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not about testing: a bit of writing

I've been neglecting my blog, mostly because I have been doing a whole lot of professional freelance writing on the subject of software dev and test, and really enjoying it a lot.

A few months ago I also submitted a piece to the Mountain Gazette, one of my favorite magazines, available for free around the West. They always publish really good writing.

Mountain Gazette was soliciting pieces on the subject "My Favorite Mountain". To their surprise, they got more than 200 submissions, of which they could only publish 11. I submitted a piece, it was rejected, but I don't mind, I've been reading the issue, and there are some really great essays.

So since it isn't going to appear anywhere else, I figured I would publish it here:


I don't have very far to go to get to my favorite mountain. I go out
my front door and take a right, and I walk about a mile through my
neighborhood of mostly middle-class houses, some Victorian, some like
mine vintage 1930s-40s, a few more modern. I say "hello" to my
neighbors as I work my way a little uphill to the trailhead near the
electrical transformer station.

The way up the west side of the loop trail is kind of a slog, moving
from about 6500 feet of altitude to about 8200 feet through pine
forest and the occasional meadow, but every once in a while a mountain
biker comes barreling down from the top and catches some air on a nice
jump. That's fun to watch. I used to be pretty good on a mountain
bike, but the lure of adrenalin doesn't call so strong now. Now I get
a thrill holding one of the horned toads that seem so common on this
mountain but that I never find anywhere else.

Nearing the top I get peekaboo glimpses of the La Plata range to the
northwest, so I know I'm getting close. The forest opens up, and a
final climb takes me to the overlook where I can see the La Platas to
the northwest, the 14ers of the Weminuche Wilderness off in the
distance to the northeast, and all of the river valley laid out below.
There are always birds moving across the sheer cliff below my feet,
often crows, sometimes buzzards, once or twice eagles. Sometimes a
man-made glider works the thermals over my head.

My mountain isn't one of those tall craggy ones like on the Coors beer
label, it's an uplifted slab of shale and sandstone, and coming down
the broken edge of the slab is the best part of the walk. The view
gradually shifts from the north to the east, hiding the tall peaks but
revealing broken sandstone ridges marching off into the distance. The
college sits below one ridge, and my town is laid out along the banks
of the river moving downstream to the south, where the sandstone
canyons start.

When I finish the loop around my mountain, if I don't feel like going
straight home, just a couple blocks out of my way is the tap room for
one of the local breweries, a fine place to finish off a four-hour
walk on a nice afternoon on my favorite mountain.