Lost on Mount Ida

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Mount Ida rises a 12,725 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. It can be seen clearly from Rock Cut on Trail Ridge Road. Photo by Richard F. Fleck

Mount Ida rises a 12,725 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. It can be seen clearly from Rock Cut on Trail Ridge Road. Photo by Richard F. Fleck

The Summer of 1959

It seems to come from nowhere, or so

I think, as I gain the alpine tundra high.

Thrashing lightning and rolling thunder

turn the sky into rockets and mortars.

No longer can I enjoy the forget-me-nots

and Parry primroses combed with wind.

Sheets of driving rain mixed with icy sleet

sting my face and hands as I plan my quick

retreat to a lake below where my friends

await me with some food and steaming coffee.

As I descend the cliffs I cannot help but see

miles on end of alpine humps so gray in storm.

I constantly slip and slide on wobbly rocks

above a misty lake — but wait! There are three

lakes, each in a different valley and which

one should I choose? A lightning strike above

my head forces a wrong decision with hours

of labor just to get to a deserted rainy lake

with no friends. My only choice — to follow an

outlet stream tumbling down through bramble

and brush besides slippery moss-lined waterfalls.

My friends must think I’ve lost my life high up

on the goddess Ida’s slopes lashed with lightning.

A patch of bright blue columbines calm my soul

beside a peaceful running river rippled in rain.

I cannot rush my mired descent to a valley

where the Colorado River flows and tourists

stay camped by friendly fires and curling smoke.

Tired, weary and hungry I finally emerge from

the pathless wood and hitchhike back to the

village of my friends twelve hours late for lunch,

just before a search begins for my missing bones.