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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Music of San Luis Peak

Date:   October 8th, 2014
Mission:  Summit San Luis Peak (elevation 14,014') at night under a total lunar eclipse

Who:  Solo
Total Length:  13.5 miles
Elevation gain: 3600 ft.


This is not the first trip report for San Luis Peak.  You might have even seen a report of a night hike of San Luis Peak before. 

It's all the same, only the names will change
~Bon Jovi
I'm guessing you've never read a San Luis trip report that was put to music though.  Music is a mistress of mine.  I shall share this passion with my blog readers this one time.

But something touched me deep inside, The day, the music, died
~Don McLean


Night hike solitude

If you are a night person, you call it Tuesday night.  If you are a morning person, you call it early Wednesday morning.  Either way, in the dark hours preceding the sunrise on 10/8, there was a total lunar eclipse

Exit light
Enter night

I decided it'd be sort of cool to see an eclipse during a night hike of Colorado's most remote 14er, San Luis Peak. 

So I pack my bags and ride into the sunset
I don't know where I'm gonna go but that don't matter at all
I'm gonna do it my way and I don't change for no one
Yeah, I'm living on the edge and I got nothing to lose
~White Lion

As usual for my weird mid-week adventures I would be myself.  I guess it's not unusual to find myself alone on adventures that require a six hour drive from Boulder on a Tuesday evening.  That's not even considering the fact that it's a remote trailhead that is accessed only after navigating 27 miles of dirt roads. 
Slow ride, take it easy
Many people will say there are no wolves in Colorado.  I will dispute this point, because I have now seen one with my own eyes.  Driving down the nearly abandoned Colorado highway 114, shortly before my turn off, I nearly killed a wolf when it darted across the road in front of me.  I saw a speck of light which was a reflection from my headlights on something along the side of the road.  I instinctively slowed down thinking it was some kind of animal.  Suddenly, out of the shadows, a grey wolf bolted across the road immediately in front of my truck.  I slammed the brakes and missed him or her by inches. 

Damn, it makes me wanna creep
~Ice Cube

I did a double-take since I thought that wolves are not supposed to exist in Colorado.  Having been to the wolf preserve in Silvercliff before, and having a wife that loves wolves, I am very educated with what they look like.  I am 99% certain this was a wolf, and I'm very glad I did not hit it.  

In touch with the ground
I'm on the hunt I'm after you
Smell like I sound, I'm lost in a crowd
And I'm hungry like the wolf
~Duran Duran

I turned onto the NN-14 dirt road at about 7:30pm on Tuesday night, still mildly shaken from nearly running over a wolf.  From the time I turned off the pavement, I would not see signs of another human being for the next 18 hours.  No cars.  No houses.  No tents. No headlamps.  No sounds.  It was true peace and quiet.  True solitude.

In my perfect isolation, I can stay here for awhile
~The Offspring

By the time I finished the 27 mile drive from CO-114 to the trailhead, I was already feeling isolated.  I curled up in my sleeping bag for a quick sleep.  The plan was to wake about 1:45am and start my hike about 2am.  I wanted to be at the summit before a 6:45am sunrise.

I went to bed to late and got up too soon.

I was awake and on the trail.  It was 2:15am.  The trail was easy to follow and it climbed gradually up Stewart Creek and past a seemingly endless series of beaver dams.

Old dusty roads, led to the river Runnin' slow

I was in hiking zombie mode for a while.  I was hiking in silence while keeping an eye on the full moon which was now fighting with some high clouds.  My mind began to roam and wander. 

And the earth becomes my throne
I adapt to the unknown
Under wandering stars I've grown
By myself but not alone

The forest gives way to clearings with beaver ponds, and then before you know it you're back in the forest again.  This pattern repeats itself for a few miles. 

Beaver ponds - pic taken on descent during daylight.

Much of the forest in this area has been killed off by pine beetles. 

Dead pines everywhere - pic taken on descent in daylight.

And while beetle killed areas are kind of sad, it does make for a some unusual photography, especially when paired with a lunar eclipse.  I tried to make the best of it with my amateur photography skills.  I caught only one decent picture of the eclipse before the light was too low for my ghetto camera.  Soon thereafter the high clouds obscured the lunar eclipse completely.

The only pic I got of the eclipse.


There I was walking out of some trees into a clearing.  And there next to a pond, I saw the not uncommon sight of glowing green eyes which were reflecting light from my headlamp.  The eyes were close, but assuming it was just a deer I continued cautiously.  I stopped in my tracks when I saw the silhouette of the moose's rack.  This was at about the same time that my brain registered that these glowing green eyes were higher off the ground than they should be for a deer. 
You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away and know when to run
~Kenny Rogers
This moose was only 10 to 15 feet away from me.  The part of me that knew how dangerous these animals can be wanted to run. 

Do you think we're gonna make it? 
I don't know unless we try 
you could sit here scared to move  
or we could take them by surprise
~Dropkick Murphys

There was also a part of me that wanted to snap a picture.  I reached for my camera.
Some people like to gamble 
But you, you always lose
~Social Distortion
Understanding that a flash from the camera might make this moose lose his mind and defensively attack me, I reluctantly put the camera back in my pocket and slowly walked past him.  I never took my eyes off him until I was well past him. 

And for a moment I don't even care 
Until I feel his breath at my neck

I was bummed that I couldn't get a good photo of this moose since it was so close, but knowing there was nobody within a 30 mile radius helped me make the correct decision here.

But I can't get by
I haven't slept in years
If I can just get away from my shadow I'm in the clear
~Off With Their Heads


Wandering thoughts above the trees

After the moose incident, my mind began to drift. 

So sorry you're not here 
I've been sane too long my vision's so unclear 
Now take a trip with me 
But don't be surprised when things aren't what they seem
~Avenged Sevenfold

With the trail continuing blindly into the cold darkness, I let my mind spew random thoughts all over San Luis's northeast ridge.
It's no surprise to me I am my own worst enemy
Cause every now and then I kick the living shit out of me
My mind asked if this was solitude...
Is anybody out there, anybody there 
Does anybody wonder, anybody care
~Def Leppard
...or if I was alone
I'm never alone
I'm alone all the time

I wanted to just enjoy the night, so I asked my mind to shut up.  It's answer was clear.
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!
~Rage Against The Machine
Now near 13,000', my ankle began to hurt a bit and as a result my mind reminded me of the ankle incident and all the related crap that followed that injury. 
You shouldn't have, but you said it
 It shouldn't have happened but you let it
Now you're down on the ground screaming medic
The only thing that comes is the post-traumatic stresses
~Lupe Fiasco

I've been watching myself, turning from bad to worse
I've been locked up in the basement putting bad habits first
~Off With Their Heads 

Guess there are times when we all need to share a little pain 
And ironing out the rough spots 
Is the hardest part when memories remain
~Elton John
Well the worst of times, now, they don't phase me 
Even if I look and act really crazy

Shouldn't have looked back, man, I'll always regret it
~The Beastie Boys

I briefly silenced my mind with a good steady climb up a relatively steep and deep snow slope.  I was off route slightly and I just didn't care.  At this point, I just wanted the racing thoughts muted. 

I had to run away high
So I wouldn't come home low
~Motley Crue

Got no brains, I'm insane
~Quiet Riot
I was getting close to the summit now, and I stopped to put microspikes on before crossing a slope that was angled just enough to give my boots some traction challenges.  I also added an extra layer since it was very cold at 5:45am.  My mind was now just spitting random thoughts here and there.  My mind, which was being starved for attention because I was ignoring it's of bull shit, now tried to convince me that I am a bad person.
I'm not alive 
I'm just as good as dead 
I can't find a reason why I should even get outta bed
~Off With Their Heads
I think that I am startin' to see 
I have become everything 
I never wanted to be 
I'm really gettin' sick of myself 
'Cause when I look into the mirror 
I see somebody else
~Papa Roach
 I'm such an asshole, how could you resist? 
I never meant to let it go to my head 
I never thought it would come to this 
It's me the asshole of your dreams 
~Reel Big Fish
I never thought I'd die alone 
Another six months I'll be unknown
~Blink 182
Ha ha you're dead 
And I'm so happy 
In loving memory Of your demise
When your ship is going down 
I'll go out and paint the town 
Ha ha you're dead 
Ha ha you're dead 
Ha ha you're dead 
Ha ha you're dead 
The joke is over 
You were an asshole 
And now you're gone 
As your ship is going down 
I'll stand by and watch you drown 
Ha ha you're dead 
Ha ha you're dead 
Ha ha you're dead  
~Green Day

Silently screaming I bang my head against the wall 
It seems like no one cares at all
~Suicidal Tendencies

My mind was playing a good game, but I had it beat this night.  The sky was beginning to show some light and I only had 100 feet until I was standing on the summit of San Luis Peak at 14,014' witnessing a sunrise.  Nothing could phase me. 
I take a bad situation gonna make it right 
In the shadows of darkness I stand in the light
One, nothing wrong with me 
Two, nothing wrong with me 
Three, nothing wrong with me 
Four, nothing wrong with me
~Drowning Pool

Maybe it's not too late 
To learn how to love 
And forget how to hate
~Ozzy Osbourne

I have been guilty 
Of kicking myself in the teeth 
I will speak no more 
Of my feelings beneath
~Alice In Chains
I reached the summit.  I had to wait in the cold for the sunrise for 15-20 minutes.  I had all my layers on.  It was very cold above 14,000' at dawn.
I waited...
We made it through the cold 
And that freezin' snow is gettin' old
~Van Halen

The sunrise was partially obscured by the high clouds, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Views to the west on 10/8/2014.

This innocent beauty, my words can't describe 
This rebirth to purity brings a sullen tear right to your eyes
The spectacular San Juans are amazing any time of year and at any time of day.
I ain't seen the sunshine in three damn days
~Kid Rock (w/ Sheryl Crow)
Rainbow above Organ Mountain.
Fire! Smoke, she is a rising! 
Fire! Smoke on the horizon!
~The Cult

Me enjoying the sunrise even though I couldn't really feel my toes at this point.


And I ain't seen the sunshine 
Since, I don't know when
~Johnny Cash

The end

I won't bore you with the details of my hike back to the trailhead, nor will I make you suffer through any more of my favorite song lyrics.  Rest easy, I am not insane.  I'll leave you with three quotes from Suicidal Tendencies.

I'm not crazy,
you're the one that's crazy. 
All I wanted was a Pepsi.
~Suicidal Tendencies
Time out-let's get something clear 
I speak-more truth than you want to hear
~Suicidal Tendencies

And if I offended you,
Oh I'm sorry but, maybe you needed to be offended 
But here's my apology and one more thing...
Fuck you!
~Suicidal Tendencies



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