The chafe from the Gore had abated to an itch…time to hike again.As I was sitting on the floor, peering at maps and dreaming, Andy of Andy, Leda, Hobbes, rings in on the mobile. The news is, Matt Miller, a member of our Philmont Ranger Training Crew in 2005, was swinging by their place.
The next morning I got a bunch of grown up business addressed before taking off . Through Eisenhower Tunnel and over Berthoud Pass (on the CDT). Then down onto the Frasier Flats, 4 miles of golden, sweeping mountain meadows running directly North – South.
Tabernash sits at the head of the flats, tiny and bold. According to the 2000 Census, Tabernash is officially a ‘Place’ (CDP). Boasting a population of 165, several ‘Antique Shops’ (a lose term for ‘old stuff for sale on lawn’), and their hidden gem, the Tavern at Tabernash, the residents are mostly Winter Park Ski Patrol and otherwise hearty folk.
Andy is Ski Patroller by winter, Forest-Service-Ranger-Leader-Coordinator-Llama-and-Volunteer-Wrangler-Incredibly-Long-and-Detailed-Federally-Appointed-Title the rest of the year. Leda is police dispatch. At the moment I drove up, they were simply cherished faces standing up on the second story porch of their barn shaped house. I nearly forgot to put Pickle in park in my excitement to hug them.
While I had not seen Matt in the 6 years since we met, his is a character which frequents the stage of my life. In this body, he is an ardent climber, in another form he is a mountain biking fury. It was funny to catch up with him while my mind didn’t recognize he had ever been gone, only morphed. As it turns out, from Philmont and college he had gone on to join the military and attended a much more stringent Ranger Training (I bet their Rangers didn’t carry Darth Vader tents and Sponge Bob Square Pants Plush toilet seats).
We spent the day chatting, lounging, and jumping Andy’s Big-Boy-Remote-Control Car off a jump Matt built over a dug up Man Hole. The boys were planning to climb Byers Peak (12804) the next day. A spectacular benefit to Andy being Forest Service is his collection of maps. We scoped and plotted and planned and decided that Matt and I would do an overnight trek taking us through Fraser Experimental Forest and Byers Peak Wilderness, while Andy would summit Byers then head home to take his lovely lady on a Go-Carts and Shrimp Scampi date. Or something like that. (I like to imagine they had to eat while driving and threw the shells off the back of their carts to disrupt other drivers like in Mario Kart. [Spoiler Alert: Andy whooped all the other drivers when he jumped his go cart off the Eiffel Tower and landed on the other side of the Grand Canyon. Okay, so maybe not quite, but they did go 45 MPH.])
After a supper of bountiful burgers, Hobbes took us on a walk. Ambling along the few blocks of residential dirt roads through the lengthening evening light, Andy and Leda admonished the quirks and diversions inherent in 21st Century Wild West Living. Afterwards, to drive the point home, Leda and I hung laundry on the line while the boys trekked out to the river to cast a few lines of their own. We reconvened over S’mores at the fire pit Leda had built at the back of their property.
The Flats yawned tranquilly, cradled in the rises and ridges of mountains which in turn are cupped by a sky milky with stars. I slept soundly, anticipating the hike to come.