Posted by: highmountainmuse | August 4, 2009

Just another day of work

Riding up the mountain with full packs

Riding up the mountain with full packs

It was just another day of work. Or as my old boss and friend used to say just about every day on another mountain where I once lived and worked, another beautiful day in paradise.  I don’t take my appreciation for where I am, what I do, and that my body holds up most of the time to allow me to do this, lightly.  There is rarely a day that goes by that something about the work, the mountain, the horses, my family, or perhaps even all of these things, does not fill me with joy and gratitude.  Just as I never want to stop “seeing” things fresh and new.  This is my eighth year living and working in these mountains.  I came here, and stayed here.  We have struggled to make it work, despite financial and family disorders. It has been a labor of love.

And as I look around the mountain that surrounds us, that cradles us in her arms, the beauty nearly overwhelms me. Every day. I hope that feeling never stops.  I don’t believe it will.  It’s a matter of how we choose to look at it all.  A matter of taking to time to look, you know?  Because when we open our eyes, really open them, we also open our heart.  And then we not only see the mountain, but we feel it.  And then the beauty of the mountain really shines through.

How grateful I am to be here, doing what I do, for some great folks. The work itself, when we’re not digging ditch and cleaning cabins, is taking folks horseback on advanced mountain trail rides, or doing “drop camps.”  A drop camp is taking people and their gear, or just their gear, into the high country, so they can enjoy a week of back packing and camping from a far and away, remote location in the Wilderness without having to haul it all in themselves. 

So, yesterday, Bob and I headed out with the gear of six folks planning a week long adventure of hiking and technical climbing deep in the Weminuche Wilderness.  I admire these folks.  This is the third year we’ve had the honor of working for them.  Each time they choose a different area, study their maps, and find some incredible routes… and adventures… during their week.

Looking down Ute Creek from the Forks of the Utes

Looking down Ute Creek from the Forks of the Utes

I suppose the most obvious perk to our work is the view.  Not a bad place to spend the day, I know, even if I may whine to you from time to time about the cold wind and rain that get us most every day. Beyond that is my respect for our horses, who are polite, respectful, hard working, and a pleasure to be with.  We care for them like children.  We’re proud of them as parents should be.  They are this way because we’ve taught them what to do and how to do it in a firm but fair, respectful manner.  Sure, they get sore and tired just as we get sore and tired.  But at the end of the day, we’ll all get the job done, and be rewarded with a good meal and a good night sleep.  Simple pleasures, simple rewards.  But we understand and trust each other now, and working together, though days may be long and tiring, we’re a team, and good team now.

Sharing the mountain with other folks, helping in our very simple and small way to open up the wilds and wilderness to appreciative and caring people… at the end of the day, every day, all summer long, that is what it’s really about.  Folks come here to “get away from it all.”  Our job is to help them do just that.  That, my friend, is one very special honor. 

Riding home with empty packs past Black Lake

Riding home with empty packs past Black Lake

And so, we’re off to start another day of work, another beautiful day in paradise.  Looks like we’re bringing a few fishermen up the mountain horseback for a day of fishing in a high, remote lake…



  1. I think we were born 150years to late .I know very little about comp but i can shoot a buck and use everything exept a couple of parts .Nothing wasted . Let me see all the comp clan do that on there comp . I high teck is good but someone has to man the pick and shovel as you very well know . you live my kind of life . i once had a long time ago and if i make it will have again . i am working real hard at selling everything in my shop that does not run on man power . Your mountain is the insperation for my dream . I retire in 3 weeks after 48 years in auto parts . ME and a little white dog named Tesa are going somewher if i have to live in a cave . Your pictures are great i injoy them very much and i still think you should write a book about your life . I for one would buy the first one and get it signed even if i had to backpack up your mountain

  2. So good to hear you never let it get old…The beauty that God has surrounded you with. (And it is a choice because I know many people would become blind to it after a while) I am feeling homesick for your mountain lately but it won’t be long now! (It’ll be nice to see you guys, too!) :~)

  3. i am glad to see your pics of black lake and ute trail. i was up that trail 2 years ago last week. hope to be back year soon. mark

  4. Mark, thanks for noticing the pics – I was figuring there’d be some folks out there who look at the pictures and know just what it looks like, feels like, up there. Incomparable. Just as you remember, I bet.

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