Tag Archives: fun

Climbing

So, my trip has taken a turn (not the first on this trip) which I will get to in a minute. A few days go I cycled the 80 miles out to the base of longs peak (14,259ft), with a bike climb from 5000ft up to 9500ft, collected route information from the ranger station, cycled down 6 miles to national forest and camped.

The next morning at 3am I started cycling in the pitch black by head torch back up the mountain. There is always a debate in my mind when I wake early to climb or hike about should I just lie there and be a normal person getting up at a reasonable time, is this a sane thing to do? Anyway. Arriving at the trailhead I stashed my bicycle behind the ranger station and made some hot cinnamon oats which tasted great. So this is quite a popular peak and there were plenty of people heading up while I ate. The ranger the previous day recommended setting off around 1am, naturally I chucked this piece of advice to the wind believing myself to be a supreme machine(often I am wrong in this assumption). At around 4.15/4.30am I started up, hiking and running the flatter areas. I reached the Keyhole, a natural gap in the ridgewall and only way up at first light, which is where the scrambling begins. I flew past a lot of people and reached the summit after around 2.5hours. I sat a while talking to a few other hikers then started descending. Two others descended with me and turned out to have a decent pace. Which was nice compared to the solitary ascent. After getting back to the car park I whipped up some spaghetti and a mystery silver foil packed sauce which was possibly some form of madras with lentils then dropped down to boulder for the night. There was no plan to go to boulder but 20dollars at the campsite in Lyons seemed expensive for what was there, so I carried on.

In boulder its surprising just how many signs saying no camping are up around the town and surrounding area. I ended up paying 100 dollars for a motel room I didn’t want, I resented it but it did beat the hostel that offered my their last suite room for 250 dollar. This rarely happens but I was tired and hungry and had saved money the previous nights wild camping. I cycled back to Denver, cleaned up my bike with a pack of 1 dollar wipes, bought a beer from a brewery and before I finished the beer sold the bike to a gent I agreed to meet there a day previous to boost my funds a little for the next part of my trip. Met a lovely couple while drinking my beer and letting the gent go test the bike. I had a minor concern he would just ride off on it never to be seen again, but i figured if he did it would be one less thing to worry about.

Chapter 2- The Next Part

So, Through chance I have met a girl called Karli who is wanting to drive from Denver to Argentina. Her plan beats my original plan in a few ways, first, cycling a long way on paved surface is boring, really boring, especially alone its like solitary confinement on a seat not designed for a mans behind. Second, it would be nice to be on a roadtrip for a while and have a few luxuries like pressed coffee, a real seat to sit in instead of dirt, and a climbing partner for some more technical ascent, which there will be plenty of. I have spent the past couple of days hanging around and getting to know Karli and her friends. Today we went tubing on a river with a couple of beers followed by volleyball under glorious sunshine. Sometimes life is hard but I guess I can endure.

Setting off in a couple of days. Mayhem bound to follow.

Benjamin

Fearing I would be trapped in the hostel till the cogs in my mind fuse into a solid state I decided to take a friend up on an offer and go for a hike for a day or two and make a decision on where to go next. In the car as we drew closer to the pass and starting point speckles of rain began to accumulate on the windscreen.  At the top of the pass we picked our packs out the trunk and set out up the hill. 6pm. The clouds were low and a cool breeze swept around the hill. Walking this part of the colorado/continental trail is refreshing, staying high on easy trail in and out of trees. I knew from 2 years previous of a 3 sided wooden shelter with metal roof 8 miles away. This was the target, we drew towards the shelter at around half 8 as darkness was setting in and rain becoming heavy. To my surprise there were tents pitched around but nobody in the shelter itself. Saving a tent from becoming heavy and wet and having space to move and think it was the only logical place to unroll a sleeping bag and heat some noodles. It rained the whole night. I tried catching rain dripping off the roof but every time i placed my pot the drips seemed to change landing patterns.

In the morning the tenters joined us for breakfast. The day continued much the same as the evening before, in a semi-concious zombie state soaked to the bone and hands numbed enough to move slowly when trying to use them. I was calm and composed, trying to be at one with the rain and embrace the cold, not entirely believing myself it was worth coming out.  I fashioned what I would call a pumpkin prom jacket out of an orange coated survival bivi bag, this added a small amount of warmth at the expense of my dignity and of Sabrinas’ who hiked with me. Towards the middle of the day we arrived at the summit of Sgt. Mesa. A beautiful high hill with meadows and trees and fluffy black storm clouds a mile or two off to the side.

Sabrina said “As least the storm cloud is over there”.

Moments later lightning forked across the sky close above out heads with a tremendous crack like a wagon plowing into a concrete bunker. Where most people would stop and sit or panic the thru hiker mentality of ‘stay calm and carry on’ shone through boldly and we kept hiking along the ridge line like a couple of idiots. The addiction to hiking building, adrenaline growing, and tree cover getting thinner. The ridge line narrowed slightly and the rumbles became bombs detonating very close. Another hiker called Steven was heading the opposite direction towards the Mesa summit. I wouldn’t want to be him.

We pitched tent about half way along the 6 mile ridge close to where a tree had been previously struck by lightning. They say lighting doesn’t strike the same place twice, a myth I was willing to believe for the evening with impending rain seconds away. Pitching early did not save us from rain splashing up between the fly sheet and inner tent. This did not put me in the mood to attempt to cook noodles alfresco so we went to sleep hungry questioning why it was so. I dreamt about bears savaging the tent and other wonderful things. My sleeping pad still deflates every couple of hours waking me to the real horror of trail life, the sound of everything becoming wet. This morning was glorious, not sunny, but not raining. It was nice being high up early and having a vile concoction of triple herbal tea with extra sugar from my unofficial trip sponsor ‘the hiker box’. Three miles down the path in fairer condition was where my and Sabrinas’ path would split. I turned north and down hill back towards the road and pass. Deep house tunes blasting out (a one hour kygo mix) I ran the next 6 miles. I felt alive, this is what outdoors was meant to be.

At the roadside I stuck my thumb out and the first truck pulled over.

“Jump in!!! theres a car behind I dont want to get past me” shouted the driver.

I hopped up, “Beer?”

“Yes” I replied. The next half hour back to Salida was nice. I was Acutely aware of how bad my trainers were smelling after fording a stream the colour of cow muck. The driver seemed to understand.

Salida! I’ve wound up back in Salida! Of all the towns in all the states in America, why am I going back to Salida again? With no decision on what I will do next the Vortex has me. The sirens beckon.

‘Wakey, Wakey Rise and Shine! and don’t forget your booties, its cold out there today’