A S S H D J and other acts of contrition

The Annual St. Sisyphus Highly Desperate (or Demented, or Definition?) Journey.

grainy garfield
THAT’s Mt. G, seen from the Valley side, south side >

Conrad, Joe, and I were trudging up the steep shale slopes of the Bookcliffs off to the west from Mt. Garfield last weekend. This was their annual exercize of hauling up bridges to span gullies. Why? Conrad and Joe have been putting on the annual “Garfield Grumble” for about twenty years now. The Grumble is a sort of “running” race — but the terrain is such that only a very few can actually RUN the majority of the course.


The trail up to the top from the east side is pretty well established, and is an official BLM trail. For those of you who don’t live “out west” — the “blem” (Bureau of Land Management) is a U.S. Government agency which administers and maintains “public lands” which aren’t National Forests or other more obvious and recognized “public lands.”

But the Grumble course is not an out-and-back, it is point-to-point and after SUMMITting, THEN the PLUMMETting begins — you continue off the top to the west, down a trail which Joe and Conrad basically re-establish each year prior to the event. These guys (and friends) scout the course a few weeks prior, and just about every year decide that there are a few gullies too deep to scramble through, so bridges are hauled up to span them. This was a rare year, in that they decided only one 12-foot-long span was needed. Some years perhaps a half-dozen bridges are hauled up.


Or you can rock surf!

We were huffing and puffing up through loose footing when one or the other of C and J opined:
“Would this act be considered an act of contrition, meriting us a favorable reward in Heaven?” I believe that they asked this as they are both, nominally or perhaps structurally and soundly through-and-through, Catholics. Of course there’s Penance, and the Stations of The Cross, and Corporal Works of Mercy, etc. Being the token Jewish-Hindu-pagan nonbeliever of the group, I just perceived this activity as yet another thinly-veiled undertaking of futility. Pretty much what everyone all the time does anyway.


Sisyphus, pushing the rock eternally uphill, came readily to mind. And the annual pilgrimage, whatever this highly-demented, or some other “d” word, undertaking. As I imagine practically anyone does while under continual duress, and especially a futile-seeming duress, we free-associated, a little …

“And on race day, when runners hit this ravine, there will be a waterfall of cold beer!”

“Better yet, a buxom bikini-clad beauty with a cup of beer strategically placed you-know-where, and runners have to drink it with their hands behind their backs.”

And we were just getting started …

My beautiful picture

This has been one of those “springs” that, just when you thought Winter was over and behind us, another blast from the Frost Spirits was hurled our way …

snow lake

My beautiful picture

The peacock with snow on its spring plummage …

My beautiful picture

And inside, away from the white stuff, two of the cave animals doing what cave animals do …

kit n rocksea

6 thoughts on “A S S H D J and other acts of contrition

  1. Pagan hi five!

    That’s interesting, though, that the terrain would change so much year to year that bridges would come into play. Never really spent any time to speak of in an environment like that…it must just be weather erosion, right? Nice of y’all to do the advance reconnaissance though.

    Are the bridges those rope bridge type things? With the planks and whatnot? Thanks to a healthy(?) fear of heights, those things pretty well paralyze me with pure terror.

    I particularly like this part: “I just perceived this activity as a thinly-veiled undertaking of futility. Pretty much what everyone all the time does anyway.” So very true. Mostly. And the rest was very well said too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeah, the shale material (Mancos) which is exposed under the caprock at top of the “Bookcliffs” is GUMBO when wet, and the occasional cloudburst changes the landscape. bridges are reinforced plywood, usually. there are a few aluminum ones.


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