From Arches I took scenic Highway 128 along the Colorado river canyon. It’s cold enough up here that the river is frozen a few inches thick throughout huge sections of the drive:
I drive through snow storms until I get to Grand Junction, Colorado. My stop for the night. Up early and down some more scenic highways to meet up with my buddy Fletcher. I met up with his brother a few months ago, and it’s finally time to see Fletch. I arrive and we grab lunch at some great sandwich shop, chowing down on a bench on main street. I meet his awesome girlfriend Kathy and we head back to his house. We drink, we make food, we chat with friends and family who come over.
We head out at 9:30pm, hiking up a ski run by full moonlight. I’m going skiing for the first time in my life. It’s a gorgeous hike, as the trees are silhouetted against the bright sky, clouds rushing by on their way to some far more important destination. We reach our own destination after about two hours of hiking, and I strap my skis on for the first time. I fall down before even getting the second foot situated. Get up, try again, get the second ski on, fall over again.
I move at a snail’s pace, trying to figure out what these people are trying to get me to understand. It’s English, but for some reason it just doesn’t translate to anything I can use. “Lean on that inside edge to stop, feel the balance as the skis go flat,” these things simply do not click in my brain. The most useful bit of advice I get is ‘if you are going to crash, crash into the snow bank, not the trees.’ And so that is exactly what I do down almost the entire hill. I keep trying to figure out how to lean on an edge, how to balance. Things seem to be easy when you go fast. Easy, at least, to stay upright. I get the movement while I’m moving, it’s just the slowing down and stopping that are beyond me. Crash into a snow bank. Do a weird crawl back to backed snow, push myself up, speed down the hill a few yards, crash into another snow bank.
Fletcher and Kathy hang out right by my side the whole way down, trying to coach me through it, and I love them for it. Frustration kicks in as my body starts to hurt from all the crashing and falling. I’m laughing though, this is good, this is fun. A good frustration.
We finally get back to the car and I am completely exhausted, it’s 12:30am. Sleep. The next day I work out while Fletcher handles some work stuff, I take a hike around the cute town, with scenery like this:
Fletcher tells me there is a waterfall at the end of the main road, so I walk for a mile or two up the way, and see this in the distance:
I get back and we go out for sushi, then back home for some games and relaxation. We wake up and it’s time to head out. I say my goodbyes to these two great folks.
They recommend I take 550 south to Durango, it goes through the San Juan mountain range, and so I do. The snowy mountain pass is gorgeous, it looks like what I imagine the swiss alps are like, huge mountains looming white-covered and quiet:
By the time I reach Durango I am ready to edit photos, and hang out in a coffee shop until my cousin James gets off of work.