State-Paid Vacation

“His heart felt like breaking

He’d look right up at the ceiling and

Start again, never breathe a word of his loss

Cause it’s not about winning

It’s the rivers you cross

And the pain that you feel

Could be the fuel that you use

And if you’re in need of direction

Be it the path that you choose

My old man is a legend

He cast a shadow so great

I think of how he is watching

With every move that I make”

Redlight King—Old Man

I stayed up too late last night, after being lured into a few games of pool with the only two guys at the bar.  One of the men had hands that looked like they had been worked to the bone.  They were so gnarled that he could barely even hold a pool stick.  He had bandages on his arm and scratches on his face, he told me that he fell off of his porch when he “was taking a piss.”  He also informed me that he had lived in Leadville his whole life (proudly born and raised), minus a 10 year state-paid vacation…aka prison.  Maybe that’s why his hands were so beat up…from pounding out all those licence plates?  I didn’t ask why he went to prison, I figured that was a road I didn’t want to go down.  He tried to get me to stay and keep shooting pool, but I told him I had to be up very early to hike.  In response, he said, “I’ll wake you up, don’t worry.”  I can be naive sometimes, but I knew what that meant!  After that–and a few too many long handshakes and unwanted hugs, I knew it was time to get out of there.  I always try to be nice and not offend guys like that, but sometimes I think I’m too nice and I put myself in a bad spot.  I honestly don’t know how my smell didn’t offend him or the other older man; it’s been a minute or two since I showered last.  The other man was actually nice, like a grandfather-type.  He wore pointy black cowboy boots, washed out jeans, and a neatly tucked in shirt. He didn’t drink anymore, he quit “decades ago”…now he just liked playing pool.  I played him twice…I beat him twice–and he took it with grace.  When I departed he told me that he was “very glad” to have met me, and if I ever wanted to play pool again that-that was the best place to find him.

I woke up later than I wanted to today, but I was up and hiking by 6am…so not too bad–considering I went to bed at about 2am.  I walked the 4wd road to the trailhead for my route.  Several people passed me in their cars and cut off some mileage from their day.  By the time I got up past treeline I was passing them as they rested.  I made the summit a little bit before 10 am, and the day seemed like it had been way too painless and undemanding.  Massive felt like the climb up Sherman: EASY!  For whatever reason, I had actually been a little nervous about it before I did it.  Maybe it’s just the name: MASSIVE!  Sounds intimidating to me!  It was also my 13th peak of the summer, and sometimes I get superstitious.  However, it was a really nice climb and all the people I came across (along the way and at the summit) were charming and friendly.  Lucky 13!? (21 total).

As I made my descent, I took pictures and videos.  I also listened to music for the first time on a 14er.  It definitely changed the vibe, not for better or for worse necessarily…it was just a different feeling.  I don’t think I’ll do it again.  I like pondering as I hike, I like mentally narrating the journey.  Bringing music on a peak is like bringing your own food into a restaurant.  Yesterday’s writing must have sucked me dry of all flow and rhythm.  This is feeling like a struggle today.  Maybe it’s lack of sleep, or because I just climbed another mountain.  Not my best, but “that’ll do Pig, that’ll do!”















Forgot to take Sparky’s pic at the summit again…but at least I remembered to get some shots on the descent. Sorry Sparky! Thanks for bringing me luck and keeping me safe! The past two climbs with you have been the best of the summer!



Came across lots of sweet dogs today, this was one of them


One thought on “State-Paid Vacation

  1. Hey Alix,

    Thanks for sending me a link to your blog… I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the writing on this one… I could picture those two old guys playing pool with you! Keep up the great writing AND the photography!

    Laura Fawcett

    Liked by 1 person

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