It had been awhile since Alexis and I had gone on a good extended adventure. She had a bunch of time off to use or lose before the end of the year, and I didn’t have a critical position at my current place of employment. So we set off on a 2 week road trip to live in a van and travel parts the southwest USA. (approximately 2800 miles of driving) Continue reading “California (+ NV and UT) Road Trip – 2 Weeks”
Wrapping up the Duck
Plans came together while drinking beer and eating pasties at the Greek Festival in Charlotte. With sugar, pulsing through our veins and complete disregard for the forecast for tomorrow, plans were solidified for Alpine-esk departure from Charlotte to go climb Dopey Duck at Shortoff Mountain.
Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak
I had finally convinced Ben to climb the Ellingwood Arête up the Crestone Needle, and so we went the first Sunady in August. We left the Springs early and drove down to the South Colony trailhead on Friday. We 4×4-ed to the new lower 4-wheel drive trailhead and were on the hike up by 6pm, slogging along the old 4×4 path. We made camp above the Lower South Colony Lake in a grassy patch and settled in for a nights rest before an AM start.
Late July, I convinced Derek to finally hike a 14er with me. We drove up in the pouring rain to the Grays Trailhead. The Blazer powered through some steep rutted 4×4 roads, after watching a Subaru burn through its clutch. Two and a half hours after leaving the house we were at the trailhead and settled in for a quick nap in the back of the blazer until 3:30am.
Over Labor Day weekend, I tagged along with Ben to go on a camping trip. The trip was initially set to hike the 4 pass loop in the Maroon Bells/Snowmass area. The total trip was to be a 28-29 mile slog, but do to some injuries along the way we decide to just to an out and back to the Snowmass Lake only 24 miles.
The trip started from the Maroon Bells View area (9,580 feet). This was a heavily touristed area, and allowed the visitors to Aspen a chance to see some of \the true ruggedness of the range. The first couple miles of the trail took us to crater lake. This trail was frequented by the very prolific species that is the the”Aspen Cougar”. Walking up the trail, you felt the constant glare of the predatory species. Amanda (Ben’s Girlfriend) received numerous compliments from the Cougars for hiking with “3 young men.”
So on Wednesdays (every now and then) , I’m going to try and give a little story about a past adventure. For the first installment, I thought I’d talked about one of my first climbs on a 14er (14,000ft mt.) in Colorado.
Now my memories is a bit fuzzy on the detail of the trip, as it occurred back in the summer of 2007, during my initial internship out in Colorado. I met up with my friend Ben from, Boulder, Co, and couple of his buddies. We head to southern Colorado, to a mountain called “Mt. Blanca”. Mt Blanca is located just south of the Sand-Dunes in Colorado and is surrounded by several other 14er neighbors, “Little Bear”, “Ellingwood Point” and “Mt. Lindsey”.
At the start of the trip, we slept at the foot of the trail and mountain. Early in morning(around 4-5AM) we took off to trek a extreme 4×4 trail to the next base camp. The trail was very rugged and tretrous at parts. Narrow drop offs, epic views, and abandon cabins littered the trail as you continue to climb higher and higher into the air.
We setup base camp at around 11,800 feet, after starting out at 8,000ft and traveling about 7 miles. Base camp was great. It had such majestic views and tranquil surroundings. The part that I enjoyed the most, was wandering around and exploring old cabins and abandon gold mines. After camp was setup, we decided to continue along and try to ascend the rest of Mt. Blanca in one day (tough feat, about 10 miles one way).
The second leg was extremely beautiful. Alpine lakes, craggy rocks, and the tease of fog hiding our final destination. We had about 2,500ft left to go. Some of the views are just speechless….(see below)
less the trip was cut short when we were 100ft from the top. An extreme lightning storm swept and destroyed any hope of making it to the top that day. We decided that not being lit up was a better choice than claiming the ascent. So we went back the 3 miles to base camp and made some dinner and slept. I was hit with a bit altitude sickness, so I didn’t get to climb it again the next morning. But the others in my group got the chance.
I hope to make it back there some day and conquer Little Bear. It is said to be the hardest 14er there is.