Patrick Larkin, Legendary Taos Freeheeler, 1956-2019, R.I.P. (Rip In Peace)

Following Patrick Larkin down Sin Nombre, Taos Ski Valley, May 2, 2019

Resist mediocrity.

This was the catchphrase of Patrick Larkin (1956-2019) whose last contribution to Facebook, on August 5, was an admonition on gun control. Three weeks later, in the dawn hours, Patrick, 63, in his non-mediocre prime of life, was cowardly set upon by a gun-wielding neighbor with a vendetta, and–in a single instant–leveled.

Guns are for cowards.

I say this as a soldier who specialized in gun violence, from everything from dinky 5.56mm cartridges that you could carry by the hundreds, to 105mm shells weighing 100lbs a piece, that you cradled in your arms one at a time.

Guns are for cowards.

I say this as a soldier who slept with guns, who cradled guns like infants, who oiled guns in his sleep.

Guns are for cowards.

A mediocre Fixed Heeler is locked up in jail today, and a legendary Free Heeler has been lost to us, due to a senseless proliferation of guns, permitted to flood from the battlefield into every nook and cranny and crevice of our domestic lives.

Guns are for cowards.

Never stop speaking out against mediocrity, against cowardice, against injustice, against madness, stupidity, and moral turpitude.

Thank you for your example, Patrick Larkin.

Thank you for your grace and beauty in the mountains above.

And for staring rottenness in the face without flinching in the valleys below.

Even as we mourn your death, so too do we celebrate your life.

Resist mediocrity.

Alex ‘Tele Mon’ Limkin

Captain, U.S. Army, Retired

National Ski Patroller

Head Chess Coach

Alvarado All-Stars

Sipapu, New Mexico

Wild Mountain Colibri: A Soldier’s Prayer

(Dedicated to peace activist and writer, Maxine Hong Kingston: friend, mentor, and recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts.)

All the energies of the

wild mountain colibri

are on our side

but even so

Great Spirit

we flutter from

near and far

all the joy and happiness and hope

from our wings to yours

that you may see clearly

the truth of our lives–

and find our truth

to be true.

Alex ‘Tele Mon’ Limkin

Captain, U.S Army, Retired

National Ski Patroller

Head Chess Coach

Alvarado All-Stars

First Response, Sipapu…………………………………………..Photo: Jonah ‘Drift’ Thompson
Wild Mountain Colibri
Hora de dormir (Time to go to bed)
Reunion with Sons, July 2019
Reunion, Los Duranes, Albuquerque
Spread your wings, Colibri!
Raise your wings, Colibri!
Abigail Benally, 2011-2018, Mountain Dog
Abigail Benally, South Peak, Sandias, Skywalk 2012
9/19/19 — A Soldier’s Prayer

Darkening Sky

Hobbling among the rose bushes

and the choke cherries

I swing the weedwacker methodically

back and forth

letting the engine regain its strength

with each pass.

It is difficult to learn a skill

so thoroughly

that it can never be erased sufficiently

forgotten suffiently

repudiated sufficiently.

The persistence of memory

in a soldier

is regrettable.

I swing the machine back and forth

splattering green plant flesh

onto my glasses, my legs,

my hands, and arms

and hobble on

beneath a darkening sky.


35 Pictures


My sister and I are 
long accustomed 
to fighting.

She doesn't think
I'm doing enough
with my life.

I don't think
she's doing enough
with hers.

Into my son's letters
goes a gummie
and a gum.

Without the extra postage
the letters come back
covered in marker
admonishing me.

So I am careful to
align two stamps
dress right dress.

I am also careful to eat
no more than a few 
of the gummies.

I feed my son things
my sister would never feed
her children.

She judges me for it
as I judge her.

I have seen my sister
eat an entire chocolate bar
numerous times.

Not suddenly. 
But bit by bit
until nothing is left.

It's actually not that unusual.
I have done the same
but faster.

It's silly to feud
with your sister
when there are 
so many others
worth fighting more.

So I offer her things
I spot around Avia's kitchen:
a cup of chai, some chocolate,
a bit of cheese.

Things she has bought.
But still.

Our mother taught us
how to love.

This is too important
to ignore.

Using my phone
my son takes pictures of
Avia's garden.

35 pictures he takes.

Of stone turtles
hanging chairs
the upper half
of a pine tree
snapdragons
a colony of mint 
a plastic dinosaur
a small mound of rocks
covering a tree stump
the side of my head
the front door
but from a distance.

It is silly to feud 
with your sister
when there are 
so many others
worth fighting more.

Into my son's letters
goes a gummie
and a gum.

Skywalk 2019

Skywalk
Starting off at 6:15am from Canyon Estates, Tijeras, May 11, 2019

A snowy forecast meant that Skywalk 2019 was only for the brave and the bold. In attendance was Brant McGee, a medic who served in Vietnam, Matt Huggins, a former Marine, and myself.

We hit snow and flowers after about an hour.
There was some post-holing and some profanity.
14 miles later the snow subsided.
13 hours and 25 miles later, the crew reaches Tunnel Springs, Placitas
At the Kaktus Cantina, Bernalillo, with James Janko, a medic who served in Vietnam, author of Buffalo Boy and Geronimo (2006) and The Clubhouse Thief (2018).
Until next time…

Next time will be Saturday, May 9, 2020.

In memoriam.

Colonel Ted Westhusing, 1960-2005, Airborne, Ranger, Infantry, Professor of Ethics, West Point, New York.

Glass Windows

Sometimes my legs get snowed on when I go outside to fetch wood. I guess I deserve what I got. I live up high in the valley. Glass windows to look out through. A stove that cackles when the artichokes catch snow, a pot that smokes, and skis, two pairs of skis, that whimper time to time. Through the glass I can see a great big mountain I have climbed on special occasions to leave special things like ashes of loved thing ashes of loved things a world away–and my pelvis don’t function like it used to. I been snowed in–and on–plenty. Ain’t always comfortable out there in the cold and wet. I been in some hairyness. Never in a major charge. But I been a picket plenty. Been through the ranger training with Darby. Was awful. Worse than any missions run in the field when you factor in the food and sleep lost. And the terrible cold. I run messages through enemy tunnels. Had to talk my way out of a lynching or two along the way. Knew the language some. Kapampangan. Picked it up on the Government Issue Bill. But the Government been good to us. A Veteran paid surgeon going to pull some old metal out my leg that starting to rust in a fortnight. I suspect the anesthesia will be about the same going out as going in. Two stiff pulls and a cord of wood. And a prayer in the name of fair Sanders who saw human in our kind and helped us out through the long nights from the beginning.

— Tele Mon, soldier, freespirit, telemarcoeur, father, poet, mountaineer, lover of Peace

Holocaust of the Heart

All the tulips in your Avia’s garden pray 

they will see you again soon, my son.


On the painting your Avia made for you

of the yard in which you have enjoyed

picking cherries with your Papa

(but not recently)

you drew us in

with your index finger

filling that yard with your hopes and dreams.


All the tulips in your Avia’s garden pray

they will see you again soon, my son.


That this holocaust of our hearts may end.


That you may see your northern home again

jump on your trampoline

and dance in the shade  of the capulin.


All the tulips in your Avia’s garden pray

in this way to this day.

          – Alex ‘Tele’ Limkin

April 8, 2019

                                    Disabled American Veteran (DAV)                                                                          U.S. Army, 1990-2005                                    

Infantry, Ranger, Captain                                     Bronze Star Recipient                                     Senior Ski Patroller                                     Sipapu, New Mexico                                     Assistant Chess Coach                                     Monte Vista Penguins                                     Learners Chess Academy

Albuquerque, New Mexico

April 7, 2019, E.B.L. “When can I see my Avia?”


Skywalk, May 11, 2019

Dear Friends of Skywalk,

The 10th Annual Skywalk will take place, rain or shine, on Saturday, May 11, 2019. We will start off at 6am from the Canyon Estates trailhead in Tijeras, and spend the next 12 to 13 hours walking along the Crest Trail to Tunnel Springs trailhead in Placitas.

As in years past, participants will have the opportunity to meet at 5pm on Friday, May 10, at the rooftop lounge of Hotel Parq Central at I-25 and Central for a meet and greet and to coordinate transportation.

Although there is a water resupply point at the midway point at the tram terminal, participants are encouraged to carry sufficient water, food, sunscreen, adequate clothing, and other necessities to sustain this all-day effort.

I remain humbled by all who have made this walk with me over the last decade in the name of peace, honor, justice and decency.

My commander, Colonel Ted Westhusing, the highest ranking casualty of the Iraq War, gave his life to bring attention to the human rights abuses and corruption taking place in Iraq.

His story remains unknown to the vast majority of the American public.

This annual walk across the Sandias, the second Saturday of every May, is my small way of honoring his story, and remembering the thousands of victims of unjust war.

As your spring plans sort themselves out, please let me know if you will be joining us for some portion of this walk (participants for whom the entire distance of 22+miles is excessive, are welcome to hike a shorter distance, such as to Travertine Falls, 2+miles, or to South Peak, 5+ miles, or to the tram terminal, 12+ miles.)

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Alex ‘Tele’ Limkin
Senior Ski Patroller
Sipapu, New Mexico
U.S. Army, 1990-2005

CHASING SHADOWS

Who among us doesn’t live

at the end of a snowy road

surrounded by wild things:

winged things, bushy tailed things

snorting things, full sprint running things

that for all their wildness

go about evading death

with the utmost quietness.

In the morning Anna the painter

made French toast with sourdough bread.

There was also maple syrup and bananas.

I had porridge before that, an entire bowl.

Which made the French toast a second breakfast.

And I had seconds on the French toast.

I was the one that bandaged the boy’s head

and brought him down in a rescue sled

and called for the ambulance

and administered oxygen

out of the hissing green cylinder.

The boy was unusually quiet

which worried me a little.

Until I remembered how quiet

are the wild things

when sprinting across snowy roads

chased only by their shadow.

Skywalk 2018: A Pictorial

Dear Friends of Skywalk,

I am pleased to announce that Skywalk 2018 went off without a hitch. It is likely that the Sandias will be closed to the public within the next couple weeks due to extreme fire danger, so we were fortunate in our timing. As expected, the entire trail was unusually dry. Not a lick of snow.

Here are some pictures of what turned out to be a trio of walkers this year: Chuck Hosking, Brant McGee, and myself. Brant McGee, 68, was training for an intensive 48 hour event in San Diego coming up in a couple weeks, so he carried an extra 30 lb metal weight in his pack. (He didn’t complain about it so it must have felt light compared to the load he carried as a medic in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.)

Chuck Hosking, 69, getting ready to drop his pack on South Peak (9’800) for a well-deserved break with Sandia Crest (10,700) in the background, and Albuquerque sprawled out below. Beyond the crest is the 10-mile descent into Tunnel Springs and Placitas.