Sunday, January 17, 2010

My first mountain (time warp) hike!

Holy Cow. I don't know where to start!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent a fair amount of time last week getting us prepared for a proper mountain hike. No matter what time of year it is here, there can be snow and storms up high in the mountains and you don't want to get caught unprepared.

So Rich chose a route for us and programmed it into the new hiking GPS I got him for Christmas. We are still fuzzy on how to use the thing fully, but we are working on that... lol

The route he chose was the Tanglewood Trail in Pike National Forest. We went to the Deer Creek campground in Bailey to the trailhead. We were aiming for the Pegmatite Points.

We were dressed well, packed well, and excited. When we got out of the car, the first thing I noticed was that our present altitude was close 10,000 feet- where we live is 5460 feet, so already a good jump upwards.

We started off and the trail wastes no time in ascending. Before long I was huffing and puffing- and shortly after that I had to stop to catch my breath. I am an embarrassment to high-altitude hikers... We had to stop really often to catch our breath, and I couldn't believe how hard it was to go just a short way!

It was cool to hear the creek bubbling away under the ice and snow and I am sure it was a beautiful sight all around me, only I couldn't really look, and often didn't want to, as the trail kept going upwards and I was wondering how on earth I was going to make it!

There were some icy spots and we had to really work our way around them so as not to slip and fall.

Here is where the time warp reference comes in. We stopped to check how far along on the trail we were and I was SHOCKED to see more than two hours had passed since we left the car! NO WAY! I just couldn't believe it. No wonder I felt so hungry!

Of course we stopped a couple of times to switch our clothes and such, being greenhorns we haven't gotten it all figured out just yet. We were both very thankful not to be with a group, we would have hated holding others up. But as it was just the two of us, it was no big deal. AND it gave me yet another chance to slow down my pounding heart and regulate my breathing again.

We kept thinking we were getting close to our goal of the saddle where we could see both Rosalie and the Pegmatite Points, but we really weren't. We finally had to stop to have some lunch and assess whether we felt fit enough to proceed.

Our lunch stop was less than 20 minutes because it was really cold, colder than I had realized when I was moving. I had my gloves off only for part of my lunch time and to visit the bushes (lol) but I was really sorry that I had them off at all, they got SOOO cold that I could barely manage my poles. Thankfully we had brought along our really warm gloves too, and I put them on along with my warm layer, and we got ready to head back. Neither of us felt up to ascending any further, which is a shame, I really wanted to see the peaks. But honestly, I couldn't have made it! My fingers ached and burned for a good twenty minutes.

I figured the trip back would be easier and I guess going down IS easier, but I also found out that going down on icy patches is MUCH trickier than going up on it. I will say that I enjoyed the scenery more on the way down though, because I wasn't having any breathing difficulties.

Going up we were traveling much more slowly because of the air and the incline. Going down the steep decline and momentum made it a lot harder to travel slowly where we needed to. This is where the trekking poles became VERY handy. I can say that I learned how to use them really well today! Still I did slip and almost go down on a knee. Tomorrow will tell if I actually hurt it or not, I suppose.

The ascent took us over two hours, the descent just an hour and ten minutes. Going up I was so busy trying to breathe that it didn't feel as though we were getting much exercise for our muscles. But I can tell you now, I was much mistaken. I am feeling stiff and definitely that today's hike was a thorough workout.

Today was a great day, and I learned a LOT. I learned that there are good reasons for all the stuff they tell you are "essentials" on a mountain hike.

I also learned that some things are well-worth spending some money on to ensure comfort, like boots, a backpack, and clothing.

Most of all I was reminded that there is so much beauty around us if we will just go out and spend some time in the great outdoors!

Here are some photos we took today. Like the ice patch? Me either! lol

Lovely hike at Deer Creek Canyon

Last Sunday we went for a nice hike just outside of town here, at Deer Creek Canyon. We had a lovely day for it, so the visibility when we got higher up was great! We could see Denver downtown off in the distance; sometimes I don't remember it is that close...

After our hike we went to get fitted for our backpacks. Who knew you had to be fitted??? Well, the people at REI, for one! lol

They have this board you strap on (like a backpack) so they can tell you what size and length you should be carrying. Then they take you to the racks, find one in your size, load 10 lbs of weight in it, and make you walk around the store with it on to see how it feels. I felt a little stupid doing it at first, but then figured since I didn't know anyone in the store except Rich, why worry? lol And it made a whole lot of sense to really be able to try it out.

So we both found one that fit pretty well and we brought them home. Rich ordered me a set of trekking poles; we have a set but discovered that in the slippery ice and mud, having two might be better. Plus we want to do some snowshoeing and they will help with that too.

Then later this week, I compiled my shopping list from the Colorado Mountain Club site to set us up; first aid supplies, fire-starting stuff, etc. It was so fun!

We wanted to be ready (or as much as possible) to go on a more challenging hike this week. Here are a few photos from the Deer Creek Canyon hike, enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Our anniversary weekend at the Stanley Hotel

Last weekend was our third anniversary, and we celebrated by going away for the weekend. Every year so far, we have stayed at the luxurious Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver, and I could never get bored staying there! It will always be my favourite hotel. But this year we decided to do something different and so Rich made us weekend reservations at the Stanley Hotel up in Estes Park.

The hotel is rich in history and we really enjoyed the (ghost) tour we took before checking in. Mr. Stanley was a famous Easterner who came to Colorado for his health and ended up being responsible for really developing the town and area around it in order to build and support his hotel. The hotel was elegant and used the Stanley Steamer cars to pick up their guests in Longmont or Lyons, as the train didn't go to Estes Park.

The Stanleys are best known for their Stanley Steamers, steam cars, but Mr. Stanley and his brother made their fortune back east. Here is a blurb I found on "Infoplease" that briefly explains their story:

"Francis and his twin brother Freelan formed the Stanley Dry Plate Company in 1883 to manufacture dry plates for the photographic process invented by Francis. They sold the company to Eastman Kodak in 1905, as their interest had turned to steam-powered automobiles. They had invented the “Stanley Steamer” in 1896, the first steam motorcar in New England, and formed the Stanley Motor Company to manufacture them. Francis served as president of the firm. The pair actively competed in auto races, pitting their steam power against gasoline-fueled engines and often winning. Using one of their steam cars, they set a world record in 1906 for fastest mile, 28.2 seconds (or 127 mph [205 kph]). The brothers sold the business in 1918, having manufactured more than 10,000 “Steamers.” Francis died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident that same year.

Freelan, or F.O. was the Stanley brother that built the hotel.

Now there is more to the hotel- and what it is known best for now- ghosts. The hotel is said to be haunted by both Mr. & Mrs. Stanley, the swindler of a man they bought the property from, Lord Dunravin, and a maid who hangs around room 217. Stephen King stayed at the Stanley back in the early 70's and reportedly had so many spectral experiences, it inspired him to write "The Shining". The original movie was not shot there, but the miniseries that was filmed in the 90's was filmed at the hotel.

Part of the movie "Dumb and Dumber" was filmed here too. Jim Carey had room 217 for a night- but apparently came down in the middle of the night, asking the desk to make him reservations at the Holiday Inn- and then he waited outside for the car to get him... he has never publicly said what happened to him in that room... hmmmm....

I am no ghost hunter and am pretty sceptical about the whole supernatural thing, but I did keep hearing a music box playing and I could never tell where it was coming from. Our room was over the music room and we heard lots of piano and cello-playing as there was a wedding both Saturday and Sunday- but the music box sound was sometimes over top of that and I could only hear it in our room, no where else... (play Twilight Zone music... lol)

Anyway, here are a few photos. It's a lovely location and we had a really nice, relaxing weekend. Just the perfect thing to start off the new year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

To all who visit me here, my wish for you is a happy, healthy, fun new year! I don't make resolutions, I am continually trying to learn things and be a better person ;) But a new year is a great time to improve things, change things, try new things, and so that is what I will do!

The holidays are quickly coming to a close. Rich is always off this week between Christmas and New Years and so we get a nice long time to be together and a little time to wind down after the hustle and bustle of having all of the kids home for a few days.

Of course, with our wedding anniversary on January 3rd, we get to end the holidays with a private celebration. In past years, we have spent some time at the Brown Palace in Denver as our getaway. This year, we will be going to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. I have never been to that area of the state and am very excited to go there!

Till I have photos to post from there, here are a few from Christmas at home with all the kids.

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