| Quandary Peak -- In Memorium
Quandary Peak – In Memorium
(Kimo was originally going to do this TR, and had either of us done it at the time, it would likely have been much different. Kimo got busy with other stuff, and there were some changes in my life since then, so please indulge me as I tell the story…)
What a week. I was hustling to get everything submitted for the Southern Colorado Photography show by the deadline, which was the same day as our Quandary trip. I had no hope for even an Honorable Mention, but I love doing this stuff, and the shows motivate me to get out and shoot. To my surprise, most of the guys pulled out SLRs and tripods at the summit; I already knew I was in great company, but what a pleasant surprise to find that we share the same photographic passion.
I got started in 2008, when I had to send pictures of Tasha, my cat, to the cancer surgeon in Denver, because I realized that the stills from the camcorder sucked and didn't really depict the extent of her disease. Turns out he didn't feel the tumor was operable.
My favorite little photographic subject found me in 1993, when she was six weeks old, starving, abandoned, as I came home from a mountain bike ride. My first thought was, "Man, that's an ugly cat!" But my second thought quickly followed, "Wait, it's just a kitten, and it's starving." I honestly had no use for a dead cat, much less a live one. But this was a cat skeleton with fur stretched over it; I couldn't just let her die there. So I scooped her up in my arms and rode home with her, the idea being that we would take her to a friend of my then-girlfriend, who rescues strays and finds homes for them.
There were two things I did not know at that moment. First, that Tasha had already found her home. I figured this out about three hours later, after feeding her, when she curled up in my lap in the warm September sun on the back deck. That was pretty much it. Dad was smitten. And second, after getting a book on North American wildcats from the library, that my new little friend was, more than likely, at least half bobcat. I knew she looked exotic, but I guess I didn't quite realize what had adopted me. Sixteen wonderful years with a little wild girl. She even held out the last two years with that cancer, after CSU gave her two months to live. I think it was the steak and chicken that convinced her to stick around a little longer. That, and maybe a little bit of love.
Back to the show. I wasn't prepared with anything, so three of the four entries were my favorite little photographic subject. One was this pathetic B&W from last year, when I thought for sure our time was up; she is laying in the morning sun on the wood floor, eyes staring off into space, left side swollen with the tumor, little face reflected in the wood floor. Not a pretty picture, but artistic, and this was a contest, so it was worth a shot.
Back to the climb. Everything was dropped off and ready to go, so I was able to make it. That was lucky for me, because I got a chance to be out with some great guys. I met Sgladback, Misirlija, Derek, Greenhouseguy, Kimo, and the star of our day, Cooper, around mid-morning, at the TH. We had a really great day.
Here's the group shot, coming out of the trees, Sgladbach leading the way. That's Cooper, keeping count.
Above treeline, the ridge to the summit was looking gorgeous:
I was feeling great, so forged ahead, given the fine day and VFR navigation! : )
Our summit was not far off. What a bluebird day!
Meanwhile, Cooper was waiting on the rest of the food… I mean … the rest of the group.
"Hey, Dad, hurry up, I'm hungry!"
The summit was like a warm Spring afternoon at the ski area.
Here's Kimo, Dancesatmoonrise, Sen, Sgladbach, and Cooper, taking a break from lunch to smile for the camera.
Meanwhile, Derek and Greenhouseguy were setting up for some photos, while Ezsuperkev came by and joined us at the summit for lunch.
Cooper finally got his well-deserved rewards:
This was a really fun trip. So much fun that I decided to skip the reception at the Art Guild
the following Friday night in lieu of getting out to Sherman the next morning.
What the hey, there was no way I was going to get a third HM in 12 months' time,
and I could go scope out the show the following week anyway. And the weather was holding.
After getting home from Sherman that night, a friend called to tell me Tasha got Second Place.
I couldn't believe it. There were a lot of "real" photographers in that show. I hadn't thought my photo really depicted
what was going on. Apparently there are animal lovers out there that understand what that look meant.
I am grateful that Tasha was able to stick around long enough to see her little face win in a photo show.
She left me three weeks later, on Sunday, November 22, 2009, after more than sixteen great years
of life, love, playing "fly-rod" (she thought fly line was developed as a cat toy), and a little bit of steak
and chicken and ice cream in those latter months just to keep her interested in sticking around. It worked pretty well.
I miss that girl.
Though I've lost a dear friend, I made some great new friends today.
Thanks Steve, Sen, Kimo, Derek, and Brian for a great day in the mountains.
And thanks, Cooper, for reminding me of how powerful our love is for our little ones.
. . . . . . . .
It has been three months and two days since I had to send Tasha back to the Great Spirit who saw fit to bless us with such a wonderful 16 years together. It is barely even now that I can look at some of her photos. I know many of you had asked to see them. At the time, it was too painful. It was also not the central theme of this TR - that being how profoundly all of our "little ones" figure into our lives, even on the summits we seek. That said, I've added a couple of photos, since you've asked. The contest winner was the B&W.
Even now, it's difficult to go pick up her ashes. I haven't done that yet. It's only been three months. Considering how difficult it's been, I cannot believe how truly blessed I am to have had the incredible winter it's been...
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):