Sunday, August 29, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation pt.1

I don't think I wanna muck up this post with too many words, so I'll just let the pictures do the talking. Long story short, this summer I did a lot of traveling in the western 3rd of the U.S. It was an incredible experience and one that I won't soon forget. The west is feeling more and more like home to me and I can't wait to move to Colorado in December.


Enough babble, on with the eye candy...

My flight to Denver left from Midway so I stayed in Chicago at my friends pad.
Chi-city at dusk
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Tunnel blastin' on I-70 west of Denver on one of the many camping trips I took while in CO
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Sunrise over the Ten Mile Range, CO
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Mt. Guyot
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Some wild mountain hut not too far from Keystone Resort
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I've known this dude, Tom, since junior high. He and his wife Lea were cool enough to put me up at their place in Denver for the majority of this trip.
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Another look at Mt. Guyot
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This guy got so close to the Jeep we coulda touched him.
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Backpacked up to Willow Lakes in Summit County, CO with my friends Giri and Anne.
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Went to a Rockies Game.
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I headed up to Jackson, WY to see some old friends from my NMU days, Mike and his wife Danielle. While there, I took some pictures of some far-off outta the way mountain range that hardly anyone visits. I can't seem to remember their name though. I guess there's supposed to be a little shit-hole of a ski hill there too. Jackson's Hole or something? I dunno, Snow King looked pretty rad to me.
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Took a 4day/36mile walk through the Wind River Range. Unfortunately, Danielle couldn't get the time off of work to come with us, so she stayed at home with the dogs since Mike wasn't sure how the younger dogs he has would react if we were to encounter a bear.

Here is our route, we had a 10.5mile approach hike that took us up Seneca Lake and back to the trail head on our last day.
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A view from the aptly named, "Photographers Point" on our way to Seneca. I wonder what percentage of visitors to our trailhead only make it this close to the Winds?
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Night 1 at Seneca delivered some great Alpenglow
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Day 2 from Seneca Lake to Elbow Lake was a short mileage day that ended up being our longest day due to some bushwacking around large snowfields and the occasional post-hole up to the hip for the last 2.5miles of the 8mile trek from Seneca... (photo cred: Mike Scott)
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But the views at Elbow once we got there made all the effort totally worth it.
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Not to mention the fact that I hooked into my first ever golden trout, which we ended up having for dinner. (photo cred: Mike Scott)
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Thought we might get some weather that night, but it never materialized over us which was good.
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It froze that night as the lake definitely had more ice on it in the morning.
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Such a kick-ass spot...
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Only spent the one night at Elbow Lake before returning back to Seneca where the wind was kind enough to put my tent in one of the smaller lakes in the area. (nevermind the fact that I was the dumbass who hadn't staked it down yet)
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All I could do in that situation was laugh....and then shoot some photos.
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I alluded to the bear situation in the Winds and although I didn't see one personally a hiker was attacked by a Grizz (non-fatally) in the northern part of the range during the same time we were there. Mike got this shot of an immature Black Bear about 3miles from the Elkhart Lakes Trailhead.

Hey Boo-Boo, how about we sneak up on this hiker? I don't think the ranger is gonna like this Yogi.
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After Jackson and the Winds, I headed back to Denver; but, not before having a brief run-in with a fine representative from the Wyoming State Highway Patrol. Something about driving Tom's car without him in it (which was sporting expired Illinois plates) with a Michigan drivers license and a suspicious looking pill in the center console that I never even noticed which turned out to be a Vicodin from Tom's root canal. Needless to say, I thought I was going to jail. I got off with a ticket for the expired tabs and a warning to be more careful about borrowing cars from friends.

Took this shot about 40mins after that eventful event. CO HWY 287, north of Ft. Collins. If you ever are in that area, I definitely suggest taking a drive on 287. Its so rad.
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Tom, Lea and I caught up with my friend Chris from GVSU who is now a grad student at CSU in Ft. Collins. Chris took us up to Chambers lake for some camping and insanely easy rainbow trout fishing. Chambers is so stocked full of fish by the Colorado fish and wildlife service that fishing there is a bit like fishing a glorified trout pond. Still, it was pretty damn fun catching so many 'bows in the 12"-14" range on my fly and spinning rods.

Morning light on Chambers Lake, CO
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Chris doing what he loves best...
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We must have caught 20 or more fish this size between Chris, Tom, and myself in a total of about 4-5hours of fishing.
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We left Chambers to get back to Denver in time to see my old friend from Tahoe, Giri, compete in the National Slalom Skateboarding Championships. Although he didn't podium, it was still a rad event to see in person. It was like stepping back in time, to the mid70s when this was all skateboarding was about, before pools, before street, before all that it was about bombing hills and slaloming cones.

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Check out the hardware these guys are riding. That's a carbon fiber deck.
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The guy on the right is George Papas. He and his brother Chris are legends in the world of slalom skateboarding. I hope I'm still riding skateboards when I'm in my 50s.
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Here's Chris in action...
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Young guns were in attendance as well. The guy on the right, Joe, won the title.
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Here's my buddy Giri tearing into a heel-side turn during warmups on the downhill course.
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I called this one 'Stormin'
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From L to R: Giri, his wife Anne, their dog Tula, Tom, his wife Lea, and myself
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The last big adventure to wrap up my 3 week stay in Colorado was to make an attempt on Mt. Bierstadt, a 14,061ft peak about an hour and a half southwest of Denver. Tom and I chose a southern approach from the Scott Gomer Creek Trailhead which would've been about 17miles round trip and which would've gained around 4600 vertical feet of elevation. Unfortunately, we were turned back by weather on the morning of our summit push. As bummed as I was that I didn't get to join the 14'er club, I know that Bierstadt and 52 other 14'ers in Colorado aren't going anywhere for quite a while. I'll be back to stand atop that mountain the next chance I get (weather permitting of course)

Sorry for the crappy cell phone photos. I didn't feel like hauling the Canon with me this time. All of these shots were taken from Tom's Droid which makes for a great phone with a shitty camera, or a shitty camera with a really good phone.

Bierstadt from the west (Largest peak on the right side). Of course the weather cleared up as soon as we got off the mountain. But in the end we made the right decision because the storms fired up again in the early afternoon. This photo was taking around noon.
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Here's Tom on our approach to our camp the day before.
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Here I am in the same spot.
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The view from our camp around 11,000ft was alright I guess.
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The view surrounding Tom's tent. My tent's view was a little more obscured by trees.
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In retrospect, with the forecast for our summit day calling for a 40% chance of showers and high clouds like this the night before; I could've called the rain in the morning. But at least the sunset was nice.
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I woke up around 5am to the sound of rain hitting my rainfly. I shouted to Tom that we could wait around for a bit and see what the weather was going to do. At 730, it looked like this, and the rain was still coming down lightly.
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The next day would be my last in Denver with my flight scheduled to leave at 330pm; but the afternoon thunderstorms that are so common around the front range that time of year pushed the take off time back to around 445mst. The storm clouds made for some great shots on the way home however.

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Well, that wraps up the story of the first great adventure west of my summer. I'll post up the stuff from Oregon later. Sorry for the huge post; but I figured rather than put each of these mini-trips into their own posts; I'd just make two big ones that encompass the adventures. Besides, I needed to go through my photos and pick out some of the better ones any way.

Later.

-The One Track Mind.

5 comments:

  1. Good stuff man, looks like an epic trip.

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  2. Thanks Josh. It was unreal. I can't wait to be calling that part of the country home.

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  3. Paul, all I can say is, "WOW!" What an amazing summer you have had! The pictures were amazing! You definitely are meant to be out west. I have to admit the bear picture was a little scary, but I am glad it was an immature bear, not one smart enough to think you looked like a great snack!
    So you head out in December to Denver? That is fantastic! You have come a long way since the days I babysat you, and you tried to kiss Holly at the tender age of four! :)

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  4. Hey, Mountain Guy! I'm going to say "WOW", too, for lack of a better word to describe those photos Grandpa and I just looked at. You are definitely in your element out there in the mountains. I can just taste those trout but I did feel sorry for that one little guy in the photo. I think you should have thrown him back in for a swim.
    Keep your eye on the prize and you'll be back out there soon! Grandma

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  5. Hey, thanks guys.

    I personally wanted to throw the trout back to tell you the truth. I really did. That was the first fish I've kept and eaten since my sophomore year of High School. That being said though, it was either eat him, or the packaged tunafish we had with us; and after the day of hiking we had that day, that trout looked better and better every second it was outta the water.

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