Tuesday, August 17, 2010

14,000 ft Mount Columbia!

8/12/2010: Stay at Dan's parent's place around between Boulder & Denver, and hike up mount Columbia with Dan, Kelsie, and Steven (maybe with a ph).

This was a great short trip & before thoroughly getting ready for the Colorado Trail.  After showering and sleeping indoors, we left Thursday afternoon for the mountain.  We made hiked in (3 miles & 1,000 ft up) to a base camp around 11,500 ft.  Here we had a small fire and spent the night.

We made do with what large backpacks we had while hiking to base camp.  The day packs were useful on day two as we didn't want to carry huge backpacks up to the summit. (Dan took a turn carrying both)

 Beautiful Base Camp:
 We each had most of a beer (3 beers for 4 people) cooled off in a mountain stream.
Mostly for the novelty of giving it a go :-)

  The next morning was freezing cold (literally!).  After we got out of our tents, all the condensation turned to drops of ice, and we were quite cold.  We got up at dawn (5:30) and started hiking around 7:30.  We wanted a warm breakfast, hence the 2 hours from awake to hiking.

This trail was not "normal steep."  It was one of the steepest trails I have been on.  2.5 miles from base camp t the summit, but 2,500' elevation gain.  Read: Strenuous

Oh what a glorious sight this was.  We were freezing cold until... well, most of the day.  BUT the sun helped warm us up quite a bit.  :-)  The winds were blowing 20-40 mph (I'm not sure really, but it was cold and i had to hold my had and classy clip on sunglasses on almost the entire time).

Rock scramble / boulder field near the summit.  We were on this for a few hundred yards as we got near the summit.

Summit Pictures!!! :-)

Turns out there are no mirrors on the summit to get ready for pictures... :-)

Ready for the return trip.  (much faster on the way down)

Telluride! and Cave Tour

8/6/2010-8/11/2010:  Candice stayed for a few extra days, and we went to Telluride, a fascinating "couchsurfer.org" experience, Glenwood Springs Caverns, and back to Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was a great time.

Telluride has a free gondola service (public transportation).  It's really neat and well run.

Candice and I hiked to Bear Creek Falls.  The trail starts from a street in the town.  It was really pretty, and the hike was pretty long (1:30 round trip?)

Now for some biking!  Free bike gondola too!  :-)  The trails were fun, I wouldn't call them anything spectacular, but it was a lot of fun riding up in the Gondola and down on the trails.  :-)  I made 4 passes.  :-)

The two Telluride nights we stayed with some awesome people.  We contacted them Via CouchSurfing.org.  Anna opened up her house to us, and we hung out with her and her 3 friends from California.  From what I gathered, they had all been staying on a commune where everything was composted, recycled, and they lived on the waste of normal societies excess.  They were fascinating people and we enjoyed this time.

We left Telluride for Glenwood Springs.  Here we took a gondola (not free) up to the top of the mountain where there is an amusement park and Cave Tours!  :-)  We enjoyed the cave tour greatly, seeing some beautiful and well maintained / protected caves.

Then we went back to Rocky Mountain National Park for one last hike.  We hiked up to Timber Creek Lake, which is a hike I recommend if you are acclimated and in the area.  It's beautiful!  The following day Candice went back to Houston and I started preparing for the biking trip.

Mesa Verde National Park

8/4/2010: Camp at Mesa Verde National Park, then Drop Kelly off at Durango Airport (after stopping by a brewery of course)

We went to Mesa Verde NP on the way back to Durango.  It was really neat to see the Indian ruins again (my 3rd visit).  And the girls enjoyed it too (their 1st).  We did a brief hike to some cave dwellings.  It is fascinating what was constructed with archaic techniques.  And that it is still standing (well, some of it).

A close up view of the cliff dwellings.

The three of us down below in a ceremonial room.

A picture of a model of how things used to look.
I didn't take a picture from far away of the actual ruins, so I am including this.

Moab, UT and Arches National Park

9/2/2010: Moab, Utah
We went to Moab to escape the rain.  We saw some amazing views (arches, canyons, etc); I did some challenging and interesting mountain biking (Porcupine Ridge Trail); and we enjoyed some ferocious storms (didn't quite 'escape the rain').

The three of us at Landscape Arch

I am climbing a little bit... there was very soft sand to fall on if it happened (but it didn't!) :-)

One of the aforementioned storms... attacked our tent.
We thought two stakes would be enough... but we were sorely mistaken.  (oops)

We went back into the park to cook dinner at Delicate Arch (on the Utah license plates)
And stopped to take a picture by "Balanced Rock"

The girls were very kind to give me a ride to the trailhead of Porcupine Ridge trail.  16-18 miles with 1,000 ft elevation gain followed by 2,000 ft elevation drop.  It was... fun.  It took me a little while to realize it though.  This trail was extremely technical and strenuous.  Neat though :-)  With some awesome views.  I went over the handlebars only once :-)  On my Colorado Trail solo biking, I'll take less risks for sure.

Backpacking! On the Colorado Trail

7/31/2010: Hike Colorado Trail
Plan: Hike for 4 days on Colorado trail.  See amazing views, have wonderful weather, bask in nature's beauty & awesomeness.
Actual: Hike 1 day (5-6 miles).  Set up camp by beautiful lake.  Get rained on the entire time, with the forecast suggesting similar weather for days 2-4.  Leave trail and head to Moab Utah.  :-)

Lots and lots of rain...

With lots of clouds (so close! it seemed we could almost touch them)

With No Clouds

Continental Divide & Silverton Mine Tour

7/30/2010: Drive to Silverton & Mine Tour

Kelly, Candice and Tom (me) at the Continental Divide

A picture of me at the campground Molas Lake Campground, at Molas Pass
This is where we stayed when we were visiting Silverton.  It was a neat place, very beautiful.

Mine Tour!  This was fascinating and had some neat views.
They operated some of the heavy equipment and we got to walk around in a mine safely :-)

As they operate the heavy equipment:

Candice & Kelly Arrive! Great Sand Dunes (adventure?)

7/28/2010:  Drive from Denver to Great Sand Dunes
We stopped nearby for a marvelous water fall experience.  It was a rough dirt road up to the 1/2 mile trail, and the trail ended in about 100' of treacherous rock-hopping in the creek, but the falls were beautiful :-)

There is a bit more of the falls around the corner,
(where the man in the hat is looking)
but no people in those pictures.

We arrive at the sand dunes!  Stoked about giant piles of sand in the mountains.  :-)

BUT... despite planning & talking to a ranger, we were lead astray.  Subaru gets stuck in sand.  :-(
We employed many 'brilliant' :-\ efforts to get it out...

And finally, with the help of James (another Subaru driver lead astray)
we were able to use 2 jacks (stood on a frying pan and spare tire)
to jack up the car, put sand under it, and dig it out.  :-)
::sigh of relief:: it worked after a mere 4 hours.  :-)  ...  :-(

SO, we modified out plans a bit.
Backpacking --> camping in parking lot
Staying 2 days --> a brief hike up the dunes and then running away with our tail between our legs.

It was indeed fun though :-) and we kept our spirits up the whole time... pretty much :-)
(point of no return sign...)