Thursday, September 26, 2013

Idaho Springs, CO to Monument, CO and everywhere in between

Little did we know when leaving Glenwood Springs, CO we'd have such an action packed night ahead of us.  We arrived at Cottonwood RV in Idaho Springs on a Thursday afternoon.  We settled into our beautiful site next to the creek, unpacked and sat outside to enjoy a cup of coffee and tea.  We soon learned the creek was up a little from all of the rain they had in the past 24 hours but the level was not alarming (yet!) to the owners and other locals.

At 8pm the campground owners called us and informed us of a flash flood watch in the area and asked if we wanted to move up by their house (higher ground).  We decided we'd keep an eye on the creek and remain where we were (ha - hindsight!).  We stayed up until around 10:30pm (with me looking out at the creek with the flashlight every 5 minutes while Tom was calm, relaxed and enjoying the football game on tv).  Our neighbor said he set his alarm for 3am and would wake us if things look bad.  At midnight the alarm on my phone (NOAA) sounded (thanks Sue Shuckhart for telling us about this app during your tornado experience!) and we quickly jumped out of bed to find the creek rising up and over the bank.  We packed it up and at 1am headed a mile down the road to the Ranger Station parking lot for the rest of the evening!  Phew!  The next morning we moved back to the campground and into a temporary (higher) site.  We remained there until Monday when the rain finally ended and the creek receded (slightly).  It was not fun at the time but looking back a good experience for us to have to quickly pack under such circumstances.  We learned what we would do differently if the need ever arises again (hopefully not!).  Anyway...we had a great time in the area for the next 13 days.

Mt. Evans and Summit Lake

Guanella Pass

another double rainbow on our drive from Guanella Pass - 2 in a week!
incredible picture of Everest at the Mountaineering Museum

Would be great to see a concert here at Red Rocks Ampitheatre!  Hopefully next time around.

roasting our Hatch chiles from NM - smelled great but way too HOT!  Ooops - got medium.  Will get MILD next time!

Sports Authority Mile High Stadium 
Rocky Mountain National Park

Herman Lake hike with my cousin, Donna

Pikes Peak Summit (14,110ft.) attempt with my cousin, Donna - We watched the mountain weather and picked the best day (so we thought!) to climb to the summit of Pikes Peak.  It's 12+ miles with an elevation gain of over 7,500ft. so it's a long day.  Tom was all set to drive to the top to pick us up and congratulate us on our successful summit.  Donna is trying to climb all 54 fourteener's in CO (she lives north of Denver and has summited 18 so far - way to go!).  Funny how things don't always go as planned.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we hit the trail.  We quickly heard the road to the top was closed and the cog railroad was not running to the top either due to snow and ice.  We couldn't imagine this possible as the mountain didn't look bad and the weather was perfect (at our low elevation).  I called Tom and asked him to do some research which he easily confirmed was true.  We also ran into a hiker who had summited the day before but ran into awful weather near the top and was fortunate enough to make it back down to 10,200ft and Camp Barr.  He said the camp was a great place to hike to if we still wanted to go up (7 miles up from where we started).  We decided to go for it and then figure out our options (take the cog down from there, 1.5 miles from the camp, hope the road opens later in the day and continue to climb, sleep at the camp overnight and try it the next day, although forecast not looking good).  We arrived at Camp Barr just after 11am and were warmly welcomed by Anthony and Renee who live there year round to run the camp, be part of Search & Rescue when needed and to just share their caring/warm personalities with the weary hikers going by or spending the night.  We ended up spending 2 great hours with them getting to know a little more about them, how they will be spending their year (or perhaps more) at Camp Barr (they started on 9/13) and the beauty of living in the wilderness!  I truly hope our paths do cross again down the road.  Come visit us or perhaps we'll come visit you and help out during the busy season!  After our nice visit, Donna and I agreed to hike back down the 7 miles.  The weather was PERFECT and we enjoyed a beautiful day on the mountain, had great cousin bonding time and met some great people!  All things do happen for a reason!

wonderful camp hosts - Anthony and Renee!

I think that's it, I'm all caught up on the blogs!  Sorry to swamp you with 3 in a row but I had to catch up while the mood struck (and the internet speed cooperated)!  We are currently in Monument, CO (30 minutes north of Colorado Springs) and will be here until Saturday.  I'm so excited to visit with PA friends, Tess & Scott Cunningham, on Friday.  They recently sold their house in PA, bought a house in CO and moved out here.  What perfect timing that we are close by and will get to enjoy a hike and dinner with them as well as get to see their new house at 9,800ft!  Can't wait!

Til next time...Happy Trails!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

3 state high points in 1 week!

We bagged another...well, actually 3 more.  One was a little more difficult than the other 2. Three more down gives us a total of 12 so far.  Only 37 more to go.  We're shooting for the 49 high points in the US states, which excludes Alaska (I'm still tossing it around but Tom is clear that he's going fishing if I choose to go climbing).

Let's start with the difficult one - Mt. Elbert - highest point in Colorado at 14,433 (2nd highest in the continental US with the highest being Mt. Whitney in CA).  We started around 7:20am on our 4.5 mile trek up the mountain with an elevation gain of 4,400ft.  We arrived on the summit just before noon and celebrated with several others who had made it to the top.  It was a beautiful day with relatively warm weather.  It's so nice to have a high point that is just a hike up a great trail.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it was a piece of cake!  It was very STEEP but very doable with no scree to slide around on and no boulders to climb over.  The only difficult part was getting past 2 false summits!  You think you're at the top and you're not...twice!
the steep start through the trees

the first false summit in the distance

resting on the first false summit - nice views!

Summit - Mt. Elbert - 14,433ft. - highest in CO - 2nd highest in continental US

Panorama Point - Highest point in Nebraska - 5,424ft. - hiking time = 0, elevation gain = 0!  Now this is the easy way of getting to the high point - drive through the field (after a 3+ hour drive in the pouring rain) and there you are!  We actually were not permitted to hike in from the road (only 1 mile) as it stated there are Bison in the area.  We'll take it!

flashing our Sea Level Sucks t-shirts - we take these to every high point!

As a bonus we were within a mile of the tri-state marker of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska so we had to go see it.  Much different than four corners.  We didn't have to fight with the hundreds of other tourists to get a picture!

Mt. Sunflower - Highest point in Kansas - 4,039ft. hiking time = 0, elevation gain = 0!  Another fun one!  :-)  Hey, we deserve it after Mt. Hood, Borah Peak and Mt. Elbert!

Til next time...Happy Trails!