Sunday, August 24, 2008

Walk To The Water

I went for a hike this weekend. I know, that is no big surprise. However, it has been over two and half weeks since my last hike. That is a long non-hiking stretch for me especially considering that I don’t have any injuries at the moment to slow me down. I went the Arapaho Lakes in the James Peak Wilderness. The trailhead is at the East Portal for the Moffat Tunnel. I’ve been to that trailhead several times. I actually attempted this hike last November, but I had to call an audible due to the snow. I made it to the lakes this time. The hike was steeper than I expected. I was wishing I hadn’t taken two and half weeks off from hiking. The effort was worth it though. Here are some pictures of the Arapaho Lakes.

One of the Arapaho Lakes with the Continental Divide behind it

Me and one of the Arapaho Lakes.

The Arapho Lakes

Same lakes, different view

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I have finally gotten around to posting the fifth and final post of a two-week vacation I took with my family. I blogged my self-out with the four previous posts. The Longs Peak hike was definitely the climax of the vacation for me. A couple of people have wanted to know if I would hike Longs Peak again. Immediately after the hike my answer would probably have been no. But now after reflection, I would say it is possible. It would have to be a situation where somebody asked me to go up with them. I don't see myself as the person who would initiate another hike up Longs. There are too many other mountains in Colorado that I have not climbed yet.

Tuesday, August the 5th was an easy day. The whole family went to Bear Lake. We did the half-mile trail around the lake. I think that was the slowest half-mile that I have ever walked. We then hiked to Nymph Lake. The rest of the day was hanging out at the Inn if I remember right.

Bear Lake

Fire weed, Bear Lake, & Longs Peak

Carter and his squirrel at Nymph Lake

On Wednesday, August the 6th we went Sprague Lake. Everybody did the short hike around the lake. Afterwards we went Hidden Valley Picnic Area so that Carter and Cara could watch the ground squirrels perform again. The afternoon was spent eating and beer tasting. That evening it looked like there may be a dusting of snow on Longs Peak.

Sprague Lake

Where's my "other" brother?


The next day Jim, Stacy, Carter, and Cara flew home. I got up early and took them to the airport. I went home after that. My parents made it to my place by mid-afternoon on Thursday. We went for a drive on Friday. We went up Fall River Road. Then we drove over to Breckinridge and drove over Boreas Pass. My parents took off on Saturday. Since then, I've mainly been sitting around not doing too much. I've watched a bit of the Olympics. Usually the morning soccer and whatever I can stay up for at night. NBC wants me to feel like I live on the East Coast again. They don't show the coverage Live even though it still says it is live. They delay the coverage an hour. One of Michael Phelps races got spoiled because of that. I have written NBC saying that they should continue using this logic and delay Sunday Night Football in the West as well. I haven't heard back from them. This weekend was a wash in Denver. It rained all day Friday and Saturday. It was more rain then the three previous months combined. There were reports of snow in the mountains above 10,000 feet. I am not sure how much. I didn't make to the mountains this weekend.

That's all for now. Until next time,


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Long Long Way To Go

This is Part 4 of a vacation I have been taking with my family over the last two weeks. I’m home now and working on catching up on my blog. My brother and his family flew back to North Carolina on Thursday. My parents left this morning (Saturday) to drive to Buffalo to see GG. This post goes back to Monday, August the 4th. It involved the portion of this vacation I was looking forward to the most. I was also somewhat worried about it. My brother and I would attempt to climb Longs Peak on this day.

Longs Peak has an elevation of 14,259 feet. Park rangers confirmed the elevation. There were different sources that had it a few feet shorter. Longs Peak is the northern most 14er in Colorado. It can be see from Denver, and it dominates the surrounding mountains. It is the most popular 14er in Colorado. It is also an extremely tough mountain to climb. There is only one non-technical route up the mountain, and it is a Class 3 climb. Class 3 is the hardest climb one can do without ropes and other equipment. The route is called the Keyhole Route, and it is 15 or 16 miles depending upon the source.

Our day started by waking up around 1:00 A.M. We got on the trail at about 2:00 A.M. I got maybe 2.5 hours of sleep and my brother got maybe 3 hours. The thrill of the hike seemed to get us going. Fatigue from a lack of sleep didn’t seem to be a problem. We started out at an elevation of about 9,400 feet. I was in the lead with my headlamp, and my brother followed. We passed quite a few people early in the hike. We made good time getting to the Boulder Field. The Boulder Field is at 12,750 feet and is about 6 miles into the trip. From the Boulder Field we worked our way up to the Keyhole. The Keyhole is a break in the rock ridge that allows one to access Longs’ west side. It got light enough that I was able to turn off my headlamp during this portion of the hike. At the Keyhole we were able look down on Glacier Gorge. Jim and I hiked up Glacier Gorge two days earlier. It was a cool new perspective of the gorge.
Jim above Glacier Gorge shortly after going through the Keyhole
From the Keyhole, the route contours and scrambles over rocks around the mountain to a place called the Trough. The Trough is a steep climb from 13,300 feet to 13,850 feet over loose rocks and gravel. You have to be careful not send rocks down on somebody below you.
Me looking up at the Trough.
Me on top of Longs Peak
At the end of the Trough, we had to get around a rock called a chockstone. We had to pause to figure out how to get around it. Once around the chockstone, we were at a section called the Narrows. The Narrows contours around the south side of Longs Peak. While the route is narrow as in its namesake, it was a nice breather after the Trough. After getting by the Narrows, we started up the Homestretch. The Homestretch was steep! There are basically two parallel cracks in the rock slab that you use to pull yourself up the mountain. It was tough. The altitude didn’t help. Once we got to the top of the Homestretch, we were within 100 feet of the top. We made it to the top at about 8:00 A.M. It took 6 hours to get up. We were 3rd and 4th persons to reach the summit on August 4th. A whole bunch of other hikers reached the summit right after us. The top is a large rocky flat area. There is probably room for a couple of football fields up there.
Slim Jim on top of Longs Peak
Slim Jim & Mighty Mike on Longs Peak
Looking down on the Boulder Field and the Keyhole
The high altitude did not bother me as much as it did climbing 14ers last year. I was able to eat something on top without getting nauseous. After about 45 minutes on top, we decided it was time to go down. While the Homestretch was tough getting up, it was quite scary going down. I always find that it is tougher getting down something than going up. We made it though. There was a constant stream of people going up as were going down. I hope they got down before any weather hit Longs. I wouldn’t want to be on this mountain when it is wet.
I'm on the left. I'm going down the Homestretch while others are going up.
Jim looking down the Trough
That's me working my way through the Boulder Field with the Keyhole behind me.
We got back too my car at 1:35 P.M. It was a wonderful experience. It is the toughest mountain that I have ever climbed. I’m glad I did it.

Stay tuned for the 5th and final part of this vacation series...

Friday, August 08, 2008

High Enough

This is Part 3 of a vacation I have been taking with my family. On Friday, August the 1st, we made are way from Glenwood Springs to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. Once again Carter found out that 2 hours does not go by in 10 minutes. When we got to Milner Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park, we found a spot of snow that was within walking distance for Carter and Cara. I threw snowballs at Carter.

Cara - The trail to the snowfield is behind her.

On Saturday, August the 2nd, Jim and I went for hike while everyone else took it easy. I think there may have been some shopping going on. Anyway, Jim and I hiked up Glacier Gorge past Mills Lake and Black Lake. We had our eye on Longs Peak. The mosquitoes were bad in some of the marshlands above tree line. The scenery was magnificent though. We got a bit dehydrated on the hike. Something we took note of for a future hike.

View of Longs Peak from Mills Lake

Black Lake

Columbine in Glacier Gorge

Buddy Salute with The Spearhead on the right

My brother poking out of the snow

On Sunday the 3rd, the whole family went on the scenic ride up the Old Fall River Road. I had never been on that road before. It was pretty cool. We stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center at the top of the road. Nana thinks the Gift Shop is the Visitor Center. Everybody but Pops did a short hike up the hill at Visitor Center. I guess 12,000 feet is too high for Pops despite being above 14,000 feet a week earlier. On the way back to our accommodations, we stopped off at another snowfield. I had to tackle Carter in the snow. We had a picnic lunch at Hidden Valley. The ground squirrels put on a floorshow that Carter and Cara loved.

Carter at a snowfield along Trail Ridge Road

The floorshow at Hidden Valley

Stayed tuned for Part 4…

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Greeting from the road once again. This is part 2 of a vacation that I have been taking with my family in Colorado. Part 2 takes place in Georgetown and in Glenwood Springs. On Tuesday July 29th, we left the Denver area and drove to Glenwood Springs. On the way we stopped at Georgetown and did the Loop Railroad. It is a short Railroad that loops its way up the valley between Georgetown and Silver Plume. Carter and Cara seemed more interested in the Chipmunks or ground squirrels than the train. We made it to Glenwood Springs after quite a few “how much further is Glenwood Springs” questions from Carter.

Carter next to Clear Creek at the Georgetown Loop Railroad

Cara on the Georgetown Loop Railroad

Wednesday the 30th was a busy day. We went to Hanging Lake in the morning. We barely beat the big rush. At the lower elevation, Pops was able to hike Nana (Mom) into the ground. It is a beautiful hike, but it is the most popular hike in Glenwood Canyon. So the trail is overused. There were a lot of people going up as we were going down.

Hanging Lake

Spouting Rock

After lunch, it was naptime for Cara and Pops. Carter, Stacy, Jim, and I went on a raft trip through Glenwood Canyon on the Colorado River. The first 20 minutes of the trip had some cool rapids with names like Maneater and Tombstone. The rest of the trip was mainly a float trip. Carter rode on the raft for a little while. He got knocked back into boat when we hit a rapid that had a good bump. We all went for a swim when we were at the deepest spot on the Colorado River. It is supposed to be 80 feet deep there. Later in the trip Jim and I went floating down river through some small rapids. The water was cold there and didn’t taste too good. No pictures from the rafting trip. Nobody had their camera for obvious reasons. We went to Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company for dinner. The Garfield Amber Ale won the taste test. We ended up getting a couple of growlers of it.

On Thursday the 31st, everybody went on a bike ride through Glenwood Canyon. We rented bikes in Glenwood Springs and got shuttled to the other end of the canyon. We then rode downhill (for the most part) on the bike path through the canyon. It was a 16 mile trip. The trip became a little more of an adventure than we would have liked. Nana’s bicycle skills were not too good. She could not figure out the gears and the hand brakes. Plus she was too shaky. The first injury of the day was when Pops looked back to check on Nana. He lost balance and scraped up his arm against the wall. The ride was beautiful. The interstate was noisy, but the architecture of the interstate was interesting in regards to how it was built to have a limited impact to the canyon. The ride took a turn for the worse about half way through the ride. I was riding along when I heard a crash behind me. I turned around to see my mom lying on the ground with her head up against the wall and a bike on top of her. She was not moving. Needless to say I was real scared. When I got to her, she was saying she was alright and had started to move. The accident happen when she was being passed. She got nervous and lost control. She had a bunch of scrapes and abrasions. She would eventually have a lot of bruises and a black eye. Her glasses were bent out of shape. Being the trooper that she is, she got up and finished the bike ride. We tried to get to get her to cut it short, but she refused. When she got to the bike rental place, she asked if she should do one of her famous crash landings. And then unintentionally, she did one. She got a few more bruises and abrasions, but she was alright. After that adventure, we went back to our hotel and knocked off a growler of Garfield Amber.

The bike ride through Glenwood Canyon

Underneath the I-70 on the bike path in Glenwood Canyon

And that ends the adventures in Glenwood Springs. The next day we went to Estes Park. Stay tuned for Part 3…

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Greetings from the road. For the past week I’ve had family in Colorado and I’ve been hanging out with them. I’m currently in Estes Park. This is part 1 one of the adventures with my family. This segment includes the time spent in the Denver area. On July 25th, I took my parents up Mt. Evans via the road. Pops survived. My brother’s family arrived later that day.

My Mom & Dad on Mt. Evans

Me on Mt. Evans

We spent Saturday the 26th hiking the Brother and the Sisters near Evergreen.

Carter & Cara on the Brother

Jim on top and Carter below at one of the Sisters

Carter & Jim on one of the Sisters. Evergreen Lake in the background

On Sunday we went to Red Rocks. It got hot quick. Sunday evening was spent at the Rapids game by Jim, Stacy, Carter, and me. The Rapids lost 2-0. They are now 1-3-1 in the games that I attended. Carter got a horn at the game. He has gotten good at blowing it.

The buddy salute at Red Rocks

On Monday we went the Denver Mint. They were not making any money at the time because of a mistake. It was still an interesting tour. Afterwards we went to the Wynkoop Brewing Company and tried all their beers. Nobody was impressed with their beers. After lunch, we did a quick visit to the Tattered Cover bookstore. We couldn’t stay long it was time for Cara to take a nap. We had a quick picnic that evening near my place. It was quite windy. The lightning started as we were leaving.

Stay tuned for part 2…