Category Archives: Back Country Accident


Old Mine Building

Old Mine Building

My friend and I have coffee fairly often.  We have many common interests, from DU Lacrosse to politics,spirituality, motorcycles, and bicycles to name a few.  He plays pickleball, I don’t.  I write, he doesn’t.  We have fun.

We do find ourselves discussing our health care issues.  He is coming off his second knee replacement.  I have only had one.  He needs a prostate ream job, I had one.  He has had bypass surgery, I have high blood pressure.  Even though he is fairly nuts, I don’t think he has ADD.  Poor guy.

He is a year younger than I am, but I look better.  We are both getting a bit on in years.  Both retired, we have active, engaged lives.  It’s good to share this time of life with another old dude.  That health care thing does loom.  Things do not work as well as they used to.  The night before last I sustained a sleeping injury.  I rolled over and Ow, Ow.  My bad back did not like that particular motion.

Now what is that about? A stupid sleeping injury!  Hiking, motorcycling, bicycling, home maintenance projects, at work, yes, but sleeping?  Carol had a reading injury (wrist) but at least she was awake doing something.  This is getting serious.  Should I just stay in bed, not get up?  Well, no that’s where I hurt myself.  If I walk I might fall.  If I drive, I might get a ticket.  If I stay in my chair, I’ll get fat.  There is no way out.

How did I get myself in this fix?  I have always been something of a risk taker.  I climbed fourteeners.  I did both dirt and canyons on my motorcycle.  I scrambled around in the slickrock desert alone.  I jeeped over 13000 feet high passes alone.  I bicycled in ten degree temperature weather on the ice to get to work.  Now I hurt myself sleeping.

I am going to leave this coffee shop, drive up to Gilpin county, and go hiking.

Later.  I went to Gilpin County, hiked and jeeped.  I whacked my head on a low door frame in an old mine building, so now I have a scalp laceration.  Some days.

Incident on Mosca Pass


Mosca Pass View

I was camping on Mosca Pass, the first mountain pass over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north of well-traveled La Veta Pass.  From the Wet Mountain Valley to the summit of the pass is a good road that provided access to an abandoned fire lookout tower just below the summit.  The road is closed from the summit down to the visitor center in Great Sand Dunes National Park.  The road washed out too many times and was abandoned for vehicle travel years ago.

I went there to see the area and find solitude, a scarce thing anywhere near the Front Range cities.  I drove up a short spur road to a good campsite with fine view.  There was even some firewood at the fire ring.  There was no one within miles.  No traffic, just an apparently unoccupied ranch about a mile down the road.

I ate dinner, read until dark and turned in.  I like to sleep outside to see the stars and feel the wind.  My new sleeping bag kept me comfortable, and I went right to sleep.  A few hours later I got up to pee and decided to take a look around.  Looking east and south there are two intermittent creeks about 1/4 mile apart running through a big open park, with mountains all round.  There was a fine view, even during the dark of the moon with only starlight, so I went that way.

The flat spot where I camped ends and dropped down to the open areas not far from my bed.  I walked that way and stepped into a hole right at the edge.  I pitched forward into a big bush lower down and in some rocks.  Head down, butt in the air, feet thrashing, arms entangled, it took a while to free myself.  I had to scramble on hands and knees back up to level ground and in the process lost my glasses.

My forearms were scraped, punctured, and bleeding. I had a scrape on my nose, several bruises, and two big abrasions on my knee.  I had walked out there in the middle of the night with only a t-shirt, underpants, and my shoes on.

Finding the campsite was a little hard.  My dark green truck was backed in between some trees and I didn’t have my glasses on, making it hard to find in the dark.  I went back to bed scared and angry at myself.  The pain from the knee scrapes kept me awake for most of the rest of the night.

I laid there thinking of what could have happened.  If I had injured myself so I couldn’t drive, there is no knowing when someone would find me.  I was well off the road, no cell phone service, almost no traffic, and almost no clothes on.  In Colorado there are several stories every year about someone not returning from a solo trip, the body found days or months later.

What was I thinking?  I obviously was not thinking at all.  People tell me I was lucky.  Maybe so, but I believe I was stupid, just like the others who did not return from a solo trip.  Carol asked me where my flashlight was.  It was in my pack, where it belongs.

In the morning, I looked at my sore knee, cut arms, bloodstained t-shirt, and went to look for my glasses.  No luck; after all I didn’t have my glasses on.  How was I going to see them?  There was nothing to do but have breakfast and get on with my trip.

I had no trouble seeing on the back roads, reading, and looking at the scenery, but reading road signs was pretty tough.  I haven’t gone so long without glasses since I was in the fourth grade.  Two days later I was home and could see again. I spent a day getting a spare pair of glasses fixed and having a grass seed washed out of my ear.

It has taken me a while to sit down and write this.  I have more to say about my trip, so stay tuned.