I Have Been Here Before

I’ve been here before. Definitely. Not literally, but maybe in another life? If that is possible to believe? I remember these places. It’s a simple case of deja vu, and if you have ever watched the movie The Matrix you know that deja vu symbolizes a glitch in the matrix itself. So is there some type of glitch going on inside my brain, or am I truly a recast spirit entering the body again and searching out what my past life threw forth for me?

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The Vagabonds

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Hunter S. Thompson

The sound and smell of an airport – have you ever noticed it?

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The Mark

The sky is deep blue. Stars still lingering to the west. Bitter cold. Tires crunch as they roll to a stop in the parking lot. The tailpipe smoke quickly evaporates in the still, cold air. Doors open and close. Skis hit the ground. The ripping of skins, clicking of boot buckles, flicking of binding locks, exhale, it’s cold and you’re off. Pole, slide, step, pole, slide, step. Up through the trees. Towards the higher ridge tops. The wind starts to move the air ever so slightly. One thousand vertical, half way there. Still dark, but clear for once.

Warming. Time to shed a layer. Heart pounding. Snow deepening. Pole, slide, step. Higher still. Sixteen hundred. Seventeen hundred. The volcanos have the faintest glow of light. A tinge of pink. Colder. Windier. Trees, gone. Lines in the snow from the wind. Deep snow. Four feet. Almost there. You look back. Your partner is right with you. Both amped. Both swarming with adrenaline. A glimmer in the eye, sparkle in the tooth. Grinning ear to ear. This is GOING TO BE GOOD.

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The Rise

I stand in the middle of a valley surrounded by rock formations. I can not see any of them yet, but I know they are there. It is so dark that I can not even tell if there are any clouds lingering to add to the drama of photography this morning. Red earth all over my shoes, my clothes. It is in my hair, my nose, my ears, and even my eyes. It was a little windy yesterday. I look to where I think the horizon is but I see nothing but a big black void. There is not a soul around, it is completely silent. I am for once, early. I head to the back of my truck to grab my backpack and my tripod. The rear bumper is covered in a layer of red powder about an eighth of an inch thick. I write “wash me” in it. As I open the door the dust stirs into little tornados before it falls back to the earth. My pack and tripod have traces of the deep maroon powder all over them as well. I stumbled upon this place yesterday afternoon.

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The Valley

I took my dog for a walk tonight, as I do almost every night, on a trail that we’ve walked probably a hundred times. Tonight was different. There was a crispness to the air. Winter was on its way. The grasses were tall. Dry. Sidney closed his eyes as his face pushed them out of his way. He was a big dog. 100 pounds. A malamute and as ornery as they get. He was not one to mess with. I was safe no matter what, even if that bear was back. We walked for miles and miles. Up over the rock outcropping. Into the forest. Douglas fir and Colorado Blue Spruce surrounded us. Many turning brown from the beetles. We ducked through their branches. We crossed the streams that were now slivers of water. All of last year’s snow gone. Evaporated in the dry mountain air.

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oz couloir

OZ

As the blades of the heli chopped hard at the air to move the machine off the ground, the wash churned up crystals of ice that scoured every inch of my exposed face. I had to watch. I was excited to watch. This machine defied all the laws. I looked to my friend Chris, he was staring as I was. I caught a wink from him out of the corner of my eye. I couldn’t believe that I was here, for the eighth time in my life. That was the fastest it ever took me to get into these massive peaks. We hung on to a rocky outcrop that was as fine as a razor’s edge. HUGE drops to either side, eminent death.

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