Sunday, March 29, 2015

Early Spring Summit - Mt. Guyot

Date: 3/28/2015
Route: Mt. Guyot - Northwest Ridge
Elevation Gain: 3,100'
Mileage: 7-8
Partner: Brad

Mt. Guyot (named after a Swiss Geologist) is one of those peaks I've driven past and marveled at many times along Hwy 285 on route to hiking other mountains.  It is reletively unknown as it doesn't reach that 14,000 ft. mark, but is quite a cool looking peak from afar.

Mount Guyot from Highway 285 with red barn in winter
Mt. Guyot from Hwy 285

I was happy that Brad invited me to climb something this weekend.  The mountain bug has been hitting me pretty hard all Winter.  This would make for a great first peak of the year having a perfect sunny day on a route with very little avalanche danger.  Brad and I drove down to the trailhead just outside of Breckenridge using Bill Middlebrook's route description as a guide.  We could see our entire route ahead from the parking lot. 

Mt. Guyot - Prints Available

The entire route to treelike required snowshoes.  We initially missed the split off for the trail because the snow was so deep, and it was covered.  Brad used his GPS to backtrack to the right location.  From there, we hiked up the hill and soon were able to follow ski tracks all the way to the ridge.  The route to the summit is very straightforward from there and only required microspikes.  The weather was very nice with a bit of wind that was strong enough at times to make you stagger, but nothing too bad.  We took our sweet time and enjoyed the views.  Summit was around 1:45.

Brad taking a break


Nearing the summit with Bald Mountain Behind and Silverheels to the far left

Grays and Torreys from the summit

Summit Panorama - Prints Available

Great peak, great friend, great weather, great day!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Painting in Progress - Maroon Bells

March 26, 2015

work in progress - Maroon Bells

This is the largest canvas painting I've done to date (48"x36").  My wife and I have a very large wall in our living room that needs a BIG painting to spice it up.  This is part of a series of acrylic paintings depicting some of the most well known Colorado 14ers as viewed from their classic locations.  This particular one is of Maroon lake near Aspen.  I have photographed this location a few times and looked through thousands of photos of sunrises from this location ranging from professional photographs to tourist snapshots.  I'm trying to paint the scene in the most idealistic way I can imagine - having a perfectly mirrored reflection, colorful sunlit clouds, peak autumn colored hills, and fresh snow dusted peaks.  

Here are the two previous paintings that are part of the 14er series

Pikes Peak                                           Mt. Sneffels
prints available                                                                          prints available

Not sure which 14er I should do next.  Maybe Longs?  Wilson Peak?  The Crestones?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Paper Mache Dragon Mount

We are doing a paper mache unit in art class this year in 3rd -5th grade.  I found an awesome video by a former art teacher who does paper mache monsters and dragons in his off time. This one is a 3 minute time-lapse video of him making a dragon head mount:

 I decide to use this video as a reference and see if I could make a similar dragon head as an example for my students.  I think its good for the kids to see that I'm able to do the same projects that they are, but at an advanced level.  You know the saying, "Those who can't, teach"?  For some, this might be a true statement (just don't tell that to a teacher unless you want to make enemies).  I try to make sure people know that some of us teachers can do, and we still teach anyway. 

before painting:

painting progress:

finished product: Not to bad for a first attempt!

The kids love the dragon head example!  A few of my first graders have offered to buy it from me.  

"Mr. Spong, I'll buy that from you for 2 dollars!" 

"How about 1 million dollars?"

"Ok!  I'll get the money from my parents and bring it tomorrow"

"Sounds good.  see you tomorrow."


It took about 3 months to make this sculpture that will soon hang up in my room.  This is by no means my specialty medium to work with, but I'm finding that there are endless things you could make out of paper mache.  I'm already starting to come up with some paper mache Halloween costume ideas for my daughter. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why Am I Climbing This Mountain?

Those who have started hiking on a trail before dawn can understand the discomforts involved in sunrise mountain photography.   It is especially difficult for people like me who enjoy sleep.   Sleep is wonderful!  Getting up before dawn is the opposite of wonderful, but waking up when you are camping at tree line and you haven’t slept more than two hours because you’re cold and you keep hearing noises outside thinking a bear is going to attack your tent in the middle of the night can be extremely uncomfortable.  Then, once you are finally able to convince your body to get up, you proceed to spend the next 10 hours hauling that body uphill (and downhill) on loose rocks with 30% less oxygen and weather that fluctuates like the outfit my wife chooses on Sunday morning.

Almost every time I go, I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?   Why am I putting my body through such torture?  What do I actually gain from reaching the summit of this mountain?

There are many rewards we receives from hiking:

> A sense of accomplishment

> Exercise and physical discipline

> The excitement of the adventure

> Quality time with friends

> Artistic inspiration

> Photo opportunities

> Not being at work

> Taking your shoes off when you get back to the car

These are all good, but I think the real reward for me is found in the spiritual desires of the heart.

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35

It is impossible to not be inspired by the awesome beauty of the mountains.  When my own eyes watch the sunlight dance on the clouds illuminating the jagged peaks in a bright orange alpenglow, I can’t help but praise the Creator.   I find that, in trading comfort for beauty, I am closer to understanding the heart of God.  It is in the quiet, wild solitude that the worries and frustrations of life are drowned out by His glory.  Many times I go to pray and share with Him what’s on my mind and end up doing more listening than speaking.  It is at those times that He gives me rest in His grace and His promises.  I will usually return to my truck physically exhausted and ready to collapse; yet in contrast, I am completely rested and recharged mentally and spiritually.

My dad once said that everyone should try to get out into God's country a couple times a year. It's an experience that helps put things in perspective and shows truly how small we are, how seemingly insignificant our worldly problems are in the grand scheme of things. Maybe the mountains are not about how small we are, but they help give us a glimpse of how big God is.

Thanks for reading!

"Soli Deo Gloria"