Monday, June 30, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Day 10, Tuesday 5/27
I woke up to a dog licking my face. Gross. I pushed the dog away with a hazy consciousness and looked around the room to till I saw Chris. He was already up and told me that Robin's mom made us pancakes. I knew it! So we got dressed and ate a hearty breakfast. After doing some research we decided to climb in Red Rock Canyon just down the road. We climbed some beautiful red sandstone routes. Sandstone is quite a bit different than granite, it's like grabbing used sandpaper and makes for tougher climbing because it crumbles off in your hands. We all had a great time. Shaun and I climbed a few 5.10 routes and finished the day with a very difficult 5.10+.
After exhausting ourselves with all the climbing, Chris called Robin and we were invited back for a shish-kabob dinner. We ate till we nearly burst! Her dad invited us to stay the night again, but we declined. Instead we opted to head home. Realizing we were only a 12 hour drive from our beds, we made plans to drive all night to San Antonio. We packed up everything and left Colorado Springs at 7:30pm.
We drove in 2 hour shifts all through the night, finally getting home at 10am. We quickly unpacked the car in the hot and unfamiliar humidity of the morning. Shaun and I set the tent up in the backyard to air out (it had been stuffed soaking wet since the long's peak campsite). Then I took a shower and crawled into bed... my bed. I quickly fall asleep. Finally home again, the Tetons trip is over.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Day 9, Monday 5/26
We woke up to the sound of rain. We decided to leave, and head further south. Having no plan as of yet, we packed the tent as quickly as we could and left. Once on the road we called Joseph, a friend of ours who we knew was living near Boulder. He invited us over and made us scrambled eggs with toast. We caught up on old times and watched the weather channel to look at the forecast. Before leaving Boulder Chris called Robin, a friend he planned on visiting in Colorado Springs, and after she invited us to come by we left Joseph's and were on our way further south. At this point we still had no plans as to where we would sleep that night, and were even contemplating driving all night to Santa Fe New Mexico to do some more climbing before going home.
We met up with Robin and her dad insisted that we stay at their house when he heard that we didn't really have any plans. He and his wife were really going out of their way to make us feel comforatable. We drank lot's of free beer and ate all the free food we wanted. I mentioned to Chris that we would not be able to leave in the morning without first eating a pancake breakfast. Then we got the house tour from her dad, and he showed us down to the basement were we would be sleeping. It was nice, he had a home-theatre system set up down there, nice couches and a bar. Then he told us a complicated and frightening joke. I remember it had something to do with two traveling salesmen who's car had broken down at night on a country road in the pouring rain. They walked until they found a farm. The farmer let them stay the night, and one of the salesmen slept with the farmer's daughter. Then the "joke" got really complicated, and I just kept smiling and nodding before realizing what this man was telling us. The point of the story became clear when he began to explain how good of a shot he was with his 9mm handgun. After some awkward laughter he left the three of us downstairs pondering our probability of surviving the night (which seemed good as long as we did not speak to either of his daughters). We nervously joked about it for a while, and then began to get sleepy from all the food and beer. After finding a nice spot on the floor I unrolled my air mattress and sleeping bag and crawled into bed.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Day 8, Sunday 5/25
Woke up early and ate breakfast. Looks like the weather will hold. Paid to stay the night again at Longs peak. This is the first time during the entire trip we have slept at the same place two nights in a row. We left early to go climb at a place called The Ironclads. I drove my Corolla up a 4X4 dirt road, passing jeeps and trucks along the way. We parked near a hillbilly encampment where we were invited to come drink beer out of what looked like brown-tinted milk jugs (it's 10 in the morning). We declined. Then we climbed while listening to terrible white-rap music, barking dogs, 4X4's, and dirt-bikes. We met some pretty cool climbers though, and we all endured the environment together. At one point Chris and Shaun were both on the wall and I was belayer. I heard something back by our bags and looked to see some chipmunks pull the trail-mix out of my backpack. They then proceeded to tear the bag open and eat the mix while I watched ten feet away unable to do anything except shout. Shaun tried to help by throwing rocks down at them, but they just were not concerned enough to care. Ten minutes later, when it was finally safe for me to leave the rope, I went over there and found the bag torn open and scattered about. All the peanuts, almonds, and cashews were gone! The only thing they left were the m&m's. Thank God, because I can only imagine how hyper one of those little schizo chipmunks would be if they ate just one m&m! Skipping frantically from rock to rock... Hawk bait :)
The view from Estes Park.
Me climbing my first 5.10
We had fun climbing all day and finished the day by climbing a climb that was rated 5.10. It was the first outdoor 5.10 climb for Shaun and I. We decided to leave early to increase our chances of taking a shower. On the way back we pulled into another shower place we had seen off the road, and even though they were already closed the guy let us in to take showers anyway. I had never before thanked someone for a shower! After that we stopped at a laundromat in town and washed all our dirty clothes. Back to camp. Amazed that the weather held all day. Clean, fresh sleep.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Day 7, Saturday 5/24
We found out that Moraine park is booked due to Memorial day weekend, so we loaded up everything and drove over to the Long's Peak campground off of highway 7 south. Found a great campsite. We set up the tent quickly and filled every container with water. Then we set out for more climbing at a place called The Monastery which is north of a little town called Drake. Drove up some pretty tough farm roads before reaching the hiking trail. After some very strenuous hiking for an hour and a half we finally reach the climbing spot.
This is the entrance to The Monastery, it was certainly worth the hike!
We took a break in the shade and ate some MREs once we got there. Climbed some classic 5.7 routes and even climbed two 5.8 routes. Shaun finished the day by climbing the longest route there called Steeple (5.8), we barely had enough rope for him to come back down.
Here is a pic of me belaying Shaun as he climbs Monastic Groove (5.8), one of my favorite routes of the entire trip.
Me climbing the Monastic Groove (5.8)
This is one of me climbing to the top of one of the longer routes.
Me enjoying the view from atop a pretty tough 5.7 called "Pandora's Pebble Pinching Party Palace" I just couldn't pass up such an interestingly named climb. And yes, there was some pebble pinching involved.
After that it started getting late so we decided to head back to the car. Another hour and a half of strenuous hiking later we were back at the car and decided to drive into town to take some showers and do our laundry (in Estes Park there are a couple of places where you can pay for a shower). We drove into town only to find out the place was closed, so we went out to eat instead. After that it was back to the tent. The weather forecasts for the next few days had a pretty good chance of rain, and we decided to leave if it ever began to rain. Tired from all the hiking and climbing I crawled into my sleeping bag. Sleep.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
(Still waiting on pics from Shaun, I have decided to post the rest of the journal anyway. Pics will be posted some day, I promise)
Day 5, Thursday 5/22
Up at 8. We devoured the continental breakfast while watching the weather. We decide to leave and head south. After checking the weather forecast we decide to drive to Rocky Mountain National Park and hope that it won't be completely booked for the coming memorial day weekend. We re-arrange the car in preparation for the long drive and leave Jackson Hole at 11am. It begins to snow again, and we completely lose sight of the Grand Tetons on our way out. We drive back through the mountain pass and cross the continental divide. Road is covered in snow and ice. I drive until we get to a small town called Lander, there Shaun takes over. Shaun drives from Lander to Reading in heavy snowfall, and it takes forever because the fastest we can safely go is 50 mph. Chris drives towards Cheyenne in blizzard conditions. We follow an 18 wheeler's tracks the whole way so he can cut through the ice in front of us. We finally switch at a farm road exit because I am going crazy in the passenger seat. (Try watching someone else drive your car in a blizzard). The passenger-side windshield wiper rips from all the ice and is now completely useless. We make it to a truck-stop south of Cheyenne and see tornados form over the city. We eat a junk-food dinner at the truck stop and then head south on 25. Glad to finally be out of all the storms, we justified driving through them all day so that we would not have to live in them all week. We get to Rocky Mountain National Park about 10:30pm. We pull into an un-occupied campsite, set the tent up in the dark, and then fall to sleep. Moraine Park campground # 62.
Day 6, Friday 5/23
I wake up early. On my way to the restroom I weaved through a small herd of elk who barely even looked up at me as they grazed. After that I walked down to the ranger station to pay for the night before. The guys were up by the time I returned to the campsite. We decided to drive into town and find a guide book on rock-climbing in the area (we brought all our climbing gear with hopes of climbing in the tetons). We find an actual rock-climbing gym and the guys there tell us all the good climbing spots in the Estes Park area. We head back to Moraine Park only to find out that our campsite is reserved for the night, so we pick another one that is close by (# 71). We pull up the tent stakes and walked across the campground with the tent to the new site. Then we drove south on hwy 7 to Lily Pond and climbed at a place called Jurassic Park. It had some amazing climbs. We had a really nice view of Long's Peak across the valley and when the wind blew hard enough we even would get some snowflakes that looked as though they blew all the way across the valley from those distant snowy peaks. We got back to the car just in time before dark. Back to camp. It started getting cold and very windy. Chris started a fire that was not warm due to all the wind. I went to bed after some hot cocoa and scotch.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Day 4, Wednesday 5/21
Woke up to the sound of snow falling on the tent. We listen to the weather report and hear that 4 inches of snow is on it's way this afternoon, and that more is on it's way tomorrow. We decide to leave before that happens! We eat some trail mix for breakfast and put on all of our waterproof clothing. We stuff the wet and muddy tent into a waterproof bag and off we go, back in the direction of the car. Storm clouds completely hide the mountains. Leigh lake has a fine layer of ice covering it. Big fat drips fall out of the trees from the melting snow. We have an occasional burst of snowfall. Our snowshoe tracks we left the night before are covered, so we just follow the moose tracks (they are so deep that it would take ten inches of snow to cover them up!) We find a way to bypass the ridge (because it's actually daytime and we can see). Take a break on the lake shore and eat some more trail mix and fresh snow. We pass back over the slushy river with some effort. Shaun tripped and his entire arm went through the surface ice (good thing he wasn't holding his camera!). We eventually cross the rest of the stream and after another twenty minutes of hiking we make it back to the car. Everything is soaking wet and cold, including us. It starts sleeting on us as we finish stuffing everything into the car. We sit in the car for a minute and come to the decision that we need to find a hotel. Chris calls around as we drive into town and we find an affordable room at the Super 8. The guy at the front desk even gave us the poor college-student discount. It felt so good to take a shower! We spread our gear all over the room, hang the tent in the shower, and left the heater on while we went out for a beer. We shared a pitcher of Newcastle and watched the Spurs loose to the Lakers while the storm blew into town. Back at the hotel we watch the weather, and see a developing storm system arching from Cheyenne to Jackson Hole. With the forecast looking very cold and wet we contemplate leaving in the morning. Warm, dry, sleep never felt so good.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Day 3, Tuesday 5/20:
We wake up and listen to the weather radio. Weather forecast steadily worsens until after the weekend. We decide to overnight the worst of the weather at Leigh lake, which is not supposed to be as difficult of a trail from the car. Instead of following the trail from our Phelps lake campsite to get back to the car, we decide to take another trail that is not on the map. This trail can be found further down the lake-shore trail past the large boulder at Phelps lake (pic) and is marked with new signs (we think that is why it is not yet on any maps). After checking GPS and compass we head off and have a beautiful hike. Trail curves back to the west after about a mile and we decide to "bird's eye" hike through the woods back to the car. After hiking for more than an hour off-trail we arrive less than 100 yards from where we parked. Unload everything back into the car and drive over to Leigh lake trailhead.
Once getting there we see that the trail is completely snowed
in. Deciding not to hike two + miles in knee-deep snow with our boots we drive into Jackson in search of some snowshoes. We get a good deal on snowshoes (because it's May) and the guy tells us all about the unusual snow conditions this year (more than 600 inches in one season). On our way back to the trailhead Shaun notices he can't find his wallet. Calls the number on the receipt from the store we just came from and they have it at the register, but they close in 20 min. So we make a hasty drive back to Jackson, get the wallet just in time, and drive back to the park. Finally begin the hike at 6:30pm.
Thank God for snowshoes. We hike over a frozen and slushy river, along the banks of a frozen lake (pic), we struggle as we hike along a steep ridge and then the wind picks up. The clouds begin to get very dark, mountains are completely hidden from view. The storm that is supposed to come after midnight hits us about a mile from the campsite. Very windy, snow is blowing everywhere. It's a thunderstorm with snow! Getting darker. Trail begins to become indistinguishable, no more footprints to follow. I follow some moose tracks which have been following the trail for a while. I follow the moose tracks for about half a mile. Chris has the GPS and he keeps updating me on the distance left to go. I turn around to look for Shaun and I don't see him. I tell Chris to go ahead as we are really close according to the GPS. I wait for Shaun. (Shaun is an over-packer and his backpack always weighs 20lbs more than mine, I usually end up waiting for him whenever we hike together) Still waiting for Shaun. In the rushing storm I stand quietly and look out over Leigh lake as it slowly freezes over. I enjoy every minute of the solitude, it's the first time I am alone since the beginning of the trip. Snowflakes fall on the lake.
Shaun finally catches up. Chris (much further away than I expected) begins yelling. Shaun and I get out the flashlights and hike the rest of the way. When we get there we see only one small patch of dirt to pitch the tent over. Terrible tent-pitch job in the dark. Throw everything in the tent. Shove the waterproof pack-covers over the top of the tent because it is leaking. I put in some earplugs and fall right to sleep.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Day 1, Sunday 5/18:
Woke up after three hours of sleep (got in late from Radiohead). Packed car and left about 9. Stopped at Las Palapas on way past Boerne. Shaun shows us how we can play Punch Out (the old NES game) on his mac, LET THE GAMES BEGIN! Chris drove through nearly all of Texas, then Shaun drove from there through nearly all of Colorado, then I drove the rest of the way after drinking a Monster at a stop in Fort Collins. I had the night shift. Struggled to stay awake until the Monster kicked in, then I was bouncing all over the front seat. I listened to my iPod through headphones as the guys slept. Watched the moon carve it's way through the stars as I drove through the vast rolling hills of Wyoming. Listening to In Rainbows. Having my own private Radiohead concert. Amazing.
Day 2, Monday 5/19:
The sun rose behind us. Began to see some snowy peaks in the distance, everyone is awake and excited! We stop for some gas and I drank some horrible gas station coffee... I thought "Mountain Brew" would be appropriate, well, BIG MISTAKE. We drove through the continental divide and stopped to take pics of our first glimpse of the Tetons(pic). Snow is on the ground everywhere. We drove to the park visitors center and decided to camp at Phelp's lake the first night. The road to the Phelps lake trail is closed due to wildlife management (the sign has a large bear symbol), this extends our hike in by a full mile. Hiking in snow is not fun, very tiring. The trail steadily climbs through the woods. Very difficult hike due to gradual change in elevation (and the fact that we have been sitting in the car for 24 hours). Finally reach the overlook, hike down to campsite . Passed a waterfall and have a good view of Death Canyon. First night camping, right on the lake (kinda cold). There is a very cool rock with a nice view about 1/4 mile from campsite. We are alone in the wilderness.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
While I wait for the pictures so I can put up posts about the Tetons trip, let's take a moment to look and see what is going on in my backyard...