Monday, September 1, 2008


Late afternoon on Sunday my son and I drove to the trail head of Gray's and Torries Peaks, two side-by-side fourteen thousand foot mountains not far from Denver. I wanted him get his first experience hiking up one of these tall peaks, these two being one of the easiest to climb. We arrived at the trail head shortly before sunset and hiked a mile in growing darkness, finding a campsite alongside the trail in the pitch black night. Shortly after setting up the tent and laying out our bags, the rain joined the wind and buffeted the tent all night long. I always sleep poorly at altitude and so this night was excruciatingly long, the wind and rain being particularly loud.

We got up early and joined the throngs of people who were making the pilgrimage to summits. I went easy so that this would be a relatively fun experience for Eric. After a few hours of slow and steady, we made it to the summit wind swept Gray's peak. With a headache and not feeling up to the task, Eric decided not to cross over to Torries Peak. Saving that for another day. The hike down is always easy, and after picking up our camping gear we made it back to the truck by 2 PM and in the front door by 4:30. I enjoyed being outdoors, away from house projects and even downloading music.

Wind battered tent
Cold pelting rain through the night
Snug inside our bags

Darkness approaches
Cold, damp clouds shroud the summits
Deep breaths with each step

Tents loud flapping
Bumpy ground, shortness of breath
Awfully long night

Clouds dart past the peaks
Driven by cold gale force winds
Touch the deep blue sky

Crowds reach the summit
Surrounded by wilderness
Out come the cell phones

I had brought a cigar with me on the hike, but no lighter. So I smoked the stogie at home outside shortly after sunset. After taking one swig of tequila, I popped in Sammy Hagar unplugged, playing before a Boston crowd in 1997 on behalf of a radio station promoting his new album Marching To Mars. This was shortly after his split with Van Halen and at a time when they had just signed on Gary Cherone. Unlike the other members of Van Halen, Sammy had to fulfill contractual obligations to his old record label (Geffen Records) and so he was periodically pumping out albums even while playing for Van Halen. Marching To Mars was, I believe, the last solo album with new songs that he produced.

Sammy was playing "unplugged": acoustic guitar accompanied by piano and lite percussion instruments. Sounded like a small venue, but the crowd was wild for Sammy, chanting for him throughout the short performance. He rapped with the audience between each song, similar to what he did while with Van Halen, explaining where each song came from. Finish What Ya Started and Right Now were part of the set list, both from VH days. Nice easy listening, unlike the full throttle power of Van Halen. Some quotes from Sammy:

"At least you're gonna hear all the lyrics"

"Whole notha trip playin' like that, come'on guitar help me out!"

And at the end he thanked his two man crew and said "Thanks Gary Cherone, hope he does a great job for that band."

Sounded like he was partying the whole gig! He was really enjoying himself.

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