Colorado in October

I am so very behind on sharing things here. My old computer was struggling to edit photographs and share them as well. It was a pain to do and so I just avoided it. But, I recently purchased a beautiful new laptop, one that is powerful and fast, and so I am getting back on track with all my images finally.

In October, Scott and I went to Colorado to hear one of our climbing idols speak. We also made some time for climbing and camping in the mountains. It was a quick trip, but we had wonderful weather and were able to see some beautiful things.

Our first day was spent climbing in the Clear Creak Canyon, near Golden, Colorado. It was a stunning area, maybe even one of my favorites that we have climbed in. That night we camped in Guanella Pass, which is just past Georgetown, Colorado. We were the only ones camping out there (that we saw), and were able to find a stunningly beautiful and quite campsite in the subalpine forest. Our campsite was around 11,000 feet in elevation, which I felt the effects of when we woke up the next morning. There was snow on the ground, and the creek near by had lots of ice formed over it. It was a cold night for camping, but one of the most memorable ones for me.

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The next day we woke up and tried to keep warm with tea and eggs and sausage. We had plans to try to hike Mt. Bierstadt (a 14,000 foot peak just up the pass) but when we woke up I was feeling the effects of the elevation (loss of appetite, headache), and we decided we just didn’t have the time or the provisions to do so. We ended up driving to the parking lot for the trail to the peak and explored some of the shorter trails from the same parking lot. After taking some photographs we went back to pack up our campsite, and I wandered around shooting some more in the frosty, late-morning light.

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Scott, excited about being in the alpine air. Mt. Bierstadt is behind him.

Scott, excited about being in the alpine air. Mt. Bierstadt is behind him.

Scott grabbed this one of me; I think it sums me up pretty well.

Scott grabbed this one of me; I think it sums up my personality pretty well ūüôā

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The double exposure series of my feet continues.

The double exposure series of my feet continues.

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RMNP Day Two

The second day of our stay in Rocky Mountain National Park was yet another amazing day. As I mentioned in my 365 from that day, we drove up Trail Ridge Road and had stunning views the entire way.

I will start things off with some pictures from the drive. We stopped at one point at a pull off to take in the views. There was a trail that led up to the top of that particular mountain, and we were surrounded by tundra, clouds, and more mountains. It was absolutely amazing, and I was left in awe of it all. The pictures don’t do it justice.

There were a bunch of little lakes tucked in the mountains, was yet another thing that made me fall in love with the area. It would have been amazing to be able to hike to some of them. If you look close in this photograph you can see one.

Besides the amazing, grand view, there were some tiny little details that had me in awe. I fell in love with all the little tundra flowers that were growing up there. They were so incredibly small, but have to be so strong and resilient.

After our brief stop we continued driving. I took a crazy amount of pictures out of the window while on our way, but I will only share a few. This first one I really wish the trees weren’t there, but I still love the rest of the scene so I thought I would share it anyways.

After weaving through the mountains on the country’s highest paved roads we arrived at the trailhead for the Lulu City hike and started on our way. The Lulu City was an old mining city, but all that was left of the “city” was one, barely noticeable cabin that was rotting away; only the bottom few logs were left. The hike itself didn’t have the best views but it was still a really nice hike through a drastically different type of landscape than the day before.¬†That is one thing I loved about the Rocky Mountains, the huge range of landscapes that you come across in just one day’s hike even.

We had to cross a crazy amount of streams on our hike. There were some bridges that broke during the flooding from the snow melt that spring so it made things a little more exciting. Most were just tiny little streams though, but they added something special to the hike none the less.

And of course more flowers. I absolutely loved all the wildflowers blooming out there.

The trail ended up at the Colorado river, where we stopped to rest and eat lunch. Talk about a great spot for a picnic!

On the drive back we stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center, which had some amazing views. When we got there a huge cloud had moved in and you could hardly see anything, but luckily it moved out pretty quick and then the clouds were pretty amazing.

These two images were are very similar, but they showed off some different things and I just couldn’t decide between them.

We also stopped at a lake on the way back, since it was just a short little walk to it.

And, just like on the way to the hike, I had my camera stuck out the window for most of the drive back.

 

 

67/365 – Longs Peak Trail

*Thursday, August 4 – Rocky Mountain National Park (Longs Peak Trail)

One of the things we had been planning on doing since we decided on this trip was to climb Longs Peak via the Keyhole route. Longs Peak, for those who don’t know, is the tallest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, and one of 53 peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado. It stands at 14,259 feet, and during the summer has a route that is considered to not be a technical one (meaning that you don’t need gear or climbing experience to reach the summit). Because of the afternoon storms that hit most days, you are supposed to begin the climb by around 3:00 am so that you can be off of the summit by early afternoon. The majority of the route is pretty much a very strenuous hike. Within the last couple miles (the route is 15 miles round trip) things get much more difficult though. The “trail” (which doesn’t really exist at that point) goes through a boulder field, and then climbing on the edge of sheer rock faces and other surfaces that require scrambling as well as some basic climbing techniques.

Wednesday night we (My two brothers, sister, sister-in-law, and mother) packed our backpacks with close to a gallon of water per person, lots of granola bars, apples, other miscellaneous food items, warm clothes (including hats and gloves), and various other items. I was extremely excited, but also nervous, about making the summit of Longs Peak. It was something that I really wanted to do. So, with nerves and excitement,  we all went to bed super early and were then up and in the car by 2:00 am Thursday morning. We got to the trail head by 2:30am or so, where we had breakfast and got set for our hike up Longs Peak. We began the hike by 2:45am with our head lamps on, at what I thought was a nice, slow pace (which is what we were supposed to do since it is such a long and exhausting hike in extremely high elevation). Not long after starting out my stomach began to feel extremely upset. At first I thought it was just due to the breakfast we ate, so I figured I would just throw up, feel better and be able to continue on. Eventually I was having to stop every so often to lean on a rock at the edge of the trail and gag and dry heave. Every time I was certain I was actually going to get sick, but I never did. The headache kicked in not too long after the nausea did, and it was absolutely excruciating. I was miserable and felt bad because I was holding the rest of the group back so much. But, I was determined to keep going because I still kept hoping that I would just throw up and feel better, allowing me to continue. I was dead set on at least making it until sunrise regardless of what happened, because I really wanted pictures of the sunrise with the view from as high as I could get. Finally, we made it to the point where a sign directed us to the Boulder Field (where things would get a lot more challenging). At this point I realized that it would just not be possible for me to make it much further, and that I was really slowing everyone else down. My mom decided (and I agreed) that we should head down. We took the hike back down very slow, stopping so that I could take pictures of the rising sun and the various waterfalls along the way.

By the time we got back down it was after 8:00am, and the altitude sickness had mostly worn off (my stomach was still fairly upset though). My mom and I sat around reading and napping for a few hours, and then decided to take another easy and short hike (around three miles) to an old gold mine site that shared a trail for a little with the Longs Peak trail. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, and then driving in to Estes Park to shower for the first time all week.

The photo below, that I chose as my main picture for my 365, is of one section of the Longs Peak trail just at sunrise.

Just for the sake of sticking with the story, here are a couple of others from the hike down as well.

This was right as the sun was just starting to come up, so it was still very dark (we were still using our head lamps). It was almost right after we began out hike down. The little white specks in the bottom of the picture are actually head lamps from other hikers that started later and were on their way up. One very cool part of the hike (despite how miserable I felt), was that when we looked up to the mountain side, all we could see were little white lights bobbing their way up the mountain.

This was just a bit further down the trail, after the sun was up a little more.

This was even further down the trail. The trail split off right before this (which I hadn’t noticed due to the dark and being sick), and the route we were taking had us staying to the left. On the way down I noticed the split, and decided to check it out because I heard running water. It ended up being one of my favorite spots of the day. Longs Peak is the one on the left.

65/365 – Rocky Mountains

*Tuesday, August 2 – Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)

On Tuesday we jumped in the car and started driving on Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest continuous highway in the country. It has more than 8 miles about 11,000 feet, and a highest point of 12,183. Close to the top of the road is the Alpine Visitor Center, which is where I took this. We stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center after our hike on the way back to the campsite today. The afternoon storms were beginning to roll in, so the clouds were absolutely amazing. I decided one picture wasn’t enough to capture how stunning it was, so this is a stitch of six images.

I’m not really sure what the trail on the left is, but I imagine it would be an amazing hike.

63/365 – Welcoming View

*Sunday, July 31 – Just entering Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)

Sunday morning we all got up early and packed up some more stuff from my brother’s house and got on the road to head to RMNP. It was around a 6 hour drive through the rest of South Dakota (my brother lives in Spear Fish, where we spent the night), Wyoming, and then finally Colorado. When we got to the park it started storming, and when we turned on to the road to our campground this was the view that greeted us. I actually took this in the car as my brother continued to drive, so I was lucky it turned out so well! It was one of the few pictures I managed to get that day (really the only good one) since we were in the car for most of the day. And the rest of the night was spent setting up all four tents and getting our stuff set up inside them, and making dinner. We were all pretty exhausted from the drive and such and so we headed to bed pretty early.