Backpacking and backtracking 

Ranger Rich

The early morning sun and the shadows of the pines danced across the Rocky Mountains, to use the old expression, "like moonlight through City Councilor Lisa Czedulko ... Czdakloxwkx, uh, through that Councilor Lisa woman's terrific hair when she's trying to intimidate a box-office clerk."

But this isn't about politics or having the lights on when nobody's home or whether we've elected a Sarah-Michele Bachmann-Palin person right here in our own village.

Nope. No politics. Instead, let's look at my recent backpacking adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park, a day that will stick with me, as they say, "like highly respected U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn to a tar baby."

My day began on a magnificent summer morning. Alas, the beauty of the mountains was overshadowed by the pain. Pressed to unimaginable limits in the thin air, my back and then my knees and hips began to ache and collapse under the relentless weight of my pack.

I wanted to quit. To turn back. To give up on this incredible quest. But one of my mountaineering partners spoke then, calmly, and it was his powerful message that gave me the will to continue. "Uh, we're still in the parking lot," were his exact words.

Sure we were. But it was a really big parking lot. And the asphalt had some pretty big cracks or "crevasses" (a French word meaning, literally, "the plumber is kneeling down"). And now, some 18 feet from my vehicle, I was tilting to the right and lurching.

For nearly two decades in Colorado I had carefully avoided backpacking, reasoning that if God wanted us to stumble around in the mountains with heavy packs on our backs, he wouldn't have given us horses. Or stout, sturdy foreigners who will do it for you if you give them $4.

Speaking of things that didn't evolve, Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry last week called evolution a theory "that's out there," one that's "got some gaps in it."

The point is that here in America, we don't elect leaders based solely on high cheekbones, thick hair and giant white teeth. We also elect people for the entertainment value, men with names such as, oh, let's say "Doug." We elect them because we know eventually they will be asked about our African-American president and they will respond with a reference to a story that contains this line: "Brer Rabbit come prancin' 'long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wuz 'stonished."

Then — and I am not kidding about this — in Doug's case, aides will announce the formation of a minority citizens advisory board to offer "an even better perspective on issues of concern to the minority community."

One of those issues: how to get Lamborn to stop calling them tar babies.

Anyway, I was forced into this backpacking thing by three frien ... three ex-friends. We began our death march — 4.5 miles and a 2,100-foot elevation gain on a trail listed as "extremely difficult" — amid the sounds of birds chirping and wind moving through the trees and, from the back, me whining like that Lisa Czalughhhko when she couldn't get tickets to a Steve Martin show at the Pikes Peak Center.

Councilwoman Czxzzjkdhjtdkoko, you'll remember, thought it would be a good idea to announce on Facebook her attempt to weasel some tickets.

"Boo hoo," she wrote. "Tried to get to see Martin ... with no luck. Finally getting desperate I pulled the city Councilmember card and that [Pikes Peak Center] is in my district, nope, nada, nothing!"

Asked about the incident, Czexmnbkllldko told the Gazette's Barry Noreen, "The man was asking me how to spell my last name. I told him, 'I am your district city councilman.'"

Which seems to indicate that either (a) she felt entitled to the tickets and was threatening the ticket clerk or (b) like the rest of us, she also can't spell her last name.

(It's actually Czelatdko, which is an eastern European word meaning, "Say cheese!")

Anyway, I've been to my chiropractor three times since the backpacking episode. I'm feeling better. I can almost limp again.

And he says in a month I might be able to fotch up on my behime legs.


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