October 7, 2010 Peak Season
Peak season. It is peak season for the autumn leaves and the perfect time to explore the mountains.
We left for the mountains about 11:30am. We all piled in the suburban, cooler in tow and headed down 70 West. We turned or exited in Idaho Springs. The visitors Center we visited last summer was on Mt Evans Road. We passed the same visitor’s center and kept going. The road twisted and turned through the valley a ways before winding upward. Eventually we came to a forest ranger’s station where we paid to continue through the State Park. Normally, it was $10, but since the top portion of the road was closed, it was only $5.
We stopped at Mt. Goliath since the kids were antsy. There we saw some twisted trees along a hiking path. The trees were over a thousand years old, twisted by the fierce wind that weeps the otherwise barren mountain side. It was hauntingly beautiful I thought.
We continued onward, past Echo Lake and up Mt. Evans itself. The road narrowed and there no guardrails, just a sheer drop off on one side. The road curved up and around to Summit Park. There the road was closed. As disappointing as it was not to be able to reach the 14,000 foot summit, we still made it an impressive 12,400 feet!
While we were scaling Mt Everest, at 29,002 feet, we were still the highest any of us had ever been. Jason and his parents had driven up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire before, but Mt. Washington is a mere 6, 288 feet. Curious, I checked the highest points in all 50 States. Alaska wins at 20,320 feet. California is 14,494 for Mt. Whitney. Hawaii is 13,796. North Carolina is 6,684 at Mt Mitchell. Mt Rogers in Virginia is 5,729 feet. Spruce Knob in West Virginia is 4,861 feet. Colorado has several peeks over 14,000 feet—Mt Elbert being the tallest at 14,443 feet. Mt Elbert is not a paved road though. Mt Evans is the highest paved road in America, which is pretty cool.
Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail is 13,852 feet, but I never hiked that portion of the trail. Machu Picchu is at 8,040 feet. So Machu Picchu was the highest I’d ever been until Sunday. Ohio’s highest point is a mere 1,257 feet above sea level.
Stepping out of the suburban I didn’t feel winded, but it was chilly. While Denver had been about 80 degrees and Sunny still, Mt Evans was quite cold. In fact, it was spitting snow that afternoon. Jason and I hike to the small lake by the bottom of the summit. Mike, Chris, Ana and Sebastian stayed in the car and made sandwiches for lunch. I was winded surprisingly quick on the hike. Between the coldness and the altitude, I was ready to go back to the suburban in a pretty short period of time. I shot a number of pictures thinking of how the landscape reminded me of my past life in Norway/Sweden/Finland. Truly the brown and gray rocks among the barren fields looked otherworldly. Beautiful. Perhaps reminiscent of New Zealand. Although New Zealand’s highest mountain tops out at 12,316 feet!
Jason and I returned to the suburban for lunch as well. I was surprised at the number of people at the park. The parking lot was overflowing. We had to park on the side of the road with a dozen or so other latecomers. I’d guess 50 or more people had made it to Summit Park and a number of them had continued on foot or by bicycle the last 2,000 feet to the top.
Anastasia asked me if there was a Bob Evans at the top. I told her no, I didn’t think so. As far as I knew, there were no Bob Evan’s in all of Colorado. Ana wondered if Bob Evans had climbed Mt. Evans and that is why it was named as such. I just laughed.
After lunch, we drove back down the mountain. Jason was driving well, but I could tell he was nervous and trying to be very cautious. We drove back down to Idaho Springs and followed several back roads around to Central City and Nevadaville. (Two Brother’s Road was one of them.) We were a little lost and confused, but not for long. We found our little store and browsed the old woman’s ware’s again. Mike really enjoyed seeing the Ghosttown. Ana convinced Jason to by her jewelry—a $3 cross. We left and headed home, stopping at McDonald’s in Evergreen so Ana and I could pee. We ended up getting a snack and/or dinner and letting the kids play at the playscape. They had blast.
I am starting to get in the mood for Halloween, but the weather this week is still too hot. It was 86 degrees last week. Even 78 degrees this week is a bit too warm for me still. It still doesn’t feel like fall.