Friday, September 15, 2017

Solo Colorado August 2017

the LONG trail leading to the bolder field - Longs Peak

On the Burning Bear trail
Ever since I traveled to Colorado last year for my sisters-in-law’s wedding I have wanted to climb
Longs Peak, one of Colorado’s 53 14ers (a 14er is referring to a 14,000ft+ mountain summit). At the time, everyone highly advised against it so I caved and did another hike. I ended up on Mt. Audubon a 13er, 13,229FT high to be exact. I had a great time, but from the top I could see Longs – and I knew I’d be back to climb it.

I’m not sure when I started thinking about it, but at some point, I decided I was going to do a
weekend trip to Colorado to climb Longs. I researched the best time to climb it, and it was the month of August. I did some more research and discovered you could camp at the base of the mountain in “the bolder field”. This intrigued me, camping by the foot of a mountain, seeing the stars, then hiking to the top to see the sun rise… Sounded good to me.
I went to the Colorado wilderness camping site and searched the PDF for open dates for camping in the bolder field… no weekends were available, and most of the other days were also booked. I settled on Monday 8/28/17. After finding that date was available on the PDF I then proceeded to request the back-country permit. The form asks you to put in a 1st choice and a 2nd choice, I’m guessing because the PDF is not updated more than once a day, so it’s a possibility that someone else could also request the same date.

First hike of the trip!
A couple days later I got a confirmation email that my spot was reserved, I had a camp site reserved in the bolder field at the foot of longs peak for $42.00. A little expensive for the lack of amenities and effort to get to it, but I wanted the experience.  I booked that maybe in early July, and between then and my departure date I booked my flight, leaving Saturday the 26th returning Tuesday the 29th. I also booked a camp site near Mt. Bierstadt – Geneva Park Camp Ground
for 2 Nights.

Geneva Park Camp Ground is located on Guanella Pass Road, on one end of the road is a town called Grant, on the other side is a town called Georgetown, and right around the middle of the road lies the trail head for Mt. Bierstadt.
 I had decided originally to do an easier hike on Sunday in preparation for the Longs Peak hike, but then, after looking to see what routs/mountains. Were available near Denver I came across the Mt. Bierstadt , Saw Tooth, Evans Rout
 and decided that would be my Sunday. That way I would have three 14ers in one trip – more is better right?
Goats around Mt. Evans
I had a wedding to go to Friday night and left around 9:30pm, packed up my things and set my alarm for 4:30am. In the previous weeks I had purchased several camping/hiking items including hiking poles, a tinny gas stove set, an emergency survival kit and a water filtration system. I hugged my dog Matilda goodbye and was out the door and down the road by 4:45am. I headed to my sister’s house to pick up an extra head lamp and a go-pro type of camera she had left out for me the night before, then
 off to Midway Park and Ride. For $60 I stowed my car and got on the shuttle to the airport. I had checked in the night before and was class C boarding. I checked my camping back pack and sleeping bag and got through security with no issues. I had just enough time to grab some coffee – when I arrived at my gate they were already boarding A and B and I did not have to wait long. I boarded and decided to sit between 2 guys that were in the very front row. I had never sat in the front row. Problem was no overhead storage was available right at the front so I had to put my things back several rows. The pleasant thing about being in the front is that you have more leg room and in theory you get to get off first, you're also closer to the restroom. The bad thing about being in the front is that you have no seat in front of you to put your things under during take off/landing so you must put them in the overhead storage compartments, you also have no fold out trey to put your drink/book/whatever on during the flight.

Got the tent up!
The flight went fairly quickly for me, and before I knew it we were landing in Denver. I made the mistake of walking back several rows to get my back pack, by the time I retrieved it the isles were full of people and I was trapped losing me my front row exit position … I learned from this on the return flight.
Denver airport was a little strange to me, you have to take a train all the way down to the end of the trains rout to get your bags, then go up to the main level. My back pack and sleeping bag were accounted for fairly quickly and I packed everything up and headed out loaded down with a purse, a book bag, a sleeping bag and a huge back pack. I boarded the shuttle to the Advantage rental car center and got suckered into a car upgrade - $80 for a SUV instead of an intermediate 4 cylinder car. The lady said it would be better in the mountains, hind site though, a car would have been fine, although the extra room did prove useful, and I enjoyed the extra horse power from time to time.

 I headed out to Arvada to go shopping. I purchased a Styrofoam cooler, ice, chocolate milk, pomegranate juice, things for sandwiches, string cheese, granola, pretzels, 2 cans of soup, a phone charger that I had forgotten in my car in Chicago, a 6 pack of adult root beer claiming to be the “best adult root beer I would ever have” and a few other things. Next stop was to find my campground, it was about 1 hour and 45 minutes from the airport.
On the Burning Bear Trail head trils

Burning Bear Trail Hike
I arrived at the campground and wished I had stopped in Grant for fire wood, I also found that the camp site had no cell service. My site had room for a car to park in the front, then housed a picnic table and a fire ring, then a flat area between pine trees for tents. I set up my tent while drinking one of the adult root beers that was NOT even close to the best I had ever had, then headed back to Grant and purchased 2 bundles of fire wood for $5 each.
Dinner time...
On the way back I stopped at Burning Bear Trail head for a 5 mile hike. I wanted to try to acclimate a little more, I’m not sure where the trail led, but it seemed to be long, I turned around at a bridge with a mountain view. Back at my camp site I toasted a sandwich and heated up a can of soup then went to bed around 7:30pm. I had ear
7:30 bed time!
plugs and slept pretty well for a while, but then woke up very cold and with rocks digging into my bones… I discovered that I could zip the sleeping bag all the way up and tighten the draw string so I was completely incased in the sleeping bag, this was warmer… I was starting to dread getting up in the morning for my hike till I had to get out of my tent to “use the restroom”, my DR. per my request and the recommendation of fellow flatlanders on the face book site prescribed me “Acetazolamide” It can treat glaucoma, epilepsy, mountain sickness, and fluid retention." It seems that elevation sickness can be from water retention in your face/eyes, and these pills help prevent that from happening. I had never taken them before and did not know what to expect. I did recall that the pharmacist had mentioned something about needing the bathroom more often and had called them "water pills". Turns out he was right. REALLY right, and it grew to be quite a nuance.  I woke up at least 3 times every night having to go, it was not fun…It was cold, and dark.  Anyhow, when I got out of my tent for the first time that night I looked up and saw the starts, and they were brilliant!! Suddenly I was excited to get up for my climb the next morning.

Heading out!
My alarm went off at 3:15am and I was on the road by 3:25am. I accidentally drove around the camp site maybe 3 times before I found my way out – SORRY SLEEPING CAMPERS!! I could have sworn it was a left turn not a right turn… Finally I headed about 10 miles down Guanella pass to the first parking lot after the “Guanella pass summit” sign, I think It was 10,000ft or so. I geared up with my camel back, granola, a gel and chugged some chocolate milk… I was off to find the trail around 4:15am.
Finally I saw what I was climbing to....
The trail was across the road and was easy to follow. The stars were amazing, but it was a long walk. I was walking towards a black mass of something… It could have been forest, but I figured it was the mountain… Eventually pre-dawn light helped to guide my way and the dark mass was indeed the mountain. I started feeling… well...not well…after a mile or so and I was worried I was getting elevation sickness…Just kind of queasy, tired, clammy.  I took it easy, stopped when I felt out of breath and kept drinking water… Thankfully I did eventually feel better. I reached the summit of my first 14er just before peak sunrise. It was beautiful. I hung out on the top with the people that were there and we took turns taking each other’s pictures with the sign someone had left under a rock…These signs really bother some people, but I appreciated it....

I was fortunate enough to discover a younger couple who was going to do the same rout as me to
Traveling to Mt. Evans
Saw-Tooth and then Evans so I started out again after a snack. It was not a trail like I had been on, more of a rout. I had read through the rout for this and had also printed it out for review in case I felt lost or misguided at any point. Turns out the guy, Adam knew the rout pretty
Climbing Saw Tooth
well, he was either a natural, or had studied harder than me, but it was convenient. He was a much faster climber than Raina (the girl) and I were, he went to climbing walls often and it had paid off. I noticed right away the difference from class 2 to class 3 climbing, more deliberate moves were required and much more caution. It was a really fun climb though as we made our way down the peak to the left of Saw Tooth. We tried to choose the safest rout with the largest rocks that had the best hand/foot holds. It was a lot like bouldering, but more rock climbing because the boulders were larger and required multiple moves to reach one bolder to the next. At one point I could not find a foot hold on a point of exposure and I had to climb back to where I had been, then try again in a different position, that was probably my most nervous moment. For the most part it looked harder than it was. We crossed over to the left side of saw tooth after climbing up as far as we felt safe, and then continued on a narrow ledge to the other
Heading back down..
The Saw Tooth
side, then on to another rock area all together. We were not 100% sure where Mt. Evans was, but followed the Carins till we found a trail, and figured out where we were gong. It was a long way from saw tooth to Evans, lots of switch backs and boulders, but we were back to class 2, so it
was quite a lot easier and faster moving. We reached to peak which was quite a bit more crowded

14er #2 Mt. Evans

then the other trails/peaks we had been on. We stopped at the shelter where restrooms were available and saw some mountain goats. It was maybe around 10am, and clouds were coming our way. We decided to head back to the car. We ended up getting off the trails and probably added a mile or 2 and had to cross a lot of shrubbery and mud… I ran out of water at probably 4 miles before we got back to the car, and started getting a head ache.
 By the time we finally got back to the car I was thirsty, muddy, tired and had a head ache. I headed to
Awesome Bagel Sandwiches!!!
 my car, cleaned up a little and then went over to where my fellow climbers were, at the parking lot across the street. We made toasted bagel sandwiches with egg and lunch meat in the parking lot over a tinny stove, and then it
Mt. Evans
started to rain so I said thanks, and good bye and headed out. They were going to stop by my camp site, but ended up not being able to find it, I found that out the next day. It was probably for the better though because I ended up taking pain
Sleeping in the SUV ... headache
meds, drinking lots of water "using the restroom" many times, and sleeping till the next day. It hailed and was cold, so I slept in the SUV… Probably got in around 4:30pm and slept on and off till 8am or so… My head ache finally went away around midnight, it had gotten REALLY bad for a while, perhaps migraine status, it was cold, and I woke up a few times, finally around 5am I turned the car on for the heat, and fell asleep for an hour waking up somewhat rested, warm, and hungry.
Sawtooth and Bierstdt - the long decent

Views from climbing the previous day
Views from climbing the previous day
My tent and gear were wet and muddy… I folded everything up in the back of the SUV trying to contain the mud and water as best I could and headed to find breakfast. I didn’t have service so I headed in the direction I thought I remembered the map saying I should go. Back past the trail head on to Georgetown, I started getting service in about 10 minutes after leaving the camp ground and started getting text messages, emails and voice mails – LOTS of them. It turns out my dad had discovered I was gone and was upset I had not told him. I had not told him because I didn’t want him to worry, and also because I didn't want to get constant phone calls from him. I had several missed calls from him, texts and calls from my sister, mom and husband all telling me to call him because he wouldn’t stop calling them till he talked to me… I was in no mood for this and assured them I would call him after breakfast. NEEDED COFFEE. I had a few work things to deal with and finally was on my way to breakfast again. (I had pulled over where I had service by a reservoir)  I found a little breakfast place at the end Georgetown and  I ordered coffee (I had not had coffee in a couple days, which could have contributed to my head ache) it was WONDERFUL.  Eggs, sausage, potatoes that were supposed to be extra crispy, but were not, and a English muffin. I talked to a few local people while there, one of which was from Texas, he has purchase property and rented it on the Vacation by owner site. He said he got on average $200/night and always had people interested in renting it anytime he was not using it. He said sometimes he had bidding wars over it, and that he rented it more than 200 days a year. He also said in the past 4 years he only had 1 bad experience, and that was when the town hosted some rock concert event and an agency rented his house. The group of people who stayed in it trashed it. They thought it was a great idea to jump from the loft to the couch below in the living room, breaking the couch, they left a large dog locked in the bathroom who was not pleased about the arrangement and in retaliation proceeded to chew, and scratch everything between him and the door, they also punched holes in the walls and that sort of thing. He says the town does not host that event anymore… I talked to another man who moved to CO for the legal marijuana – he was on disability form a position at a major automotive manufacturing company. Because of the modern age of computers his job, that once required great skill, was now obsolete. He worked on repairing some sort of really crazy strong glass basically… He has major back problems now he said, causing him a lot of pain that a certain legal plant lessons.

After Breakfast as promised I called my dad, but he didn’t answer, so I left a message. I assured him I was fine and just doing some hiking in Colorado and a little house shopping. I said that I was sorry I had not told him but that I had not wanted him to worry…
After stretching my legs a little I headed off to Rocky Mountain National Park visitor center. I arrived around noon maybe a little earlier at the park office where I was to pick up my back-country permit. It was nice and warm and sunny there around 80 degrees, so after I washed my hair in the sink, picked up my permit, I took my tent and other wet things out of the SUV and hung them on the SUV to dry…. It did not take long. I packed everything up in their small containers, tent, sleeping bag, bed mat, pillow etc. (this did take some time) and packed my back pack to prepare for the 5 mile hike to the bolder field. It turns out I went to the wrong park office, and had to drive another 1:45 on top of the 1:45 I had just drove to get to the trail head. After hearing this news, I started to hurry up a little. It worked out alright though, I enjoyed the drive through the park even though it got me to the trail head later than I had wanted.

Hiking UP the LONG trail

At the trail Head - 3:30ish
I arrived at the trail head maybe around 3pm and hit the trail by around 3:30. My back pack was not very comfortable, the park ranger had told me that water was running through the bolder field so I only carried (3) 16 0z water bottles with me. The 5-mile hike ended up being more than I had
bargained for – it was 5.7 miles, and all up. Around 2000ft up. It was a LOT harder than I thought it would be. It was the longest hardest 5.7 miles I had ever climbed, partly due to my 35lb pack that was not fitted to carry the weight around my hips because it could not get tight enough to
Longs Peak Trail to bolder field
do so and partly because I was sore and tired from the day before. Up and up I climbed, slowly but surely. I was a snail. I tried adjusting my pack in all ways possible, it still hurt, it was still
The LONG trail to the bolders
heavy. I tried walking with my back and shoulders tall, I tried walking slumped over, I tried walking with my back straight and just my shoulders slumped, and with my shoulders straight and just my back bent… it was still hard and it still hurt. I gave up and trodden slowly on. It was starting to get dark, the sun was starting to set, and I still didn’t see the bolder field. I heard thunder. Thankfully an experienced hiker happened upon me and told me that he had hiked this area a lot and he thought the storm was going around us to the south, and that from the sound of it was 10 miles away at least…He told me that if I started hearing lightning and then thunder right away I should get worried and find a low area with an overhanging bolder to use as shelter, put my rain shield up and I’d be fine… I didn’t tell him that I had no rain shield and I had left my rain coat in my car because the weather had looked great about 3+ hours ago… I just thanked him and continued up. Thankfully the storm did go around me. Finally, as the colors of the sunset were starting to come out I rounded a bend and there was the key hole, I
THE KEY HOLE, finally - AND tents - the end is near!
smiled for the first time in a couple hours and headed on wards. I did not see the camp site for a while still, but finally I saw tinny specks that were tents, and eventually tinny people. I was concerned that there would not be water in the bolder field, because I had finished all my water about a mile before and I was getting thirsty, if the bolder field had no water, I would not make the summit the next day, I was done. I wondered down the winding bolder field trail following carins where the trail was not present. I had not climbed boulders before with a 35lb pack, and it was a little challenging to balance. I did notice a stream here and there and heard water running under the bolders, if nothing else I could hike back after dropping my things off and fill up my water. Finally, I reached the bolder field camp site. I was so happy. I knew I would make it, but for the last 2 miles I was not sure how. I was welcomed by fellow campers who said they had kept the lights on for me (the sun was still barley lighting the bolder field) I went to a little circle of rocks and dropped all my items. What a relief. I set my tent up right before it got dark in the tiny circle of rocks. It was challenging because tent poles need room to spread out, the rock circle did not allow for this… I did eventually get it up though, however I discovered had to put rocks on it to hold the poles down because tent spikes do not work well when you only have rocks to stick them in. I put my head lamp on, set up the things inside my tent, and by the time I came out again it was dark. One of the other campers had told me approximately where to find water, so I went out looking, and sure enough, I heard water and quickly found an area where I could lower myself down and collect it between the boulders. I filled up my (3) bottles and headed back to my tent to eat and filter the water. Finally, I had water, and had eaten, most everyone else was already snoring in their tents, the campsite was not a quite place. I put my bear container outside and wiggled into my sleeping bag with extra socks, shirts and tights. I put my ear plugs in and slept about the same as I had slept the previous nights (poorly) and up about (3) times to “use the restroom” thanks to the water pills. My alarm woke me up around 4:30am, no one else was up at the campsite, I went to the latrine or whatever it was, basically an elevated (3) walled structure with a swinging door that didn’t stay shut or completely conceal you with a toilet seat and a lid covering a pit… It had a solar panel on it, and 1.5” PVC piping leading from it, I think it was supposed to self-compost or something, I’m not sure.
Following the bulls eyes

Around 5am I saw head lights coming and I went out to see who was
The sun starting to come up before the ascent to the summit
coming. It was a group of (4) girls. Turns out (2) of them were very experienced climbers who had almost climbed all of Colorado’s 14ers so I asked if they would mind if I climbed with them. They did not, so that’s what I did. We hung out at the key hole and waited till it got light. We then crossed through the key hole and took a left to the ledges. They looked worse than they were and we carefully made our way along the path following bulls eyes and rock towers. It was certainly a class 3 feel, but not as hard as Saw Tooth, at least I did not think so. After we completed the ledges we climbed up the trough 7-800FT., and took some time, some areas
Going up...
were a little complex, took more climbing than bouldering, but it was more boulders than anything else. Areas of loose rock were prevalent also. We crossed up the trough and took a left to the narrows. These were supposed to be really scary, but actually were not that bad. I learned a lot by watching my new climber friends, how to limit exposure, how to choose the safest rout, how to move slowly and deliberately. We reached the home stretch fairly quickly, and I will admit,  it did look intimidating. Turns out it was not bad, keep the same principles and
Home Stretch
Home Stretch cont.
methods used in the other areas for safer climbing and it felt pretty safe/easy. We reached the summit with only a hand full of other people on the top ahead of us, enjoyed the views, took pictures, ate… Then headed back down. I was concerned about going down, it looked a little rough, but once again, use caution, 3 points of contact, and on some of the areas a good old controlled butt slide, and it was all good. I ended up leaving my climber friends because I knew I needed to pack up all my
Made it!
things, and I had a flight to catch. I got back down to my tent, packed up, and headed down. It was still a long way down, my shoulders still hurt, but down was MUCH easier than up. I had realized on the way down that my flight was at 5:15pm, not 6:15pm like I had been thinking (MST vs PCT), my chances of having time for a food stop had gotten slimmer and I was starting to get a little concerned that I would even make it on time.
I pushed down the mountain only stopping once or twice to rest my sore shoulders. I had discovered that if I put the pack on as tight as it would go around my hips and if I held one of the shoulder supports a little  to take some of the weight off the strap around my waste, then used the other had to steady the sleeping bag that was tied to the bottom of my pack, and without something to steady it, it would obnoxiously bounce off my back side with ever stride I took,
14er #3 Longs Peak!
 I could hike a little more comfortably, but a little more awkwardly. I made it below tree line and figure I had about 2.5 miles left, over the log bridge with the water fall, and down all the switch backs supported with logs. The pine trees got larger for about a half a mile and finally it was a full-blown pine forest. I was out of water, but I didn’t want to take the time to stop and filter more so I continued. I made it to the bottom around 1:30pm and threw everything into my very messy SUV then headed to Estes Park to a gas station.  I gassed up and was happy to find a very large single restroom inside to change and clean up in as best I could. I washed my hair in the sink, and did everything else I could to be more presentable and smell better, then headed out to clean the car.

My tent set up in the boulders
On previous trips I had seen signs saying “no washing hair in sinks” and I had wondered who would
do such a thing… now I knew… Thankfully I did not see any such signs on this trip.
 I re-packed, threw away garbage, and put everything usable that I could not take with me including
Top of Longs Peak
the little gas tank that I would have used for my cook stove in the Styrofoam cooler, and wrote “free” on it, leaving it by the gas pump. It was around 2pm maybe a little later – my next stop was to drop the car off. It took maybe an hour and a half I think to get to the car rental drop off – when I arrived I was promptly checked out, and told I could get on the shuttle bus that had just pulled up. I attached all my items to myself, hiking pack, back pack, purse and sleeping bag and headed to the shuttle. It left fairly quickly and off to the air port I went. I arrived and got in line to check my bags in the line outside the airport, only to realize that I had not checked in, after a quick search in my emails I found the confirmation information, and right as I pressed the enter button after putting all the correct information in the proper fields the clock turned to 4:16pm, 59 minutes before my flight, and your supposed to check in 1 hour before your flight. I was not sure what to do, but decided to stay in line, I explained what had happened to the check in guys, and they kindly printed me a boarding pass and checked my bags, I usually don’t tip these guys, but I made an axcption this time for the extra help that I think maybe they didn’t have to give me..

Little friend on the trail down Longs
It was nice to only have my back pack and purse now, and I headed to security, then I attempted to purchase a beer to go, un sucesfully, apparently they don’t do that in Colorado, no plastic cups to bring on your flight allowed, so I settled for filling up my water bottle, and purchasing a slice of pizza and a piece of garlic bread to go and off to my gate I went. They were already boarding, so I did not have to wait long. I selected a seat inbetween a man and a younger girl 3 rows behind the front, and again, had to put my bag back a few rows, I was holding my water bottle and trying to get my back pack in the over head container, and an older gentleman asked me if he could help, and offered to hold my water bottle for me, I thanked him, and handed over the bottle, and much more easily got my bag in. I headed back to row 3 and situated my other items realizing that my books were in my back pack, and I now had nothing to read, I was not going to go through the trouble to get them however, I also realized head phones would have been nice because they offer free movies during flight, and I could have watched with my phone… Oh well… A man 1 row up in the next isle over looked at me and the guy next to me and asked if either of us drank because he had a free drink ticket, Their was a moment of silence that I was the first to break, therefore the reviever of the drink ticket. I thanked the man and was pleased with the kindness I had received on the flight… This was a good flight, and everything that day had gone so well. Meeting experienced climbers, my decent, and travels to the air port. I talked to the girl next to me for quite some time. She was an inspiration and made me realize just how thankful for my health I should be on a daily basis. I don’t know how old she was but I think probably 26-30, she had a pretty face, brown hair and eyes too I think. 3-4 years previously she had been living on her own in Chicago and supporting herself as a paraleagle and running marathons. She said that she is the one who started running marathons in her group of friends, and many of them also started to run them after her. Suddenly she started getting sick with all sorts of things, the doctors treated her for this and that depending on what she happened to have, her immune system was so weak she just kept getting sick, one thing would turn into another and eventually she could not work and had to move in with family members. I don’t know when they finally discovered that she had lime disease, but it was not soon enough because by the time they figured out what she had it had developed into chronic lime disease which is not curable. She was bed and wheel chair ridden for 2 years living with a family member, unable to work or socialize. She said that she felt her marathon training helped her mentally, she was determined to get well no matter what it took. She tried all sorts of treatments, treatments from traditional medicine and non traditional, she started to re-gain her strength and started water therapy along with other treatments, she did not elaborate as to what these treatments were, but she had done it, she had re-clamed her life. It sounded like she still had medical needs, and was still needing treatment, and probably always would, but she had decided to move to Colorado and start over. She had traveled there months before she happened on the same flight as me, and had decided that the climate helped her chronic pain and fatigue. She said she had a lot of pain in her legs, that since she had been a marathon runner the disease attached those muscles and caused a lot of pain. This trip that she was returning from was a trip to find an apartment, and she had. She was moving the next week, her dad was going to drive her things out, and her mom was going to fly with her. They were concerned for her, worried that she will have problems living alone, etc, but she said that they understood why she wanted to, and that they supported her decision as well as they could. How cool is that? I think it’s pretty awesome, and I wish her the best. She wants to climb 14ers too, and I hope that she continues to recover and will be able to. I wish I had gotten her contact information…

I got a glass of wine for my free drink, and eventually fell asleep for a while after eating my pizza and bread stick. I had not eaten much besides that all day, just a snack on top of the mountain, and some string cheese while packing up… My granola had been ruined by the ice that melted on top of it, I had hoped to bring that with me, but was sad to see it was no longer appealing…
I arrived back in Chicago on schedule around 8:45pm. I learned from my previous front area luggage mistake, and asked some people that were standing by the overhead storage where my bag was stored, to pass it up to me, this way I did not lose my place in the line and get trapped back farther from the front.  I retrieved my bags and got a shuttle to my car, then headed to a hotel in river woods where I had a meeting the next day. I had no desire to drive over an hour just to sleep for a few hours, then to drive 1.5 hours back to a meeting. It was so nice to have a bed and a shower.

4 days and 3 14ers was a lot of activity, but I’d say I got my 14ers out of my 1st trip, and would not have done anything differently on this trip (for the most part) I do think that perhaps in the future if there is a nice confortable hotel or lodging of some sort available near the attracting that I am going to see I will select this option over camping as long as the same general experiences can be obtained. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Colorado August 2016

In August of 2016 we went to Colorado for my sister-in-law's wedding. My husband and I decided to drive our 1026 Subaru Outback with our kayaks. It turns out I do not like traveling with kayaks mounted on a roof rack. it was nerve racking and more trouble than I think it was worth. lesson learned. We started out in the afternoon and stopped for the night in NE. Once we tried to drive straight through and decided it was too much time driving 14 hours, and that our bodies had more trouble adjusting to the altitude that way.

The next morning we headed out again and arrived mid day in Loveland where my husband's sisters live. We grilled out that night and enjoyed catching up.

The next day I got up somewhat early, put my running clothes one, got in the car and opened up my "all trails" app. I smiled as the pins dropped all around my location... I decided on  The Devils Backbone trail head. It was a nice trail that connected to other trails I discovered - one would have taken me all the way to horse tooth reservoir. I ran about 8 miles and headed back to the house. Later that day we all took the Kayaks out to a nearby reservoir - I made it all the way from one end to the other and back - it was fun, but my arms were not really ready for that. My future brother-in-law brought out his fishing boat and I got to go on a ride around the lake on that as well.
Got 9.3 miles in for the day.

The next day my husband and I got up for a run - we went to Coyote Ridge trail for a run. It was a nice trail - we did an out and back and then headed back to the house for breakfast and then to Horse tooth reservoir. It was beautiful - we kayaked a few miles to the other side, hung out on the shore, my husband fished a little... Then a storm started rolling in so we backed it up right before it started to rain. We ate at what seemed like a bit of a biker bar, but the food was good and the drinks were cheap... We went back that night and hung out with my husbands family.  6.2 miles that day.

The next day my husband and I headed over to Estes Park and hiked at Rocky Mountain National Park. We went on a really beautiful hike, with a great view of the mountains and a lake, then we went over to the Stanley Hotel to check it out. We had a drink at the bar, then headed back to our hotel, walked around the town, and had dinner at a mexican restaurant on a rooftop with a nice view of the mountains. 6.6 miles

The next day we went on an early horse back ride through the mountains to a place that they made us breakfast. Pancakes, coffee, eggs, sausage, bacon... it was delicious and fun to eat out in the fresh mountain air with a beautiful view. We got back on the horses and continued on the loop back to the barns. Then we went back to our hotel and I went out again for a run that ended up being more of a run/hike because it was very steep. I was trying to climb to the top of "two sisters peak" I think. It was a really cool trail with neat views. One area had a rock slide recently so the trail was a little hard to follow. I wanted so badly to make it to the top, but I did not have time. I ran back down, got back to the room, showered, and we packed up and headed back to Loveland. We hung out with my husbands family, and went to dinner and played pool.
9 miles for the day.

The next day I was up before dawn and sopped at a gas station for coffee and gas. I consulted my "all" app again, and decided on a hike for the day. I REALLY wanted to do longs peak, but was strongly advised not to by my husband and sister in law, and in an effort not to stir the pot too much, I looked for another, non 14er hike. I do not remember what filters I applied to the app, but I think one of them was that it had to be rated "difficult" I selected one and was off on the other road (not the one leading to Estes Park) that goes through the mountains. It was really fun as the sun started coming up and I was driving up and down the mountain roads in my new Subaru. It was a 45 mins. to the "trail head" I had selected. I never found it though - it was not where it was supposed to be - so I found an area that I had service and could use my phone and find another trail... I re-selected a trail head and headed out again. This time it took me down a dirt road full of pot holes and curves, past a reservoir and right to the edge of what looked like some sort of camp ground, and sure enough, there was a trail head with one car already parked next to it. No parking lot, just the road, so I parked in front of the car, geared up and headed out. It seemed to be a ATV trail and I was not overly pleased with this, so I took a side trail only to realize after a mile or so it was going in the wrong direction, it was going to another camp ground, so I headed back to the stupid ATV trail, and finally after about 3 miles and seeing (1) person the trail got more interesting and pretty. After five miles I had mountain views and a few trail head options. After a few mins of looking around I decided to go left not right and headed up another trail. It was heavily wooded, had some creaks, quite. I saw no one. after maybe 2 miles or so I made it to the top of a hill and I could see the reservoir far below in the distance. I continued on to the next hilltop and then to the next. I saw no one till I finally got to another trail sign, one pointed down, the other pointed up and said "Mt. Audubon" I saw someone in the distance and decided to keep going up instead of down. It was steep, and there was a little snow and it was getting colder. I kept going and when I got to what I though was the top it was wonderful! I took pictures and enjoyed myself, I was ready to go down when saw someone climbing down from an even higher point and he said "have fun, you have the top all to your self" and I said "Oh, I though I WAS at the top" he said that I was not, and that he highly recommended I continue to the top and to just follow the little rock towers... SO I did. It was kinda like bolder climbing at Devils Lake WI. I made it to the ACTUAL top and it was even better than the last top! it was really windy and cold, but super pretty. I walked across the top and took pictures and enjoyed the views. Getting down was a little harder than getting up, the rocks were not all very stable and I could not see the rock towers as well to follow the easiest path. I made it though and eventually caught up with the guy who had tole me I should keep going up... he was an older guy maybe late 60s. We chatted for a while and I told him where I had started from, and he said that was a long way away... I had already figured i'd have to find a ride back and was really thankful when he offered! We headed down to where his car was parked, a few miles more, and he tole me about what I had just climbed, and I was please to hear that it was actually a 13,000+FT mountain. The hike down was pretty too, switch backs on the rocks then leading into a pretty pine forest. We got back to the parking lot and I found that this guy had a 1970's yellow Volkswagen beetle. The only think I could think to compare that ride with is the America Eagle wooden roller coaster at Six Flags Great America. The drive back to my car was maybe a half an hour - the guy that drive me asked "how did you even find this trail" He knew what trail head I was at because he had hiked it before, he had lived in CO for years and years and seemed to know all the trails in the area and had hiked them extensively. I told him that I had found it with the all trails map, and he said "You know, that kind of makes me mad, you see when I started hiking these trails you had to talk to people to find out about these trails, and then find them with a map"... Gotta love technology.. We got back to my car, I thanked him and that was that. I headed back to the house we were renting. We had moved to a VBO house - in a guys basement because others were staying at my sister in laws for the wedding that was 2 days away... I had spent about 6 hours hiking and had covered 16.3 miles and only see about (4) people. it was pretty cool. The top of that mountain was amazing. The sound. or lack of sound. It was the sound of piece like I had never heard it. I loved every second of it.
16.3 miles total for the day.

The next day was the wedding rehearsal. I was not in the wedding so I of course headed out to hike. I headed up on the road to Estes park not really knowing where I would go...  I ended up finding a roadside country store/deli and got a wonderful sandwich with a even more wonderful HUGE cinnamon roll. I think I was on Devils Glutches road. Then I went back down knowing I has seen several roadside small trail heads and picked one. It was a super cool hike, went through a prairie area first - up a hill then to the forest and quickly turned to switch backs. I saw a mine but resisted the urge to go in since I had no flash light and no one with me... I kept going and got to the top of a hill with amazing views, I SO wanted to keep going, but I needed to go to the dinner part of the rehearsal, so I scurried back down and headed to the house, made myself presentable and off to the wedding site I went. It was a beautiful house on a awesome piece of property with a great view of the mountains. Perfect place for a wedding. We had a nice dinner with everyone that night. 4.7 miles for the day.

The next day was wedding day - it was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding. no hiking. no running. Just helped with the wedding (I think).

The next day a few of us got up a little later than previous days (no particular reason ;)) and went to have bloody mary's and breakfast. we went to the trail I had been to previously and explored the mine, it was a dead end... Then we went and got cinnamon rolls because I NEEDED another one. Then one of my husbands friends who was at the wedding taught us how to pan for gold... I tried for a while, then decided I'd have better luck collecting rocks, so I switched to that... It was cool though learning how to do that.. or at least understanding the concept... It's actually really hard...
6.2 miles that day...

The next morning we left...

I LOVE Colorado and think we will move there some day...