JUNE 23

Mid-morning onTres Pistolas Trail through southern end of Sandia Mountains ---- June 23, 2021

Mid-morning onTres Pistolas Trail through southern end of Sandia Mountains —- June 23, 2021

Some people you never know if you’ll see them again.
Life is like that.
We’re not really out of this pandemic, yet, as the U.S. tentatively
emerges from the Health Safety Lockdown of the past 16 months.
Danger still lurks.
Death is waiting around corners.
So much has changed.
I spent most of the time
               walking in the nearby mountains.
I really feel for those stuck in their homes.
We have 10,000-footers looming over Albuquerque
        with many trails, canyons, arroyos
I give thanks to the Great Spirit
        and the Goddess of Creation
For this mystery and
        for giving me the strength to walk in these wild places.

Cicada and prickly pear ---- All photos from day of June 23, 2021

Cicada and prickly pear —- All photos from day of June 23, 2021

Late morning winding my way up Tres Pistolas

Late morning winding my way up Tres Pistolas

Apache Plume in one of its various multiform aspects

Apache Plume in one of its various multiform aspects

Oaks hybridize easily ---- This one has Gambel Oak and Wavy Leaf Oak characteristics, but neither of those have the pointy leafs this one has, maybe Turbinella Oak got into the mix? (There are 4 varieties of Quercus in these mountains, plus "Poison Oak," not really an oak, just looks kinda like one)

Oaks hybridize easily —- This one has Gambel Oak and Wavy Leaf Oak characteristics, but neither of those have the pointy leafs this one has, maybe Turbinella Oak got into the mix? (There are 4 varieties of Quercus in these mountains, plus “Poison Oak,” not really an oak, just looks kinda like one)

Self-portrait with Ponderosa Pine Cone

Self-portrait with Ponderosa Pine Cone

The day begins innocently enough. The unexpected has other designs.  I park truck at Three Gun Springs Trailhead and three hours later I’m on the ridge.  Earlier, the only other person seen on trail this day, young lady returning down trail mid-morning, I told her where I was heading, you meet the nicest people out in the wild, was concerned, I told her I was fine (I must look my age?) she relented and said, “Well, BE CAREFUL!”

By 2:30 I made Oso Pass, the point of this reconnaissance today is to strategize which route I’ll take later in summer in my climb up South Peak. Oso Pass is the junction of the 3 approaches. I must have suspected something was amiss as my Shirtpocket Notes has a notation about two friends of mine who died recently on these mountains, old guys. I was inordinately tired. I’m not usually this tired. And I needed to start down, it was going to be a slog. After a shorter than needed rest (the gnats bothersome this time of year), and in retrospect, this is where things went weird. How I took off down the wrong trail is spooky.

An hour later I make a note that I’m lost and confused, don’t know where I am? Unbeknownst to me I was experiencing Heat Exhaustion —- 95-degrees and altitude, I misjudged the day, ran out of water. I know these mountains fairly well, I’ve been in them for 30 years and this past 16 months three four times a week, I even hiked through the winter, nothing stopped me, but the Sun had other ideas. I begin to lose control of my leg muscles, they were wobbly, weak, I fell quite a few times. I might have fainted a few times, I don’t remember. (I hope this story not descending into the overly-dramatic?)

It wasn’t until I rounded this escarpment and came out of the trees late in the day and saw the city water tank in Embudo Canyon, miles below, did I realize where I was: a cosmic joke to be on Whitewash Ridge, a brutal straight up straight down tumble of colluvium and scree and cactus. In my delirium I made few phone calls, my throat so dry I could barely speak. Left messages. All of which I have no memory. Cal came and rescued me with water, “It has electrolytes,” which I gather’d was a good thing? There are parts of this world I am not a part of. I lost 5 pounds in water weight (gained it all back after I rehydrated). My ankles were a rash of blood red broken blood vessels.

Janet said, “Subdural bleeding —- Your body was about to shut down!” so were my hands (I didn’t show Cal, didn’t want to alarm him any more) were vibrant red, Janet said, “a mechanism to dispel body heat, your body was in shutdown.” She was a little angry with me. SO, in summary: I’m writing a book about these mountains. My dear friends look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them, this whole misadventure was merely research <grin> Now I know something else about these mountains. They almost took me.

I’m writing this 3 weeks later —- That day still lingers —- I’ve gone out many times since, always careful, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, just a close call.

I've often thought these mountains should be called the Lichen Mountains ---- granite is the substratum of these rocky mountains, capped by sandstone/limestone from ancient seas of 300 million years ago, plus ---- (the granite is 1.4 billion years old. These mountains were not upraised, yet, when the dinosaurs roamed these parts.

I’ve often thought these mountains should be called the Lichen Mountains —- granite is the substratum of these rocky mountains, capped by sandstone/limestone from ancient seas of 300 million years ago, plus —- (the granite is 1.4 billion years old. These mountains were not upraised, yet, when the dinosaurs roamed these parts.

11:39am View south down 3 Gun Springs Trail ---- That's old Rt.66 (I-40) going through Tijeras Pass with Manzano Mountains in distance ---- Particulate haze in the air added to health hazard (smoke from fires up north)

11:39am View south down 3 Gun Springs Trail —- That’s old Rt.66 (I-40) going through Tijeras Pass with Manzano Mountains in distance —- Particulate haze in the air added to health hazard (smoke from fires up north)

Lifegiving opuntia: this type of prickly pear, with sparse needles set far apart, are what deer like

Lifegiving opuntia: this type of prickly pear, with sparse needles set far apart, are what deer like

Shadow of Mountain Mahogany on Sandia Granite

Shadow of Mountain Mahogany on Sandia Granite

Medallion Tree marking the Pennsylvania Statehood in 1787 when this Ponderosa germinated 233 years ago ---- trail at 8,096 feet elevation en route to Oso Pass

Medallion Tree marking the Pennsylvania Statehood in 1787 when this Ponderosa germinated 233 years ago —- trail at 8,096 feet elevation en route to Oso Pass

I've heard that the squirrels in tops of tree chew off these immature Doug-fir cones to eat later

I’ve heard that the squirrels in tops of tree chew off these immature Doug-fir cones to eat later

South Peak from near Oso Pass ---- At my level of physical abilities these days I'd have to make this ascent a 2-day affair and bring my sleeping bag ---- It might be out of my reach

South Peak from near Oso Pass —- At my level of physical abilities these days I’d have to make this ascent a 2-day affair and bring my sleeping bag —- It might be out of my reach

View south out of the southern Sandias

View south out of the southern Sandias

Lightning strike among the Ponderosa up at 8,000+ feet

Lightning strike among the Ponderosa up at 8,000+ feet

CONSECRATED

What a way to go:
Wandering the mountains sundazed
Gloriously confused, delirious
That
It was light of the Sun
From which we came
And now the Sun is reclaiming me
The blood vessels in my ankles and hands
          bursting in flames, swirling
Universe, thirst and fatigue
Always a galaxy we
Remain

This is the last photo of the day, my confused mind was more concerned with figuring out where I was ---- It's 3:22 according to Time-Date and that's the northern Sandias across what could be Bear Canyon

This is the last photo of the day, my confused mind was more concerned with figuring out where I was —- It’s 3:22 according to Time-Date and that’s the northern Sandias across what could be Bear Canyon


Click the image pls for FREE DOWNLOAD !

Click the image pls for FREE DOWNLOAD !

THE GALILEO TREE
Poems Winter 2020 – Winter 2021
Mark Weber

 

First edition * 300 copies * March 2021 / This is Zerx chap #76 / Printed at Speedzone, Albuquerque / Layout and functional design by Nanette Ely-Davies / Author photo Self-portrait in Sandia Mountains early Spring 2021 / Front cover art & design by Tim Oswald / All doodles by the author / These poems are the book my jazz trio uses in sessions/ Cal Haines (drums) and Carol Liebowitz (piano) —- / Other alliances, with Virg Dzurinko (piano), duets w/ Charley Krachy (tenor), improvisations with Nick Lyons (alto), / deep dives w/Kazzrie Jaxen (piano), and a long-deferred  project with bassist Ken Filiano, as well as further duets with bassist Ratzo Harris, and Andrea Wolper —- All put on hold during this Covid-19/ Safety Lockdown Limbo we’re presently awaiting an end / Some have appeared on my defunct FB page and a few others were read on Scott MacNicholl’s Saturday night radio show Psychedelic Radio Head Shoppe (KUNM), and some others appeared at my website JAZZ FOR MOSTLY / And some were borrowed from YESTERDAY TOOK THE SKY my unpublished memoir I wrote during the early months of the pandemic when we were all asked to stay home / (c)2021 Mark Alan Weber / zerxpress@gmail.com / Zerx Press, 725 Van Buren Place SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87108

 

 

7 Comments

  1. Charley

    Absoulty beautiful pictures, but jeeezzz …close call..!!!

  2. Supriti

    You’re becoming a ‘crazy adept’! Amazing photos ( is that in my backyard?) and those mountains/Sun have teeth and can bite your ass. Be as mindful as you are poetic. Please.

  3. Janet

    What Charley said.

    And … thanks for the reminder that it can get weird out there, could happen to anyone.

  4. Mark Weber

    ” . . . Maybe we feel the need to test ourselves more, to see how much we can take
    and survive. Bravery is personal.” —- Marie Colvin (1956-2012) essay Courage Knows
    No Gender (1999) —- Marie was war correspondent KIA in Syria by Bashar al-Assad’s
    bombing annihilation of a city that didn’t agree with him.

  5. Ben

    Great photos. Gone are the snow patches. 95-degrees, old lightning strikes and gnats… another season of endurance. I can just imagine you on your scuffed ass making a phone call… “ Hey Father Death, I’m flying home
    Hey poor man, you’re all alone
    Hey old daddy, I know where I’m going” (Ginsberg)
    Well thankfully you didn’t know where you were going. When Father Death showed up, you weren’t there, having wandered off with a pine cone…
    Keep trekking!… being mindful of bodily resources such as water and such…

  6. Ken Keppeler

    So much for becoming a wiser person as we age. Not that I would know much about such wisdom myself. From your stories of the past, this is but one in a long line of close calls. It is a sign of supreme optimism that we expect to see another sunrise, which makes each day so beautiful when we are able to rise again to wish the best to all of our friends
    .

  7. Mark Weber

    Shirtpocket Notes —- Wednesday June 23, 2021 South Sandias
    9:30
    TH parking at Three Gun Springs —- elevation 6,086 feet (the Coltrin book has it at 6,340)
    Only 4 cars plus my truck —– I feel excited to be out today, evergized, heat be damned, wish
    I had got here earlier! I woke at 6 but various home chores kept me

    “Moral sentiments originate in man’s sense of unity” —- Seems simple enough, from rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s first book MAN IS NOT ALONE (1951) was reading this morning,
    I’ll ponder further as I walk today

    9:50
    Wilderness Boundary
    Blue Haze (like Miles Davis tune)
    Particulate must be high
    Gnats —- I’m slathering Jungle Juice
    Cottontail scurries off into the rabbitbrush, appropriately —- As Mary Austin has it (essay
    “Water Trails of the Ceriso,” 1903) : “Rabbits appear to have no reason for existence but to furnish meals for meat eaters”
    This is the year of the Whiptail (Checkered Whiptail —- spotted)
    Very very had to nose breath when moving fast uphill, I feel like I’m suffocating, need
    gulp of air, or faint —- Maybe I’ll have breakfast at First Post (I packed 2 homemade carnitas
    burritos) For now, I’ll have an apple (Gala) while trudging —-
    No cicadas
    Some wind

    10:40
    Cute young girl startled me, I must have jumped, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t sneaking up on you!”
    I had been photographing yucca in upward shot to show horizon of mountain range
    She was moving up trail with her floppy hat & Hollywood starlet sunglasses
    I asked where she was headed?
    “To the top”
    I didn’t think she meant South Sandia Peak, so late in the day, so, said “Third Post?”
    She said, “Yeh”
    I said, “I’ll see you there in about 5 hours, I go slow”
    and she endearingly coo’d, “Oh no, you’ll make it!”
    I’m easily more than twice her age

    10:58 First Post
    Ready for breakfast but gnats a nuisance
    I’ll have to go up to the ridge where the wind blows them away

    11:00
    Finally, cicadas! Wish I could see them when they’re making this racket, but, it’s such
    a white noise, can’t tell where they are —– (I did photo one inactive cicada on an opuntia
    about an hour ago)

    11:15 —- 7,402 feet
    Gnats or no gnats I need a rest
    Have to remember keep camera in shade, it doesn’t like sun or heat —- That book BREATH
    is losing its viability with me (Shew gave it to me), the young author blames everything from
    nighttime frequent urination, to low energy, HBP, snoring, low attention span, to the war
    in Mideast to the leaky kitchen faucet on mouth breathing —- I’m beginning to disagree —-
    I try nose breathing coming up trail as long as possible until gasp for fulsome big breath

    11:22
    Incomprehensibly, that young girl coming down trail while I munch burrito, she says
    she made it —- I say, “Oh, come on!” she laughs and says, “It’s not far you’ll make it”
    dear girl that she is
    I switched to Macro lens to photo close up of rocks where I’m sitting

    TANKA
    You get to a certain age, Grasshopper
    All you want to do
    is
    Be in the mountains
    Walking the Back of Beyond

    Cicada —- an odd sound —- You can be close to it but it sounds distant —- old Pinon,
    there he is! They must expend a lot of energy buzzy so furiously

    12:10
    I’m high enough to see Embudo Canyon Saddle and the hazy city beyond to the west

    12:20
    Gambel Oak (it was Turbinella previous to First Post)
    Lower back muscles seizing up, I need to stop
    Still in Pinon-Juniper Zone, I should start seeing Ponderosa soon, if I recall correctly —-
    Cool welcome breeze
    I wonder what that portends?
    I wonder if this not Wavy Leaf Oak [photo] for a Gambel it has a prickley tip on leaf?
    Might be hybrid —- They look different
    Both are present along here and no doubt further up
    This jaunt today merely a reconnaissance to look into the various approaches for my
    eventual climb to South Sandia Peak

    12:35 Third Post
    Well, that girl was about right: “It’s only an hour away, you’ll make it!” tender reassurances
    always welcome —- I told her I was 68, my pace a little more measured
    She said, “That’s awesome! Well, you take your time and look at all the flowers!”
    I said, “What flowers?”
    She said, “All of those lovely purple flowers”
    I said that I hate cholla but their flowers do win me over, “Were you up here April and
    May? That’s when all the flowers were out”
    She said Yes she was.
    I seem to have missed Second Post? (Or, somebody yanked it out)
    I’m sitting in a swarm of gnats —- I must need put on more Jungle Juice AND
    SPF55 sunscreen —- Took me 3 hours to get here —- Blame it on Covid-damaged lungs

    12:50 —- 8,013
    I’m just a little further up trail from Third Post Saddle (junction with Embudo Trail)
    Took 2 aspirin
    Slathered on Jungle Juice (never put on forehead as the sweat intermingles with eyes
    and that burns to high hell), even put it on my pants and backpack (hope it doesn’t stain)
    Rubbed Voltaren onto lower back muscles — Topical NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug)
    I’m right under South Peak
    Very very green up there
    I won’t attempt ascent of South Peak until gnats are history

    1:00
    I can see Whitewash Trail and how it approaches Oso Pass
    Looks to be advanced hiking
    This is the Land of Tall Pinon
    Even tho, no Ponderosa, it seems like I should be seeing Hornytoads, I can feel
    their presence

    1:05
    My gawd, at first I thought I was seeing the tallest Pinon in creation, standing as tall as
    the Ponderosa next to it, and here’s another! but, telltale bracted pine cones in the understory
    makes it Doug-fir

    1:20
    Wind —- medallion tree: Pennsylvania Statehood 1787
    This Ponderosa is 233 years old
    Somebody has scratched a gouge in medallion since I last saw it last summer —- There’s
    a new type of hiker these days, that destroys trail posts and signs and any other trail
    markers —- Hard to understand why —- Since Trump has unleashed such ruination and
    disruption and immaturity out of these blighted people, probably more to come? But, up
    here? Makes no sense
    I remove Macro and go back to my regular lens: 16-50mm zoom
    Too many gnats to have lunch, not that hungry luckily, the heat takes away appetite,
    these are slim “backpacking burritos” but the one I had at 1:22 is sufficient

    1:30 4 hours and counting —- 8.088
    I’m a little further up from medallion tree and now trail begins to descend
    White Fir!
    I’m in the “Mixed Conifer Zone”
    No Poplars

    2:00
    Around every bend I keep thinking I must be within striking distance of Oso Pass —-
    I’ve never been on this leg of trail this far, so . . .
    If this recon has revealed anything, it’s that I’ll need bring a sleeping bag if I’m to
    make South Peak
    I’ll continue till 2:30 at 5 hours then turn around, giving safe amount of time to return

    2:10
    I’m starting to question my sanity to keep this up
    and up
    and up
    What a slog

    2:25
    Ridge of some sort, tree cover —- 8,578

    2:30 —- 5 hours — 8,529 feet (I came down a little)
    Elation and exhaustion —- Here I am! OSO PASS, 3-way junction with Embudito and
    Three-Gun Spring Trail is all the post says —- I gather Embudito is to continue up to Peak
    And to think I almost turned around five minutes ago
    when that wave of heat hit me as I came up onto that ridge
    Well, I’ll lighten my load and drink can of V8
    I always remember Jim Fish dying on Mt Taylor and Tomas on La Luz Trail in the heat
    When is it my turn?

    2:40
    Starting back down —- These molesting gnats make it impossible to rest
    I’m facing the massif of South Peak and just looking at it, and the way I feel, makes me
    think it might be out of my reach —- Maybe 20 years ago or 30, but no more . . .

    3:45
    Totally lost and confused
    Don’t know where I am

    4:00
    It appears I’m on Whitewash Trail —- I can see Embudo Canyon City Water Tank
    These gnats, you can hardly think, let alone, rest —- Must keep moving —-
    For the last hour I didn’t know where I was, and now some sort of cosmic joke that I wind
    up on Whitewash Ridge Trail —- brutal —- My leg muscles quivering

    Disorientation

    5:00
    Called Cal, he’s going to pick me up at Embudo Trailhead parking at 5:30
    I’m heading down the cut-down trail off Whitewash
    Slipping & falling
    The mountain kicked my ass today, I guess it was bound to happen before long
    [I had quit taking photos when it became apparent I had come off my hinges —- Rather,
    my disorientation didn’t result in picture taking ——- And my hands turned bright red, Janet
    said that it was a capillary mechanism for dispensing heat from over-heated body —-
    I’m very thirsty and my throat hurts, very sore, must be swollen —- Sun stroke? certainly
    heat exhaustion —- I ran out of water at 4 —- I took 2 quarts plus V8—- When I got to
    parking lot I called Cal and said “Where are you?” Said he’d walked up Embudo Trail looking
    for me, “Stay put, I’ll be right there, I guess I sounded pretty bad on the phone, when I first called him it wasn’t until he said, “ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” my voice was ragged and I could
    barely get a sound out, it wasn’t until he said that, that I realized that I might not be alright —-
    Sure good to have him as a friend—- He got me home and Janet was freaked and yelled at
    me for not leaving my phone on, she said Tim (Oswald) had called worried, too —- In my
    delerium I must have called him and left a message as he told Janet what I’d croaked into
    his message machine] —- Apparently, I had also called Betty Jo & Gary . . . .

    + Interesting how specific to this planet and latitude our bodies are, how temperatures
    and altitudes can trip us up —– Another clue that I was dehydrating: I didn’t urinate
    all day

    Textbook case of Heat Exhaustion (look it up) disorientation, muddy thinking, fatigue,
    decrease and loss of muscle coordination, balance, fainting —– And that night massive
    cramps in my legs that Janet had to massage and rub ointment, very painful

    Notable that my last photo was 3:22 —- I didn’t reach Embudo Canyon parking until 5:30 —-
    I shot 225 frames this hike

    In this kind of heat you need a whole lot more water than 2 quarts

    I happen’d to have weighed myself that morning on our new weigher (I’m not in the habit
    of weighing myself) and so, after this misadventure I weighed myself and I lost 5 pounds,
    all in water weight no doubt

    In the last hour coming down off the Whitewash Ridge my muscles uncontrollable I kept
    falling on this talus and so spent some of the steeper parts scooting along on my butt

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