Letters – #176

Envelope: By Autumn Stinar.
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

Ponying up!

Mr. Fayhee, After making a decision this morning to either continue to be a freeloader and make a 20-mile round trip each month to pick up a free copy of your rag, or renew a subscription to a Denver newspaper that only comes once a week and gives less and less, I decided to subscribe to your magazine.

I’ve read it now for a couple of years after discovering it in a box at a Hotchkiss, CO-area store. I will sit down and devour it like an ice-cold brew on a hot summer day. I perhaps do not fit your demographic, but the magazine does speak to me.

Thanks for an entertaining diversion to the normal humdrum pace of life.

My best,
Jim Sheetz,
Eckert, CO

No extended middle finger
Hi, John: I have to tell you that your “Digits” Smoke Signals in November 2010, was so intercoursing hilarious I was laughing out loud so hard with tears running down my face that I was expecting the neighbors to complain.

I’m sure I’m only one of thousands that look forward to your monthly column.

I won’t be sending in anything for the digits articles, but I do have two digit instances, same person, that I will never forget.

Biking Government Trail with a friend a few years back, the friend fell in some non-major gnarly area and just happened to hit a rock at the correct angle to slice his finger off. It was still hanging by a thread of skin with the bone exposed on its own. A sight that sent the most hardened emergency room staff to the toilet to puke. They managed to sew it back on and save it. I was the mortified one, when we were dashing back to the car to get him to the hospital, there are some difficult switchbacks by the Aspen end of the trail and he, with finger hanging off by the thread, had to wait for me at the car for like five minutes to get down those switchbacks.

That same friend must be digitally accident prone as there was a group of us skiing down Face of Bell in some enormous bottomless powder day when he fell on some bottomed out log on Hanging Tree (I think you know all these places), dislocated his finger and toughed out the rest of the day skiing. Group dynamics and he wasn’t going to give in.  After skiing, he went to the doctor, who talked him into an operation, rehab and physical therapy for it.  You can imagine the banter from the group at him about that.

Since then, when the subject is brought up, the gondola is a hard room for him to work.

Thanks again for the laughs.

Best regards,
Sheilah Bryan,
Aspen, CO

Compare and contrast
John: Earlier this fall, I walked down the drive along the ditch to fetch my mail. In my mailbox was Mountain Gazette along with Outside Magazine. (Outside seems to randomly show up every few months and perhaps the publisher is trying to build subscriptions with random deliveries.)

Both magazines happened to write about personal lists. At the same time that Outside had compiled a lifetime “Bucket” list for its readers, MG had some very personal letters from its readers listing what they had done in their own lives that they considered noteworthy. It was some sort of serendipity to be able to compare an artificial list prepared by editors with input from sponsors, advertisers and media consultants, with actual lists of actual activities prepared by the actual people who related their own personal experiences.

Some of the Outside suggestions were pedestrian: “Learn another constellation besides the Big Dipper,” which cannot ever compare with an actual personal experience that I read in Mountain Gazette. “Connected with lost ancestors in Italy to find the best hugs on the planet … and awesome homemade pasta, of course.” Reading the personal lists in MG was moving, especially when I took the time to think beyond the written words to the emotion and passion contained in some of the experiences. Which gets to my final point — no one else can write your list.

Best Regards,
Tom Noll,
SW Idaho

Cartographic eye-opener
John: Call me crazy, but Tara Flanagan’s article, “Too Close Encounters” in MG #173, was an eye-opener. First, it reminded me of my interest in the supernatural. I’ve always been a BELIEVER, with a small b, in cryptozoological and ET stuff. While I don’t receive Contemporary Occult Devotee magazine, I am casually fascinated by the spectrum, and think of myself as an armchair Sasquatch expert. Maybe it’s because s/he’s part of the mystique of a land I’ve admired since childhood or perhaps, as Tara said, people need something to believe in, and I dropped religion a long time ago. I mean, at least the Patterson film exists for some feasible evidence (a man in an ape suit can’t move like that!). Where’s Jesus making fishes multiply on film?! In any event, regardless of the cause, my interest in Sasquatch even over-rode the social phobia I struggled with till my 20s.

Second year of undergrad, I had a public speaking class, which you can only imagine did to the bowels of a social phobe. But for one stretch, I rode the fine line of anxiety/excitement when I learned of the requirement for a persuasive speech. I would persuade my classmates Bigfoot existed! While my talk generated many skeptical inquiries by classroom Matlocks, most of which I thought I fielded well, nobody was satisfied with my answers about why a Bigfoot was never caught or found in cadaverous form. Typical answers from Bigfoot scholars like, “well, look at how vast the terrain is of the areas they are seen!” and “perhaps it is because they are emotionally intelligent and bury their dead” all of a sudden were lame answers to me too as I watched none of it convince my classmates one iota.

With the amount of sightings versus amount of evidence, save footprints (only some seeming believable), my classmate’s persistent skepticism on that one question left me at a loss for any other answer than to say I had none, thereby admitting defeat, which is kinda what happened anyhow. It meant that it was all just a matter of faith (haha) that I believed, like a right-wing Bible thumper saying “because it’s in the Bible” and no other argument in my support.

Enter Tara’s article and my wish for time travel. While it likely would have opened a completely different can of worms that my prefrontal cortex was just not prepared to manage anxiety-wise back then, I am investing at least two grains of salt into the theory that Sasquatches are of other dimensions. This comes as a result of uncanny timing wherein I was recently made to invest three grains of salt into the idea that other dimensions exist. This happened when I visited a psychic, and, being a rather pragmatic sort, was very careful to not release any personal information and thus assay her capabilities. During said session, psychic consistently informed me of things, to a “T”, without knowing anything more than my name and that I wanted to know about my career and love life. She described my ex-girlfriend in finest detail and even that I saw her the previous night to clear fouled air. Then, in a grand finale, upon the terminal card reading, the last card, placed in the center of the 15 laid out, was of a girl kissing a boy’s forehead. With chills, I explained that was a dream I had a couple weeks earlier in which I forgave my ex-lover. She said “It wasn’t a dream, it was just another dimension.” And I felt it!

With that, I wonder whether Bigfoot is elusive for reasons of dimension. For all the time I’ve spent in Washington, Oregon and Wyoming, I guess I should have spent less time seeking tracks, more on finding portals. Tell me if you have any leads, and if I find the portal, can I have the honors of penning the first MG article from another dimension?

Tony Smith,

MG readership demographics
Fayhee, You’ve went and done it now. You’ve finally got a publisher for your rag that seems to better understand the freaks, geeks and weirdos who are actually reading the MG. Issue 173 is like free climbing 5.12, skiing the Sand Chutes off the Burn, having post-drinking, wee-hour sex in a rich neighbor’s hot tub (while they’re at home), driving 140 past a diner full of cops, finding a $100 dollar bill in a pair of new-to-you thrift store pants — in other words, epic!

I say this after picking up a copy and just thumbing thru it — I’ve not even read the damn thing, but I can already tell this issue is going to be good.

The sexy, thick, black and white cover makes me think of art ’zines. The wonderfully content-rich interior beckons me to waste an afternoon reading the oh-so-many words that thankfully now have graphics and photos to pull the reader along with the story. Wow, I never thought it would’ve happened. I’ll admit I’ve been worried about the MG — there have been times in the past when an issue looked more like a buddy who had taken to late-night powder skiing thru bar bathrooms: all skinny and covered in blemishes.

Looking at this issue, I see everything you told us in your column from #172 is true. It’s nice to know Ullr has folks looking out for his human scribes documenting the weird and wonderful in his realm.
Your timing for this seems absolutely perfect, at least according to one of my favorite dead writers: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” — HST

I suppose I should end this with a high, smoky toast to all those now going pro. You know who you are.

Dave Shinn

Getting Nowhere Fast
John: Mark Ollinger is on to a truth (“Zen and the Art of Cross-Country Ski Waxing,” MG #174): cross-country ski waxing echoes the dilemmas that underlie Robert Pirsig’s philosophical bike ballad of the ‘70s. It’s all yin or yang. Grip or glide in cross-country. Delve into the technology or just enjoy the sport. Carry that yin-yang pair to its extreme and on one hand you have tribology, the scientific study of the interface between surfaces moving relative to each other, as skis on snow. You can do that full-time without ever going out on snow. On the other hand, the sport can be enjoyed with a minimum of just about everything, as put forth in “The Cross-Country Ski, Cook, Look, and Pleasure Book: And Welcome to the Alice in Snowpeople Land,” a 1974 paperback by Hal Painter still stocked by Amazon.com. You can follow any of Painter’s recipes and enjoy sometimes getting nowhere on cross-country skis.

Robert Stahl

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 now-dead behalf of 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

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

One thought on “Letters – #176”

  1. re: the letter from Tony Smith, Massachusetts: many years back the MG had a “1000 words” article each issue and the jist/gist of one such story was that Sasquatches live in dimension(s) so adjacent to “our own” that they overlapped. hmmm…

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