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Issue #137, Rito Alto Lake, Sangre De Christo Wilderness, Colorado; Jonathan goes backpacking with Michael Conti, David Teitler and Cass Adams. Photos and haiku by Jonathan with contributions from David Teitler, July 11-17, 2007. Go here to see full set of photos on Flickr. Also jump to "Song for Nicholas" from here.

Sangre De Christo July 07

yucca, scarlet gilia
swift-moving rito alto creek
can't improve on that

starting up trail
mind still not fully at ease
free from conditioning

free to hike the trail
yet bound to my hefty pack
can't escape bondage

thousands of miles
from the nearest ocean
bliss in damp forest

appears with salisfy
at nine thousand feet

the theme of conditioning
and that of letting go
foremost on our minds

so small under
our own power in
vast mountains

rachel and heather
brandishing park service saw
tax dollars at work

not fully aware
of the daunting task before them
rangers with saws

fly in flower
poop on trail
i plod on and on

raven reunion
as if they liked cackling
over din of creek

purple protector
monkshood over six feet high
observing our hike

first thistle
michael ahead

among the oldest plants
here with me today

in jeep with florida plates
jump out and zoom off

windblown, fallen trees
impeding forward progress
white moth dances over all

larkspur, jacob's ladder
columbine, raspberries gone
whipple's penstemon

the only trash
around here
are dead blossoms

bear scat
in black clumps
hibernation dump?

gnarled roots and soil
peeled from boulder after storm
like band-aid from skin

sucking water
from plastic hookah-like tube
refreshing dry throat

it's a dark day:
san isabel lake
a teardrop below

cass plays harmonica
the sound bounces
from ridge to ridge

rock wave, welded stones
frozen in arc

camping consciousness
rusty from city living
faded like primrose

sky pilot
and columbine
a cul-de-sac of beauty

overcast sky
flowers glow from within
rock wall shades thistle

cemented into place
round white boulder
hovers high in cliff

delicately held
tooth falls out of marmot skull
on knife-edge ridge

sloping green sidewalk
descending into basin
of mas alto lake

several bounces later
cass's green water bottle
rests far below

marsh marigolds
growing right in the marsh
just like the book says

drooping under the weight
of their own progeny

penstemon orgy
next to clear water flowing
from enduring snow

scooby-doo rod
he reels in four trout
from lake after hailstorm

of alpine forget-me-nots
and moss campion
dont forget bluebells

high altitude
aromatic assault
rock tundra garden

we shelter in evergreens
and talk about sex
waiting out the rain

new technology
to purify our water:
ultraviolet light

ultraviolet glow--
sterilize the water
not yourself

elk highway
disparate paths merging
under evergreens

after the rainstorm
musty smell of sky pilot
holding my attention

like dough unmixed
then frozen into place
conglomerate rock

first subsumed
under weight and pressure,
then flung far from cliff

coyotes howlin'
fish cookin'
fire burnin'

squirrel mad at me
chattering upside down
for soiling his camp

fishing with scobby-doo rod
no frills needed
just hungry fish

horn from canadensis
frayed and bleached in elk dugout
relic of the wild

iridescent fish scales
overlapping white circles
like chinese roof tiles

words can't describe
the simple act
of walking through the woods

boulders fused
ancient cement
among wet new grass

mountain rainstorm
making for lush
alpine paradise

at 136900
fluttering madly

creeping with care
to capture image of butterfly
oops! too late

alpine bumblebee
motor hum of wings
circles around me

flies now
just as busy
as the bees

shooting stars
next to waterfall

fish tripe creekside
while we dine on delicate
insect-fed flesh

keeping watchful eye
marmot makes sure we don't eat
the yummiest plants

flat mound:
michael finds
this place profound!

as i open haiku book
lightning flashes red
thunder follows

birds sing
evening rain and thunder
fills ancient valley

mama bear descends
leaving a trail
of peppered paw prints

four huddled hombres
tell tales of faded glory
waiting out the rain

clouds of repellent
float peacefully
up mountain valley

strong scent of elk
he said they spotted
a herd of seventy

seven ptarmigan chicks
hiding in high, wind-blown rocks
scurrying after mom

caterpillar dangling
from invisible thread
i notice too late

an ecosystem
experienced best by foot
he feels the mountain

voices of the creek
mountain speaking in tongues
ravens call above

catching myself saying
the names of the plants
before i really see them

though we are quiet
there are things that are more so
out here in the woods

every year
the gear gets better
but the knees do not

forest grows dark
trees stand silent
mosquito pounces

a flurry of flies
disturbed from sunning slumber
on oak-leaf terrace

four men with children
not backpacking with children
having a manly time

human--pink, naked
dipping into mountain vein
of icy water

rarefied atmosphere
of moisture and altitude
creates alpine garden

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this is a song for nicholas
mountains and canyons he roams
this is a song for nicholas
who happens to be back at home
taking care of his beloved wife
in the hospital over night
do you recall when we were here before?
the mountains and the canyons
held you in their sway--close your eyes,
you can see it coming back to you again

this is a song for the four of us
four brothers out in the woods
this is a song for the four of us
four brothers showing the years
we've known each other for a very long time
a little water under the bridge, my oh my
want to be in nature, sleeping under the stars
the american west -- our great backyard
close your eyes
you can see it comin' back to you again

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen