Saturday, July 5, 2008

Colorado High

I’d do it again, zip-lining. It seems to be the newest craze. Take a long steel line, secure it between two points high over a canyon through which rapids rage. Hook up a connector on the wire and attach one human in harness and helmet securely to it. Then let her rip and gravity takes you for a ride. We did it six times, six levels of fear, south of Vail at Four Eagles Ranch. The first one, more a trainer, took my breath away as I tried to get the hang of controlling whether I go backwards or frontwards legs kicking the air. Sometimes the start meant running down hill, your toes hardly touching the ground, very similar to when I paraglided, and other times it was a jump off a wooden platform. The final run was 1000 meters not across a canyon but down it at breakneck speed, a rock in hand to try to hit a rusty barrel 30 feet below as I passed over, missed, and coming in with a stop chord to slow me down. Did I see the mule deer or the wrecked van? No. But I must say it was a blast, safe, and now I’m ready to seek out more. I’m told South America has the longest one.
We spent Fourth of July in Keystone, Col. watching Serena, Venus, Nadal, Federer on television, riding ski lifts up 11600 feet (and hiking up more height) and trying to deal with altitude adaptation; riding dude horses up a trail, and most excitingly, a white water raft trip down Clear Creek, which was a rough tumble through incessant waves, over rocks, and in a questionable yellow raft built for six. Wearing wet suits and wet shoes, we secured ourselves by sliding one foot in a covered slot and the other under the roll seat in front. For the six mile ride there was hardly a lull in "thrill" and paddling became the way Kelly, our sailor, kept us occupied, "two front," "one front," "now back" so that we would turn the raft wherever it needed to go to get over obstacles. We frequently had to duck under giant freeway overpasses built low and taking the mystery out of the scenery. But I could do this all day. The water was 45 degrees but a refreshing stomp when getting out of the yellow dinghy at the end.
At the huge tourist complex on Keystone ranch, which goes for miles and miles, loaded with condos and rooms filled in winter and spring with skiers since ski-lifts abound practically from room doors, blocks of lodges have names like River Run, Argentina, Arapahoe, Hidden River and they stretch out for miles along a feisty river called the Snake, although it’s no kin to Jackson Hole’s Snake River. I guess every mountain state has a snake to pour off melting snow. On the Fourth, decorations in red white and blue were given out to little children who had bicycles and plastic vehicles of various kiddie types, and then there was a parade. Wear your red star sunglasses, please, and the American flag wrist bands. We also went to the Activity Center and played putt-putt golf, kid’s bungie jumping, paddle boats, kayaks and stopped by the Colorado Chocolate Factory where a single dip of ice cream in a cup was just about four dollars. Daily I took Pilates classes and worked out on a Gyrotonic machine which rocked my muscles.
My family loved it here. I kept getting flashbacks visions of Annapurna and Everest, which are hard to forget. Next I’m off to Jackson Hole to renew my spirit, since there is where the mountain bug got into me, and to see old friends who helped me stay in shape mentally and physically when I lived there two years (2002-04) within view of the Grand Tetons and their side-kicks like Old Glory, my first major climb. I will also reunite with Jim and Sue who kept me kicking through the East Asia trip, which still swirls in my mind as I try to figure out what it meant to my soul. As in all travel, there is so much I’d like to replay.
Photos: Hanging on the Vail Zipline; going western; we are high; snow in shorts before the 10 peaks.

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