Bradley's View

Bradley's View

Friday, March 29, 2013

From The Mountains To The Sea

"There's a kind of luck that's not much more than being in the right place at the right time, a kind of inspiration that's not much more than doing the right thing in the right way, and both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself to the golden, fate-filled moment."
-A Character in the book I'm reading

     Our plans have formed slowly while time has moved quickly.  But here we are, at the end of a year's stay in the wild west.  I would like to talk more about the time I've spent here, but I think I will save that for the next post, as I have one wonderful exclamation point of an adventure still planned...  This post is for the future, which is the only direction I find good reason to explore today.

     My dear wife, Melissa, has received the opportunity to work for the North Carolina Aquarium in a position that meets the description of her "dream job".  It is incredibly inspiring to see doors swing wide open in response to someone's persistence and hard work.  I couldn't be more proud of her.

     Having said that, we will be taking leave of Colorado in less than two week's time in order to make our way to the Outer Banks.  Melissa will begin work, Luna and I will begin to walk.

    For the most part, plans regarding our walk have remained incredibly tentative.   The only thing that was certain that we would be out walking merrily about for at least 3 months.  The idea was birthed in light of dreams of hiking the AT.  As I brought that ambition into focus a little bit further I realized that it wasn't the novelty of being an AT-thru hiker, or meeting people on the trail, or sleeping in shelters that drew me towards the experience.  In fact, those things may be deterrents.

    My desire for this trip is to have a truly authentic experience, one that will be mine alone, unweighted by expectation and advice from others.  The best route would be a route of my choosing, one that features options and intersections such that I can roam and explore at my leisure.  I've decided to hike the Carolina Adventure Trek, we'll call it the CAT.

    Beginning at Adam's house, a couple of miles off the Mountains-To-Sea trail north of Asheville, I will walk south until I meet the Art Loeb Trail.  From the Art Loeb, I will follow the SAGE route in the clockwise direction through Brevard, to Caesar's Head State Park and the eastern terminus of the Foothills Trail.  The Foothills trail will be a peaceful and beautiful section of the hike; once it's 77 miles are completed I will be near to the southern terminus of the Bartram Trail at Ocone State Park, SC.  Hiking north on that I will, in about 100 miles, meet the AT near the summit of Cheoah Bald.  Following the AT south from there will bring me to Springer Mountain, GA in about a week, where I can begin hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail.  300 miles later, the trail will end in the Smokies leaving me poised to start the Mountains-To-Sea Trail atop Clingman's Dome and follow it roughly 930 miles across the state and up the coast to the trails end in Jockey's Ridge State Park, a couple of miles from Melissa's place of employment.  There you have it, the CAT!

     Executing this hike will embody more of the experience I desire than I may be able to find on the AT.  I will be able to go days without seeing anyone in certain sections, I will have the power to alter my route whenever and however I see fit, I will be accessible to family and friends, ensuring I'll be able to attend the high school graduation of my brother, Peter, and I'll be able to walk directly to my darling's doorstep.  I don't think I could ask for anything more...

     Here are some pictures of things that have occurred:

My brother, David, came out to visit.  We had a blast skiing and hiking.


We headed up towards Mt. Yale from the Denny Creek Trailhead.

Dramatic post-holing near treeline thwarted any ambitions of summiting we may have had.

It was a marvelous day, though.

Luna rested at the trailhead, while I wore a goofy hat.

Imaginary chess was played.

Good times were had.

Lately, we've spent a lot of time away from snow in Buena Vista.  Hiking and scrambling have become the norms.

Midland Hill is a great place to play.  Yesterday, Mel, Luna, and I hiked the 1.75ish miles/1,750 ft, to the summit.

The day prior, Luna and I ran to the top.  We then donned our packs and grabbed the trekking poles and hiked to the summit once again.

Friday, March 8, 2013


    We glanced at the weather forecast, it called for 65 and sunny for our weekend (Wed/Thurs).  A warm summer's day here in Leadville.  Off we went.  

     Niether Mel or myself had ever ventured to Moab, though we'd both heard and read our fair share about the wonders of the red rocks.  It was pretty clear to me that we could in no way pursue every arch, explore every canyon, follow each track left behind by a dinosaur(?!), but we could get a taste of the dessert.

    Our day started early Wednesday.  A little coffee and breakfast at Love Muffin, which I would highly recommend, and we were off.  

    Our first outing took us west about 10 miles from the town of Moab to the Corona Arch Trailhead.  The hike was great; unique, short, and accessible for many while still leading to an absolutely incredible place.

A step ladder for ascending the shelf on which the trail traverses.

The ladies and the arch


     A quick trip into Arches National Park felt like an obligation, almost.  Thats only because we had the dog along, otherwise the possibilities are endless in the area.  We were bound by the roads this time through.  The park encompasses a truly spectacular area of land.

     We sought a campsite up and east from town on Sand Flats Rd, home to mountain biking's infamous Slickrock Trail.  We picked a site, trying our best to find a suitable tree for blocking the wind.  Then we set off on the Slickrock Trail's Practice Loop for a fun run.

A nice view of the La Sal Mountains from the campsite

Follow the white blazes...

Luna admiring Negro Bill's Canyon (foreshadowing)
Me and Lu
     Lately Luna has really been a tough pup.  I'm glad she's my friend.   Check out this inspirational tale of a dude and a dog.

Rise and Shine.  Stretching it out at sunrise.
    Thursday, we followed Negro Bill's canyon back a couple of miles to Morning Glory Natural Bridge.  I enjoyed looking up towards the places we'd played and slept the day before.
Stream through the canyon.  Echo Point up at far left.

Morning Glory Natural Bridge
    Inspiration is everywhere.  I could never tire of life. 

    I'm also intrigued with the idea of doing canyoneering of some sorts:  Ideally, adventures could be designed that are done in the fastpack style, but feature ascents, downclimbs, and rappels that would require the use of a rope.  The intention would be to make large sweeping loops linking various canyons and otherwise unaccessible mesas.  I imagine that the inspirational melancholy of sitting alone atop a small mesa, looking out over the veins of the canyons that pump towards the life-giving rivers, would be second to none.

    This post will be the 100th since this blog was started nearly two and a half years ago.  I hope you have been able to take something positive away from at least one of these posts over that time.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Desert Love

   Something I've been thinking about lately is the beauty of the fact that once we experience the humbling beauty of a place for the first time, it's kind of like falling in love, it enables us to better feel and recognize the beauty of other distinct places.   For example, I first experienced the overwhelmingly powerful magnificence of a landscape in Western North Carolina, where I grew up.  I was standing on top of some of the bald peaks looking with awe at one of the planet's oldest mountain ranges, I marveled at the contours of the ridges and the depth of the valleys,I felt the tremor of ancestors who had hugged the mighty rivers of the mountains through millennia and the people of the present who build cities around their very banks.  I breathed in every facet of the landscape. And I did it in one breath.  It got me high, you might say.  It was a sensory and emotional overload that can only be described as ineffable, beyond expression.  

      My senses and emotions were never the same.  They were enhanced tenfold, capable of registering beauty in nearly every square inch of the earth.  It didn't matter if it was a sandy flat on the bottom of the sea, or the flatlands of Western Kentucky.  I could see it.  I could feel it.  

     Coming to Colorado and playing in it's deserts and woods, I've experienced it again.  It has so inspired me that in nearly every moment I dream of exploring it's landscapes in an effort to bring description to that which is otherwise ineffable.

      That being said, I'm about to head to Moab to experience the red rock that inspired Everett Ruess to write these words:

"I am drunk with a searing intoxication that liquor could never bring--drunk with the fiery elixir of beauty, the destroying draught of power, and the soul-piercing inevitability of music. Often I am tortured to think that what I so deeply feel must always remain, for the most, unshared, uncommunicated. Yet, at least I have felt, have heard and seen and known, beauty that is inconceivable, that no words and no creative medium are able to convey. Knowing that the cards are stacked, and realized achievements are mere shadows of the dream, I still try to give some faint but tangible suggestion of what has burned without destroying me."

        Here are a few pictures from a couple of days around Little Dominguez Canyon last week with Mike and L.D:
View off towards Grand Mesa over Little Dominguez Canyon
Enjoying a nap in the warm sun after a cold night in the bottom of my sleeping bag.

Meandering on Steamboat Mesa

L.D and Mike at Little Dominguez intersection with Lightning Basin

Poor cow was right on the trail on the way back.
Where was he on the way out...