Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer roadtrip 2015 Part 2: Colorado

We rolled into Colorado the night of the 4th, just in time for dinner at my sister's place in Boulder and a walk up to Chautauqua for the fireworks.  Between the wind and the rain, we actually weren't sure whether the fireworks were going to happen, but luckily they started right as we were about to give up, and we couldn't have picked a better spot for them.

Actually, rain was a running theme during our week in Colorado.  On the bright side, it was the first time I'd ever seen the fire danger meters at their lowest setting, so at least it was nice to know that they weren't having as bad a fire season as on my last few visits.

We spent most of the week at our friends James and Sheila's house, and hanging out with my sister Becca and friend Timm as much as we could.  While I would have thought I'd be frustrated by the trails and rocks all being wet, it was nice to know that we could go out and have such a good time even staying mostly indoors.  Mainly that meant a lot of time at breweries, so our good time was understandable, but we also had fun tours of Skratch Labs and SparkFun, plus some climbing at the new Earth Treks and at Movement.

That Wednesday, we drove up to Allenspark to hang out with my mom and friends Todd and Drew, who were out in Rocky Mountain National Park for the week.  Our plans of a hike that day were shut down by the rain, so went down to Estes to wait for the others to get down from Sky Pond.  After we had killed a few hours at the Dancing Pines tasting room and Ed's, they finally made it back down and wanted to head to the cabin and make chili.  Since that was going to be a while anyway, Emily and I went for a rainy drive through the park.  Deciding that a short hike in the rain was better than no hike at all, we got out of the car to walk at least as far as Nymph Lake, and ended up going on to Dream Lake before turning back.

The next day started out much better, and after a good breakfast at Meadow Mountain Cafe, we drove up Trail Ridge for the only hike I had been set on doing this trip.  Leaving a car at the Milner Pass trailhead, we drove back up to the alpine visitor center and walked across the tundra to Forest Canyon Pass, one of my favorite walks in the park.

Our goal for the day was a small summit rising south of the pass.  I had gone up all of the other points along that ridge two years ago on my way back from Mount Ida, but hadn't made it to this one, and for some reason couldn't stop thinking about it.

Cutting up through the forest, we aimed for what we thought was the best way up to the top. Wanting to get up and down before the coming storm hit, the walk was a little more directly up than we wanted, but the views were nice.

Then we heard the thunder coming.  Worried that what we saw ahead of us was a false summit, my mom and Emily and Todd opted to get back under cover of the trees.  Drew and I went ahead, and within a couple minutes were happy to find ourselves on top.

With another less distant clap of thunder, and the beginning of light hail, drew and I ran back down to the trees.  Thinking we were still behind the rest of the group, we ran the rest of the way down to the car in the now more intense hail, only to get down and realize that they were still behind us.  After waiting a few minutes for the storm to pass, we walked back up to join them, and finished the hike with them while actually enjoying the views this time around.

After a milkshake stop in Estes, we drove through the same hailstorm two more times on our way back down for one last night in Boulder.  From there, we spent a couple days at my brother's place, before getting back on the road.

Next stop, Montana.

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