Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The Real Mountain State
My first night in Colorado was spent dominating Billy and his dad at pool. We went to what is apparently the best burger joint in Denver, and despite my better judgment, Harvey convinced me to try the peanut butter burger which was indeed excellent. I spent two nights at one of Billy’s dad’s swim coach pals “man cave” in Denver, while the three of us went to watch Georgia lose yet another game. Boulder and the CU campus are pretty awesome. Boulder has a pedestrian mall down the center of the downtown off of which you’ll find most of the typical downtown establishments--bars, restaurants, shops, and as Billy pointed out though, there are probably a couple hundred coffee shops sprinkled in.
I spent my third night in Colorado, excluding the one three weeks a go, at Brooke’s house north of Boulder where we watched five or six episodes of “The City,” a remarkably easy show to make fun of and ate probably not cooked entirely funfetti cake. The following day I went to Rocky National Park.
I decided to camp out for a couple of nights in Rocky, and in the day in between, hike to the top of Long’s Peak (14,250 ft). I got up at five in the morning, in order to hit the trail by six. As I was about to head onto the trail, I meet another lone hiker, and we decided to head up together. He too was from Georgia and had been to the Colorado game--small world. We made it 7 of the 7.2 miles to the summit until we came to the realization that the last .2 miles was 800 feet up a 70% incline of loose rocks aptly named “the trough” for the shape it took and I guess the fact that you get fed to the wildlife when you can’t climb back out of it. We turned back and made the 7 mile journey down the mountain. In the meantime I developed altitude sickness, which manifested itself as an intense headache and an intense desire to not walk anymore. I guess the 13,600 feet I made it up to was the highest I had ever been. When we finally made it back to base camp, Dylan and I had walked 14.5 miles and climbed 4500 vertical feet. Needless to say, my body hated me for several hours afterward.
Camping in Rocky was quite an experience. The elk bugle the entire night--which if you’ve never heard it sounds halfway between an eerie wail and a whistle. By the way, I saw probably two dozen elk here including to bulls locking horns in a lake and one sleeping in the middle of yard in the town down the road with about twenty people crowded around him taking pictures. Aside from the elk, I had some neighbors who were either methheads or had voice immodulation like Will Ferrell from the SNL skit. The yelled at each other probably 22 hours a day, and when I glanced over at them, they yelled at me. Finally, the fighting was broken up when I guess the man swung an ax at the girl and drove away which prompted a ranger to come to the sight and give the two of them a stern reprimand. My other neighbors and I bonded over our mutual disdain for these people though, and I became fast friends with a couple moving to San Francisco for a tour in the Coast Guard, incidentally the guy was from Heritage in Conyers and we knew probably a dozen of the same people. I also met a man who had driven straight from Dayton, Ohio (24 hours no stopping). He advised me on what to do in South Dakota. This morning I met a guy who had fallen off of the trough in Long’s Peak a couple of years ago and had been medevaced out (apparently a similar fate killed somebody last week--I’m really glad I decided not to summit).
Last night was a particularly exhilarating camping experience for a number of reasons. 1) I treated myself to steak and baked potatoes. 2) A black bear came to within about twenty feet of me. 3) It sleet thunder stormed for about an hour. All in all, a memorable stop. Onto South Dakota.