Friday, March 23, 2012

23 March: "A walking stick is a wing"

Charles here. One day we do the 13-mile trail, the next we do the 7-miler. Turns out, as footsore as we feel after the hike, by the next day, the feet have miraculously recovered. The knees, on the other hand, sometimes get cranky and stay cranky. But they keep working -- so no worries.

Here are a couple of photos of the Mesa Trail taken a couple of weeks ago by Mtnrunner2. 

Turns out as rolling as the trail is, it actually puts you through 3,000 vertical feet [averaging about 6,000 ft elevation].

Hoooeeee! With the warm weather holding on and on, it seems like everything is responding. All across the Front Range, I bet there was a miles-long tumbling and ker-thumping sound as mule deer antlers dropped in unison. The bucks are all looking a bit on the sheepish side now -- some look a little freaked out, and even the most burly bucks seem self-conscious, like they don't want us to notice their naked heads. Well, they'll get over it soon enough. First velvet this summer, and theyll be sauntering around like they were sporting a couple of oversized menorahs.

Now we see buds all along the trail as we hike -- wild plum, chokecherry, apple; maples are blooming, and so are the willows. The wax currants are in first leaf, and some of our various sagebrush are coming along nicely, along with yarrow.

No new birdsies, though (other than the spotted towhees, I mentioned previously, and the mountain bluebirds, who come and go) ~ the year-round-residents (both types of chickadees, three types of nuthatches, Stellar's jays, siskins, downy & hairy woodpecker, flickers, etc.) know that any day the first wave (real wave) of spring & summer birds will move into the neighborhood.

We hike across the bridge over Boulder Creek at Eben Fine Park when we head across Settler's Park to Flagstaff Mtn. The creek is clear and flowing steadily -- a bit higher than the midwinter level, but the real run-off hasn't started, and we don't notice it's getting much deeper. In the next day or two, the three of us will pause during one of our hikes and do our Spring Baptism, jumping off a boulder into one of the creek's ice cold waterfall pools. (Then we do it a second time, because the first time you never remember just how cold it really is. Facing it the second time is different).

The black fox came trotting along our road, yesterday. Seemed to be sniffing around where we sometimes see Nuttall's cottontails hang out. At our last mountain place, up Sunshine Canyon, the foxes were ruled the neighborhood -- they'd sit beside you next to the picnic table, looking off nonchalantly, as though they weren't really, actually, totally, undividedly paying attention for morsels or chicken bones that might fall off a plate.

What a blur the next four weeks will be. So much to do to make this trip happen. We have lists, and then lists, and then more lists. Today I was trying out homemade instant oatmeal -- that is to say, instead of buying the little packets for the trail, I assembled the ingredients from bulk (quick oats, brown sugar, salt, instant milk, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, coconut). Turns out doing it this way, instead of a $5 breakfast, we end up with an 85¢ breakfast. Not bad. [Trust me, since we're estimating anywhere from 130 to 150 days on the trail, we take what combined savings we can -- so we can splurge elsewhere]. Then, at lunch, I kept tinkering with the Mac & Cheese recipe. Doesn't seem to be any way to make this taste particularly good (and I hate the texture) but I remember liking the meal okay on the Colorado Trail last summer. Apparently the necessary ingredient is end-of-the-hiking-day ravenousness.

Here's a poem we found the other day. We are experiencing hiking as healing. We recite the last four lines often.

My Moses

Big Jack and his walking stick
live on the ridge. Kokopelli's
orphan kids dance for him,
bobcat urine's in the weeds,
the shotgun barrel's up his sleeve,
a Persian coin is on the wind.
The Chinese Mountains smell the moon
and arch their backs. I tell him, Jack,
sometimes I wish I was living in
canvas France, the old west,
a picture book, the Sea
of Tranquility, or even in
the den near the hot spring.
He says, kid, to hell with

phantom limbs; spring is a verb,
a wish is a wash, a walking stick
is a gottdam wing.

—Wendy Videlock
(originally published in Poetry)

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