“Sleeping on the Summits”: 2 Wilder Men

Two guys: Jon Kedrowski and Christ Tomer discovered an unprecedented desire to climb to the summits of 58 fourteeners throughout Colorado.  Take that one step further: the goal was to”bivy” at the top: otherwise known as pitching a tent overnight.  “Bivy” is the abbreviated term for the word “bivouac”; a French term that gained exposure from French mountain climbers.  And this French word “bivouac”, according to the authors of Sleeping on the Summits: Colorado Fourteener High Bivys, refers to “a long night of suffering”.

http://ruinyourknees.com/reviews/sleeping-summits-colorado-bivys-book-review/

 

http://www.jonkeverest.org/

These mountaineers would start their climbs in the afternoon, and catch the sun setting in the west, then watch the same sun come up in the east.  The goal of Jon Kedrowski was to climb all 58 of the mountains that are fourteen thousand feet or higher.  Tomer was not able to make all of these ascents, but he came along whenever it worked out.  

 

Check out this 1:39 video featuring these two wilder men.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy5H2TvHCo0

 This is an amazing book, with incredible images of the mountains in Colorado.

Here is a link to find out more about the book: 

http://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Summits-Jon-Kedrowski/dp/1565796527

http://inclined.americanalpineclub.org/2012/01/climbing-high-setting-goals-and-getting-involved-with-the-aac/

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Wilder Man in the Fangorn: Off My (Winter) Game

Off My Game …

Writers don’t always have the words.

Sojourners metaphorically entering the Forest of Fangorn, unsure of what is ahead; unsure of what to do with what is ahead; unsure of what words to use; what weapons to wield in the battles to come, the battles to fight.

Winter.  I’m off my game.  Firewood has always been cut, chopped, stored, by now … albeit in different quantities / levels of sufficiency.  ‘Snow blower has been “on-line”, ready to start, and go, and blow.  Wool socks?  Off course.  My ski-bib overalls? Definitely.  Boot-traction pads?  Yes, they come in handy.  This winter, no.  All pieces scattered, not in place.

So, what happened?

Questions.  Sometimes, the questions are (far) more important than the answers. I believe these dropped-balls are indicators of a deeper pain.  I sit, and walk, in the tension between … immeasurable thankfulness, and undeniable longings for the fullness that I know could be there, or rather … here.  I am reading excerpts of a book entitled Finding Our Fathers by Samuel Osherson.  So much I could quote, but instead I will acknowledge a thematic, a global substance.  Some of us, men, did not find … or receive … what we longed / long for, and we continue to live out our longings for our fathers, still hoping for what we needed / need (or wanted / want?).  With that being said, I am in a place, my family provided for (not in abundance).  I am also in a place … more weathered than ever before.  As a dad for my kids, I cringe because of not being emotionally present, a provider of all that I want to provide (greed, or honorable longing?); as a husband, sad that I do not live as a swashbuckling Wilder Man bringing adventure to my awesome wife?

I am in the Fangorn Forest, a place where many men refuse to go. I feel compelled to share these parts of my story with other Wilder Men, hoping to encourage them as I need to be encouraged.

  • Do not give in to the night;
  • Do not forsake your vision;
  • Keep your sword, your sharpened sword, close and ready;
  • Live for those who you love, those who love you, in an other-centered movement;
  • And, love well …Not only fight well, but love well.

In the Fangorn Forest, I hope to walk with you, pushing through.

“Fangorn Forest was known for being the last habitation of the Ents. It was named after the oldest Ent, Fangorn (Treebeard). “

Entering Fangorn Forest; imgarcade.com

 

Aragorn: “The tracks lead away from the battle! Into… Fangorn Forest.”

[The three look up into a very dense forest.]

Gimli: “Fangorn! What madness drove them in there?”

On my end, I’ll get back on my game.

 

 

Fiction Fragment Series: Wilder Man & Cold

This post is part of the Fiction Fragment Series; this edition, “Wilder Man & Cold”

Colorado Backcountry Berthoud Pass / weknowsnow.com
Wood Stove
My wood burning stove

Around 5am he stumbled out of the sleep … somewhat like a man emerging from a heavily wooded forest … looked out the hut-window, saw night and snow.  His relative-friend, Melancholy, spoke to him from inside, triggered by darkness and cold outside.  He closed the old faded heavy wool curtain, shutting out the out, guarding the in.  The man was cold.  And the coldness he felt in his soul was … weighty.  His coldness was piercingly emphasized by the winter darkness, by the snow-cold.  The cast iron wood burning stove, immovable, was also cold, showing indifference with the man in this hut.    If a fire was laid, and started, then the stove would heat up, and give heat … to the man in this hut.  If there was no fire, then the stove would stay cold.  The man acknowledged the stove, in its indifference, and grabbed kindling, sticks, small log, and placed it all, intentionally, inside the stove.    Match, lit, its flame brought to a six-inch stick, and the man in the hut edged the burning stick was into the stove, to light the kindling, to bring about some fire.  His anxietous sense of urgency began to diminish.  He stoked the fire.  The warmth permeated his isolated, Siberian-like being.  A new urgency materialized, a passionate need for coffee.  With a similar focus, a sacred and fine tuned focus, the eccentric man in the hut began the detailed requirements for bringing an excellent cup of Mud to the appointed cup.  The cup was eventually filled with the nectar from coffee beans.  The man returned to the wood burning stove and tended to the fire; and then tended to his heart and soul.  The cold had lost some of its power.  But the battles would continue, until the other side of heaven.  And, he knew that.  He knew that all too well.

 

First Snow, Sort of … WAKE UP!!

The image below was taken on Friday, September 13th.  Some of you have already seen this image.  You might have to expand the picture to make it worth your while.  This first snow started happening around Midnight, between the 12th and the 13th.  I was doing some work that led me late into the night and early morning.  That’s when I noticed.

FirstSnow9_12_14
First Snow

But the whiteness was not that noticeable until after Midnight.  As you can see, it is but a “dusting” of snow, not much of a snowfall.  Yet, it is enough to embarrass me, as I confess that I am  behind on wood cutting … and without excuses, so no compassion is warranted.  I also confess my lack of vision, a truth animated by these cold temperatures and poor visibility from the mist / fog / snowy air.  Simply put, I am heavy with this incoming winter.  Do I have any basis for complaining?  No.
The first snow could have happened before now.  And, thankfulness is what should be happening: God’s gift of seasons; the whiteness to symbolize what is good; the moisture for the trees, and the waterfalls.  Sometimes … in our lives … the coldness comes, poor visibility happens.  After it’s all said and done, we have reason to sing.

By the way, friends, the reason for the delay on this post was because of my other laptop’s demise.  However, Fed Ex drove by about thirty minutes ago with my birthday present.  My birthday has already passed, but thankfulness is high, for this laptop – birthday present.  I decided my first order of business was to finish this post that I attempted to write before the untimely passing of my previous laptop.  Indeed, I am thankful for my wife’s kindness to procure a healthier laptop for me.  Thank you, my dear.  I think, but I’m not sure, that this laptop doesn’t require an oil change every three-thousand miles.  That’s a bonus, eh?

 Have a good winter.

T

Bear Conflict … Resolution???

I was not looking for any trouble.  ‘Serious.  But, I did try to sneak one in … through the wildlife neighborhood.  Tuesday nights I get the trash ready for the pickup on Wednesday morning.  Throughout the winter I brought out the heavy-lidded containers Tuesday night, with a great appreciation for this “hibernation” thing that bears do.

Summer has crept in, as I crept out with my trash containers each Tuesday night.  As of last week, “so far, so good”.  But tonight, my daughter came to me with some sparkle in her eyes, a mischievous smile, “Dad … I think there is a bear out there.  Stash (dog) is going nuts out there on the big deck.  I think I heard something down by the road, beating up on your garbage cans.”

I drove down in the jeep.  As soon as I saw the can laying on its side, its contents spilling out, I saw a black shape move behind, looking at me with his glowing eyes and his bear-smirk, and then he tore off through the trees. The plan was to get out, get the trash container back together again.  The bungee chords didn’t seem to be effective.  As I sat in the driver’s seat, looking around through the trees, my courage had an apparent deficit.
*I did not get a picture of the bear, but I went on line to find one that I thought might be similar … So, the picture below is NOT the bear that came to bother me last night; only a picture of a bear.

I had a tall metal red stick with me.  I have no doubt, whatsoever, that the stick was worthless, for this situation.  Finally, I stepped out, gazed into the trees.   I thought I would see Bear, peering at me through the trees.  Its  probably best that I didn’t see him.  Bear would be laughing, or posturing.  I knew this was ridiculous to drag my feet getting the can upright.  Once the garbage can was all set, I got back in the jeep, drove up the road looking for Bear.

A remote-control camera captured this image of a black bear at Tonto National Monument in 2009.

A remote-control camera captured this image of a black bear at Tonto National Monument in 2009.

http://cronkitenews.asu.edu/assets/images/11/08/24-bears-tonto-full.jpg

 The home up the road, two houses down, had the evidence of Bear’s visit: two garbage cans, with much more of a mess than what was the case with my two garbage cans.  I turned around, drove back … homeward.  When I came over the hill, heading down, I saw the same trash can down, Bear walking away, not running … No, not running … just walking away toward the woods on the other side of the road, looking right at me.

This time, I jumped out of the jeep with my tall red stick, sprinted toward the bear, jumped on him, grabbed the hair of his head, and bit his ear.

HA!  Can you imagine?  No, I didn’t do that.  But I wanted to.  I was really ticked that the jerk came right back, less than 10 minutes later.  No, that’s not right.  This time my wife came up with a good idea that I had forgotten about: ammonia.  Yessss!  I went up to the house, procured the ammonia, came back, served a good helping, and I won’t know if it worked until tomorrow morning.  I’m not going out there again tonight.  As for “conflict resolution”?  No, I’m not interested.  But, I may have to re-think the whole garbage-can situation.

 

 

 

Wilderman Dogs

The dogs know more about what’s going

… than I originally thought.

 

There are two of them, up here.  Sometimes I can see them huddling up, and I know … Oh, yes, I know … that they are up to something.  But most of the time they split up.  Sure, they do a good job of barking when some squirrel gets too close to the house.  But sometimes they just bark, to pretend that they are on top of things. At night, it is not uncommon for me to be sitting at my desk, or in one of the big chairs, reading, writing … and at some point I feel like there is someone staring at me.  Yes.  You must have dogs that do that too.  I look up to see one of the dogs staring at me.  And, in a split second, the dog looks away, and stares in a different direction.  Sneaky.  That’s  what they are.  Sneaky.  This is the older dog, a mix between a German Shepherd and a Gold Retriever.  She will sometimes wear my daughter’s lime green ski helmet, trying to disguise herself.  Again: sneaky.

But when I go for a quick hike, or a walk through the woods, oh … one of the dogs jumps in.  The enthusiasm that flows through her eyes, tail wagging, and she even has a prance as she is trotting along with me.  She loves the wilderness.  She loves me.  She is a Wilderman Dog.  Officially she is a Bernese Mountain Dog.  But she is, unmistakably, a Wilderman Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuppa Coffee and a Ponderosa Pine

Yesterday morning, with coffee, surveyed the forest, stretching back and upward along the slope of the mountain.  I studied one tree in particular, a Ponderosa Pine, one of several I have sized-up countless times.   It goes up around 75 feet; 14 inches in diameter.  I have known that the tree needs to come down, but its a beautiful tree, or a handsome tree, one or another.  It is a large tree for my eyes; stands like a bull in a china shop.  East, ten feet away, is the roof.  North, fifty feet, is a power line.  South, twenty feet, runs the phone line. That leaves west.  And even then, the phone line on the south and the power line on the north converge, at an angle,  at the pole (west).

I will cut this Ponderosa Pine six feet above the ground and it will miss the lines that come together at the pole, in theory.  I will use three guide ropes.  One is a tow chain.  The guide ropes will pull the tree downward, into the four-foot space between two aspens, in theory.  After I tie off the guide ropes, I go inside and sip some coffee, tempted to stop this insanity.   I consider this venture risky for an inexperienced woodsman. I drink more coffee, review, reassess, and consider these factors:

  1. A professional tree service?  Too expensive;
  2. The tree is too close to the house, and must come down;
  3. I want to get this done, as painful and as intimidating this may be;
  4. I have everything covered, as long as I cut the tree down correctly;
  5. Finally, I am a wilderman, and wildermen all over the world are depending on me to go for it (sounds a bit grandiose).

There is another slight complication: my chainsaw it not running well, and I cannot depend on it until I get a tune-up and a new chainsaw blade.  Therefore, I will be using my axe and my wedges.

After the fastidious, slow, axe-work, front and back, it is time to go to the ropes.  I begin pulling with a slow, rhythmic, technique, increasing the force, the ponderosa pine swaying further and further, until I hear the first “CRACK!”.  My heart is beating a bit faster, and I wonder if I am about to die. When the tree snaps, there will be less than five seconds before the tree slams against the ground.  I will run at the right time, in the right direction, to the right place, without tripping.  The tree is swaying with more intensity now.  I listen as I continue to pull the tree, and .

“CRACK!” . . .

 An ominous sound it is.  The tree is coming for me.  I sprint northwest, twenty feet, crouch behind two Ponderosa, and watch the mammoth tree, seemingly in slow motion, collide with the earth.  Dirt and needles and branches are flying.  The sound is powerful.

I come to the conclusion that, amidst my thankfulness that there has been no property damage nor injuries, I will seek the assistance of some other seasoned wildermen woodsmen if I have another tree experience so challenging.  I go back inside and I make some fresh coffee.  And I will use three guide ropes.