Think mountain goat on a bicycle

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer January 10, 2014 07:07 am

A picture is worth 1,000 words, or two of these columns, if the writer can contain his irrational exuberance to 500 words.

In the case of local photographer Fred Hill, a picture might be worth 10 of these columns. Maybe 100.

I’ve known college professors who could turn one picture into a nine-week course.

Hill’s picture of Mount Evans on the cover of his recently published book, “A Photographer’s Life,” captured my imagination.  

Each of us has something that captures our imagination. It might be to drink wine in Italy. Experience an earthquake. Kayak over a waterfall, or down a placid stretch of the Grande Ronde River. Watch a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston. Ride in a hot air balloon. Hold a tether on the Woody Woodpecker balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

That Fred Hill picture, a simple composition of a tree shaped by wind in the foreground and mountains in the distance, captures my imagination. As soon as I saw the picture, I wanted to know 10,000 words more about that part of the Colorado Rockies.

So, I Googled. On further review, I found that Mount Evans boasts the highest paved road in America at 14,240 feet above sea level an hour or so west of Denver.

It all started with a manly competition. Seems the manly Denver road-builders wanted to top the manly Colorado Springs road builders. Denver’s sister city to the south had built a road to the top of 14,114-foot Pikes Peak to test the nerves of locals and tourists alike — a modern gold mine tapping tourists of gold.

We can do better, the manly men of Denver boasted. And they did. This being America, after all, bigger is better, until you get to the Jerry Jones Stadium that hosts America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. The stadium holds approximately four times the population of Union County and on any given Sunday 100 times as much money.

What captured my imagination about Mount Evans is it is a magnet. For drivers. For motorcyclists. And, especially, in my case, for bicyclists.

It’s a great challenge, and I passed it by my bicycling partner, who despite being even older than me, and with more common sense, immediately jumped on board. Nothing like having 14,240 feet of magnificent American mountain to focus the next seven months of our training. 

Think mountain goats on bicycles.

The point is, keep looking at pictures.  In newspapers. Magazines. Books. Eventually, you’ll find one that inspires you to do something beyond your dreams.

Think of the 1,000 words that are in that picture. Are any of them calling your name? Tugging at your heart? Pointing you in a new and more fulfilling direction?

If that picture is a cruise ship brochure, that’s OK. If it’s of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, you might want to reconsider, unless you are a professional mountaineer.

Each of us has our own Mount Evans. And each of us has approximately 650,000 hours in our lifetime, if we are lucky, to check off our bucket list. With a lot of those hours already expired, time is of the essence. Thanks, Fred, through your excellent camera work, for opening a door of opportunity for a new adventure.

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.