Monday, October 15, 2007


haha... i am in Colorado for three days before its snows where I'm camping out! First a little snow, but then I woke up the morning and there were at least 5 inches. This is all at 10,000 ft, near Aspen at the base of Mt Evans... I decided to pack up fast and throw everything in the car and get out of there before the forest road turned to crap. Now I'm in Denver. I still hope to do some climbing on my way out of this state once I leave.

But first this happened:

The sky leaving Louisiana in the morning is beautiful:

Driving through Texas up 287 (is it?) was cool... the Dallas plains gave way to real desert for the first time. Orangey red baked mesas appeared... small towns with lots of rail and old buildings and grain elevators were passed; and many old tiny overgrown abandoned houses existed. This was very photogenic, i should have had a real camera and spent more time here. Just a quick shot from the road:

Getting into New Mexico was awesome. More like a sandy desert with scrub brush; small hills and cliffs and giant mesas where you could see the eroded layers of rock. Listening to Hocico here quite fast where 75 mph (on I-40) was the posted limit rocked. I camped out in santa fe just as sun was setting, franticly driving around trying to find the right road and getting there to pitch the tent once it was dark.

Here's some of the Desert

Driving north from Santa Fe I took a wrong turn that took me into Taos, where the main highway becomes like a main street and the traffic is horrible. However, I got to pass through this senic canyon:

as well as cross an even bigger, very deep canyon.

South Central Colorado is very photogenic. Desert like New Mexico, but the mountains are slightly taller and much steeper. There's also lots of pretty, like

these aspens:

this train:

these old desert houses:

this sky was awesome, somewhere in the desert:

Coming to the town of Crestone I approach the beautiful Sangre De Christo Mountains.

Despite the desert surroundings they shared in common with the rest of the rockies beautiful alpine lakes, waterfalls, and of course, tall peaks.

Here's a view of the peaks near Challenger Peak.

I challenged Challenger to see if I could climb up to the top of it from the base camp and back again in one day. The base camp was around 8,000 ft, and the peak was around 14,000. This would be quite the challenge!

This is where I should have walked up

But instead I went up a narrower gully above a Moraine to the North side of the Peak. Unfortunately it was here that Challenger won the Challenge, as the climbing towards the peak got more and more difficult. I know I was at least with 500-800 feet of the tip top, but the wind and the altitude were really getting to me. Also, the gully became steeper and steeper and demanded a level of technical climbing that I did not have the gear for. After one or two slips I decided this was not the place for me to die so I turned around.

After coming back down to sleep I decided to drive around somewhere less steep but also tall and epic. So I drove northwest to the base of mount Evans, camping out on a forest road near twin lakes of 82 on the way to Aspen.

Then this happened:

The weather in such climates is always unpredictable, so I decided to pitch the tent and climb in the morning after it had settled. However, this did not occur, as it started to snow. Only about 3 inches came down, so I went about making dinner as normal. I stopped at a grocery to get some ground beef and made an awesome spaghetti boulangase with Wolf Blass shiraz.

However, when I woke up in the morning the snow was coming down faster and harder. I decided to break down fast and get out of there quick. This is what it looked like as I left the forest:

I ate breakfast at a bagel coffee place in Frisco and drove on through the snow (actually surprisingly easy to do with all wheel drive and a stick shift) to Denver. I'm a little disappointed I suspect that I haven't yet got to the top of this tall stuff I wanted to get to the top of. However, I learned this:

-These mountains have been around for a long time and will wait for me

-It might be nice to come back again and do more hiking, especially with someone else. All this setting up and breaking down, washing and cleaning and cooking, is a lot of work. It can get a little lonely on the mountains, and it would be nice to have company for personal as well as safety reasons next time I try this.

Denver is awesome. Come here.

So far the people here have been super nice. My friend is alive and well and sane and working for this film commission. I'm staying at her mom's house, which is only 2 blocks from my friend's condo. This mom is very nice though she is becoming one of those 'cat ladies' with like a million cats, although in a cool, former hippy sort of way. An old orange cat is here now and it is pretty friendly. I think it says hello.

We drove to Boulder and saw a film festival where people had to make a film in 24 hours using certain criteria. Many were bad but some were quite good. Unfortunately though the Master of Ceremonies figure has bad jokes and wouldn't give up and it took really long for the judges to decide the winner; anyways it was fun to attend. I need to say more about this but I'm tired now. I'll save that for the next blog.

The waiter guy from where we ate lunch gave me directions to the industrial music nights, which are all pretty close by. I've found a safe place to park by this mom's house and tomorrow I wander around downtown. Tonight is the first night in four nights that I sleep in a bed instead of a tent. I think it will rock.

Until then take care of yourselves, and I will be hanging out in Denver for a while getting a feel for it. When I feel like the feel is had and I'm starting to step on my host's toes I'll probably do a bit more hiking around and then head to the northwest. I'm more than hallways across the country now so Portland and Seattle are pretty close.

Boulder hippies are pretty ridiculous by the way. More on this later.

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