Sunday, July 27, 2014

Holy Cross Wilderness, CO

Finally, we got to go backpacking!  Oh how long we have waited to be all dirty and sweaty and eat freeze dried food and wear bug repellant and sleep in a cocoon inside a flimsy nylon house!  Oh, and what's better, we got to carry everything we had on our backs!  It was awesome.  We hiked the Missouri Pass/Fancy Pass trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness.  Day one was a fairly steep trail to Missouri Lakes, the trail following the lovely Missouri Creek the whole way.  

The vegetation was absolutely lush for the high Rockies because its been a good rain year in the high country.  We saw Indian Paintbrush that was the most lovely magenta color…a shade I've never seen.  There were also abundant Bluebells and Harebells, and rocks and trees, and almost no humidity!  I love the West!  Kate, Sue and I were joined by our son in law Stephen, and it was a great group to travel with.  It rained a little after we had the tents up, but cleared quickly and gave us a beautiful sunset that lit up the surrounding mountains.  That's right, we were SURROUNDED by mountains!!!  That made us all really happy, and I could feel the scales and burdens falling away as we gained altitude and my eyes feasted on the high country. This place gives me renewed life, and I was absolutely loving it.

Day two had us climbing to Missouri Pass, the last part of which had me kick-stepping in snow for Sue and Kate to follow.  It was a  good climb, but the rewards at the top were clearly worth it!

Stephen took a dip in the lake at the bottom of this pass which gave him "manly" bragging rights for the rest of the day.  We then set our sights on climbing Fancy Pass on the way to our destination at Fancy Lake.  Unlike many trails in UT that are designed for horse travel, these trails were not, so they were steep.  Coloradans seem to believe in the adage that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and they don't worry about how steep or rocky that straight line is!  The far side of Fancy Pass presented us with a snowfield descent.  Normally, glissading down a snowfield would be a welcome thing to do, but with a fairly heavy backpack, that becomes pretty treacherous.  But, we took our time and made it down safely.

Fancy Lake was a great place to stop for the night, and I trekked across the lake to take a shower in the waterfall on the far side (see below).  Stephen said it did not equal his manly lake dip, but I was ok with that.

Day three took us on a side trip to an abandoned mining town, Holy Cross City.  We met two old-timers there who agreed to let us take their picture.

The walk out was every bit as beautiful as the walk in, and I found myself going slower and slower, looking around and enjoying every sight, flower, cascade and the smell of fir trees.  I simply did not want to leave!  When we came to the last bridge crossing, I looked at Sue and asked, "Do we have to go?"  Surprisingly to me, I had tears in my eyes as I asked that question.  I really didn't want to leave!  It had been such a blessed trip, with wonderful weather, wonderful companions, a wonderful absence of back pain, and a really wonderful loop trail.  At one point I told Stephen, "this kind of stuff is enough to make a man never want to get a job again!"  Here's to many, many more nights spent sleeping outside above 10,000 feet!

Eagle Peak

So, after a visit to my new doctor, and a great little white pill that calms my lungs down, I've found the air and am breathing normally again.  In celebration, we went to one of our favorite Academy hikes, Eagle Peak.  The Eagle Peak trail is steep.  The it gets steeper.  Then it comes to a beautiful meadow ringed with Aspen trees.  Then it gets steeper again!  It follows a small stream most of the way up, so we were serenaded by water for a lot of the climb.  The view from the top was wonderful!  360 degrees of mountains, mountains, and Kansas.  Pikes Peak was out in its glory, and the Cadet Tow Planes hummed overhead (we call them Lawn Mowers in the Sky, and they are a constant drone all summer long as the Cadets learn to fly gliders).  One gave us a wing wave as he passed over the peak.  The fat chipmunk on the peak wanted a handout, but we didn't oblige.  The weather was perfect and it was great to be back on a rocky peak in the mountains that we love.  This was a great re-introduction to hiking, and now that I can breathe it will be a lot more satisfying!

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Adventure

Ok, it was a little adventure, but it was nice.  We went to the AF Academy today and hiked a long time family favorite, Stanley Canyon.  The problem is that this trail starts at about 8,000 feet and goes just about straight up for 2 miles.  I didn't make it that far.  My legs were willing but my lungs just couldn't find where they had hidden the air!  I soldiered on to the waterfall, which was covered in mountain bluebells, and soaked my head and tried really hard to breathe.  We decided that that was enough for today, and started back down, because a heart attack is an adventure I do not want to have.  The great news is that I've finally found some hiking boots that my feet really like!  Keens are shaped like feet!  It was a lovely hike in a beautiful place that we love.  We spent the rest of the day with Sarah in her new apartment, building a bookshelf and a TV stand and taking her shopping. Kate and I have gotten really good at building things together, so we'll hire out for cheap if anyone needs help.  Sarah's doing great and is very happy to be back in CO.  On the way home to Denver, we watched a HUGE storm over the greater Denver area, from the Front Range way out into Kansas, with tons of lightning all over the place.  I love Rocky Mountain thunder storms...lightning spidering across the sky is a marvel!  Tomorrow I'm off to the medical supply store to buy a backpack sized oxygen tank!  I love the mountain air, but I guess I need to get the collective goo from too many years at sea level out of my system before things get to running smoothly.  And don't go thinking this has something to do with my dad used to say when he played tennis at 72 years old and couldn't get to the ball like he used to, "I just need to do it more".  That's my plan!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

 The Garneys are now in Denver, CO.  We had a completely uneventful trip across the great plains (man, I don't envy Daniel Boone; the forests of Kentucky looked completely impassible, so thick it would be hard to walk in) and Kansas was beautiful and green AND YOU COULD SEE FOREVER!  I love the openness of the west.  I saw the first antelope!  The Best Western in Frankfort, KY was great, but I don't recommend the Abilene, KS Super 8….smelly!  The people were nice, though.  We got here in great shape (I think the rear wheel bearings on the Ford are shot, but it made it) and were welcomed by our kids and grandkids.  Its great to be in their home.  On thursday night we went to the Independence Eve Celebration in downtown Denver, and they had the most rapid-fire fireworks I've ever seen, launched from the top of the City Hall!  I almost bailed out during the pre-fireworks festivities when two bands entertained the CROWD (Oh my Gosh).  One was out of its league in such a big, open venue and the other was way too loud (for me, the old guy).  Anyway we met up with the Fernelious family who left the Springfield ward 6 months ago and had a nice time.  So, no real adventures yet, thank goodness, but we're adapting the the loving arms of high altitude air and cool evenings.  The mountains are beautiful and are still holding snow, and the wildflowers are gorgeous!  We're planning our first backpacking trip for next week…the only problem being where to go?!