Paddling behind Paul Endacott in his fabulous hand built wooden kayak on the Wakarusa
With Blair Sutton and a rainbow on the Kaw on July 4 - heading down from Perry to Lawrence to watch the fireworks from the river
Last week, in order to avoid the full brunt of July's heat and humidity, I popped out to Colorado with my buddy, Eric Struckoff. Eric and I and a few friends did a self-contained bike trip around Southern France in 2001. This time we took road and mountain bikes (as well as hiking gear and disc golf accoutrement). We hit Leadville, and spent 5 adventure-filled days. We biked to the top of Mt Evans at over 14,000ft. The road to the summit is highest paved road in North America. I hadn't been too sure about how that would pan out. While I bike a lot, I don't really consider myself a cyclist. The air gets pretty thin at that altitude. But nevertheless, I persisted. Eric (who is a stunningly good cyclist) was kind enough to go at a pace that I could handle. Honestly, it was a real joy to be on the side of the mountain. The views were awe-inspiring, and the ride challenging enough to keep it interesting. As a bonus, on the way to the top, we passed a herd of mountain goats.
Mountain goats on the slopes of Mt. Evans (photo taken at around 13,000 ft)
The next day we spent on the grounds of Colorado Mountain College. CMC not only has the highest disc golf course in the US, but it also has miles of fantastic mtn biking trails for all skill levels. Every climb up the mountain (super fun in itself) was rewarded with awesome downhills. There was even a portion of the trails that had man-made jumps and ramps.
Our final endeavor was to climb Mt. Massive. Instead of hiking the gently sloping longer routes from the Leadville side, Eric and I opted to go for a shorter, but more challenging, route from the back side if the mountain. The path we chose was intensely rocky, with much scrambling over scree and talus deposits. The path was also insanely steep, rising 1,000 ft / mile. I got a bit of vertigo a couple of times. And when we finally made it to the top ridge at 14,300ft, I called it a day while Eric popped over a few more outcroppings to the true summit. We had budgeted 3 hours for the trip. But between the rocks and the rise, the hike took about 6.5 hours. The beauty of the place was staggering. We walked over rocks and a little snow, between flowers and other heart high-altitude plants, and across a few little streams. There were a few other hikers. But our favorite company were the plump marmots that came out of multiple burrows in the rocks to check us out. Massive was tough. But again, we felt rewarded tenfold for the effort we put in.
Other things we undertook - a couple of rounds of disc golf on the aforementioned course, road biking the Mineral Belt Loop, ate great meals in Idaho Springs as well as at the fantastic Tennessee Pass Cafe in Leadville.
The views, as always, were perpetually stunning wherever we were. Colorado from the Front Range west never waivers from offering some of the most picturesque landscapes on the planet. I hope to make it back soon.