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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Bum of Vail

The bus dropped me off at the luxurious city of Vail. Usually, I tend to avoid the ritzy places of a region, but this was the most practical bus route to take in order to get to the next mountain that I wanted to hike up. So I entered a nice replica of a Swiss alpine village cropped in a valley somewhere inside the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Many of you have heard of this place called Vail. It is a famous ski resort in winter, and an ultra nice getaway spot in the summer. Big shot lawyers to vacationing movie stars flock to its chateaus. I arrived just as the sun was about to lay its head down behind the mountains. And I didn't have a place to lay my head. I had no reservations, no credit card for a reservation, no money for a credit card, no nerve to actually carry that much money to pay for a night of sleep in Vail. I didn't even want to know how much the cheapest hostel around cost for a night. I strutted through the bustling cobblestone streets in my ripped pair of blue jeans lugging my backpack on my shoulders with the dirt, sweat, and grime still coated on me from my scramble up Pike's Peak. I looked at the fountains with all the rich kids playing in them and considered beside the fountain as a nice place to rest for the night or maybe a park bench somewhere. -But I doubted Vail's security enjoys the look of homeless people scattered throughout their streets. So I knew that my rest for the night would have to be away from the town and it must be hidden. I glanced at the mountains spreading out behind the town, and I saw all the intricate clearings interweaving all over the mountainsides where the famous skiing took place. I saw how empty it all looked back there, now that it was summer and there was no snow. Just huge slopes with nothing but grass. I knew that this was to be my hotel bed for that night.
I climbed up trying to hide from the sight of lingering workers in the valley below, scoping the area out where for a brief few feet the slope leveled for a human to lay down. The grass was very thick and there was no telling what kind of reptiles where slithering in it. Luckily there was this one area of pure flat level rock just big enough for a man to stretch out on. I pulled my green poncho out of my backpack and throw it ontop of my bright red backpack hoping to camouflage my things. There was to be no tent tonight. The whole resort could probably see the bright yellow color when morning was to come around. I descended the slope just as the sun was descending from the sky. And I made it back into the village, unnoticed of my task, and glad to be rid of my burdensome backpack. I walked around taking in the sights and sounds of the whole town. Resplendent families walked here and there. Couples, both old and new clung to one another as the guitar men in the cafes struck their chords and sang their vibrant melodies into the mountian night air. I sat beside a fountain and listened to one of these guitarist play for everyone in a nice French restaurant that had a patio out into the streets.
After the streets began to empty out and the guitarist stopped their strumming, I went back to my designated spot of slumber, and there with the town lights below still burning bright, I thought how neat it all was to be here. I thought about all those people inside those little beams of yellow light streaming from their windows, how tonight they would rest their minds in sheets of silk and satin. -And how I with no roof over my head , on hard rock, wrapped in a rain poncho with the moon, stars and mountains glaring over me, how I would sleep. -And I would not have traded with them if I had the chance. I lay there watching the moon bathing the scenery in its silver light. It was barely peaking over the mountains to gaze at the town and all below. Eventually my eyelids closed for their final time that night and I slept.
I awoke to the greyness of the morning before the sun was on its hot pursuit towards the center of the sky. There were few people bustling about, and if they strained their eyesight up towards the slopes they may have been able to have seen me coming down. I made it to the bus station, planning to get to the next 14,000 peak very soon. The bus was not leaving until almost 5 that afternoon; it was now about 6 in the morning. That meant almost 12 hours in Vail. I had alot of time to kill. I hid my backpack in a skier locker room and went about exploring this town. I found neat nature observatories and gardens with all types of information written on them. I even made a trip to the Vail library and there saw a symphony, all in my torn-blue jeans. After lunch (luckily there was a Subway in Vail) I decided to try and get a bath of some type. It had been 4 or 5 days since I last showered and I don't think that it was very pleasant for the symphony goers around me. (It wasn't like a real symphony with tuxes though).
Now if any of you readers have ever been to Vail, you know that I cannot overlook one major detail. There is this stream that runs through the heart of the town. It's a whitewater stream of pure mountain water that crashes and spills over all the rocks in the river. The mountains spills out its heart in a foaming surge of unleashed vigor. This presence of force, of heart, of powerful solace would not make the town what it is if it was omitted from the scene.
So I decided what an ideal thing to do but to, while trekking around Colorado, to bathe in the rushing waters from the source and essence of these great mountains. I bummed some soap from a hotel and then followed a trail up river to a place of complete solitude. When I was absolutely positive that I was away from civilization, I stripped down and stepped into the water. A painful sting rose through my legs. I hollered. Mountain water is a little colder than muddy Alabama creek water. I waded out to the deepest part about thigh-deep and lathered myself in soap and then I would dip my whole body in for only a couple of seconds. That's all that I could bare. With each dip I hollered from the cold. Next, was my hair. I had to wash my hair. I rubbed shampoo in it and instead of dunking myself under the water, which would have been excruciating, I bent over dipping my long hair into the rushing stream. With my fingers I rinsed the shampoo out and cried in a savage, "Aaaagghhh!" every time the freezing water touching my scalp.
I was a true mountain man. Bathing in these waters, making all kinds of primitive yells, completely naked and free, in a mountain stream in the Rockies. After my feet went numb, and I was content with my questionnable cleaniless, I perched on a rock and fetched my clothes.
The stream was naturally in a valley, I happened to glance upwards when I made it to the rock and I saw a jogger, running on the top of the hill only a stone's throw from myself. I knew that he had to have seen and heard me yelling like that. I slipped on my boxers and right as I got them around my waist I saw another amazing sight; a whole family emerged on what was obviously a popular trail directly above me where the first jogger was seen. The parents quickly pushed their strollers with their little ones further up the trail away from their ghastly viewing of this particular scene in nature. Realizing how well-used that unnoticed trail was above me, I wonder how many joggers, bikers, idle walkers witnessed my bath when I was bent over, my head upside-down, half submerged in the water, yelling, "Aaghh! Aaiii! Aiiii!
I threw on the rest of my clothes and sprinted out of there fearful that someone had called the police. -That's how it is with me. I 'm always wanting to do something ideal and poetic, and somehow I always just seem like a madman to everyone else. Soon after, I hopped on a bus towards Leadville and my next mountain to climb.....

2 Comments:

Blogger папа said...

Do people often get in your way? Is civilization creeping in on you? Do you long for the solitude of bathing in a cold mountain stream and eating raw fish caught by hand? Come let Brian take you into his world. For a nominal fee Brian will guide you through the rustic wilderness, like Daniel Boone you will explore the savagery of life as it used to be! Please bring your own bail money, not responsible for prison terms, public humiliation, or early eternity. Please leave completed application inside a bottle at nearest lake or stream.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Adam Newby said...

Sounds like a good plan to me. How much? And where do I sign?

7:03 AM  

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