Friday, July 07, 2006

Six More Down, A Lot To Go


Some people become addicted to cocaine, pot, sex, gadgets, collectibles, and beanie babies. Meanwhile, I have become addicted to being high. Now we aren’t talking that kind of “high” from that very special hasheesh plant. Rather it is a high from climbing at the highest elevations in Colorado, the 14ers. Previous to this post I had summited a total of six, now, after the past few days that number had jumped to 12 in the span of a little more than 48 hours. The process was arduous, tiring, and mentally captivating, but in the end I battled through it and had achieved my goal.

The original plan was that I was going to meet up with a friend up near the Tetons in Wyoming for a little backpacking trip around the Cirque of the Towers. I was really excited about the trip and was looking forward to it. Then on the morning before I was about to leave. I got a phone call from my friend telling me that they could no longer go, they weren’t feeling very well. I of course was a little disappointed but there was nothing we could do, you just can’t escape those little sick bugs. So, I decided that I had to do something instead. I didn’t feel like driving up to Wyoming, so I decided to spend some time in Southern Colorado, climbing more fourteeners, advancing my hopes of one day climbing them all.

I decided on six summits that I would attempt near Lake City. On a whim, I packed my bags and loaded up my car and headed out to lake city to climb Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn the next morning. But the only problem was that the directions that I had printed from Microsoft Streets and trips unfortunately took me through a small quaint mountain town called Ouray. The directions called for some traversing on some county roads. But once I was on these “county roads” I was quickly turned around by a man in a jeep that said that there was no way that my Cherokee was going to make it over the road. He said that the directions I had were wrong and that I was suppose to take a turn way way way back on the highway into lake city. At this point it was almost 8:00 PM. I decided it wasn’t worth the trek back. I had actually planned on coming over to Ouray after completing the Lake City fourteeners and doing on called Mt. Sniffels. I headed on up the trailhead to Mt. Sniffels and camped there for the night. Unfortunately this night saw some adverse weather that really tested my nerves as lightning bolts crackled throughout the valley, and the rain pattered upon my car. I was scared at points, seeing I am almost deathly afraid of lightning. I always think that with some odd chance I am going to get struck and find myself sprawling on the floor filled with electric charge.

I awoke the next morning to clear skies and fresh dew upon the meadows grass. Mt. Sniffels was to be an easy hike supposedly so I set off to do it as fast as I could. I set good pace at the beginning and met up with two guys from Denver that were also summiting. They seemed like pretty cool dudes so I hiked up with them the rest of the way pretty much. It was a pretty uneventful climb except for some snow that was still accumulated in a gorge leading up to the summit. It made for a rather tough decent as you had to go down backwards finding foot holds in the snow. An ice axe would have helped. But once on the top it offered one of the best views I had yet. We were surrounded on one side by flat farmland and on the other the San Jauns loomed before us as we could see many of the other fourteeners in the area. After hanging out a bit at the top we headed back down. I ended up heading down with a father/ son hiking couple that were also from Denver. The kid was my age and he was enrolled in the ROTC program at San Diego State. He told me all about that, and I found it kind of intriguing to hear what it is like. But it’s just not for me. I don’t think I could deal with the buzz cuts.

I arrived back at my car and made my way back over to Lake City. Lake City was a cute little town. It wasn’t big enough for a McDonald’s, but at the same time it wasn’t so small that there wasn’t anything to do. There was plenty of restaurants and plenty of people. It was also the week of the 4th of July so there were some festivities in light of the holiday. I grabbed a burger from some burger place then decided to head up to the trailhead for my next two planned fourteeners; Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn. These two were a stretch to do in one day and only done by those conditioned enough to do so. I decided to give it a shot. I camped out the night before because it was a nice night out with clear skies and no lightning. I met two guys that were taking time off of work to knock off some more fourteeners. Both were very close to all 54. It turned out that one of the guys had worked at Culver Academy in Illinois. So we compared boarding school experiences for a bit and talked more about the outdoors and all the things Colorado had to offer. Around 9:30 I decided it was time to hit the sack so I curled up in my Sierra Designs lightning tent and fell into a deep slumber. Something I would need for the upcoming day.

I have talked to hikers who have tried to bag Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn in the same day, but they couldn’t do it. I set out for my attempt at what I guessed to be about 5:30 AM. The sun was in the process of rising, and my watch didn’t really work so I wasn’t one hundred percent positive what time it was. It was a beautiful hike with open meadows and peaks scattered throughout the area. It wasn’t necessarily jagged mountains but more or less it was almost as if you were on top of a mesa and there were random peaks jutting into the sky. I would attempt Uncompahgre first and then make my way to Wetterhorn. Uncompahgre gave me a bit of a challenge as I had to scramble up some scree to make it to the main trail that curled around the eastern side of the mountain. Once through this part the hike to the summit was easy on a class 1 trail. The summit was very flat and the views were OK. There was a cool 2,000 foot drop of one side, and I decided because I didn’t have the right gear that it probably wouldn’t be a great idea to head back down that way. Now it was time to attempt Wetterhorn. The weather was still looking good and I was surprised when I ran into a hiker on the way up that informed me it was only 8:20 AM. Wow I had made good time. On my run down the trail I saw two foxes that were meandering there way through the rocks on the summit. Awwww they were so cuuuutee. As I made my way over to Wetterhorn, clouds began to move in. Oh yeah I should also mention that this was the 4th of July, and I was shocked at how few hikers there were. I felt almost alone. Even going up Wetterhorn there were few fellow hikers. Wetterhorn was really only challenging in the sense that I was pretty tired. I had probably already hiked 9 miles and here I was gaining another 2500 feet of elevation. The trail to the ridge below the summit was easy to follow and not very steep. But once you got to about 500 feet below the summit, it became a class 3 climb with some exposure. The final pitch to the summit was a 60 degree climb that you had to use your hands and feet to “climb” up and over to the summit. Luckily the rock was stable and there were some good holds, but if I had fallen I probably would have died! The summit was nice because it was small and I could see views of the entire area. I could see all the peaks I were to finish on this trip and at this point the clouds were starting to move in, so I knew it was time to get my ass in gear and make it down. The climb down was pretty easy, besides the final summit pitch where I had to go down feet first looking for foot holds on my way down. I passed one guy at the bottom of the trail who had also done Uncompahgre that morning, but he probably wouldn’t make Wetterhorn because the storms were moving in. He started too late.

Back to my car I realized that I was pretty pooped. I broke down camp hopped in my car and made my way back to Lake City. There I spent some time trying to wait out a storm that was rolling through, I grabbed a burger and filled my appetite after a challenging morning. I then made my way up to the Silver creek trailhead. I must mention that a lot of the roads that lead to the trailheads of many of these hikes are incredibly rough and can come quite close to the edge at some points. I love it though, my JEEP Cherokee really does the job and I make it pretty much everywhere.

At this point I make it to the trailhead for Redcloud and Sunshine. It’s still pretty early in the afternoon and the weather is being a little dissatisfying. I decide to dwell in a book for a while I wait for the weather to clear up. Eventually it did. At this point I don’t know what time it is because my watch is screwed up. But I figured it was about 6:00PM maybe a little later. Actually it was probably more like 7:30. At this point I decided I had to do Handies. Another peak that’s trailhead was a few miles up the road. I debated because I knew it would be dark at some point on my hike. But then one of my goals is to do one of the fourteeners at night. So I grab my car keys and take off down the road. By now, the weather has cleared and there are no posing threats.

Handies may very well have been my favorite peak so far. It might have been because I summited at night or maybe it was the fact that it just was an awesome trail to the top. The sunset was beautiful as the suns light hit off of the dissipating off of the clouds causing a semi pinkish red glow that at points seemed eerie as it reflected off of the peaks of the area. Here on this mountain marmots were all over the place and became quite annoying with their squeaky calls. I reached the summit just after the sun had set but I could still see my surroundings and the distant sun setting over the horizon. I just got a chill from being up there and seeing the site that was laid before me. There was something special about knowing that i had the mountain all to myself and that no one else was there to share it with. It was my accomplishment my boding for the day. The funny thing was I thought I would be tired at this point having already climbed two peaks in the morning. But somehow I had found the will to do it. After spending a few minutes on the summit I realized it was time to get back down. I wanted to go to sleep!! I basically sprinted down the mountain in the dark on the easily accessible trail back to my car. I drove back to the Silver Creek trailhead and decided I was too tired to even set up my tent so I just camped out in the back of the JEEP. I awoke the next morning a little sore and tired from the last couple of days. But I knew I had to attempt these last two summits (redcloud and sunshine) so that I wouldn’t have to come back down to this area and waste even more gas. I put on the same clothes I had been hiking in for the last couple of day sand realized that they were disgustingly smelly. But nonetheless I was still comfortable and began my ascent. Honestly I have never been so tired. It was probably around 13,200 feet that it hit me and it took me almost ten minutes per hundred feet. I was sucking wind and my legs were burning, but I had to do it. I set a pace for myself and made it. The clouds were beginning to form but I knew that I could make the easy traverse over to sunshine the peak opposite of Redcloud. After summiting red cloud I made my way over to Sunshine via the ridge that connected the two. It was still another 500’ of elevation gain, but the thought of having done 6 fourteeners in the last 48 hours really pushed me to the top. Once on top I almost collapsed upon the rock shelter that was built there and noticed that there were two others on the summit. They were a nice young couple from Denver that I accompanied down the mountain on a trail that we were unsure about but ended up being quite moderate and beautiful. The best part of it was that it probably cut off about 3 miles off of our hike, including the elevation we would have had to have gained to go back over the summit of Redcloud and return on the standard route. I made it back to my car, knees pounded, legs burning, and lungs feeling OK. But most of all I had that feeling of accomplishment and the welcoming thought of getting back to boulder. It was a long three days but well worth it and I can’t wait till the next time I get to get out and do my next group.

The story though does not end here. You can stop reading at this point because the rest isn’t about peaks its about the drive home which also presented itself with some unique entities. First off I wanted to get home to sleep because I had to go to work that night. So after leaving the trailhead by 12:00 PM I was on the road back home. But around 3:00 I had hit a flood in the road. Water was gushing from the side of the road and into the middle of the highway. This was due to the intense rain storms that were flourishing all across central Colorado. At this point I didn’t know what to do, because I didn’t know any other way. Luckily I had a map and saw that I could go through Colorado Springs and make my way back to Denver. A little longer but I didn’t know how to get around this flood. So I turned around and made my way back through to Colorado Springs. The drive was long and I got stuck behind some truck impeding my process. It began to rain hard again as I continued along and it was pretty hard to drive in, I almost couldn’t see at times.

Then I reached Colorado Springs. I honestly have no desire to ever go there again. I was actually curious about what it was like. Not I could do without it. The traffic was horrible, the weather was bad, the town was ugly, I passed a army base that totally sketched me out, I felt that I was entering world war III. Then to top it all off, on the way to Denver just as I almost reached the outskirts of the Springs, I saw a sing that read “focus on the family visitor center”. Ok now that for me sent me over the edge. It was soooo weird I can’t even explain it, and I didn’t even get out of my car. It’s so weird to see such a right wing town so close to a left wing town. I mean Denver is pretty damn liberal, while the springs is ultra conservative. It is a weird mix and I think it does add some character to the state. But hey I think I’ll stick to Boulder for now.

So overall it was a good trip and hope to do another one soon. It’s just that gas costs sooooo much now. But hopefully this new job with the Boulder Open Space department will go through and I will make plenty of money to pay for gas. Just being out there though really helped me clear my mind and made me happy. But at the same time I was disappointed that I didn’t get to go on the backpacking trip with my friend but I think they would be happy that they knew I did something else that I also really wanted to do.

Peace

32 miles, 15,000 feet of elevation gain all in a little over 48 hours

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Monsters Galore!


No longer are they monsters to me. The 14ers have become a bit less of a challenge now and I am ready for even more challenges. I've been here for almost 3 weeks now and already I have knocked off 6 of the 54. I mean I still have a whole bunch more to accomplish, but im feeling pretty good. I have yet to experience any type of altitude sickness, and my fitness is probably the best it has been in a considerable amount of time. Now, I may seem like I am bragging. And I guess to a certain degree I am. It's just that I have found a new confidence in my life. After the last two years my confidence had gone quite a bit, but now it has become renewed. I honestly feel like a new person. But enough with the whole philosophical talk about how my life is changing and how happy I am to be where I am, lets get to the heart of the stories. My last four fourteeners.

On June 18 my friend and I went to climb Bierdstat with the idea that we would go over to Mt. Evans, seeing as it was connected by a saddle between the two. So once again we departed for the trailhead from boulder at the early hour of five o'clock so that we would be there by 6. Bierdstat and evans are only an hour away so the ride out wasn't much of a hassle. The parking lot at the trailhead was huge and it began to worry me because i had heard that this was a very crowded route. When we arrived there were maybe only about 6 cars in the lot. By the time we got back it was almost overflowed. Way to many people for my liking. The trail to the top of bierdstat was nothing to be scared of. It was a gradual ascent that led to a pretty unmemorable summit that just had some simple views. But we knew that after reaching the summit, the real test would be getting across the sawtooth over to the Mt. Evans route. The sawtooth is a ridge that is class three with some pretty intense scrambling, but still not as bad as my ascent of torreys the week before. Luckily we ran into a guy who seemed to know what he was doing and where he was going, so he lead us and another group of hikers for quite a ways. Then me and my friend broke off and we continued across the sawtooth until we reach the route to Mt. Evans. At this point my friend was starting to feel the altitude and wasn't able to keep pace, so he waited for the group behind us and I headed off for the summit of evans. The hike over was relatively easy, with little elevation gain and no scrambling. But upon reaching the summit, I felt almost a little insulted by the road that was leading to within 200 ft of the summit. I ask myself and those who thought up the idea....why? Why put a road to the top of a fourteener. It completely takes away from the whole point of climbing to the top of one. So now, instead of taking the effort to actual move your body to get yourself to the top, it only takes the movement of one of your feet and a little hand motion to meander your car to the top. When will society learn that somethings are meant to work towards. The hike back down was long and gradually descending. At one point I had to bash my way through willows, because there was no trail, and ended up becoming frustrated because at times i would almost become stuck in their wiry grasp. I arrived back at the trailhead just minutes behind my friend and his group who I thought for sure would be way ahead of me. But I booked it back so I guess it all evened out.

June 23 marked my friend and I's first ascent to Longs Peak. Possibly one of the most popular fourteeners in the Front Range. We had heard a lot about longs. Mostly that it could be incredibly crowded at times, and also technical if the right conditions existed. Wake up time for this summit was approximately 2 AM. So that we could be on the trail by 3:30. Which we managed to accomplish. So we threw on our headlamps and filled up our water and made our way up the trail. It was neat being in the trees at the beginning and not having any sense of distance in the dark. Or any idea of what may be watching us from the depths of the woods. When we reached treeline the horizon began to show life from the sun. And as we continued to make our way up the sun eventually rose, giving us a site to goggle at in its complete and udder beauty. Never had I seen anything quite like it. As the sun rose over the plains of colorado it illuminated the mountains that were the doorway to the rockies. It is here that you see two extremes come together. The extreme of the flat low lying plains in which the mid-west is proclaimed upon, and then right beyond it on the western flank were the very mountains we were a part of rising thousands of feet above the plains as if they had just been pushed up from beneath the earth and became the monstrosities they are. We continued our climb and eventually made it to the keyhole. They might as well called it hell's gates because beyond there the toughest part of the climb began. There were three elements to what lay beyond this "portal" One was the act of srambling up loos rock along a long gorge that took almost 45 minutes to get through. Second was the "narrows" where you walked on a thin line of three feet, with a thousand foot downslops to your right and a jutting rock wall to your left. Thirdly was the final pitch, where you had to use both your arms and legs and litterally climb to the top. But once to the top the views were magnificent. Once again we had perfect weather and you could see hundreds of miles into the distance. The summit was very flat and long, maybe even a half mile long from end to end. The walk down was long and very tiring, the roundtrip was a total of 15 miles, and 4 of those miles were tough terrain. So needless to say our bodies were feeling it. So far, of the six I have summited, Longs stands as my personal favorite. As for the crowds, we didn't experience much. There were the oddballs like the couple from florida that were being guided up by rope and were wearing unnessecary helmets and they were dying, because I am sure they had not been at 14,000 feet before, seeing as the highest point in florida is thunder mountain in Disney World. The best story was a guy who ran up the mountain, he told us that one day he was running and that he had stopped counting the people he had passed on the way up at 300.

June 25 was the day I was on top of Colorado. Mt. Elbert is the tallest mountain in Colorado and the second highest in the Contigeous United States. My friend had invited me to climb with him and a bunch of his crew buddies from school. We camped out at the trailhead, at a very civilized campground much to my spite. But I managed to get some sleep and we had an early start of 3:00 Am once again. Our goal was to summit by sunrise. It started out me, a guy named Jon, and a guy named squatch. Everyone else was still tucked into their sleeping bags back at camp. We were warned ahead of time that there was over 4,000 feet of elevation gain in 4 miles. And that there sure was. Some parts were so steep that we couldn't have been going faster than 1 mph. Eventually Squatch, who was a big guy at 6'6" and probably about 240lbs, dropped off and Jon and I continued on towards the summit. We pushed and pushed and pushed. Oh yeah this was also Winston's (my new dog) first fourteener. He did a great job, he didn't pull too much on his leash and he came when he was called. He is going to be a great hiking dog. Anyways, we reached the summit just in time to see the sunrise. Once again another beautiful site, there were low lying clouds so the sun rose over the clouds emitting a light that I had never seen before. The mountains around us became illuminated as the dawn of a new day creeped its way down their slopes. It was quite the sight to take in. We hung out at the summit for a bit then made our way back down. There we ran into more members of our group. One poor guy was having trouble with the altitude so he had to abort his summit atempt and we guided him back to camp. Overall this was a good climb, Jon was a good climbing buddy, as was Winston!! Now I have to go back to that same area to do Winston. Next on my list is probably Pikes peak. Then I will have all the front range 14er's done with.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Woof Woof!

6/15/06

I think out of all the days I've been here so far, yesterday was definitely the most exciting. It seemed as though i never stopped going, I was always doing something, with little to no downtime. My friend had me once again up for an early morning ride in Rocky Mountain National park. I do have to admit I was pretty excited for this one because i knew it would prove to be a challenge. Especially after only getting five hours of sleep the night before. The ride was on the highest road in the US which made it really cool. It ended up being a 16 mile climb. And i mean climb, you were almost always going up and up and up. In fact the road was so high that we were even above treeline, which led to some very windy riding and all I had on was a bike ersey and shorts, it got cooolllddd. But none the less I battled through it. The sad part was, I didn't even make it to the top. I thought I had because the road started to go down considerably and it was getting pretty damn windy so i decided to turn around at what I thought was the top before I got knocked over on my bike. The descent was quite fast and I passed my friend on his handcycle on the way down. He wasn't even halfway up, but he was definitely getting a good workout. I mean come on, he was handcycling up the damn the thing. I think I would die if I had to use my arms.

Rocky Mountain National Park is also one of those beautiful national parks that everyone should at one point in their life take time and visit. It truly is breathtaking, it is almost along the same lines as Yosemite. A little different in the sense that Yosemite is a little more pronounce with its landscapes, a littl emore rugged. Meanwhile rocky mountain is a lot more Alpine and higher elevations making for a different make up of vegetation and animals. There were points where I thought I was going to fall off the bike from looking around at all the scenery, it was just so perfect and pristine. It made me think wow this would be an awesome job, to live and work here. Dreams.

After our ride our day got even more interesting. I had talked to my friend the other day about getting a dog together. He was ecstatic at the idea and had said he had wanted to get one for the last year and a half but just never took action. I think that my mentioning of sharing the dog kind of enticed him because he knew that he wouldn't be fully responsible and that I would share some of the load. So, after our ride we went to the humane society. And there, we met Winston. Winston is a 9 mo. old labrador/collie mix. He isn't as big as a lab but also isn't as small as a Collie. We immediately fell in love with him. We decided to adopt him almost immediately without barely talking it over. But we both agreed that it would work out and that we would be able to take on the task. Basically we are training him to be my friends service dog, so that he can take him everywhere. He is a well behaved dog and is extremely adorable. He's going to make a great "Babe" magnet!!! Of course that wasn't the reason why we got him of course :). But none the less getting a new dog was pretty exciting and also will present itself with some challenges.

Yet the day was not over at this point. My friend had recieved a phone call from his buddy Timmy O'neil who happens to be a world class rock climber that is an ambassador to Patagonia. He said that there was going to be a party that we were invited to celebrate some guys birthday party. So we arrive at the party to find a group of people just hanging out in this guy's tiny living room smoking up and drinking. Now this party was definitely no rave and it was more of a social gathering. But it was cool because I got to meet a world class rock climber. It was pretty sweet. Unfortunately I had to leave early for work. but I realized that i hope that that is how my life will be when I'm older. Just a bunch of chill people just hanging out. None of these guys were ecstatic or anything, all were very down to Earth and Earthy. I was also definetly the youngest one there, besides my friend. I think everyone else was in their late 20's early 30's. Hopefully there will be more to come.

So when it was all said and done after work i had been awake for 20 hours. That's a long day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

And The Quest Begins


Grays Peak 14,270 ft
Torreys Peak 14,267 ft

I have officially climbed my first two fourteeners here in colorado. Now I am hooked. This being the first time I have been above 12,000 feet I was ready for a challenge to my physical fitness, something I continue to look to push. But much too my surprise it wasn't as challenging as I though it would be. Actually I found it pretty easy, and started to wonder how quickly i could do all 54.

The day started early, 4:30 in the morning. Possibly the earliest I have ever awoken to do anything, except fo rmaybe my traithlon but I can't remember that far back. Anywho, It took about 1 hour and a half to get to the trailhead. The wierd part about the drive up was that right off the exit of I-70 (the major road that zips through CO) the road went back over the highway and then almost immediately became a dirt road. Luckily, my jeep managed to make its way up the road. Once to the top there was a parking lot for the trailhead. I had heard prior that this particular climb was often very crowded due to its easy accessibility and lot technical skills. In fact there arent really any technical skills on all but one ascent. Which of course ends up being the one I choose.

I began my climb with just a backpack on my back and my dorky runners cap on top of my head. I had the usual, food, water, first aid, layers, all that good stuff. My early start was due to the fact that the thunderstorms can get bad in the rockies so they suggest you summit most of the fourteeners by noon time. I started at 6:10. The trail began very gradually climbing through a meadow with a quiet little stream running through. Eventually i was handed a view of the two peaks looming before me.

After about a mile or so I ran into a trail leading off to a ridgeline that ran up to torreys. I had heard from someone that this was a class 3 scramble. The other climb up to Grays peak was either a class 1 or 2. I contemplated for a little bit then made my decision. Why not challenge myself. And a challenge it ended up being. At one point i think i los tthe trail and ended up climbing/scrambling up rocks. There were certain points where I thought for sure if i had made a miss step or had a bad hold I would surely fall and injure myself quite extensively. Much of the rock was sturdy but some of it was not. It took me about an hour and a half to climb this ridge and finnally make it to the top of torreys. Torreys offered spectcaular views and was actually quite nice because it was a small summit. I signed the log book, only to find that I was the first person to reach the peak in the last two days. I grabbed a bite to eat, took a picture, then continued on to Grays peak which was reached via a saddle that sat between the two peaks. At this point I was getting a little winded from the elevation but i pushed up the remaining 600 foot climb to the top of Grays.

Grays peak was a little less appealing, it was flatter and longer. It was here though that I ran into the first group of hikers. Two of which were guys from CU and I chatted with them a bit about skiing and where they though the best places to ski were. One guy was defiinitely a big stoner and im sur ethe other was too but he was a little quieter. Then another guy and a girl came walking up. The girl was from CU and this was also her first 14er. We talked a bit about CU, she was from Michigan and i told her that we should hike together sometime, maybe do some more fourteeners. So I met someone else now that i can hike with. Slowly but surely I am making more and more contacts, but at the same time I am in no rush, it will only come in time. We weren't the only form of living beings on top of the summit either. There were six mountain goats Meandering there way through the summit. Evidently they had followed the CU guys up from halfway up the trail. They came really close as if they wanted food, but whenever one of us would go up to them they would retreat and back away.

I started my ascent back down the mountain. It was pretty easy and only took me around and hour and 15 minutes maybe a little less. I jogged down some of the way for it was really steep and was actually easir than trying to walk it. There were a lot of hikers making their way up to the peak. Luckily for them they had clear skys and there was no sign of thunderstorms approaching so im sure everyone was fine. Although I'm surprised that some of the people i passed were going to make it up. I talked to pretty much everyone on their way up except for a cute girl that i passed, but that will never change, and told them what to expect the rest of the way up. I think most were surprised when i told them my start time. But I 'm glad i did start early because otherwise I wouldnt have been able to have the solitude that i felt on the way up. Being alone out there was quite the experience and i think i will try most of my fourteeners solo.
Upon getting back to Boulder I just chilled and watched the Brazil game. My friend called me up and we went for a ride and then went down to Pearl Street to grab a bite to eat. Now he has me waking up at 5:30 tommorow so that we can go for another ride. This time it's suppose to be the highest road in all of North America. Jesus, I am going to be in really good shape soon. I guess that's good. Mr. Henry told me that Ill come back rock solid and tan and i think he's right!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ready,Steady, You can do it

Well I am all packed up and ready to go on my first real colorado adventure. I changed my plans and have decided to bag two 14er's rather than just one. This is not a hard task seeing as the two summits are literally 0.75 miles apart from each other. So it is actually an easier climb than just trying to go for one. So why not try and bag two easy ones early. It will get me used to being at a higher elevation without the challenges of scrambling and any climbing that could be challenging due to the altitude. So I have an early start tommorow, 4:30AM. Need to make sure i get down in time so i don't become one of the unfortunate souls that get struck by lightning, it is better to be safe than sorry.

As for my day today. It was pretty uneventful. I woke up, went to the grocery store, came back watched the US lose in their first world cup game (they played like absolute crap), and then went to the DMV to get my colorado license. "license" that word will always haunt me. I remember in the 5th grade i was asked to participate in the school-wide spelling B. I was nervous as i walked up to the podium in the first round. I was determined. I was all set and ready to go and the first word was presented to me. License. I thought I had it. But I was wrong. I spelt it Lisence. I was devastated. From this moment on I will never spell license wrong again, it is just one of those things that is forever sketched in your memory. Anyways, I was at the DMV and ended up waiting for almost 2 and 1/2 hours just to get my damn drivers license. The system they were trying to implement just wasn't working. I felt like i was in the meat section of a grocery store as the women handed me the ticket that read "663". Great they were on number 615. I'm screwed. I'll have to wait throughout all this bologne. Luckily there was a chinese restaurant to chow down at and then I talked to a friend from school for quite some time to pass the wait.

Overall it was a down day, getting ready for tommorow. I am unsure about tommorow. Will it be a challenge, or will it be something I will easily be able to take command of. Well we shall see what tommorow brings. But I am pumped but now it is time to get some shut-eye.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Beckoning

Today I decided to start my quest to climb the 54 fourteeners here in Colorado. A 14er, quite simply put, is a mountain that exceeds 14,000ft in elevation. The first on my list is Longs Peak. Mainly because it is the closest one and seems to be a pretty easy hike. But I don't know exactly how I am actually going to do at an elevation of 14,000 plus feet. The next thing is that I am going to do it alone, although from what i've heard it is a relatively crowded summit due to its easy access, so I shouldn't be totally alone. I don't know what it is but i feel that climbing the 54 fourteeners is just a step in the right direction towards climbing the highest peaks in each of the seven continents, a long term goal of mine. I need to learn as much as i can about Mountaineering in the least amount of time possible. Maybe that is my sport. Or is it really a sport? Can we consider the climbing of mountains a sport, or is it more of a recreational activity. I would definetely classify it as sport. Considering it takes possibly the best athletes in the world to perform at high altitudes, on near vertical climbs, and hair raising descents. There is no doubt in my mind that you have to be as physically and mentally tough as any other athlete to make it to the top. Time is of the essence though and something I have to find to achieve my goals. Luckily I have been chatting on a message board trying to get some guys to teach me some things about the fourteeners so that I will be ready for what they may throw at me.

Today was also my first day in Denver. Denver is a wierd city because it doesn't feel like one. It has a downtown area, but that downtown area doesn't seem like any other. I mean it is a nice city, but it just doesn't feel like one. It is really clean and the people seem very down to Earth. The reason for my visit was I am still trying to score a job at Patagonia. But I realized today how much the commute would suck. It's a 30-40 minute commute depending on traffic. So after meeting up with my friend that works for Patagonia, I decided to check out the critically acclaimed REI store. At first I was amazed. It was fricking huge. There was a mountain bike trail to test out bikes. There was a climbing wall right in the middle of the story, and they had everything. But as I walked through I realized it was the same as all the other stores. The same merchandise, the same employees, the same pretty much everything. It is just a corporation that can afford to jack up their prices because of their name. I mean they do have everything, but if you really want it you can find it cheaper. For example there is a used sport store here in Boulder that has everything used and really cheap. I'm not a big fan of big corporations. Although most of the outdoor companies do do some good things for the envionrment and the community so I won't totally shun them like I do Companies such as McDonald's. I would rather see my money go somewhere else though.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Book Left Open

6/10/06

Well, I am finally here in Boulder, Colorado. Upon arriving I felt a certain feeling I had yet to experience before in the last few years. As I pulled into the driveway of what is to be my home for the next two and a half months, I felt free. I felt free from the constraints of the last two years, and from my parents, and basically I felt alone. But it was a different kind of alone. It was a very welcoming alone, I felt like it was me against the world now and I was ready to embrace it.

Some may ask why did I move to Boulder? Well, as many may know I love the outdoors. Unforunately being at Deerfield for the previous two years I was almost always limited to where I could go. Not being able to drive posed a problem and I could not go off into the mountains and find the solitude that I longed for. If it wasn't for cycling and being able to hit the open road of Western New England, I may not have made it. The feeling of being trapped was too much. I felt too involved just on what was going on in my immediate surroundings, and somehow shut myself off from the outside world. Now, one of my goals in life is to make a difference in this world. From Deerfield, I felt I couldn't do that. All I was focused on was bettering myself. In Boulder, I see myself being the person I want to become. With all the environmental activist groups in the area I feel like a part of the movement. With the quaint used bookstores and the pristine palaces of Outdoor gear, it seems to me but heaven. Not too leave out the fact that there are beautiful mountains in the back drop of the city, just waiting to be climbed by the venturous.

I can't really decide if Deerfield has prepared me for being on my own. I believe that many kids will have a hard time at first. They will miss there parents, rack up the credit card bills, or find themselves getting in trouble. Now, don't get me wrong it is not at all easy and I am definitely not driving on the high road. I am in search of those beautiful green pieces of paper that mean so much to us in this nation, money. I have searched and searched for jobs, everything from waitstaff positions to a driver for a bakery company. Luckily, after going in for an interview, where I ended up spending two hours and half talking to the president of the company, I managed to land a Janitorial job at the local rec center three nights a week. Some may scoff at the idea of someone from Deerfield being a Janitor. Well, so what?? I can do what I want with my life. This is the first job I could find, it pays good and the hours are perfect for me. So, nonetheless i clean the locker rooms. My mentor in training was a fellow from Bosnia. Great guy, though his english was not exactly perfect, he still could convey the point. He told me of how he worked 15 hour days just so that he could buy his family a house back in Bosnia. These people amaze me, they work so hard for their family and for their own personal growth. And they don't care what they do. He kept telling me how "easy" the job was and that "it is no problem." And I believed him, you make the job what you want to make it.

So far my only friend that I have really been hanging out with is a young man who is in a wheelchair. Unlike my dad who is a quadripalegic, he is a parapalegic. Basically, that means he has full access of his arms but not his legs and torso. But yet his loss of use of his legs has not stopped him. Just the other day i went on a bike ride with him. He rode his handcycle while i pedaled along side him in my road bike. And today we traveled up to Breckenridge to go to a volunteer handcycling clinic. I can see us spending a lot of good times together. Bot He and I share a lot of the same philosophies in life and I enjoy my time spending with him. I can see myself helping him and other parapalegics in their active endeavours on a volunteer basis. So in August I may go back to Breck and help out with their adaptive program.

So things are looking pretty good. Although I had a rough last couple of days with my friends from Deerfield I have realized that I have opened up a new Chapter of my life. But at the same time I don't want to close off the old chapters. I want to stay in touch and I want everyone to know what is going on in my life. That is why I started this blog, to let people know what I am up to. Life has a lot in store for me and everyone else. I have made some good friends in the last two years and I hope not to lose them. So at anytime feel free to contact me. I will try my hardest to update this posting as much as possible, because I will only get busier. Keep checking back it may be worth your wild to gain some insightful thoughts. Soon my free time will be spent on the road and in the mountains. So here is to boulder, here is to all of you, and most of all to adventure.