Nomadic Life – Week 5
Saturday morning we left Loveland, but not before partaking of the showers at Planet Fitness. This is awesome! We made our way up the canyon and back to Estes Park. After stopping by the library to fill up on fresh drinking water (they have a water bottle filling station) and for Jennifer to grab a new book we headed for the Longs Peak Campground. When we arrived around noon there were only three spots available. Only one of which could accommodate our truck on a relatively flat surface. We parked and paid the overpriced fee of $26.
Longs Peak Campground
The Longs Peak Campground, although overpriced in my opinion, is very nice. It is a small campground with two centralized toilet buildings. The campground has several fresh potable water spigots around the grounds and large bear-proof dumpsters. It looks like it might possibly have showers in another building, but that was closed off for repairs. The best thing is that it is about 500’ from the Longs Peak trailhead parking area.p
We set up our site, cooked lunch, and prepared our packs for the following day’s backpacking adventure. We then spent the rest of the day lounging around, reading and watching a movie we had downloaded in town.
One Month on the Road
Sunday morning was a big day for us. We celebrated one month since we sold our home in Colorado Springs and set out on the road full-time. We also woke up very early and set out on the last adventure of our month-long stay in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. Summiting Longs Peak was definitely our most ambitious adventure and a very tough challenge. I’ve climbed nine other 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet) and attempted 2 others, but none had been over a class 2 exposure.
Exposure, for those who aren’t familiar, is the level to which a trail has sheer drop-offs. They range from 1 which is none to a 5 which you had better have a rope tied off. Class 3 exposure is about as high as hikers get. After level 3 ropes are necessary and it becomes professional climbing not hiking. Longs Peak is a class 3.
It was about 5:30 AM when we arrived at the trailhead and the parking lot was already full up for the day. Day hikers start out to summit Longs around 3:00 AM in the morning. It is a 15-mile (roundtrip) journey to the summit and back. The trail also gains 5,114 feet in elevation to top out at 14,255 feet. The last thing you want to do is hike 7-miles in and get turned back by the weather because you didn’t start early enough. So the parking area was full.
We had prepared for a three-day journey. The first day was an ascent to the Boulder Field campground at 12,760 feet. I will go into more detail in a backpacking post later, but needless to say, this wasn’t an easy journey. We felt better prepared and in better shape than when we had started on our Thunder Lake adventure the first week of our nomadic life.
We not only made it to the Boulder Field on the first day but as the weather still looked nice I went ahead and summited the peak. Jennifer made it to the formation known as the Keyhole, which is no easy task. After that the exposure is extreme and she chose not to continue. I summited with a new friend I made on the mountain, Miguel. Again I will go into more detail later, but the final 1,000-foot climb of this hike is beyond strenuous.
A Night in the Boulder Field
Having summited the mountain on the first day we returned to camp at the Boulder Field and readied ourselves for a night of sleeping at altitude. We were the only ones at the campground when the sun started to set. This is odd because this is a very busy spot. It can be difficult to get reservations and the camping area can accommodate 18 tents. As the clouds started to roll in and cover the Boulder Field another two-person group came into camp and set up for the night. The wind was howling for the first few hours and I was wondering if the tent was going to be able to take it. It settled down and then the cold set in. We bundled up wearing everything we had brought with us up the mountain.
Recovering from a Night at Altitude
Sleeping at altitude can be rough with the cold, but the worst thing is waking up with the thin oxygen. We each drank about half a liter of water in the morning just to recover from the night. The hordes of day hikers passing through the Boulder Field on their way to the Summit woke me up. They started passing through the campground around 5:15 AM which means they started earlier than 3:00 AM. I climbed out of the tent and watched the sunrise over the gorgeous terrain.
I was glad that I had summited the day before, but was a little jealous that the weather was better today than it had been on the previous day. During my summit smoke from a fire to the west had blown in and shrouded the terrain. This morning it was all clear skies. That didn’t last and by the time we had packed up our tent and started the descent the clouds had rolled in and swamped in the peak. I felt better about my choice.
On our descent, we took a spur trail up to Chasm Lake which sits at the base of Longs’ eastern cliff wall. It is a beautiful hike to the lake along the spur. It ascends along a cliff overlooking Peacock Pool and a gorgeous waterfall.
A Nepalese Lunch/Dinner
Having done everything we set out to do on this backpacking adventure we returned to YOLOM a day early and made our way south to Nederland, Colorado and had a nice lunch/dinner at the Kathmandu restaurant. If you like Nepalese food this is a great spot! They have an amazing lunch buffet. I’m not usually the buffet type, but it is excellent. After a very filling and tasty meal, we parked YOLOM back at Gordon’s Gulch and crashed into bed, sleeping for 12 hours straight.
The Denver Biscuit Company
Tuesday was a travel day back to Colorado Springs. We stopped off in Denver to take showers at the Planet Fitness and then headed to lunch with Jennifer’s cousin at the Denver Biscuit Company. I have a foodie friend who swears by this place and he isn’t wrong. The food is amazing!
Back to Colorado Springs
We needed to return to Colorado Springs to sell our Subaru and pick up some boxes. We kept a few things that we are taking to live with my sister in Tennessee. Our amazing friends in Colorado Springs have kept our stuff in their basement over the last month and helped us sell the car. They run the 5 Day Deal website. If you like photography this is a great site for screaming good deals on photography related products.
The Work Week
Wednesday started a short work week for Jennifer and I. We camped out on our friends street. We did have game nights each night. I dominated for the most part, but their parents were visiting and the mother gave me a good shellacking at 7 Wonders. The car finally sold Wednesday night and that was a huge relief. I was starting to think I was going to have to sell it to a dealership.
Thursday was another workday. I got some errands done around town and worked on the camper a little to repair a few things. In the afternoon I went to have a late lunch with some old friends from work. It was great to see everyone. We played a competitive round of mini-golf as well. I tied for the win with my friend Michael.
Heading Towards Tennessee
Friday morning we went to U-haul and grabbed a small covered trailer. We loaded it up with what little possessions we have left from the house and set off for Tennessee. I don’t like driving interstates at this point anyway, but the trailer is limited to 55mph anyway so we decided to see some of the less desirable parts of the country and set out across the southern part of Kansas.
Not far off our route was Sublette, Kansas. I’ve never been so we decided to check it out. The city is named after my great, great, great, etc… uncle William (Bill) Sublette. He was a mountain man and lead the first wagon train over the Rocky Mountains, essentially paving the way for what became the Oregon Trail. The town is a small and quaint place. Not much there, but the Sublette name is etched on just about everything. Pretty cool!
Dodge City, Kansas
We then headed to Dodge City, Kansas to overnight at the Wal-Mart. We were listening to the radio on the way in and discovered that it was Dodge City Days. This is a kind of citywide annual event. It takes place over a two-week period. It has all kinds of community activities including a nightly radio, bicycle riding, evening walks, and a cattle drive through town. We got lucky. The cattle run was tomorrow!