval probably isn’t all that different from other “cool-thing” pilgrims. Neither does it call for psychoanalysis; it’s just a list.

One unintended byproduct is that it pushed out my adrenaline threshold. Progressively over the years, it’s taken more and more to get high. Better drugs, bigger risks. I’ve come to think of this tendency as “fool’s gold.” It never led me to resolution or peace or lasting satisfaction — it’s an endless highway, littered with lotsa wrecks.

I got good at healing. And falling. As Dick Dorworth described in his 1970s MG classic “Night Driving,” there is an art to healing. Ski racers, he says, are sometimes very good at it.

On the mountain bike trip to Nepal (Item 8), I had a couple of horrendous falls, potential helicopter evac stuff. Came up unscathed both times, although helmet and sunglasses were broken. Previous experience with falling helped. Have had practice healing from broken clavicle, ribs, toe, wrist, hip, nose (21 fractures), three knee/ankle surgeries, several hundred stitches, kidney removal and a couple of times from a broken heart. That last item was the hardest.

When I left the mountains after a couple of decades, my next job took me deep into Native America. It was with a national Indian aging organization, advocating for American

Indian elders. I careened into it with the usual abandon, but this time something was different. Looking back, I feel a real sense of peace and worth about it. The only difference, adventure-wise, is that it was for the benefit of someone else, not for me. That was the key. It turned everything around, opened internal doors that were very rusty. Interesting that this only shows up once on the list (item 26).

Even now, though, it feels good to have all this stuff embedded in my psyche like road rash gravel. It’s hard to get too upset by some account executive freaking out when you’ve been chased by a head-hunting rodeo bull (item 1) or looked an avalanche fatality in the eye (item 11).

As it turns out, if I could ever write a book (never done that), these things on my list would probably be the chapters. I didn’t expect this. My girlfriend says it should be called “Going Big: The Fine Line Between Adventure and Stupidity . . . or How I Got My Knee Brace.”

Anyway, here’s what I, the list guy, hope I’ve learned in the process of getting the brace.

• What’s cool for you may not be cool for someone else. Many won’t understand or care about the coolest things.

• When you go out, take your whole heart with you, not just adrenaline. If it’s not in your heart, it isn’t cool.

• If it matters to you, it matters. Cool comes from inside, not the spectators at the finish line.

• What’s the difference? Maybe only that someone imagined something larger .

• You’re gonna get hurt. Not every time but enough. That’s why more people don’t do cool things. Cool and risk usually go hand in hand.

• Gotta try to live large. That’s what it’s all about. Well, that and being kind.

• Don’t compare self to anyone else after it happened. Winning or losing has no home among cool things; it orbits on the periphery.

• Visualize. Many a man hath seen himself in dreams. Try to channel the best before you launch.

• Roll with the punches. They can be important parts of the cool things. Sometimes they can BE the cool things.

• Nike got it right. If you don’t do it, you’ll never know. I’ve lost far more through hesitation than impulsiveness.

• Cool is a luxury of hindsight. When it’s hitting the fan, cool is meaningless.

• Breaking the rules isn’t always important. There’s enough drama to go around without taking down the system. Usually.

• If it was done with love, it’s been cool. Every time.

• The coolest, toughest adventure of all is the internal one.

Thanks again for the platform.
Dave Baldridge,
Albuquerque

Whither art thou, MG poetry?

Hey man! What happened to the poetry section? You all don’t believe in supporting and publishing the poetic insights of the mountain folk any more? I have been out of the West for a year and was shocked to not find a poetry section in the current issue that I eagerly scooped up as soon as I returned.

First the size and then the bombardment of advertising and now the poetry section!?! I understand you all have to make money and give you praise for being able to survive the black plague of publishing, but the poetry, the mountain prose, the heart and soul of the only outlet of expression we mountain people have!

Please tell me there will be more, every other issue or that I missed some serious philosophical reason for its banishment.

Sorely and sincerely yours,
One more Lost Mountain Poet,
Jen C.
Pb

Editor’s note: Not only did I have the great fortune to have received this Letter, but I had the even greater fortune to meet young Ms. Jen C. recently at a watering hole in Leadville, where she, her mother and her two sisters organized the first annual GreenerLead Festival, which was a rousing success.

That said: Verily! Yes, yes, yes, our esteemed Poetry Section has been gone for several issues now, mainly because our poetry editor moved on to greener and far-less-lyrical pastures. It is our intent to relaunch our Poetry Section as soon as we find a replacement editor.

A Third Phase Wilderness

Dear John: So much of Idaho’s potential wilderness areas, like Utah’s, are neglected, as Brook Williams suggested in “The Middle of Nowhere” (MG #170), not because of lack of beauty but because of their remoteness,

and therefore, invisibility. Two huge and beautiful places on the

Payette National Forest near McCall, the Secesh and Needles roadless areas, are even recommended by the U.S. Forest Service for Wilderness protection. But they haven’t gotten the attention of the designated Wilderness areas, despite being equally spectacular. Anyone who has gone to McCall has seen these areas, but they hardly know it. People drive beside these roadless areas and between them or enjoy them at a distance; advocates rant and rave about Wilderness either pro or con, but few actually go into them to see their guts. Few know these enormous wild places for their inherent values.

But Brook’s main point is more germane: these areas have their highest human value for being nowhere. Their profound solitude is a great bargain for evolving humanity as we look at the places we came from. Wildlife moves through these invisible places from Hells Canyon Wilderness on the west to the enormous River of No Return Wilderness: wolves,wolverine,bears,elk,pileated woodpeckers, great grey owls, eagles and many of the other beasts that live there. These proposed Wilderness areas are the connective tissue by which species will survive in the future as our climate changes. There are no trails through large portions of this land and other trails that lie forgotten or lost. It is raw land in the presence of untamed nature. There is nothing sweet or tame about this third phase of wilderness; it is a punishing landscape that sometimes manages gentility and grandeur.

These are places that people go to find out who they are in the silence of a vast loneliness. I hope that we will know enough to protect each of these little-known places to maintain their loneliness, their grandeur and more simply, their obvious wildness.

Mike Medberry,
Boulder

We Were Liberal Arts Majors!

Dear John: I realize that I subscribe to Mountain Gazette and not Math Gazette but I am still puzzling over the “simple” math included in the piece, “Death: Germ vs Bear” by Laura Pritchett (MG #170). In this article, Ms. Pritchett concluded that we are much more likely to die from bacteria than bears because bacteria are so much more abundant, and presented a calculation that estimated that there are about 100,000,000,000,000 (10^14) bacteria per human. The mathematical logic employed in calculating this number appears suspect.

It is stated that there are 10^29 bacteria in the world (the most commonly cited number is actually 50-fold higher than this) and that one percent of this number is 10^24. It is not clear why one percent of this number is used but one percent of 10^29 is 10^27, which is 1,000 times larger than 10^24.

If the more commonly used estimate of bacteria in the world is used (5x 10^30) and divided by the number of people in the world (7,000,000,000 or 7 x10^9), you come up with roughly 7 x 10^20 bacteria per person. This is 7,000,000 times more bacteria per person than the number stated in the article. So if you were worried about bacteria before, you can now be seven million times more concerned.

Regards,
Wayne Van Voorhies
Las Cruces, NM

Mountain Gazette welcomes letters. Please email your incendiary verbiage to: mjfayhee@mountaingazette.com.

Letters – September 2010

Grandpa JT

John, Just wanted to give a shout out to you about your story on JT. (Smoke Signals, “Up in Smoke” (MG #167) He was the closest thing I had to a Grandpa in my life. The things I learned from this old soul will never be forgot and passed on to all who need a little JT logic in there life. Your story brought me back to the times I have spent with JT with a tear in my eyes and thank you for that! I can’t help to have a bit of giggle in me about all the Medical Marijuana in Colorado and the conversa- tions JT would be having on the subject over some tequila and a joint.

Thanks again,

Matthew Wade

That was me!

Hey M. John: Loved the Rio Grand Article in the May 2010 issue (Rio Grande,” by Ben Woodbeck, MG #167). I was that 12-yearold with 190s. They weren’t Rossignols, though, they where hot-pink Volkls that my German Grandpa told me were what I needed to go fast. I found them at an end of season sale at a Midwest ski resort, close to Chicago, where I grew up. They matched my neon head band perfectly!

I grew up taking two trips a year to the mountains with the family, spring breaks in Summit County were always a hit. I remember rafting, while still in my neon phase, with Keystone Rafting when they still existed and being in awe of the guiing lifestyle. Years later, I was wooed to Colorado, not by a woman, although that would have probably done it as well, but to play. I told my parents the 1,000-mile distance between nest and my future was for school and life in Fort Collins. They bought it, I think. They let me go anyway.

I remember the call home the day after finals freshmen year where I hesitantly told my family that I would not be returning to the moisture-laden air of Chicagoland for the summer. I had gotten a job raft guiding with Breck Whitewater. I hung up the phone on my awe-shocked mother and headed to the mountains, no looking back! I graduated and tried the real world scene, but now, at 26, I have been wooed again away from the straight and narrow, not for a NOLS course, but for two consecutive NOLS internships. I no longer guide on the river, but I call it home, I climb at sinks after work and the respon- sibility level has gone down to an accept- able level of nil. I house sit and eat free food, have no problem raiding the Safeway dumpster on Sunday nights, and it was all because I was wooed by the West and the life she promised to deliver. Although actual women have come and gone, the true love of my life stands strong, arms wide open, always willing to give me another chance when I stray. Thanks for the smiles, Mr. Woodbeck — I enjoyed reading about your journey!

Paul Ronto,

NOLS intern!

11 cool things I’ve done

Dear John, Re: (Smoke Signals, “Listing Who We Are,” MG #166. One’s life expe- riences are unique. And though I don’t think we should entirely link our identities to those experiences, they do help us understand who we are and shape who we become. These experiences do not sum up my life, but without them, I would not be who I am. My life, in many ways, resembles a Spaghetti Western film. Here’s how…

I emerged in the late 1960s, and was co-produced by an Italian.

After completing art school, I moved to the American Southwest (go West, young lady, go West!) and, typical of the genre, became immersed in a culture of minimal funds, gunslingers, outlaws, artistic camera angles and raw, explosive action scenes.

A low-budget, highly fluid, minimalist, creative lifestyle was the result. Audiences loved it, and I have come to be held in high regard.

For me, this list of “11 Cool Things I’ve Done” (note: My list goes to 11 … one MORE than 10), has merely set the stage for Phase 2 of life’s adventures: “A Frillion Cool Things I Have Yet To Do.”

1) I have lived, for a short time, in a yurt.

2) I have eaten whale meat with an Eskimo.

3) One Halloween, a friend and I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a sword, a hair-straightener and the rest of our costumes’ components in our back- packs. As Gomez and Morticia Adams, we handed out Halloween candy to the happy campers at Phantom Ranch. I’ve also rafted through the canyon on another occasion.

4) I have milked goats and made cheese.

5) I have held my friend’s hand while she gave birth to her first child.

6) My husband and I eloped. And to make it official, we put the inked paw- prints of our dogs, Nanook and Guinness, on the witness line of our marriage license.

7) I have worked on a dude ranch.

8) I haven’t owned a television in 20 years.

9) As a volunteer on my 40th birthday, I was stationed at a checkpoint on the remote coast of Norton Sound in Unalakleet, Alaska, during the Iditarod to help care for the sled dogs participating in the race.

10) I have helped build an Earthship and a sweat lodge.

11) I have judiciously planted cannabis seeds in a certain mountain town’s flow- erbeds that were watered and maintained by town employees.

Thank You

Amy Fortunato

Cool things I have done

Greetings: I just recently “found the time” to come up with the 10 (sorta cool) things I’ve done list. I felt like putting the thoughts, the list, the old-dredged-up memories (not “to paper”) to the hard drive.

(a) Being an integral part of each of my kids’ weddings. NOBODY ELSE CAN DO THAT (especially the first wedding for each). “Giving my daughter away” — that’s a unique job/task/experience. Also, both kids, son & daughter, asked that I don a yarmulke and preside over the Jewish wedding-tradition sharing-&-breaking- the-wine-glass thing.

(b) Free-Associating with Famous Free-Associaters:

(b1) After my “band” (for lack of a more-descriptive word — semi-coalesced- but-still-random-cacophony collective?) opened for him, later I was locked-out and trapped on the roof of Tulagi’s with John Fahey. I am somewhat above-average for the tendency and ability to just free-asso- ciate whilst talking, and Mr. Fahey and I talked about nothing and everything for several minutes until the Tulagi’s management let us back in, as John was, somehow, late for his second set.

(b2) I was wandering the seeming labyrinthine hallways of the Colo. State U. student-center trying to find where Gary Snyder was to be part of a panel discussion. I encountered another lonely wanderer, looking for the same venue. Gary and I free-associated like there was no tomorrow for many minutes until we found the correct room.

(c) Jekyll/Hyde Lothario (PG-rated version). My first two sexual experiences involving actual copulation were… one ex-treme versus the other. I carried my sleeping bag and convinced the object of my affections for a “sleepover” on a hillside outside of Boulder. When it came time for the, um, seminal event, well… it didn’t last very long. I didn’t know any better (having never read The Playboy Advisor, among other things). I asked if she “was satisfied,” and, she laughed. A few nights later, our paths crossed again. A horrible housemate of hers had given her perhaps half-a-dozen LSD-laced cookies. I decided that I’d baby sit her ‘til any danger had passed. We came back to my house, and, well, let’s just say we rocked the house from sunset to sunrise. My housemates were very, very, impressed, but I think she probably didn’t remember much, if anything, about it.

(d) One-million-millimeter midnight nude under-the-full-moon bicycle race at 10,000 feet elevation. I am fairly sure that I hold the whirled-(w)record for rid-ing a bicycle a million millimeters without clothing (*) under the July full moon at 10,000-ft. elevation. * neckties, shoes, socks, eyeglasses were allowed.

(e) Da hitches? Available upon request — and I am definitely not alone for having hitchhiked long distances several times and lived to tell about it. It’s just that I believe I have written a short story, which does an above-average job of summarizing these adventures and conveys the carefree optimistic non-paranoid atmosphere of the times.

(f) Nashunull anthemem. Like many (most?) mediocre musicians, it is really neat to have a captive audience, which HAS TO LISTEN and (generally) HAS TO APPLAUD when you play a song. I played the national anthem on the harmonica at the start of the State High School Track & Field Meet to perhaps 1,500 people.

(g) I hung-out at and spent time at many places before they “were cool” … Evergreen, Aspen, Crested-Butte/ Gunnison, Steamboat, Moab, Frisco/ Dillon (pre-reservoir!). Although I presently reside near Whitewater (and Grand Junction), I would be willing to bet money that “coolness” will not afflict those places in my lifetime.

(h) I usually run/ride/hike in places NOT in any guidebooks. I have to. When, basically, you’re vying to be the lead dog when going out with your 4 (sometimes more) canines, it’s a good idea to do the outdoor-experience thing where there are few, if any, other people. Heaven forbid that any of my “usual suspect” special places is listed in the local hiking/mountain- biking/running trail guide-books, well, I’ll look for another spot a bit farther away.

(i) And now, 60+ yr-old hockey goalie. There probably are older (and, definitely, better!) goalies, but in my local arena, I am 96% sure that I am the only 60+-yr.- old who tries to play in front of the net. Definitely livens up my dull week. “It was either that hobby or shuffleboard.”

(j) When facing total financial doom and uncertain health issues, took all of the family on a 2-week vacation to Troncones, Guerrero, Mexico. As of mid-January, 2009, we had lived the whole year thus far there.

Rosco Betunada
Western Colorado

24 Cool Things I’ve Done

John:

1) Hiked the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (took off my pack arriving at Phantom Ranch, walked into the Cantina and sat down next to friends from hometown who had boated in.)

2) Decided at age 50-ish to “re-do” my math education… just for fun. Two years in… still working on it. Started with frac- tions… taking trig this summer.

3) Married an Eagle Scout.

4) Earned “A” rating in Pony Club.

5) Took a 4 year-old backpacking, carrying her own pack, bushwhacking straight up for 7 miles.

6) Illegally bivouacked midway into canyon of the Maze District of Canyonlands. (Ran out of daylight… couldn’t reach permitted camp in time. Whispered Happy Birthday to a 7-year-old… so rangers wouldn’t catch us.)

7) Caught my 1- and 3-year-olds as they were dropped off a boat, and swam them through the surf into a private beach in Mexico.

8) Decided to stop drinking alcohol for 1 year… 20+ years later I haven’t had a good enough reason to break the run.

9) Lost 50 pounds… in one consecutive dieting effort.

10) Finally got a college degree… using 30-year-old, transferred credits plus local Community College classes.

11) Jumped into rapids from a raft that was wrapped around a rock… with my kids.

12) Gone camping with 80+ elementary (and later middle school) kids… multiple times.

13) Slept on the floor of the Denver Museum of Natural History overnight… 3 times, with the above mentioned 80+ school kids.

14) Designed and drew architecturals and built my own log home (with husband, but I did the drawings).

15) Listened to my son give Valedictorian speech at high school. Graduation (hasn’t happened yet, but is impeding and I know it’s gonna be cool).

16) Walked across the Colorado River (near Moab), naked, carrying my mountain bike over my head. (Took a lot longer than any of us thought it would.)

17) Climbed Mt. Elbert (tallest in U.S. Rocky Mountains). Remember those 80+ students? About 30 of them also made the top that day.

18) Took too much LSD… once.

19) Hosted foreign exchange students… 3 years in a row. (This is cool when you live in a small mountain town.)

20) Got to see John Fayhee speak on a media panel.

21) Breast fed baby while working on a computer at the Aspen Times.

22) Saw a bald eagle swoop down and catch a fish out of the Colorado River.

23) Saw a wolf from a car near Durango.

24) Had a dog that would stand on an innertube and ride it down river.

Marianne Ackerman

20 cool things I have done

John: I really enjoyed reading this article. It got me thinking… so, I started compiling my own list. It was a lot of fun, so I thought I would submit it — as recommended.

1) Endured tough, grinding work in a family bulb-packaging factory in Holland with 50 chain smokers.

2) Connected with lost ancestors in Italy to find the best hugs on the planet… and awesome homemade pasta, of course.

3) Married in a castle on top of my home- town ski area to an illegal immigrant.

4) Started a community garden on a previously derelict site in downtown Steamboat Springs.

5) Followed childhood dream to relocate to Colorado Rockies … and never left.

6) Biked the Kokopelli Trail, a five-day trip, for my first mountain bike ride ever.

7) Skied to fish.

8) Saw the Rolling Stones in Vegas and snuck into the 8th row from Mick Jagger when I was fourteen.

9) Slept in a snow cave.

10) Went spelunking in non-commercial caves in Virginia with a federation of old men.

11) Absolutely abused my work “powder clause” during Steamboat’s snowiest year on record.

12) Played in a 24-hour Ultimate Frisbee tournament after all night drum ‘n bass rave … without drugs.

13) Learned to double dutch at the age of 27

14) Worked in a winter homeless shelter in England with heroin addicts and alcoholics and am still alive

15) Resided in a 2-bedroom, 800sf condo with my husband and high school sweetheart … for five years

16) Swam with bioluminescent organisms at night in the Potomac River, which glow blue/green when disturbed.

17) Skinned to the top of the ski area for sunrise with my dog, Shire. Made it to work by 8 a.m.

18) Rafted Cross Mountain Canyon, with serious Class IV whitewater rapids, for my second rafting experience. My first raft trip was down the Colorado River to State Bridge with a keg on our boat.

19) Completed my first lead climb in Red Rocks, NV, with my future husband as my belayer.

20) Drank a full pint of Swamp Donkey cider with “unknown” alcohol content in a small pub in England; I don’t remember what happened after that.

Thanks,

Caitlyn (Patrick) McKenzie

11 cool things I have done

John: A couple of months ago you wrote an article about creating a list of one’s accomplishments in life. Not just a resume, but a view of the unique things we’ve done and/or experienced. I have had a great time writing my list. It’s not something that can be written in one sit- ting. It required a lot of reminiscing and contemplation. I chose to stay away from listing peaks I’ve climbed or specific locations I’ve visited. I aimed to create a list that will lend itself to starting conversations with my friends when they read it. After completing my list, I felt much better about myself. I ended up with 26 items, but my top 11 are as follows:

1. Peed shoulder to shoulder with a United States Senator

2. Hugged wolves

3. Cursed the Chinese government in Tiananmen Square

4. Was accidentally fondled by an old woman at a funeral

5. Broke my toe doing laundry

6. Participated in an initiation ritual with Miss New Mexico

7. Ran the Boston Marathon

8. Wore a bee beard with 20,000 Africanized bees

9. Carried 70 pound dog down mountain after he hurt his paws

10. Was granted a private audience with the Bangladeshi Speaker of the House

11. Was locked in Charles Manson’s first cell.

Thanks for kick-starting this exercise.

Dennis Barrett

21 cool things I have done

Hello John: We crossed paths from time to time while you were in Frisco but never met. My wife and I taught the telemark turn to many folks in the Over the Hill Gang at Copper. Since I’ve been urged to write my memoirs, putting this list together for you was pretty easy. Here it is as a mash up.

1) Watched huge icebergs outside Illulissat, Greenland.

2) May have been first in Boulder to simultaneously wear a necktie and ride a bike to work.

3) Worked trail crew for the Forest Service in the Indian Peaks.

4) Made first tracks on a powder day right thru a band of unseen ptarmigan, which flew up all around me.

5) Made up strange stories for the kids at the dinner table.

6) Likely made second ascent of Craig’s Crack on Longs Peak.

7) Spent Army at Camp Hale as instructor in Mountain & Cold Weather Training Command, 1955-57. Taught skiing, climbing and survival.

8) Biked across Bhutan.

9) Drank the great Burgundies in the ’60s, when wines were cheap.

10) Wrote about skiing for Colorado Magazine.

11) Rafted the Hula Hula River thru ANWR from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean.

12) Offered our bored kids $50 prize for the first one to the top of Pikes Peak. Oldest son Doug organized the trip and all five made it to the top by bus and cog railway.

13) Skied Tasman Glacier in NZ.

14) Couldn’t believe forty-year-old ski shop owner could whip my twenty-four year-old self at tennis.

15) Re-read “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” late in life.

16) Attempted first winter crossing of Boulder Grand Pass, turned back by whiteout blizzard.

17) Easter Island’s huge moai pose more questions than answers. Go.

18) Crossed many, many glacial rivers backpacking 65 pounds across Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic.

19) First on the scene of a fatal plane crash on Green Mountain.

20) Lots of summer dinners on the deck talking and watching day softly become night.

21) Read Skiers’ Gazette and then Mountain Gazette that many years ago. Thanks for bringing it back.

Mark P. Addison

Boulder, CO

22 cool things that I have done, and then some

Hey John: Here’s my list — hope it’s entertaining.

1) Rode a $100 bicycle across America.

2) Ate a 32-ounce jar of mayonnaise.

3) Got a tattoo reading “A tattoo” on my ass.

4) Stood on top of Devil’s Tower.

5) Literally had the shit kicked out of me.

6) Quit a pack-a-day smoking habit by training for a marathon.

7) Read “Crime and Punishment” entirely while sitting on the toilet. Took 11 months.

8) Drank a “Smoker’s Cough,” a shot glass full of Jagermeister and mayonnaise.

9) Quit drinking.

10) Answered a pay phone.

11) Had my jaw wired shut.

12) Ate the entire Double Rhino Burger and fries at the Wooden Nickel in Sublimity, Oregon.

13) Spent a week in jail.

14) Hallucinated because of lack of sleep. More than once.

15) Ran 20 miles down Colfax Avenue in Denver.

16) Saw a Gila monster in the wild.

17) Fell asleep while pedaling a bicycle.

18) Urinated for 1 minute, 56 seconds straight.

19) Broken 3 bicycle frames (2 steel, one aluminum) while riding them.

20) Stopped on Interstate 10 and paid $1 to see The Thing in the Desert, twice.

21) Caught air while driving a car.

22) Was hit by an errant cow chip during a cow-chip-throwing contest.

What was fun about this is, when I started mentioning it to my friends, and they began to come up with their own lists. I started thinking the best thing to do would be to compile the best of all the lists of the people you know. A few:

1) Shot a shark.

2) Tuned an air guitar for an air guitar regional championship event.

3) Choked a dog while political canvassing.

4) Survived a hammer fight.

5) Saved a woman’s life with the Heimlich maneuver.

6) First experienced fellatio in a strip club with a dirt floor in Gulf Port, Illinois, in front of all the patrons in the club, on his 16th birthday.

Hope you’re well,

Brendan Leonard,

Denver, CO

Mountain Gazette welcomes letters. Please email your incendiary verbiage to: mjfayhee@mountaingazette.com.