Monday, September 16, 2013

Road-Dancing Up to Roman Nose

Right Direction; Wrong Distance (Read)
Hubs, Like Serious Dance Shoes
Rocks and Brush on an Easy Part of the Road
Where Did the Dance Floor Go?
Dancing a Trail of Dust
Brown Blur to the Right is a Moose...Really
High Elevation Trees
And Everywhere Granite
Trail to Other Roman Nose Lakes
Fall Colors Turning
He Told Me I Made His Trout Look Small
Lots of Rocks
Eager to Run
Mirror, Mirror on the Lake...
Rock Pile
Sky Mirrored in the Water
Clear, Clear Water
Water, Trees, Rocks and Sky
Where I'd Like to Read
Mountains in the Water
90% of Fishing is Tying Knots
Want to Climb?
Left, Right, Huckleberry Bushes Galore!
It takes three to tango on the road up Roman Nose Mountain--me, Todd and a truck.

Road-dancing changes tempo according to the size of rocks. We pick up speed, sliding across packed gravel until that first switch-back comes into view and the tires turn but scud in the direction of the drop. Hearts pounding as if we nearly missed tumbling off the dance floor by mere inches, we gradually pick up speed until the fork in the road. The handwritten sign clearly identifies each fork, but the numbers are not so clear, or maybe its the windshield or my glasses.

Imagine seeing that sign and reading it as "Roman Nose 1.8 Miles." Yep, that was us. We read 1.8 not 18. Quarter tank of gas? Sure we can drive a couple of miles. It's like signing up for a dance contest thinking you have to be on stage for one dance, only to find out there are 17 more songs and you're already breathless and tenderfoot. And low on gas.

Road-dancing becomes all uphill; no more switchbacks and gentle inclines. At a flat spot carved out of the side of a 7,000 foot mountain, Todd tells me to hop out and lock the hubs. It's like putting on the serious dance shoes, the ones with the solid heals and arch supports. It means the dancing has turned dirty--time to slip into 4WD.

As if the road washed away years ago, only a jumble of cannon-ball rocks remain to mark the trail between mountain slope (down) and mountain slope (up). We bounce over the rocks to more rocks and upward we climb. If you think riding in a truck is just riding, then you've never danced in 4WD before. My core is aching and Todd complains that his arms are beginning to hurt. I tell him, "Don't drop me."

Leafy brush beats against my door as if the crowd has gone crazy, grabbing for the dancers. We have no choice as narrow as the dance-floor has become. Suddenly the rocks are gone, but this is not good news. Nothing but a wall of sand greets us, but we dip, turn into the mountain, slide and go over the swale of sand pale as a tombstone. We live to see the other side. More brush, more rocks.

Dust eddies behind us, the 16th song is nearly over and the road spits us out on a smoother gravel track where a meadow carves a green trench downward toward the valley. Two massive moose stand right there at the edge of the meadow. I've been so busy dancing, that I'm not ready with my camera. Nor is it set up for this close of a shot. With telephoto and hasty aim I shoot best I can and get a remarkable photo of a pine tree. The blurred mass of brackish-brown like old mud is the biggest of the two moose. I swear, on my dance shoes, it's a moose.

The dance is easy now and Todd pulls over again so I can unlock the hubs. He grins from the permanently open driver's side window and says, "Who's the real cowboy?"

I answer, repeating the wisdom found in a Michael Martin Murphy song and declare that Grendel is the real cowboy "because he sits in the middle, and doesn't have to drive, and doesn't have to mess with the gate" or hubs.

Two miles later we pull into one of three lakes that nestle in the bowl beneath the Roman Nose. It's craggy and clear with high-elevation pines and loaded huckleberry bushes. Todd fishes and I try to pick berries with leashed dogs but it's not working out. We enjoy the serenity until its time to dance back down the mountain in hopes of reaching a gas station before we end the night stuck on the dance-floor, passed out.

We did make it off the mountain with fumes to spare. Enjoy the beauty of the Roman Nose (note to self: when in the mountains a wide angle is needed, not a close-up).

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