Tag Archives: adventure

Never meet your heros

Mayflower Gulch (the location of which Instagram can’t ever seem to decide on – I’ve seen Breck, Dillon, Silverthrone, and Frisco suggested – apparently it’s actually Leadville) has become our most frequently repeated hiking area. It’s easy to get to… after you sit in I-70 traffic for many hours in both directions, very scenic, has plenty of mine ruins to check out, can be used as a trail head for at least three 13ers, and is always loaded with snow in the winter so it’s a great backcountry snowboarding spot too.

20161001_141349.jpg
Summer conditions – lasts for like 3 months of the year
20160214_105734.jpg
The rest of the year conditions

There’s mining evidence all over the basin in various states of decay. In the back towards the Atlantic-Fletcher ridge there’s a surprisingly good condition cable tram tower that ran a bucket hoist to a mine sitting only a few hundred feet below Atlantic’s summit.

20160627_105836
View of the cable tower far below Atlantic’s west ridge
20161001_134051
At the cable tower, looking up to the mine (tiny black square below the ridge in center photo)

Incredibly, the 100+ year old lift cable is still attached to both towers. I remember seeing all this the first time we went to Mayflower a year ago and thinking it’d be awesome to check out such a secluded mine. It’s been kind of an unofficial goal to find a mine that’s difficult enough to reach that it’s basically been untouched since it was abandoned. Given that it sat at least 1,000ft up multiple cliff bands, this one seemed pretty promising. It also seemed pretty much impossible to reach, so I never thought about it beyond “would be cool if we could, but…” Every time we went back to Mayflower I looked at that mine and what appeared to be a pretty intact lift platform/loading chute and had the same “would be cool, but… it’s not possible.” But as our scrambling skills improved and I either lost my fear of heights or ascended that hyperbolic section of the increasing confidence curve right before an accident or close call sends it plunging to new lows (see: rule 64), looking up at the platform went from wishful thinking to determination and route finding. USFS maps confirmed a known mine tunnel and given the effort and expense that must have been required to build a tram run that I’d estimate at a half mile long and 1,500ft of vertical, certainly it was a very extensive mine working that would make for epic exploring.

Finally the day came when I looked up at the platform and a doable route seemed obvious – maybe even a few doable routes. The risk:reward suddenly seemed realistic. By all accounts it should be a very large, untouched mine, likely full of artifacts/cool shit, and at this point my opinion of the climb had gone from “impossible” to “it’ll probably go, maybe even easily.”

img_20161017_175224
Our actual route, which ended up being exactly the same as my initially imagined route. Hard to judge scale, but for size reference if there was a person at the base of the route, they’d be too small to see.

I’ve learned three rules after a year of being in the mountains out here.

  1. Everything is further away than it looks – much, much further away
  2. If a climb looks hard, it’s impossible. If it looks easy, it’s really hard.
  3. If the rock looks loose, it’s a death trap. If it looks solid, it’s really loose.

No exceptions to those rules here. Standing at the lower mine tunnel at the base of the climb, the rock was much looser than I thought it would be, the slope was steeper, and what was an obvious route looking at the entire mountain from a half mile away became disorienting and impossible to see beyond the couple hundred feet to each successive cliff band.

20161001_131401
The lower Gold Crest tunnel is the largest mine we’ve found so far

While getting ready at the lower mine tunnel, the dog took off after a mountain goat. In only a couple of minutes he was half way up and one gully to the west of the route. Locked in a stand-off with the goat on a tiny ledge, he wasn’t interested in listening to any commands and certainly wasn’t coming down on his own. If there were any remaining reservations about the climb, they were gone or ignored as we began up (at that point simply to get him down).

Due to a time crunch (had a really important massage to get to that afternoon), the focus on getting the dog, and the danger of the route, I took almost no photos during the climb. The dog was eventually called back over once we reached parallel to him and I had the pleasure of climbing with him tied to me the rest of the ascent and descent. The route more or less alternated between very loose gullies/dirt between the cliff bands and easy class 3 climbs on solid rock and/or slabs through the cliff bands. None of the route was exposed and none of the climbing was technical. Nevertheless it was slow and tendous with careful route finding being necessary. By far the largest objective hazard was rock fall, with literally everything small I touched coming out and plenty of large (fridge sized or more) ready to go with very little prompting. Thanks to the uniformly steep slope, everything that went, went all the way to the base of the climb.

20161009_110130
A little ways below the platofrm. Lower 1/3 of route drops over cliffs and is out of sight. Cable run visible to the upper left.
20161009_110134
The mine still looked promising at this point.

The crux of the climb actually ended up being trying to get onto the lift platform, which overhung the slope significantly (easily 30ft+ off the ground at its most outer point) and was located on the steepest terrain of the climb, leaving only a scramble over very large, very loose rock to the left, a 20ft 5th class block up the middle, or a “run fast and hope for the best” crumbling sand/rock ledge to the right. We went right and pulled ourselves up to the most disappointing climax of any climb so far.

20161009_111158
Platform with semi intact dump chute precariously overhanging the cliff 20+ft. Whatever was on top of the platform is totally obliterated by rock slides.
fb_img_1476754367482
The only… anything… not completely demolished. Lift cable is snagged in the chute, NOT still attached to the pulley. Could fall out at any time.
fb_img_1476754330081
Maximum disappointment. Mine tunnel went in 15ft, took a 90 degree right turn, then was completely blocked by the strangest wave of floor to ceiling ice that I stupidity got no picture of. Why the hell was there a wheelbarrow?
fb_img_1476754323947
Coolest (but totally not worth it) find of the day… carbonated Gatorade (gross). Left it for some other disappointed climber to find.

I think we spent a total of ten minutes at the top, mostly to eat, because there certainly wasn’t anything to explore. The views were incredible and of course it was a “route” totally free of other people, which is always a bonus. I also managed to find a drill bit for a souvenir. But otherwise it was a tedious, fairly risky climb and the biggest reward was a vintage, canned Gatorade (which was actually still full).

20161009_110125
Views were certainly incredible. Thankfully the route was south-facing and totally free of snow, unlike everything facing north.

I’d still do it again though. I’m not sure why people say, “never meet your heros.” I’d rather know that I totally overhyped them; that up close they’re decimated by rock fall and blocked by 6ft of ice. Why would I want to keep staring at them delusionally and building them up, always wishing I had gone for it? The only real problem is that I now need a new hero.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Survival of the least stupid

Within the last few posts on this blog I’ve begun to develop this odd idiosyncrasy requiring me to get the title image up before my brain will get into writing mode, even when the image has little or nothing to do with the post itself. Getting the first few lines down is always the crux of any written piece (at least for most people) and this has become just another barrier standing in the way. Luckily, being the problem solver that I am, I outsmarted it this time and used it as the opening lines.

 

i-am-so-7gtovh

 

This weekend we backpacked in to Crystal Lake and did the Father Dyer and Crystal Peak (both 13ers) loop on Saturday. The RunCam managed to survive the sub-freezing night and I was able to get some helmet video of the scrambly part of the Dyer ridge for anyone with the patience to watch it that might want to see what a typical summer route on a non-walkup 13er/14er looks like. I was merciful enough to insert some music to help pass time through the boring sections of video. I did this route last weekend in totally dry conditions and the addition of slippery snow/ice in exactly the places it needed to not be definitely took the difficulty and danger factors up a notch or two, but it was still perfectly doable and safe with extra care taken.

 

Semi-related…

We’ve been out-loud reading Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales very, very slowly for at least a month now, so we figured if it came with us on our backpacking trip this weekend we might actually be able to make some progress on it during our downtime. Of course, downtime during our trips tends to be more wishful fantasy than reality. But thanks to the not-so-comfortable evening temps of alpine camping and some hurricane force wind, we were able to find a little reading time this weekend. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t feeling it. I’m not sure if it was the exhaustion from the climb, the cold, the lack of useful content in the book, the repetition of ideas, or Gonzales’s confused, annoying writing style, but I called it quits that night.

We bought the book for obvious reasons. Many in the outdoors community consider it a must-read. Gonzales basically has a single idea in the book that he repeats ad nauseam: people die in survival situations because emotion takes precedent over logic and they make poor choices they had no control over. This is every chapter. Over and over and over. Interlaced with some flowery, metaphoric, and overly descriptive story writing that belongs in a poetry book. I have no idea how this book has the rave reviews and “must read” status that it does. The book’s tag line is “who lives, who dies, and why” but, bafflingly, Gonzales never actually answers the question. He describes (in the most, almost comically, over-descriptive manner possible) story after story of people NOT in survival situations getting killed by what he determines to be this emotional “short cut” system leading them to choices that are evolutionarily logical, but not appropriate in the given situation. The issues here are twofold. First, nearly every situation given as an example is NOT a survival situation. The examples are of people engaging in high-risk activities rather than fighting for survival. Second, in all his flowery narratives of these events he wasn’t even present for, he seems to have forgotten Occam’s Razor. He never actually presents any evidence that ties all his cited psychological research stew to the death of even a single person in his examples. The ties repeatedly made are only his opinion – and he seems ok with that, reinforcing his opinion by adding completely fictional inner thought narration to the soon-to-be dead person.

Maybe in example after example of people making stupid decisions during high-risk activities, the explanation isn’t some uncontrollable, complex feedback loop of subconscious emotion buried since our caveman days, but rather, people making perfectly conscious, controllable, rational (but piss poor) decisions in situations which are not kind to poor decisions. After all, that is what makes high-risk activities high-risk: there is little to no room for mistakes in actions or decisions. Maybe in his often repeated example of snowmobilers killed by an avalanche they created, the decision to charge up an avalanche-prone slope they were warned not to go up was made consciously. Maybe egos and male group dynamics (don’t want to be the “pussy” in the group) won out over the assessment of potential risk. Avalanche fatality statistics have shown the benefit of additional eyes and experience offered by extra group members peaks at a very small number of people, with each additional group member actually increasing the likelihood of poor decision making in avalanche terrain. Gonzales not only never touches on this, he doesn’t even brush by it. Maybe what got those guys killed was the all too common and deadly “it’ll never happen to me” mentality.

I’ve been in the type of situations Gonzales repeatedly cites. It’s not a “survival situation”. It’s a high-risk situation in which you’re faced with a choice. Every time I’ve made a choice in those situations, I’ve made it consciously after weighing my options and running them through logic and reasoning (even when things are happening quickly), just like all the people in his examples did (though he isn’t interested in examining that angle). Every time I leave the house to climb, I remind myself that getting home again is more important than summiting. It’s why I turned around within a very literal stone’s throw of Atlantic’s summit earlier this spring (though I’m still annoyed by that situation to this day) and why I’ve abandoned or rerouted several climbs over the winter due to avalanche potential. Even this weekend, I knew small amounts of snow on the route was not only possible, but likely. I knew that even a tiny bit of residual snow or ice on the wrong hand or foot hold could turn a fun and easy scramble into a bad situation. After an hour and a half drive on a Friday night, backpacking in two miles in the dark, and hiking up to the ridge on a freezing cold morning, I still would have pulled the plug and gone back home if I was uncomfortable with the situation. Every other person that’s playing in the mountains and surviving keeps that same mentality near and dear to themselves: err on the safe side and live to try again. Even my dog was capable of looking over multiple route options before moving and avoiding ones where the difficulty to exposure ratio was out of wack.

That’s not to say that all incidents in the mountains come down to decision making. Some people draw life’s short straw and have a bad day. No one is immune from bad luck and that’s why sometimes even the best decision makers don’t come home. This is when all the internet mountaineers come in to Monday morning QB the situation with after-the-fact woulda/coulda/shouldas that no non-psychic person could have possibly acted on during the incident. But bad luck aside, if you’re the type of person that snowmobile charges up avalanche terrain on a “red” day, then your days in the mountains are numbered (it’s a small number too) and to blame it on some deep, subconscious human thought loop that was uncontrollable means you’re either horribly naive or trying to sell a shitty book.

Caterpillars and Owls

Far away
The ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

The starlight
I will be chasing a starlight
Until the end of my life
I don’t know if it’s worth it anymore

-Muse, Starlight

That song, among others, has been stuck in my head for the past couple weeks. My idea to live cheaply enough that I can more or less drop off the grid has been stewing for years, but watching Into the Wild and reading up on Chris McCandless was the tipping point for actually beginning to finally take steps towards it. The way I saw it, Chris was able to have more life experiences in his final two years than most people manage in a lifetime. Even though he died young, he lived a full life. I looked at myself, getting older, spending the vast majority of my time tied to a desk and staring at a computer screen, doing nothing of value for myself or society, and I made the decision to pursue a life that was at least somewhat in the spirit of Chris’s, albeit much less extreme (for now).

I’ve been in Colorado for a little over a year now and I’m beginning to wonder if the physical isolation from old friends has given me a sort of tunnel vision, not at all unlike the tunnel vision Chris got when he decided to disown his family. Out of sight, out of mind. I know they’re still there. I communicate with them on social media and for the extra cool ones there’s also that modern human appendage called a cell phone. But over the past year, I seem to have discounted their value in my life and future. Friends didn’t factor into the move decision and they haven’t factored into any subsequent steps taken since then. I’m doing just fine without them. I have fun hiking, climbing, cycling, and snowboarding. What more do I need? Oddly enough, the answer has been right in front of me from the get go. One of last things Chris McCandless penned in his diary, after having two years of incredible experiences most people could only dream of, was “happiness only real when shared”.

I think it’s important to make a distinction at this point. The way I see it, there is a very real and significant split between two types of friends: friends made in childhood and friends made in adulthood (after entering the working world). At least in my experience, adult friendships tend to develop over shared activities and such, or the fact that you’re stuck together for 40 hours per week at work. The activity (or being stuck at work together) is almost always the connection. This differs significantly from more long-standing friendships that have weathered the many changes of hobbies, likes/dislikes, jobs, moves, life, etc. These older friends truly know you, because they were there and lived through significant life events with you. You can tell new friends about the past, but hearing about it isn’t the same as going through it together and being there for each other. New friends can be made, but they’ll never be a replacement for old friends. So don’t leave any comments saying, “just make some new friends”. Put simply, there is no substitute for old friends – not your new friends, not your significant other, not your dog. I’ve known this all along, but whether it’s the tunnel vision, lost perspective, or some type of failure to look at my future with a wider lense than merely what activities I can accomplish, I’ve completely written it off – until this past week.

As mentioned in the preceding post, an old friend (now getting old in more than one way, henceforth referred to as “sprout”, per the prior post) came to visit last week. This was the first time in a year I had actually seen one of my old friends and it reintroduced some perspective, totally shattered the tunnel vision, and made me do some deep thinking. It also brought to mind Chris McCandless’s statement I had previously ignored: “happiness only real when shared”. Why? I thought I was happy having endless outdoor activities and near perfect weather at my disposal. I thought I was happy doing things I’d never thought I’d do. Then I started reflecting and realized that when the film reel of my life is replayed, the events that stand out enough to make it on almost all involve friends. The things I’ve done and accomplished myself have faded away – no matter how seemingly important or epic they were at the time. At best, I remember that I did them, but the details aren’t there, if I even remember the event at all.

I’ve had the opportunity to do some solo climbs this summer that I chose specifically to push the envelope on my meager climbing skills and my fear of heights (yes, it is indeed comical that I have a fear of heights yet spend every weekend in the mountains). In fact, the title image is from just this morning – me looking like a dope on the Father Dyer summit. Even though these climbs were all within the past two months, I already know they didn’t make any lasting and certainly not any meaningful memories. As I do more peaks, these will simply fade away. The only emotion experienced during these events that was strong enough to leave an imprint was the fear that came from sketchy, exposed moves. The terror of realizing that my axe was penetrating the rock-hard snow so shallow that it would do absolutely nothing to catch a fall if I slipped while trying to traverse the peak of a 50 degree, 800ft high snow field on Atlantic Peak is pretty well seared into my brain. Everything else on that and every other climb is totally forgettable, because they were done alone. This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to climbing either. It includes any and all other activities as well. My seemingly epic and big accomplishment solo cycling rides and races fade away just the same. The feeling of fulfillment evaporates the following day and it’s off to the next activity to try to get it back. The forgetability (I have just invented that word) of nearly everything I do by myself has fueled the trend to push myself harder and to increase my risk tolerance. It has really made no difference, and it wasn’t until this week that I realized why.

20160712_133756
Final ledge on the Sawtooth traverse. As easy as a sidewalk… but with a 2000ft cliff instead of a curb.

The climbs, rides, and adventures I do remember in great detail even years later are the seemingly lame ones back in CT – the ones I did with friends while we joked and laughed the whole time. Or the ones that involved lots of whining and complaining, while reminiscing on all the whining and complaining from the prior time. The “boring”, easy bike rides that were anything but boring. The (at the time) seemingly epic hikes up Sleeping Giant that I could now probably jog through on a lunch break. I remember the good times I had, and those good times were a product of friendships and personal interaction, not the mountains, not the “challenge”, not the adrenaline rush of exposure or risk. There is no replacement for making new memories with old friends. I finally realized this while trying to figure out why I was having more fun dragging the whining sprout up tiny hills than scrambling 13ers by myself or how literal car camping in the most uncomfortable position possible was actually made enjoyable by caterpillar jokes and getting assaulted by an owl. Those seemingly lame activities were made memorable enough to tell in “remember that time” stories for years to come. It totally renewed my perspective and broke the tunnel vision. What I’m not sure of yet is how it’ll affect my decision making going forward. I do know one thing though…

IMG_20160902_222922.jpg
I’m still never moving back to CT.

The Plan (intro part 2)

In case you’re one of the people not seeing this an hour after I published part 1, you might want to go read part 1 or this will make no sense. Here’s part 1 right here: part 1.

So far we’ve established that I can’t write stories, I hate the idea of a full-time job, and I’m not independently wealthy, but still trying to work as little as possible or not at all. Where does that leave my life? We’ve come up with countless business ideas and tried to do small stuff to make extra side money. Problem is, almost everyone else is in the same boat we are: trying to cut costs. So unless what you’re selling is a “get rich quick” scheme (or weed), the chances of success are small. So again, with no increase in revenue, we’re down to strictly cutting costs. Where do we begin?

Contrary to what CPI calculations tell us, housing expense (the Fed calls it the “Shelter Index”) is not, in this universe or any other, realistically weighted at 32%. Outside of the fantasy land the Fed must live in (which is the real world for the rest of us), I think that 0.60-0.70 would be a far more realistic range of shelter costs for middle class (at the time of this writing, that was still a thing) Americans. So if we’re going to be reducing costs that’s certainly where the cuts need to start (plus, utilities are already dirt cheap in CO, taxes aren’t bad either, and we both drive paid off, reasonably new cars). Buy a cheap piece of land, throw a tent on it, …., profit. Right? Turns out… no. But I’m getting ahead of myself. So here’s how the “let’s reduce the ‘shelter index'” is going so far…

– Let’s find a cheap place to live in the Denver metro area:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

That idea crashed harder and faster than a Windows 10 computer.

We’ve been toying with the idea of a tiny home for a few years now. When you lead an active lifestyle and are almost never home, you really don’t need extravagant or large living accommodations, just somewhere to shower and sleep. We attended the Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs last year shortly after moving to Colorado. After looking at a few $100k+, 400sqft boutique tiny homes, that idea was dead in the water. What’s the point of living in something smaller than a shed if it’s going to require nearly the same mortgage payment as a regular house? Then I found out that the family of a friend from work custom builds tiny homes, so we figured it’d be worth checking out (this company: Tiny Diamond Homes). After touring their model house and a work-in-progress that were far better quality, more well thought out, and far more affordable than anything at the jamboree, that idea was not only back on the table, but seemed like the best way to go. Now it was a matter of where to put it…

– Let’s find a cheap piece of land not too far from the metro area and… live on it somehow:

Amazingly, not all land for sale within a half hour of Denver is bought up and developed. This initially came as a surprise to me. It didn’t take too much effort to find many pieces of land for sale along the I-70 corridor shaped by zoning departments that draw property lines with Spirographs. These were within driving range of our current jobs and downtown, yet far enough into the mountains to be very affordable, quiet, and private. This is an actual 2 acre lot we looked at in Idaho Springs – “gently sloped”, cleared of trees, and mountain views:

20160712_133044

Or maybe it’s the finishing gully of the Sawtooth traverse. It’s really hard to tell the difference. After driving to a few properties, a theme began to emerge… if it’s cheap, it’s probably the side of a mountain (i.e. a “gentle” slope you’d need crampons and an axe to get up in the winter), miles up a totally bombed out dirt road with no winter maintenance, a mine-claim-turned-land-offer shaped like a cut up Picasso painting, or all of the above. Turns out it also costs a small fortune to drill a well through solid rock at the top of a mountain, another small fortune to get electric ran from miles away, and a few kidneys for a septic tank – never mind leveling the hill-side and the all but certain surcharges for getting heavy equipment up a road that would be a challenge even in an ATV. So this attempt crashed and burned fairly quickly as well.

– Now, knowing what to look for, let’s find a FLAT piece of land that already has some improvements (at least a septic tank) and we’ll go as far away as necessary for it to be affordable:

As we soon found out, you have to go pretty damn far from Denver to tick all those boxes. Thankfully, the Salida/BV area is beautiful and both towns are awesome. Sure you’re going to be limited to like one grocery store and it’s going to be far away. Gas is $0.50 more expensive than it should be. There aren’t 200 breweries within a 15 minute drive. There’s no good paying jobs. There’s no jobs at all. But those are minor details at this point.

20160730_164253
OMG FLAT LAND!!!

 

That’s it. It’s flat. It’s cheap. It has septic (and a canoe, a park bench, a broken generator, some damaged wind chimes, a scary looking machine gun nest looking thing, and a pair of Salomon skis w/bindings). Buy it. Now I have nothing to blog about.

If only it was that easy. No matter how far into the sticks you go in this state, it seems impossible to escape covenant controlled communities. Yes, this piece of land out in bumfuck Egypt has an HOA. The fees are at least cheap, which seems to be half the battle (ever-increasing HOA fees that start at $250/month really put a damper on cheap living). The other half of the battle with these HOAs is that it seems no one told them they’re overseeing a rural subdivision two miles up a dirt road and 150 miles from the nearest city – not a gated, mcmansion community in Beverly Hills. So just throwing that tent down? Not going to happen. RV? Not allowed. Tiny Home? That’s too confusing. Is it an RV or a house? No one knows… so we’ll just not allow it… just in case. Manufactured home? I’m not even sure if they understood what that was. Shipping container for easy, cheap storage? Not a chance. Can’t you just build a $2mil custom log cabin like everyone else? Apparently these parcels of land are for the independently wealthy only, because there’s no way in hell anyone is dropping $300k+ to get a regular house up and running on one of these pieces of property, then making the payments off one of the only five, all minimum wage jobs available in a one hour radius.

college-money-struggles-jobs
The struggle is real.

 

But the saga continues, because we aren’t giving up that easily. The covenant doesn’t actually exclude tiny homes (or shipping containers, for that matter), even though the HOA board wants to try. We’re looking into modular homes or maybe even just building a very small cabin. The jobs issue remains to be sorted out, but with cheap enough living expenses and (please baby jesus) Colorado Care passing, a part-time crappy job might be plenty sufficient. Maybe I’ll eventually feel like a real wise ass and turn this blog into a “can any working class person actually make shelter costs have a relative weight of 0.32 and not die from exposure?” Maybe the Fed will subsidize me researching that.

Until then, I guess this blog will be about the saga of attempting to live cheap and free of ties to a full-time job – with some side adventures thrown in. Unfortunately/fortunately, that will probably provide large amounts of material for a long time to come.

New Beginnings (because every first post deserves a cliché title)

I created this blog a good while ago and it’s sat idle until now. As I wrote about recently on Whiteboard Pig, I’ve always known I wanted to write about something less irritating than politics – preferably my outdoor adventures. I haven’t been sure what direction or angle I wanted to take. Outdoor adventure recounting blogs are a dime a dozen and most of the bloggers have me beat in both photography skill and equipment, as well as story telling ability – a writing style I never have and probably never will excel at. “Stuff to do in Colorado” type blogs/websites aren’t any less common. News9 has someone writing up some bullshit almost every day. I certainly wasn’t going to start simply writing trip reports, because 14ers.com already has those in spades and with all the constant mishaps and questionably non-fiction (read: incredibly dramatized or straight up fabricated) writing in those reports, I’d rather just read them than write my own.

I thought that if I gave it time, some epic climb or misadventure would occur and be worth writing about. But those came and went, and still I never felt compelled to write. I spent twenty minutes that felt like twenty days with only two, extremely marginal points of contact on the side of a 50 foot cliff, sans rope, and never felt like writing about it. We were nearly whited out with storms rolling in at the top of Colorado Mines Peak, and while the moment I heard my trekking poles buzzing is seared into my memory, I didn’t care to write about that experience either. At the end of the day, those would still just amount to trip reports. Even with all the dramatizing I could possibly muster, there are a million and one people out there doing far more hardcore and crazy stuff and writing about it and/or taking awesome pictures. If it’s not even interesting enough to write about, then strangers certainly aren’t going to want to read it either. So what would the point be? Unfortunately, none of that really even put a dent in my desire to actually put some content in this blog aside from the skin’s stock photo/example post that’s graced the front page mockingly for months.

Something most people don’t know or don’t understand (or possibly can’t even comprehend) is that the primary purpose of moving to Colorado was not a change of venue or desire to do new things. Certainly those benefits factored in, but far and away the primary purpose of the move was to take the first step towards a radical change in lifestyle. Most in my generation are slowing drowning while attempting to get a career launched. Some still live with their parents while they milk college for literal decades. Others work what jobs they can get and make the best life they can. The ones unlucky enough to have careers are slaving away to advance them and attempt to save for a retirement that’ll likely never happen. None of these options appeal to me. Not only have I not pursued career advancement, I have actively avoided it – taking promotions only when forced on me. Although I enjoyed college and there are many things I’d love to study for my own edification, I can’t even fathom going back to school while working full time. Being less than a year away from 30 also brings with it a life perspective that no longer includes the “I’m young, I’ll do that later” filter.

This all brought about the idea for a change. A life spent sitting behind a desk at a job that is neither mentally stimulating, nor beneficial to society is a life wasted. When thinking about these things I often recall a story I was read when I was a child. So as not to increase the length of this already excessively long post, the extremely Cliff Noted version goes like so: A young boy discovers a magical ball out of which feeds a piece of thread. This thread slowly feeds out of the ball and disappears. This thread ends up representing his life. He can pull the thread out of the ball to fast-forward his life. He begins by using it sparingly to fast-forward through illness and very unpleasant times. As the story progresses, he pulls the ball with increasing frequency and during increasingly minor inconveniences, ultimately bypassing major chucks of his life until he very quickly finds himself old and realizing he skipped most of his life. The moral of the story was supposed to be about taking the bad times with the good. However, I’ve always looked at it differently. Every day at work I pull that string. Every Monday morning that I wish it was Friday I pull that string. Every time I daydream of that upcoming week of vacation, I pull that string. Every time I do something at work to “kill time”, that’s literally what I’m doing, wishing my life away, killing myself. And when I’m old, just like the kid in the story, I’m going to have all the same regrets about “killing time” my life away and spending 60% of my waking hours wishing it was already the short, five hours of the day I’m free to do as I please.

So why not just get a more fulfilling job? Seems like the obvious solution. Truth is, I don’t want to work 40 hour weeks at any job, no matter how rewarding. We all have one life to live and I want the absolute maximum amount of time to do as I please and actually bond with my fiancé rather than spend five days per week texting on breaks, then staring at a TV at night in a burnout coma. The more fulfilling job is my backup plan, not my goal. But how is anyone supposed to survive without working, especially in Colorado with its absurd rent prices? It’s easy. Wealthy people do it all the time. With a top marginal capital gains tax of 15%, if you have just a million dollars you can easily live a simple life off dividends alone. If you have more than a million, which most do, you can live lavishly while contributing absolutely nothing to society or even actively destroying it… but now we’re getting back into politics and I promised I wouldn’t do that.

Well, I’m not independently wealthy and don’t stand to become so no matter who dies, so there needs to be another way. As anyone with even a shitty CCSU business degree can tell you, if you can’t increase revenue then the only way you’re going anywhere is by cutting cost. Thankfully, my fiancé and I retained decent paying jobs through the move and are not penniless hipsters living in a tent in someone’s backyard in Boulder (jk, faux progressive Boulder would never allow that shit – buy a mansion or go to hell, aka somewhere on Colfax). So we have some money saved and a current income:expense ratio that allows for plenty more to be saved if yummy food and REI could please stop interfering.

You know what? People these days have the attention span of half a goldfish (dead goldfish concentrate even more poorly than live ones). I probably already lost 90% of readers in the first two paragraphs. I’m just going to hit the publish button now and make this a multi-part series (that scores some blogging cool points too). Stay tuned for part two, which will be out in as long as it takes me to write it…