Colorado - Tetons Trip
With two weeks off Dinah and I decided we could use a change of scenery and new challenges. We opted for the fourteeners in Colorado. Climbing peaks over 14,000 feet (4267 m) would put us higher than any peak in the Canadian Rockies (the highest peak, Mount Robson, is 12972 ft or 3954 m). Unlike the rugged Canadian Rockies, bagging most Colorado fourteeners requires only a day hike.
August 25: Drive to Wyoming
August 26: Colorado
To get some exercise, we did a short hike to Pawnee Buttes before going to an info centre to find a campground. We stayed at Riverview Campground (5100 ft, 1560 m) in Loveland. That evening we had a heavy rainfall that partially collapsed our neighbour's tent. They had dressed up and gone to a wedding only to return late in the evening to a sodden tent. We heard them pack up and drive away at night.
August 27: Orientation
We drove west to Estes Park on HWY 34 and continued south on HWY 7 to Longs Peak campground/trailhead. There we talked to George Bush, the volunteer campground manager. Coincidentally, he had worked for the federal government in Washington before retiring. He told us fascinating stories about his career and about drunken campers.
He said all but two people turned back the previous day on Longs Peak because of ice and snow. He had no information on the group that chose to continue up. We planned to camp at Longs Peak campground and hoped the trail conditions would improve.
After leaving the campground, we drove to Brainard Lake, the trailhead for Mount Audubon. First though, we had to pay $7.00 for a five-day pass. After viewing the mountain we drove to Denver via Boulder City. In Denver, we checked out REI, a large cooperative store like MEC. Then it was an hour's drive back to the campground.
August 28: Mount Audubon
On Mount Audubon we developed headaches that worsened as the day wore on. Too ill to cook at the campground, we drove to Estes Park to grab a bite to eat. By dinnertime we both had blinding headaches. The slightest movement, especially bending down and straightening, required a moment's pause because of the pain. The headaches were far worse than either of us had ever experienced and they were soon accompanied by nausea.
Back at the campground, I took to the tent and crawled into my sleeping bag. It was not yet 7:00 pm. Dinah joined me a half hour later. Mercifully I soon fell asleep.
August 29: Recovery
Yesterday's storm deposited more snow and ice making Longs Peak unattainable for a couple more days. Rather than wait around for the snow to clear off the mountain (there were no other fourteeners in the area) we moved on. We pulled down our tent and drove southwest to Silverthorne.
We camped at Heaton campground (8770 ft, 2762 m) next to Dillon Reservoir. This was a great campground that put us near several fourteeners.
By evening, I felt fine; no headache or dizziness. Dinah's headache disappeared but she still suffered from dizziness. Too bad we spent the day recovering as it was a nice day and our first without rain.
August 30: Mount Quandary
August 31: Lincoln Group
September 1: Mount Evans and Denver
Then we drove to Denver to do more shopping at REI. I signed up for a membership. I learned it was worthwhile if I spent more than $150: it costs $15 to join for life and at the end of the year you get 10% back on your purchases. You can also shop over the internet.
September 2: Grays Group
September 3: Drive to Wyoming
We had hoped to reach Grand Teton National Park in one day, but the drive took longer than expected. A navigation error caused us to miss a turn and we ended up driving through the NE corner of Utah. Although it added some time, the scenery was incredible.
We stopped at a motel in Pinedale, about 2 hours drive from the park. Although this was a tiny town, the oil industry was booming here. Our cheap motel was an expensive stay.
We saw hundreds of pronghorns while driving through west central Wyoming
September 4: Grand Teton National Park
September 5: Teewinton
I was disappointed in the Tetons. The mountains are more rugged than the Colorado fourteeners, closer resembling the peaks in the Canadian Rockies, but this tiny park holds but few big peaks and the views were obscured by the haze:
September 6: Return to Calgary