Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  12/14/2009
Modified:  05/15/2010
Date Climbed:   11/01/2009
Author:  Dancesatmoonrise

 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.

. . . . . . . . Image


Edit, 2-24-10

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):

 Comments or Questions

Tasha‘s Photo?
02/05/2011 00:22
Jim, this is a very different theme for a report. We'd love to see Tash'a winning photo or another that you like. Please post her picture!

Nice Day, wasn't it?



Where‘s the photo?
12/14/2009 23:23 you‘ve got to show us your little buddy and the winning photo!

BTW, nice TR and picture framing. Looks like a bluebird day.

And since we‘re both in the Springs here, we need to go climb together this winter.


11/30/2010 17:28
Thanks, Steve, and Britt. Yes, Britt, we have to get out and climb soon, I'd really enjoy that.

The B&W hangs at the Art Guild in Pueblo until next week. It's in an historic stone building in Mineral Palace Park. Impact doesn't translate well from a framed 16x20 print to a 400 ppi version. More importantly, I'd like to remember her with a more happy photo. On a deeper level, it's about community. Each of us has a story, and the best TRs have a little bit of our story in each of them. And it's about the unsung small heros of our community, the ones that will accompany us up the most hideous climbs just to climb with us, or stay at home (knowing we're out "cheating death" as Karl Rickson in Tucson used to say,) anxiously awaiting our return. But that said, I'll share some more light-hearted images of this little kiddo. These were all taken after she developed cancer, as I didn't get a camera till July 2008. I can't figure out how to post these in the comments, so if any of you have suggestions, please let me know. Otherwise, I'll edit the TR to add a PS with her photos, in the next couple of days.

Steve, yes, it was an incredible day. Thanks for organizing!


got one....
12/15/2009 03:53
We have your ”sister” cat sitting in front of our fireplace. Skittles has been with us for 6 years & she‘s still drawing blood @ playtime. Sweet report, nice writing, ”she had already found a home”!!


Nice pics and TR
12/15/2009 03:56
Especially like the framed bluebird day and the last shot of Cooper. I didn‘t know you could get ”carry out” on Quandary. But I guess Cooper has connections.


Winning Photo
12/15/2009 19:52
Agreed...gotta see the photo or a photo of Tasha!


Misty eyes ...
12/15/2009 23:18
Reading this one. Looking forward to seeing Tasha. Nice trip report for sure. Thanks for posting. Happy trails! (and, if it is meant to be, may another lost fuzzy soul find its way to your lap and your heart )


Another vote...
12/16/2009 04:06
to see Tasha‘s picture!
Excellent day on Quandary.
Enjoyed your writing, pics and story.


12/16/2009 04:37
Thanks, you guys are great. I checked with Bill on how to imbed a photo. Have to upload it into the profile first. So I think I may just revise the TR and put in a post-script with a photo, or possibly a collage. Please check back over the next few days; I hope to get a photo or two posted as an addendum.


Great Day
11/30/2010 17:28
Jim, it was great to meet and hike with you and everyone else on this "bluebird" day! You can really take some nice pictures! As a fellow cat lover, I can relate to the love for the ”little ones”.

We'll have to get back out sometime this winter.



11/30/2010 17:28
At this moment I'm in a Maui Border's with sad eyes. Jim - yours is a bittersweet report, and a powerful reminder of both the beauty and frailty of life.

Thanks for writing this sincere and touching account.

I am not enthused about returning to the cold of winter, but I'm comforted knowing I met five great climbers from on Quandary that day, and two more the weekend after (Kiefer and Steph). I look forward to more silvery adventures in 2010.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Three months, two days....
02/24/2010 23:14
I know this TR has been long forgotten by now...And I know that many of you have asked to see her pictures. I apologize that it had just been too painful before now; and still is difficult. I‘ve sent all of you a pm today to let you know I‘ve added the photos of Tasha.

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful support. I can see that our pets are very much loved, and many of us have suffered the pain of their loss.

On a brighter note, I had the extreme pleasure to accompany Britt and friends up to Barr Camp this last weekend, and to meet some real diplomats of the canine world: Kaida, Jack, and Izzy. I must say, that white wolf girl, Izzy, stole my heart... Wes and Alexa and their family are very fortunate to have such a sweet friend!

Thanks to all of you for your very kind and sympathetic comments.


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