Monday, October 24, 2005

American Basin

I wore sunscreen and sunglasses this time--it was much more fun for that. However, we didn't count on all the snow!

(One of the many unnamed but gorgeous peaks around American Basin.)

Aaron (a friend from Sonlight Camp) and I hiked into American Basin, a watershed up in the mountains southwest of Lake City. We were attempting to summit Handies Peak, one of the five "14-ers" (mountains higher than 14,000 feet elevation, of which there are 54 in Colorado) in the Lake City area. Alas, we didn't make the summit. We should have started earlier: we were about 1,000 feet from the summit at our turn-around time. Sigh.

(The view back down American Basin from about 12,000 feet.)

Our upward progess was made slow by the abundance of snow--much more snow than on the trail to Uncompahgre last week. But the foamy white made the scenery quite beautiful, as you can see in these photos. In one of them, you can see the flat-topped Uncompahgre Peak peeking out with its reddish face from behind a closer mountain.

(See the wide top of Uncompahgre, hazy in the the distance?)

In another, you can see Sloan Lake, a nearly-frozen pond at 12,000 feet, basking below a jagged ridge of unnamed peaks.

(Sloan Lake, almost as white as the snow around it.)

One of these photos looks back on our track down from the base of the peak. What is hard to discern in the photo is the slope. We decided it would be faster to slide down the northwest face of Handies rather than take the circuitous trail back into the basin. We tried to glissade (a first attempt at the skill for me), but the snow was too deep and powdery. So we ran down the 50-degree incline through the two-foot-deep snow. We watched little dislodged chunks of hardened snow go scurrying down the slope ahead of us, followed by a mist of sandy ice kicked up by our knees. It was much faster than taking the trail around!

(I had to crane my neck upwards to get this shot!)

Though we didn't make the summit, it was another beautiful morning in some of the most beautiful scenery in God's world.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

14,000 Feet

Did you know that you can sunburn your eyes? I didn't; at least not until last Monday, when a friend from Lake City and I scaled Uncompahgre Peak. The mountain is the sixth highest in Colorado, soaring 14,309 feet above the level of the sea. The snow was patchy--nothing really to contend with--but enough angel dust had fallen on the surrounding mountain ranges to make their crowns picturesque against the azure sky. However, at 14,309 feet above sea level, we were about 12,000 feet closer to the sun than where I grew up. And there's significantly less air (and no cloud) to buffer the rays of that burning orb at such an altitude.

It's October, and we're in the Rocky Mountains. I'm wearing three layers of clothing and heavy boots. Who thinks about sunscreen while sporting such apparel? I should have. When I came back from the hike, my face and neck were lobster-red, and I even had horizontal bands of red on my eyeballs the width of a tight squint. Sigh. Tomorrow, when another friend and I hike Handies Peak (a mere 14, 048 feet), I will slather my peeling face and neck with a sunscreen that would make NASA proud, and I'll wear a hat and sunglasses. More pictures and less pain to follow.

~ emrys

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Day to Day in Lake City

Well, it’s trying to snow again but true to the forecast the snow is only sticking at or around 9,000 feet. We’re at 8,700 and I can see snow sticking on the hills outside the windows. But here its just slush!

We are doing well and enjoying small town fall. Many of the trees are still holding their color in spite of the colder temperatures. We remain busy with church stuff, house stuff, visiting folks and just enjoying the day.

Life moves at a realistically slow pace here which is wonderful. While I will have a full day, full of crochet, reading, baking & cooking, walking and a little bit of work, none of it is rushed or hurried. It’s a great thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The View from the Kitchen

Set In Stone To Cross The Seas

Well, it's official. And in today's consumer society, making something official means paying money for it. Until money has changed hands, nothing's written in stone. After the money has changed hands, neither the heat of the underworld nor elevated levels of di-hydrogen monoxide will change it. And now, money has changed hands.

Let me say first that Sara is a genius. After much searching to discover the best way to get it done within our budget, she found a unique blessing in the system of a certain foreign airline corporation. That blessing is this: a journey of multiple legs can be purchased for the same amount of money as a single round-trip between two points. To instantiate: for the cost of air travel from Los Angeles, California to Dunedin, New Zealand and back, Air New Zealand has also kindly offered to take us from Los Angeles, California to Dunedin, New Zealand to Syndey, Australia to Wellington, New Zealand and back to Los Angeles.

And now money has changed hands (thanks to the donors of the Parish Pulpit Fellowship Award at Fuller Theological Seminary). So it's written in stone. The first few months of 2006, for Sara and I, look like this:

4 Jan: Fly to Dunedin, New Zealand (South Island). [Emrys will take 3 classes here at U. of Otago.]
27 Feb: Fly to Sydney, Australia.
4 Mar: Fly to Wellington, New Zealand (North Island).
17 Mar: Fly to Los Angeles, California.

As you can imagine, we're very excited! We've begun to look at backpackers (hostels) to accomodate us while we're in these sundry places down under. Those of you who have money and leisure, please feel free to plan your trips to visit us. For everyone else, ready your internet and digital photo software so that we can share pictures with you.

We'll let y'all know when plans for Prague get concretized.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Here in Lake City

We've finally settled in one place--for about two months. From now until December 11, we're residing in Lake City where I (Emrys) am serving as stop-gap pastor to the Lake City Community Presbyterian Church.
The name "Lake City" is half misnomer. There is a lake here, but there ain't no city. The town's population is about 2000 in the summer and about 320 in the autumn and winter. We'll be here in the latter part of the year. Our experience here has caused us to redefine Durango as "the big city." (It has a Wal-Mart, after all.)
The fall colours are almost gone, with the huge sombre willows along the main drag providing the greatest resistance to the turning tide of winter. They still burn with a golden yellow, though their fire is spreading more and more to the yards and rooftops of the town. Way above us, the mountains have already donned their white caps and settled in for their long winter nap. The air nipped with the sharp teeth of Jack Frost for the first time today. It was cold enough for boots and mitts.
So Sara and I sit together in the 125-year-old dining room, our feet propped up next to the wood stove, and settle. The world is quiet here, and we like it. We could be settlers on the Western Slope at the end of the 19th century, were it not for the click-clack of my laptop keys and the screen displaying images conveyed by satellite internet. In spite of the technology, our evening is homey, a fitting piece of the tiny society called Lake City, where everyone knows your name and notices when you're not there. It will be a good two months.
Sara has finished her radiation, and we thank God every day for it. Her head grows stiffer and fuzzier with new hair, the blessed arrival proving the end of the ordeal. We're done with cancer and its treatments for a long, long time--at least among us. Friends and church members still suffer its ravages; I for one hope that our experience, though terrible, will afford more grace to others who will lean on us for support.
Even as we discover the life of tiny town, Colorado, we make plans for the future. New Zealand has almost become a certainty for the new year: the money is in, my classes are booked, and we're on the cusp of having airline tickets in our hot little hands. Hobbiton, Milford Track, and sheep out the wazoo beckon us from the other side of the globe. The testimonies of friends who drool at the thought of that kiwi-land have whet our appetites for the trip. Almost too quickly, it will be here. Then to Prague and the allures of Europe. Then I shall have a call back in this country, and it will be finally time to settle down for a long time: no more stuff "in storage," no more wondering where we'll live next month.
The past has been rough, but the present is bright, and the future is warm. Hah! Life is good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

3 Days and Counting!

12 weeks of chemotherapy and 12 radiation treatments down- 3 radiation treatments to go! By noon on Friday I will have completed my cancer treatments! So as you are all over the country making your weekend plans – join us in celebrating! Lift a glass, eat an extra brownie or just dance around your living room! Then come back, post a comment so we can all share the experience!

Thank you again to everyone who was my support during this time with cards, e-mails, phone calls, letters and donations to various cancer research and support organizations. If you have planned on making donations or plan to at year end, and just haven’t gotten around to it, I’d ask that you visit my friend Sarah R.’s site (link to the right) and consider supporting her as she’s fundraising and walking with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society marathon on January 8.

As the chapter of treatment comes to a close, I am so blessed to count you all among my friends and family. May this fall find you time to truly enjoy those around you – friends and family – who you love. May you take the time from the busy-ness to enjoy the colors of the turning leaves, the first cool crisp day, the smile on a child’s face.
Love to you all.