Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Climbing through the San Juans and the terrifying R

After a night sleeping in a lush, moist, and verdant basin, we awakened to more rain pattering on the van's roof. Yet again, we hung out in the van waiting for a break in the aerial assault before heading out for our adventures. R chose an acrobatic pose for eating his breakfast. Isn't it uphill to the stomach in that position? Our boy makes me laugh every single day.
I decided to ride on jeep roads that day because they'd let me access alpine passes that I'd otherwise never see. From my first pedal stroke, the road pitched up toward the sky. Fortunately, I love climbing mountains on my bike. In fact, I must confess that I love going uphill better than going downhill. After my sleepy muscles woke up, I settled into a steady pedaling rhythm to slowly ascend toward the first mountain pass.

The weather still looked threatening, to put it mildly. However, I adored the clanging contrast of the ominous skies with the late-summer mountain meadows.
The view from the pass was amazing.
Very few jeeps were on the roads yet but one friendly driver insisted on taking my photo next to the sign for the pass.
I didn't linger for long on the windswept and cold pass. I hopped back on my bike and started the spine-rattling descent before Raynaud's Syndrome could take possession of my fingers. After a very brief and fast flight downward, I hit bottom and was climbing again. At the start of the next climb, I saw two classic Colorado sights. The first was a mine, still being worked by a crew of men using shovels. I thought that we'd left the environmental disaster of searching every mountainside for precious metals behind us. My thoughts were bolstered by the chalk white creek flowing below the mine - the chalk color was a sign of cadmium, a mining by-product, poisoning the water. This poison hurts birds by preventing them from producing sufficiently thick shells to protect their embryos. (Zoom in to see the men working near the middle of the photo)
Then, less than a mile further along, hundreds of sheep dotted the green mountainside. Sheep grazing on public lands was a driving force in the extermination of wolves and grizzly bears from Colorado.
I put those sights behind me as the climb grew steeper and rougher.
Very few motorized vehicles attempted this ascent but one put a smile on my face. As a blue jeep passed me, the cowboy driver slowed (yes, we have real cowboys out here), pointed his index finger directly at me and said, "You are the toughest mofo out here"! When I told the Runner about this encounter, he reminded me that the jeep driver didn't even know that about 6 months earlier, I'd had to cajole a nurse to allow me to walk half the length of a hospital corridor. And, she allowed it only with the stipulation that the Runner push my IV cart for me. The body's ability to heal itself is astounding.

As I neared the next pass, an endless green meadow with three watery jewels in the middle stretched out beside me.
When I reached the pass, I felt like I'd ascended to the tippy top of the world. I gazed out across an ocean of mountain peaks.
Then, I turned the corner and was faced with this!
I thought to myself "No, it simply isn't possible that *anyone* could go up that mountain". It turned out that the sketchy trail up the mountain was too unstable for me to ride it so I turned back. Looking at the photo, I think that it's kind of funny that I even tried.

After hail started falling, I realized that it was time to turn toward my rendezvous point with the rest of the pack. Before descending, I scanned the panorama.

And then focused on gorgeous spots within it.
As I descended, I stopped to enjoy a slope laden with wildflowers.
And then, when I was almost on the valley floor, I looked back at what I had climbed. Whew, the view made me tired.
Finally, a quick question provoked by today's canine adventure. Exactly how terrifying does R look whilst wearing a muzzle?
A woman took one look at him and started screaming hysterically like she was being attacked by a mountain lion. I am not kidding. He doesn't look *that* terrifying to me.

You may wonder why a peaceable dog like R is wearing a muzzle. It's to prevent him from eating shrooms - I have an addict on my hands. Fortunately, K completed her 12-step program last year and can now run muzzle-free in mushroom season.

If I can make my computer behave, I shall include bear video and photos very very soon.


  1. When I have ever thought about sheep grazing on public lands, it never occurred to me there were THAT many sheep! I had no idea we were talking about sheep in such great numbers. I can see how much damage they could do. Wow!

    Looking at the ascent you made, I totally agree with the cowboy. Great photographs.

  2. You had me belly laughing through your post! First, R's eating posture, then the mofo coyboy, and finally the woman screaming hysterically at R. Too much! What great stories. (On the muzzle note: I no longer feel goofy for considering making a foxtail mask for Kona.)

    Wow! So much fun. Your pictures are unbelievable and I'm a bit envious that you get to wear long sleeves!

    I feel the same way about hills. I'd much rather run up them than come back down! And you did some great climbing!

  3. Damn Woman!

    Just DAMN!

    Khyra is shaking her head since our big adventure today was 1.25 mile through the 'wilds' of the neighbourhood ;=)

  4. First of all, R, we understand. Sometimes you just have to lay claim to your chair WHILE eating your breakfast. Never know when some other pup may try to take it.

    Oh, and the shroom thing. Very Hannibal the Cannibal look for you.

    P.S. - We agree with the cowboy.

  5. Ha ha, a muzzle for the shrooms - too funny, but oh so sensible. Thanks for the laughs through this post - great writing, gorgeous photos.

  6. Ha ha ha! I know of a lady who paints muzzles, mostly for Greyhound and Whippet people, and we could send R one with a big red pair of lips puckered up on the front, if that would make him less scary! I'm sorry, but nothing about that boy seems even remotely scary to me!

    I am amazed that you were able to leave views like that behind. It's breathtaking! I really thought you were going to talk about that last mountain, though, and say "I'll tell you about my ride up this mountain tomorrow!" I didn't think you had limits.

  7. Guess people just associate muzzles with pit bulls. What a story.

    You're so right. The cowboy in the Jeep didn't know half the story.

  8. lovely adventure you took us on today...
    too funny about R and his muzzle...i'm sure some lady is going to be afraid...people are very strange....:)
    and glad to hear K has completed the 12 steps for addiction to shrooms! too funny!

  9. As always, your photos are beautiful! We hope the weather holds for you.


  10. I don't think R looks scary. Maybe to people who don't know how to look at the rest of a dog's body language a muzzle might seem scary, but look at him. He is hardly terrifying.

    Did she scream just seeing him or did he actually go near her?

    See ... now we all know you're one tough mofo. It's funny to have strangers recognize that fact too.

    P.S. In honor of R, the terrible, our captcha word today is "scare."

  11. Oh wow what a ride!!! R does look a bit like a movie character with that muzzle! Love R's van breakfast position! And, mom's with ya on enjoying the uphill grinds more than the jarring downhill descents!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  12. Some of my favorite scenery in the entire world. Thanks for going, for shooting and for sharing. I'm glad you still have that camera...

  13. R=Hanibal Lecter! hahaa! Seriously, muzzles make ALL dogs look scary. BUT really, as a dog owner, if i saw one muzzled, I'd personally feel SAFER! duh.

    though today in downtown Morges, 2 little kids took 1 look at Loki and ran away. He didn't even do anything, no bark, no groan, nothing. He just has "that" look about him, and the sad thing is, he LOVES kids. so i know what you mean when someone runs from your dog for no reason. you're like "WTF? REALLY?"

    Is R a druggie? about "Rocky Mountain High!"

    and I'd laughed when i saw that mountain you climbed. i'm just like you. i prefer to climb than descend, tho i'm a fairly good descender. i learned to work on my climbing because it's better to be a fast/fit climber than an awesome descender. (in racing anyway). you can be an average descender and win the race against the best descenders.

    i'm in Switzerland now (as you know) and my bikes will be here soon. i'm dying to start riding again. it's been on hold too long. but no riding with my 2 unfortantely. only so much i can do with them...

  14. KB, These photos are awesome, and I was cheering for you all the way (up and down!). R could star in a Halloween movie...


If you are a Blogger registered user, you can skip the step asking you to verify that you are not a spammer. For posts older than 5 days, I have comment moderation turned on.

Thanks for your comments!!!!!