Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Just One More Mountain to Climb

On these Western trips, Colorado is always the last beat. You've got to do the small stuff first, maybe the walk up into the Roswell hills for the pink Pecos diamonds or a trek onto the Black Rock playa to build up your strength. We work it that way, starting with some mining in Bingham, then maybe a couple of days off flea marketing, followed by a hunt for fancy obsidian in the Inyos or orange opal in Northern Nevada. When you spend the better part of the year living on a flat, and South Florida is really flat, the Western hills and mountains take major getting used to. When you finally arrive in the Rockies, you had better be ready for those 11 or 12 or 14,000 foot peaks because, if you aren't, your heart and lungs might not make the trip back to Florida.

Usually, this all works out without a hitch, but this year, due to a series of events, not the least of which was months of hurricane repairs, the trip got off to a late start. That two week difference, in my case, meant doing all the things I love to do which is rockhound, climb and desert walk in the midst of a constant heat wave. It was about 90 degrees at the Miller Mountain quartz site in Arkansas where it all started and from there the temperature just kept on rising. We are talking 107 in Roswell, 100 in Bishop and even the high 90's in the Black Rock Desert where it isn't supposed to get that hot. By the time, we reached Wyoming a month and a half later and got a respite up at Lander and Wind River,I found I had lost most of my strength somewhere along the way.

Yes,I did climb up Calumet in Colorado for he epidote crystals even fighting a giant hailstorm on the way down the mountain, and I did get to try my luck at the Last Chance Mine at 11,000 feet up there in Creede where Brian and I found all kinds of gorgeous amethyst crystals, but I was afraid to chance Mt. Antero which is my dream mountain.

Was my trip a success anyway? Hey, we got lots of blue bubblies and green obsidian and gorgeous McDermitt jasper, and then there were all the happy faces I miss all year long. At Gallup, we got to see Mark's new house and he made us a great spaghetti dinner. In Gerlach, Bruno sprung for Bloody Mary's and how many beers?At the Wind River rez Blue Star, Greywolf and Wanda shared a wonderful evening with us at Greywolf and Wanda's incredibly spacious, self-built hogan. Of course,it is always a joy to see Kate and Jeannie. The western family and friends all looked healthy and fit, and they will be missed until the next time.

The current photos posted are from top to bottom: The Last Chance mine up at 11,000 feet in Creede, Colorado. Cloudburst above Pyramid Lake. A walk in the Black Rock Desert. Bruno at Bruno's Country Club in Gerlach, Nevada. Brian in Wyoming badlands. Blue Star at Wind River reservation, Wyoming. Shoshone medicine man Mike Greywolf in his hogan. Red rim area south of Lander, Wyoming.