Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Estes in fog

well, i am officially sick. i am all sniffley with a sore throat and my eyes burn like the villians looking on in Raiders of the Lost Ark. that aside, life is fine.

personal stuff is still a mess. no shocker there. but last night i found myself reminding someone else that life is messy. if we wait for things to be tidy, there would be no living. as the words fell out my mouth, i found myself surprised into remembering that this is something i know. something that applies to me as much as anyone. jeesh. i guess this is why we have friends to help--helping them helps us remember to help ourselves.

was true to my resolution in the last blog and got back into the wilderness. as Saturday was National Parks Day, did trail work with the Forest Service on a heavily used local trail. met some cool people, but it wasn't exactly space. convinced one of my trail crew, Aaron, to get up scary early Sunday and go hiking again. after great debate Saturday night, we decided to head to Rocky Mountain and hike along the Mummy Range. i generally hate hiking in RMNP but it is after Labor Day, which helps a lot with the gawping tourists. although i was hoping for something in the 10-12 mile range, weather conspired to make that unwise.

Estes in fog
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
the morning started syrupy thick with fog. it was an incredible experience to drive up above the fog demarcation and see the actual interface at eye level as we continued to gain elevation. after watching two elk spar for cows, we cruised up Old Fall Creek Road and settled on the Chapin Creek trailhead, elevation 11,000ft. instead of cruising down along the creek, we took the upper fork and wound on a social trail along unstable talus below the summit of Mount Chapin. the trail is located in the middle of the windstream through the saddle between Chapin and Chiquita so the entire trip in we were buffeted by strong winds pushing us and our packs into the slope.

eventually we curved around to the saddle, elevation 12,000ft. the wind was unreal but the view spectacular. we were able to curl up behind an almost non-existent hillock to escape 'the worst of the effects of the fresh air'*. after a break soaking up the stunning view, we girded ourselves against the wind and continued on up the other side of the saddle to summit Mount Chiquita, elevation 13,069ft. here we rewarded ourselves, resting behind a stone windbreak, with Snickers bars and beef jerky. the clouds were pretty active by this point and had some gray in them so we elected to be safe and save Mount Ypsilon for another day.

on the descent we stopped to watch a chubby little pika skitter under rocks. at the saddle we took the late split to the lower trail, avoiding the talus on the return, and enjoyed the lush beauty of a meadow, thick with elk and deer sign.

overall, close to six miles hiking with more than 2,000 feet elevation gain and loss. not as long as i would have liked, but plenty for a lazy Sunday.

the downside of the trip was that we had to come back via Trail Ridge road. this of course led to ridiculous traffic snarls as idiots stopped their cars in the road to gawk at elk. we stopped to say hello to the marmots but were disappointed as they were not out to play. tourists were, though, continuing to amaze me with their irresponsibility-choosing to walk outside the six foot wide gravel trail on fragile alpine tundra in spite of the numerous signs explaining how it takes 10 years for tundra to heal from one person's footprints. because there is really a need to walk eight people abreast up there. grr. this is why i avoid RMNP- if i keep going, eventually i will throttle someone.

ah well. overall it was spectacular.

*Ivor Cutler lyrics, of course.


Tea Time Economist said...

Love Estes Park

Really a beautiful place.

Dave & Nancy Estes Park said...

Hey Kiddo! 3 years ago you had been to RMNP just once! Now look at you! But don't be too hard on our tourists totally unaware of traffic laws that they are...they are our life blood here in Estes. We thought we were the only RMNP snobs!! Love you always. You are the absolute best!