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Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9

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Offline stingrey

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Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9
« on: August 10, 2008, 02:38:27 PM »
I know this isn't Big Bend related, but still... Thought it would be something you guys wouldn't mind checking out. Mandy & I visited Colorado this past week with our first leg of the trip being a stop in ROMO to camp for a few nights. We had reservations in two different locations due to the popularity of the park in summertime (even with advanced reservations made online), and we put those camping nights to the test in my recently acquired Big Agnes Big House 4. That tent is awesome! Anyway, on to the trip report:

here's the link to the photos right off the bat, repeated at the end in case:

http://picasaweb.google.com/stngrr/

8/2-8/3, arrived in Estes Park. Stayed @ a hotel that night, shopped in town that same evening. 8/3, off to ROMO somewhat slowly. Mandy was the first one to get called to worship at the porcelain alter... Altitude sickness? That's about all we could blame it on. After recovering, she and I were off to the park to set up camp after driving around for quite some time in the park itself. Wildlife? It was nonstop action it seemed, similar to Big Bend, but it was different in that the animals that were most prominent varied from what we'd normally see here in Texas. Started the day with elk, then a late night sighting of a coyote running through the forest. No pics of the coyote...

8/4 we went on our first hike (and last) of the day. Saw some crazy chipmunk/squirrel type critters, a marmot, and some other animals. I was feeling well all the way through the last couple of miles of the 6.3 miles or so of the cub lake/fern something trail... I somehow kept my mouth shut while we were en route back to the campsite on the park shuttle despite some kids yelling a single word over and over and over (Sophie) while we were driving over some paved and unpaved roads. Sweating and fighting to hold myself together, we finally arrived at our site where I found the nearest bathroom and returned to equilibrium somehow with that brief "outburst". All was well again, but there was no more hiking that day. Drove around a bit and spotted a huge herd of elk feeding and cavorting about while sun began to set.

8/5 hit crater which had just opened (closed for a portion of the year for big horn lambing) and was treated to more butterflies than could be imagined. They seldom rested, so it was hard to catch more than a couple of 'em in photographs. Big horn sheep! Saw 'em! Columbine flowers, still blooming! Left that hike to grab lunch/dinner at the Trailhead Restaurant, saw a ton of hummingbirds from their balcony. Saw a hawk WAAAAAY off in the distance, not sure it can be ID'd from my highly zoomed/cropped pic. Got back to camp as the rain let up, bought a bundle of wood/kindling, made smores, turned in for the night.

8/6 woke up and headed to Denver for a Rockies game (and t-shirt giveaway night) with plans to stay in Denver that same night. Went to the game after checking in to the hotel, hotel was not in good order. Showered nonetheless since we'd been away from showers for a few days. Got ready to head out, noticed something nasty on the way out... Syringe above the lighting in the bathroom...

Went to the game, thought about it while sitting there getting rained on (game delayed per jumbotron), decided that we'd head on to Colorado Springs and dump that room regardless of the consequences since we'd never stayed in a room with used/stashed syringes before. It was a Knight's Inn (by Ramada) for those of you wondering where NOT to stay. Continued to get rained on for over an hour, decided to leave since the game was still far from starting, if at all.

Went to the hotel to check out, was offered $20 off the room, told them that was great but that they would hear from me for the other portion of the $ since we weren't going to stay and since the room wasn't fit for someone to stay in it when it was presented to us. Left to Colorado Springs, drove straight through in pouring rain for two hours in the dark. Discussed politics, made it pretty uneventfully, thanked Travelodge for giving us a syringe-free room.

8/7 woke up early to start the day's trek hitting Garden of the Gods, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Royal Gorge, and then Seven Falls. LOTS of stuff to see, LOTS of ground covered. Wish we had more time since we missed some things that we'd like to have seen, but the rain pretty much dictated what we did that day. We were where the rain wasn't, and the rain was on our heels all the way. Once we were on the way out, the rain was on the way in EVERY time.

8/8 was another early day with a drive to Pikes Peak for a prearranged flower hike... Woke up to a dreary drizzly day... Approached Pikes Peak thinking we'd run into a bust for the day. Guy at the entrance radioed up and asked if the hike was still on, the ranger said not only was it on, but it was sunny and beautiful up there. Up we went! Turns out we were the ONLY two that showed up for the hike, everyone else who'd registered failed to show. They probably figured it was raining, too, but they didn't even try to show up.

Left on our hike, but changed the hike to a more secluded hike that the ranger would take based on what we'd said our interests were. Saw a WAY more pristine trail in the area that we thoroughly enjoyed. Got to learn about some flowers, spotted our only live snake sighting in the region, and dined on some wild raspberries. Parted ways, headed up on to the top of the peak, and then we had to book it and head back out to Denver to catch a make up Rockies game or basically forfeit our tickets unless we'd planned on flying back to CO to catch another game sometime in the future.

Made it back to Denver, stayed in a hotel that was NOT Knight's Inn, walked right to Coors Field from the hotel and got there just in time for the opening pitch... Then it started to rain... Again... But it was ok! Did some gift shopping, got back up with some food in hand as the rain stopped. Game resumed, Rockies won, got to bed sort of late but without fear of dirty needles, and we were up the next day in time to visit Mile High Stadium's gift shop. Went from there to a shopping mall area, walked around, had lunch, then went to the airport to fly back home. Got in, had a Chester's burger, and all was well at home.

That was last night. It was a jam packed week, and it's back to the office tomorrow. Fun. Far as things I didn't mention right off the bat, saw a lot of things that I never got a picture of, despite my carrying the cam even when those things were spotted. Some critters were too far or too fast to photograph. Saw my 1st porcupine (largest most spectacular un-photographed animal among other animals I'd never seen/didn't photo), we heard an owl hooting at 3am the morning after my equilibrium experience, saw THE Milky Way (comparable to the view here in Texas, but I still think our view in Big Bend is much more pristine, saw WAY more people than I cared to see in a park system (many were cool, some were obnoxious and detrimental to the environment both audibly and physically in their mannerisms of feeding park wildlife, etc), saw way fewer birds of prey than I'd expected, and all the while still enjoyed myself thoroughly enough to decide that I need to see the place in winter. Snow... Plus... Animals... Animal tracks in the snow... More wildlife photographs? Hmm... :)

In the meantime, this is what I managed to shoot without snow/tracks:

http://picasaweb.google.com/stngrr/

Enjoy!
Get busy living, or get busy dying.

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Offline mountaindocdanny

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Re: Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2008, 11:15:33 AM »
Great pictures! Try going back during the "off season". The second half of September throught the end of May tends to be much less crowded. Can still be a few day hikers within close proximity to trailheads, but the backcountry tends to be relatively empty.

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Offline russco

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Re: Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2008, 11:41:55 AM »
Great trip and pics! Thanks for posting. Helped get my mind thinking towards my upcoming trip to Crested Butte this September!
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Offline Sanjuro82

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Re: Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2008, 02:20:06 PM »
Sounds like a great trip.  And a great set of pictures.  Incredible wildlife in that set.  Good job!

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Offline Robert

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Re: Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2008, 05:06:54 PM »
I've been 5 or 6 times, the last being in 2005. In that trip we were there in early June and it was not crowded at all. However, in some years there is still quite a bit of snow left that early in the summer. Lots of wildlife and tons of alpine lakes and waterfalls to hike to.

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Offline stingrey

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Re: Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2008, 06:42:18 PM »
We definitely need to go during the off season, but either way we had a blast. Lots 'o fun! Lots 'o animals! If you guys looked closely at the pics, there was one pic where all the elk were facing/heading the way of the cam... I only wish I could've seen what caused 'em to stampede in my direction! I'm also happy that they cut to my right instead of continuing on in formation to my location. That would've made for some interesting footage! :)
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Offline cookch1

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Re: Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2008, 04:15:29 PM »
funny, my attempt to see a Rockies game last year ended in a rain out. I'll be back on Labor Day to make a second attempt. Also climbing Humboldt that week. I'll report back...

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Offline lighter fluid

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Re: Rocky Mountain Trip 8/2-8/9
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2008, 11:37:26 PM »
Sounds like you had a great trip Stingrey.
Nice pics! :eusa_clap:
"...There is a pessimism about land which, after it has been with you a long time, becomes merely factual. Men increase; country suffers. " John Graves 'Goodbye to a River'

 


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