Monday, July 21, 2008

Fantasy weekend

Dan and I decided to try out some of our wedding gifts this weekend, and thought what better way to combine two things we wanted to do, camping and hiking, than with a trip to Pike's Peak.

Pike's Peak is perhaps Colorado's most famous 14-er (aka 14,000 foot high plus mountain). It's where Katherine Lee Bates penned "America the Beautiful" in 1893, it overlooks Stepford Springs (home to the Airforce Academy and Focus on the Family, amongst other treasures), and there are several ways you can ascend the mountain. You can take a cog railway to the top; you can drive up Pike's Peak highway ($10 a person, or $35/vehicle); you can start at the bottom and hike all the way up to the very top. Back before I moved here, Dan and I used a 30-year-old book about hiking 14ers in Colorado to try to hike to the top of Pike's Peak during one of my visits with no success - I guess after 30 years, the trail the book described was no longer there. We've talked for years about getting back to Pike's and conquering the beastly mountain, but had yet to make it.

On Friday, we talked about going camping, and if so, where might we go. We pulled out the updated version of the 14er book (a gift from Dan's parents) and saw that there was a campground to which one could hike, partway up Pike's Peak. The campground has dinner and breakfast available for purchase, and free water. And so we decided to give it a try. We'd pack lightly, only bringing our sleeping bags, pads, a tent, a little bit of food for the hikes, our camelback bladders (our backpacks are both designed to take water bladders), and a change of clothing. On Saturday morning we arose, made whole wheat pancakes for breakfast, and packed our backpacks, managing to fit everything and have both loads be manageable for hiking. The book described two different approaches to the campground on Pike's, one shorter and less of a climb than the other, which required parking at a trailhead partway up the Pike's Peak highway. Because of my leg, and because we'd be carrying everything on our backs for the hiking portion of the adventure, we didn't count on being able to summit, but decided that just trying it out would be fun. Saturday would be a 4.5 mile relatively flat hike to the campground, we'd get up early on Sunday, and hike up as far as my leg would allow, then all the way back down to the car.

Sounds like a great adventure, right?


I want to write that everything went as planned, that we drove down to Stepford and up to Pike's Peak highway and that they let us through without paying because we weren't driving to the top and that we hiked to the campground, had dinner and met some cool people doing the same adventure, woke up early on Sunday, and summited the peak before noon, then hiked all the way back down to the car. I want to write that. But I can't because it isn't what really happened.

This is what happened.

I was totally exhausted because of an early (for a weekend) morning due to some jerkiness by Loki, and so after breakfast I wasn't up for leaving yet, but ended up taking an hour-long nap. Then, we packed everything up and went to the grocery store, bought some sandwiches for the car ride down, and sweltered in the 100 degree weather. Our car doesn't have A/C, which isn't a big deal most of the time, but when you're riding in it for hours it can get a bit wearing. Anyhow, we made it down to the springs and followed the directions in the book to Pike's Peak highway, and got to where they make you pay to keep going. "Going up to the top?" the lady asked. "No, actually," we told her, and outlined our plan for driving to the trailhead and hiking to the camp and hiking to the summit tomorrow. "Oh, you can't do that," the lady told us. "First, you can't park overnight at the trailhead. Second, that campground is probably already full, because tomorrow is the Pike's Peak Hillclimb (roadrace) and the road is closed for that all day event."

Guh. Sometimes, it really sucks to try to do spontaneous things without doing internet research, and it just shows that we really need to get some internet at home. Ugh.

So, it turned out we wasted all that gas and all that time in the hot, hot car and all that excitement about finally camping and hiking a 14er. Because neither of us is familiar with the area, and we weren't prepared to camp anywhere that didn't provide food, we decided to just go home. Needless to say, when we got home, we were pretty bummed. We had a good dinner, and we played gin, and I briefly talked to Simon who was having fun at the BlogHer party, but mostly we were both just sad.

Sunday we decided we could at least go hiking, and because it's been so freaking hot here I was hoping that getting out of town would give us a slight relief from the heat. Seriously, it hasn't cooled down below 80 degrees at night in the past several days and we don't have A/C in the house, either, so my quality of sleep has gotten pretty bad. We thought hiking up in Boulder behind NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research) might be a good plan. There are quite a few different trails to explore of all different levels of difficulty. Alas, though the idea was a good one, we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up doing a far less interesting hike than planned - and I must be fighting something off, because I ran out of energy really quickly, so we only got about 2 hours of hiking in. And the car was an oven when we got back. We stopped at Target on the way home where I attempted to find a cheap one-piece bathing suit for lap swimming (no luck) and we looked for a swamp cooler (no luck). But I did find what I was looking for in Cross Dress for Less in the same shopping center - a black racerback swimsuit for 8 bucks. I can't wait to go swimming on Tuesday.

Less than a week left before I leave for California. My sister's wedding purse is in progress, I have all kinds of lists to make, and more than anything I am looking forward to some Bay Area summer fog. Because 100 degrees during the day and 80+ at night? It's for the birds, man.

1 comment:

Cilicious said...

Mle, don't forget the phone book.
Most campgrounds take phone reservations. But I certainly do hope you get the internet at home.