28 September 2009

Camping, as for a night

25 Sept 09

1650: Standing in formation with service dress, service cap, and white gloves, I eye the sun and the mountains: will I make it up before dark?

1730: I walk across the tizo towards the mountains. I realize I can hardly feel my pack on my back, its design and fit are so good. Looking up, I see the sun has already sunk behind the silhouette of the front range. Again I wonder: will I make it up before dark? 2,000 vertical feet to go.

1751: Passing the Lawrence Paul pavilion; I haven't even reached the trailhead. The sweaty parts of my shirt are cold - it's about 55 degrees.

I haul it up the trail, pausing only to consider my route. I decide that while 501's and Red Wings are great for building houses and shovelling stalls, they aren't so great for climbing mountains. I eat two half-size Clif bars, wondering if I should have brought more food.

1815: I begin to see aspens. I've made good time.

1830: I arrive in the Aspen Grove. The last rays of the sun hit the backside of Eagle's Peak. I debate going up there to see the sunset, but decide that setting up camp is more important.

Once camp is set up, dusk has settled. I grab the Jetboil and my dinner of a beef stick and just-add-boiling-water pasta and head off to cook it.

While the pasta cooks, I hear voices down the grove. But when I go down to hang up my bear bag, I call a few helloes and get no response, save a very loud echo. I realize that the voices are the USAFA command center. It's a quiet night.

Heading back to camp, the moon casts my shadow on the ground behind me. It's eerie, being up here alone. I get into my sleeping bag, then into my hammock, thinking I won't need my sleeping pad: it won't be that cold.

26 Sept 09

0000: It is that cold. I wake up because my toes are freezing. I root around for the gloves that I stuck in my bag for the morning and put them over my feet. Now I can sleep.

0640: Opening my eyes suddenly, I see that it's light outside. After a brief self-motivation session, I wriggle out of my sleeping bag and pull on Under Armour, shirt, and sweatshirt, followed by jeans and boots. I cannot feel my toes, and my feet are numb.

I hike to the peak, a few more hundred feet up. It's windy up there. I take a few pictures and make my way back down.

I realize I'm not headed for my camp, take stock of my surroundings, and re-adjust. My new route takes me through a lot of aspens. I like it.

By the time I reach camp, I'm pretty warm. I make and eat grits as I take down and pack.

0930: I return to the squad, getting a few inquisitive looks since most have already headed down to the game and I look like I just walked off a mountain. I shower, pull on my blues, and catch a ride with one of our firstie girls and her best friend. They talk about boys the whole way down. I'm quiet.

The woods usually make me quiet.

"We no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten eternity." - Henry David Thoreau

09 September 2009

Fill me

You are
Everything I need, everything I wanted

There is a need in each of us: a need to be fulfilled. God has set eternity in our hearts. But since we cannot fathom what He has done, we look elsewhere - everywhere - to fill ourselves. Indeed, all our sin is an attempt at the fulfillment of some desire: lust, fame, money, whatever.

Or apples. That's where it started. And we've followed the wide, easy road ever since.

But an apple never filled me. Maybe for a few minutes - but certainly not for eternity.

"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'" - John 6:35

Give us this day our daily bread...

03 September 2009

Outstanding Cadet

As my prof takes roll in Econ the first day of class, he comes to my last name, and with a puzzled look, decides to ask for 'Nathan' instead. After I explain how to pronounce my last name, Zach pipes up: "He's an outstanding cadet."

"Is he, now?" Dr. L responds. "Tell me - what exactly is an outstanding cadet?"

We're grounded by the question. We use the term all the time, but we couldn't come up with a valid definition. I say I 'stand' taller than most. It gets a few chuckles, then someone says, "An outstanding cadet shines his shoes and has a sharp uniform."

To which Dr. L replies, "That's not what makes an outstanding officer. Nobody cares how good your uniform looks, as long as it's decent. A good officer cares about his men, less about his uniform."

"An outstanding cadet is respected by his superiors and those under him," Zach adds.

True. I try to care more about practicality than rules; more about people than their clothes.

"It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes." - Henry David Thoreau.

Me, divesting of my swimsuit.

02 September 2009

For Granted

I look to the west, and I see the bellies of the clouds aglow with orange light of the setting sun.

I look to the east, and I see the clouds struck with the sunlight that crests the mountains, calling out color like an artist calls paint onto the canvas.

The artist paints every night.

01 September 2009

Things I learned last week

When you decide not to ride because it's gonna rain, it won't rain.

When the weather looks good and you go for a ride, it'll rain.

When you shave your head, everything - from towels to sunglasses - sticks to your scalp.

You can listen to fifty Johnny Cash songs between Dumas, TX and Childress, TX.

In Quanah, TX, there are drive-through liquor stores.

North Texas is flat.

Ranch sunflower seeds are pretty good.

Arizona raspberry iced tea is delicious.

My Dad was in Dumas, TX in 1985. He ran out of gas on his motorcycle and a friend towed him with a nylon rope that lives in his saddlebag to this day.

When a tire thwacks with every rotation, a blowup may be imminent.

It's important to get tubes with Presta valves. Not Schrader.

I may share my dad's innate ability to find good food anywhere.

Clif shots are good. Especially the caffeinated stuff.

There's a lot of oxygen in Texas. But not many hills.

It's smart to get an apartment after graduation, because it'll already have appliances and furniture. A motor home could be even better.

Even with Chamois Butt'r, your butt will be sore after 109 miles.

Cody Settle is a beast.

I should ride more. And focus on climbs.

You should carry two CO2 cartridges, and make sure your wedge pack is zipped before your ride.

Don't put tubes with holes back in your wedge pack. Throw them out.

Like my dad, it's hard for me to sleep when other people are

After a long day of riding, you can taste the salt running off your head in the shower.

Lots of AF people do the Hotter 'N Hell Hundred. We're the fastest ones.

TLF's have no place to hang a hammock.

The Hotter 'N Hell Hundred is a good 'ol time.