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Monday, August 13, 2012

A bike ride in the sky

During our trip, I took a couple of point-to-point mountain bike rides, where I'd ride through roadless mountainous terrain and meet the Runner and R at our next camping location. I both fear and love this rides. I fear them because I seem to get lost so easily, and it's happened before on these point-to-point rides. I love these rides because they take me through remote terrain that I'd never otherwise see.

The weather was tricky on this trip because thunderstorms built up almost every day, sometimes before noon. I had to hustle through my rides to avoid being caught at high elevation, above treeline, during lightning. On my first point-to-point ride of this trip, I think that I pushed myself too hard at the beginning out of fear of storms, going into the red zone too much, and suffered for it near the end in the form of fatigue. But, I made it to our campsite fine, albeit somewhat tired.

Much of the terrain was like this. It was steep and mountainous. I was high above treeline, and mountain peaks surrounded me. Despite the drought, some wildflowers bloomed. This kind of place is my favorite on Earth.
Because I was so far between roads, I saw almost no other people. But, I saw some cool animals. One species was Ptarmigans, birds about the size of grouse, who live in the mountains all year long, including winter. They turn snow white for the winter months.

I saw a mother Ptarmigan with at least three youngsters. You can see mom in the foreground and a youngster hiding behind her in the background in this photo. They are surrounded by white Arctic Gentians, wildflowers that are harbingers of winter.
Mom was determined to keep my attention on her while the youngsters fled. She climbed atop a boulder and made all sorts of funny noises.
Since I seemed to be upsetting their tranquil family life, I quietly moved on, toward more incredible vistas. I climbed the highest mountain pass on my route. You can look down and see the ribbon-like trail that I'd pedaled along to get up high.
Then, I descended on a well-worn path. I love the colors of the mountains in southwest Colorado, ranging from tan to red to green. Whenever I saw beauty like this, I thought of K, and I wished that she was with me.
The clouds began to look more ominous, and I hurried my pace despite wishing that I could stay in this paradise for a long time. You can see my narrow path leading into the distance across the tundra.
I did stop to photograph my friend Marvin, a marmot who whistled for me as I passed.
I arrived, after about 5 hours of pedaling at very high elevation, at one of my favorite campsites in the world. Now, that's a view!
We've visited this site almost yearly for a while. K's spirit infuses this camp because she visited it so many times with us over her lifetime. I felt sad that she wasn't with us but R did his best to keep us smiling.
Life is so rarely perfect. Here I was, in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I shed tears almost every day because I missed K. Despite that, it was a peaceful oasis that helped me take tiny steps toward healing my heart. We'll be back to visit it again, doubtless with a new canine family member next summer. That will be special.


  1. What is that sweet face of R saying to you? He says," Look, she wants you to quit crying and enjoy life more. No more tears, please!"

    Your photos are simply breath taking, more than beautiful! I found a book by Craig Childs called Animal Dialogues and it is so great I am going to blog about it. Can I mention your name?


    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  2. Wow! You are one brave woman! That is quite the trail ride to be taking by yourself. This must have been such a bittersweet trip for you without K by your side. But oh how you must love to see that sweet goofy face of R! Your view there is absolutely spectacular!! I have never seen a view like that. Thanks for sharing such wonderful pictures!

  3. gosh so gorgeous. Now thats a view. Mom would probably be a chicken to go in the mountains knowing there was bears and mountain lions. Not us
    Benny & Lily

  4. You're so brave! And wow, I never understand how the sky can be so BIG where you are. It's incredible. Beautiful pictures.
    I'm sure K was running next to you in spirit

  5. Oh, that R melts my heart and I am so in awe of your adventures.

  6. That is quiet the ride! R just cracks me up. It's like he is says, "Are you blogging about me?" He will make me smile the rest of the night.

  7. Black Labradorks!

    Enough Said!

    Those are some cool birds - thanks for sharing them along with all those other great pics!

    As for new canine member, of course!!!

  8. such a beautiful outing
    glorious Colorado majesty
    sending light to your heart

  9. I can easily see why it's one of your favorite places! It's absolutely breathtaking. How you find all those untouched corners of the world always amazes me. I think K was there with you in spirit. She probably always will be in those special places. It's hard coming back to living in the present after a painful loss, but you're doing a great job. Healing is a painful and beautiful process at the same time!

  10. Wow. You are one brave woman!!! Hopefully you are armed and dangerous when you are out there alone. I wouldn't be afraid of the four legged creatures but... K made your heart so big, it has plenty of room for another canine. Then the fun and new adventures and warm heart start all over again.

  11. What a view! There are no words that could really describe that. Thanks for taking us with you. R looks so sweet in that last picture. I am glad he is there with you. I hope you continue to enjoy this trip.

    Anne and Sasha

  12. Ann...from...Outer Banks of NC...said.....WOW..what a ride are so brave.... K would have not missed that for the world..I believe she was had to be fun...thanks for sharing ...the next time you are out "blow a kiss in the wind for K" heart says..she'll get it....Just hold your hands open for tomorrow... keep growing in knowledge and understanding...the Serenity Prayer comes to my mind....accept the things we cannot change.. courage to change the things we can...and wisdom to know the difference...And as for a new family member I agree....R would love it and K would say.."Mom that's a great idea".....HUGS

  13. 5 hours on that trail is all total hard work, the track looks very narrow and right on the edge of the slope!!!R will be gradually working his way to your heart,not to replace K but to give you his love. Love the photo of 2 chairs,looking out to that wonderful view.Enjoy all that nature has to give you in that wilderness. Cheers, Jean.

  14. The photos and the journey and the specialness of the Place are magical, but what fills our heart with happiness for you and for K is that you are thinking about the future. She taught you well.

  15. You are clearly continuing to find joy in the present!

  16. Some of that terrain looks like quite a challenge to ride on! Fabulous shots as always, and the one of R is marvellous!

  17. What gorgeous pictures! I so understand the daily tears. It almost doesn't seem possible that our precious girls are truly gone, does it.

  18. wow!!! your either brave or crazy, them paths looks terifying!!!!!! but im not safe on a tarmac path by the side of the road so i guess i cant talk LOL!!! the views are amazing tho and what a cool place for a holiday, nice one xxxx

  19. Absolutely stunning views and cool wildlife. Loving the last photo of R. Take care and have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  20. I would be so afraid to ride that trail alone... or with some one!! You are right- that is a gorgeous camp site! I must say that I do miss K's gorgeous face. HOWEVER, R has some very endearing charm. I can tell just from his pictures!

    Mamma Heartbeat

  21. Wow, that's such a gorgeous campsite!

  22. Whew, that was some hike! We finally made it.

    We came to spend some time with you and to fill that empty chair. We wanted to enjoy with you the beauty that surrounds you. We're sniffing the clean mountain air, listening to the birds and maybe we'll share a bone or two with R.

    We came to remember K. We came to help heal your heart a little at a time.

    Gotta go chase R now. He just stole all the bones!

    Thanks for allowing us to sit with you for a bit.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  23. I love the last photo of R!


  24. You are so fortunate to be able to get to those rare and pristine areas. Absolutely wonderful photos! What is R trying to tell you? that look is so enigmatic.

  25. I cannot get over the blue of that sky - how gorgeous.

    Hugs to you.

  26. Such breathe taking views! K was with you... you can feel it in your pictures. She'll always be with you, even though you can't see her.

  27. How beautiful isn´t that??? Your landscape is breathtaking....would love to go there....R looks great on the last picture, really loving.
    New member?? Great!

  28. KB your heart is healing and what a spectacular place to be as it heals.
    We have never seen beauty like you see. You share your world in sadness and happiness, and we thank you.
    That is what friends do.

  29. Kia ora KB,
    What an amazing spot to contemplate, grieve,heal, and enjoy the splendour of the moment. I have a few such places in the Ruahine. So pleased to read that K's wairua is well aquainted the place as well. Kia kaha e hoa.

  30. What amazing pictures and incredibly beautiful post! (Even the mushrooms in the most recent post are exquisitely presented.) Thank you, KB, for allowing me to live vicariously through you. Your world is incredible.
    I must also say that, after losing Max, I also found my most personal space with him, one day, at the top of a hike to 'Gods window' in one of the most beautiful areas of our country. It was at that point that I'd been affirmed in my personal journey by the 'angel Max'... (I don't like putting links in comments, but I know you'll appreciate this:)
    Take care, KB.... K will continue to live close to your heart, but as you heal, you'll find strength for your own journey ahead.
    Be gentle on yourself.

  31. What a fantastic ride. I am envious of your level of fitness. I think I'd have to be airlifted out... sigh. I'm amazed at how like Scotland some of that scenery is - it looks as though it too has been carved out by glaciers AND you have ptarmigans as well; another thing I didn't know. :) Fabulous.


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