Rain, Rain

We’ve gotten a lot of rain here on Colorado’s Front Range of late. And I haven’t even been here the whole time. Maybe Colorado has softened this Seattle boy to a degree. My expectations of sunshine 360 days a year settled in pretty easily. Those 360 days are going to be hard to get this year. I still stick with my mantra of “There’s no bad weather, just poor clothing choices.” But my poor child who has had free reign of the yard as she continues to discover how to walk and negotiate her balance among the tufts of grass has no rain gear. No little slicker to shed the water. No rubber boots to stomp in the puddles with. And worst of all, no understanding of the hypothermic dangers lurking in allowing her to run wild in the rain without some modicum of protection from the deluge.

We just got a flyer in the mail from the city with information about what to do to prepare for flooding, how to handle the floods themselves and what to do after the waters recede. Fortunately, we’re not in a high-risk flood zone, but I can only imagine the concerns weighing on those who had to fight off the waters of two years hence. In fact, I’ve already heard from a friend about how his sump pump failed and he’s had to repeat the process of pulling up soggy carpet from his basement.

But here we are, living in a world where it rains. In a world where we have tried to build structures to protect us from the weather. Usually it works. Usually we can outsmart the elements and create walls that keep us warm and dry. But sometimes those elements sneak by and remind us we are just part of the world. We are just creatures who exist here as the animals do their best to protect themselves from the cold and the wet. Just as our ancient ancestors did their primitive best to do the same.

Thanks for the reminder rain. And thanks for keeping Colorado green for now.

Beautiful or Ugly

You tell me. While exploring Robbers Roost Canyon in Utah last week, we flipped over a rock to use it to hold down a tarp or something benign like that and found this guy. I found it to be rather beautiful. His green extremities, black body, and he was backed up into a small opening in the rocky slope. My wife found it less amusing and admitted it might not bother her so much if it wasn’t so poisonous. Anyone know what kind of scorpion this is?

A Game-changer: Martin Litton

The passionate and fierce environmentalist and conservationist Martin Litton passed away quietly in his sleep at his home in Portola Valley, Calif. on the last day of November 2014. His wife, Esther, was by his side. He was 97.

Known more recently for his work running wooden dories down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, he started his career at the LA Times writing about environmental issues and then became an editor for Sunset Magazine. But his legacy resides in the monumental effort he put into saving the Grand Canyon from the proposed dams in Marble Canyon and Bridge Canyon. He was part of saving and preserving a number of other wilderness areas as well through his work with the Sierra Club.

It was the summer of 1969 when Litton started running wooden dories down the Grand Canyon to form his guiding company Grand Canyon Dories. The little wooden boats were immediately immensely popular with river runners for guides and clients alike. In 1988 Grand Canyon Dories joined the OARS family of companies and, per Litton’s conditions, continues to only run dories exclusively under oar power.

Litton’s life and legacy around his conservation work and dories in the Grand Canyon was documented in the 2013 book The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko about the fastest run down the Grand Canyon. This record run was completed in 1983 in one of Litton’s wooden dories. In fact, it was the first wooden dory, after many iterations, Litton determined was the perfect shape for running the roaring waters of the Grand Canyon and it was the boat from which he modeled the rest of his fleet since. The boat was called The Emerald Mile.

Here’s an excerpt from Fedarko’s Book describing part of what Litton achieved:
Historians often minimize or discount the impact that any one individual can have on human destiny—and for good reason. Given the broad tides in the affairs of men, and the complexity of the forces that shape and change history, it is almost always a mistake to ascribe too much significance to the actions of a single person. But even the most jaded observer can concede that, every now and then, a man or woman steps up to the plate and takes a mighty swing that clears the bases and fundamentally changes the game.

Litton is survived by his wife, Esther, his four children, John, Donald, Kathleen and Helen as well as five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Not to mention the many friends, guides and river lovers Litton inspired across the world.

Litton in the Grand Canyon. Photo by Jon Blaustein.
Litton in the Grand Canyon. Photos by Jon Blaustein.

May Ski

I should have done this years ago, but it finally struck at the right moment. I want to ski every month this year. Technically, I started in November, but I’m going for a clean January to December sweep. Granted, those winter months weren’t much of a challenge, but now that it’s May it takes a little more effort.

We knocked off May on the 3rd above Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Nice and early in the month. I hope to be as diligent in the months to come. It was my first time to ski Dead Elk Couloir and it was OK. There were a few patches of clear untouched snow even after a few of my crew had skied down before me. But there was also a little snow slide that mucked up some of the narrow chute of the couloir. We survived.

Anybody else going after skiing every month of the year? Where’s your May Ski?