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22 October 2010

Goodbye Boulder

Boulder, Colorado. The formidable Flatirons. The bountiful beer. The insane fitness that seeps from the air of the place. The infinite sunshine. The beautiful people. The rock, the trails, the snow, the scene. The center of the universe. Boulder, my home.

The blue skies, red rock and soil, steep and forested mountain slopes, and expansive plains have been the backdrop of my life for the past six years. First as a geography student at the University of Colorado, stumbling through life trying to figure out my passions, my sports, my loves. Confusion and excitement, raging parties and all night school projects, backcountry skiing and avalanche education; just a glimpse of my life as a student.

I worked for CU's Outdoor Program, guiding and teaching and learning. Through the OP I met Hallie, my girlfriend of three and a half years. My first love, my climbing mentor, backcountry skiing partner, soul mate. We explored Boulder and Colorado together, grew together and challenged each other until our paths veered apart and sent us on new adventures, much stronger for what we shared.

After graduation I fell into a spectacular job as a research assistant on Niwot Ridge, forty-five minutes outside of Boulder, nestled against the Continental Divide. Skiing, hiking, hauling, and soaking up the beauty of the place occupied my last two and a half years. Alpine stream sampling, snow surveying, winter-time lake coring, and permafrost seeking with ground penetrating radar; just a taste of my tasks.

The people of Boulder have always kept me company and kept me interested. And entertained. So many spectacular people from all walks. Climbers, skiers, geographers, recyclers, partiers and barhoppers, musicians, scientists, beer brewers and beer drinkers, students and teachers, triathletes, hikers, gamers, meditators. I continue to meet exciting people with amazing things to offer even in my final days here.

Two months ago I met an incredible girl, Erin, who has shared so much with me in our short time together. We quickly discovered a special connection between us which has been growing stronger since. Our story continues...

Boulder has molded who I am. I have given to this place and it has given so much back. I have learned a tremendous amount about myself in my time here. Who I am and who I am not. What I am capable of giving. Where I am headed (at least a general direction). When to listen and when to speak. Why I react with conditioned responses. How to begin living a life of gratitude.

Several weeks ago I ran most of the Boulder skyline traverse, a trail run that summits the five major mountains that form the city's western skyline from its southern end to the nearly northern limits. Being in somewhat poor form that day (I blame it on spicy Italian sausage, pu'er tea, and sleep deprivation) I ran out of juice before climbing Mount Sanitas, the final peak of the traverse. Of course, I couldn't leave the skyline unfinished so I ran through the mists and rains this afternoon up the rocky trail to the summit in the clouds.

The views from the top of Sanitas are usually spectacularly clear and distant, crisp crystal blues touching down on deep evergreen slopes, and an eastern horizon so vast you can nearly see the curvature of the Earth. So it seemed appropriate today on my last run in Boulder that unusual and unique be reality, that the mountain be swathed in thick cloud. At the top, I could hear the sounds of the city below but see nothing. The easterly wind pulling livestock odors off the plains wafted up to my nose as the saturated air kissed my skin. Unseeing and unknowing, I felt comfort. I did not need to see or to know what was beyond, just out of view. I felt content with what I have at present, what I have experienced here.

My next step is a step into the fog. I do not know what awaits me in China, and yet a growing calm is settling on the summit of my mind. I cannot foresee what will happen in that land, I only know that I have a great amount to learn. And often times that wisdom comes when seeing and knowing is most difficult.

Thank you Boulder, for being my home. A home that has grown into me, into the man I have become. My legs are now stronger and my lungs fuller than when I arrived. My feet more nimble and my hands more deft. My smile still wide and my mind better trained. My red nose now perma-tanned. You will always be a comfy abode for me, a familiar hub on the journey of life. Until we once more share a finger-lock and an IPA, I bid you farewell. Stay weird.

08 October 2010

Ode to Wind

- I dedicate this to all my incredible friends who have shared the rigors and wonders of Niwot Ridge with me.

Oh Western Wind that cuts through fancy clothes
If only just to rest against my skin.
The beard-cicles that hang from leaky nose
Are frosty heaven's gates: now come on in.
My flesh, which once was warm, now beckons thee
To enter every crevice, crack, and crease
In my fine garb, expensive yes indeed
Yet willing to allow your sharp caress
To enter, join my lonely soul, my fleece
The blanket for our lovemaking. I feed
On your attention in excess.

Face masked, face chapped by your shuriken kiss,
Sweet breath, you hurl this blowing snow along
My reddened nose, small tender bites of bliss.
In aching eardrums lives your siren's song,
Oh spawn of heaven! Give this tundra plain
The gift of symphony, of strident strings
To bring our blustered minds serenity.
Remove my excess particles of brain!
So oft consumed by mundane, silly things,
No thought but you, no hot obscenity.

A blessed whiteout gives us time alone
Please give me guidance, lost I am this morn!
Into prostration I am roughly blown
And clearly see: my pants crotch has been shorn!
And though you blew my jacket-down away,
And tried to steal my hat and lunch and gloves,
And nipped with frost my nose and fingertips,
I know your fickle flow prefers to play.
So let us sail this arctic breeze like doves
Until once more I taste your icy lips.

Forevermore I crack ajar my fridge,
I'll long for thee, oh Wind of Niwot Ridge.