Posts Tagged ‘Winter Park’

In true Colorado fashion, the weather report from the night before had completely changed and the new forecast basically stated that we were going to get shit on all day. The clouds covered the sky in a thick, dark layer.

I procrastinated on getting ready, figuring I could get to treeline and decide from there what I wanted to do. From looking at the maps, I saw three options: continue on the trail above treeline for about fourteen miles; go above treeline for three miles, then bail down an old dirt road straight into Winter Park; or bail back down the Devil’s Thumb Trail to a small parking lot, down a dirt road into the town of Frasier.

Right as I picked my pack up, Memphis walked up saying he camped a mile back and he had lost E.D. in the afternoon.

Me: “So, how’d you guys get behind?”

Memphis: “Remember when I tried to take a shortcut around the edge of the lake?”

Me: “Yeah…”

Memphis: “Not a shortcut.  Took me an extra half hour to scramble around the boulders.  I found E.D. at the campground and she was having an off day, so we went to find the Ranch Store.”

Me: “The closed one?”

Memphis: “Well…it was closed for a mini burning man festival they titled ‘Burning Ham’ and I waived a lady over.  Her boobs were popping out of her shirt and she convinced the manager to let us in, and let us buy some food.”

Me: “That’s why you all didn’t catch me when I took a long ass lunch.”

Memphis: “It was cool, but everyone was really hungover, so we eventually continued on to Monarch Lake where E.D. laid down to take a nap.”

Me: “Wow.”

Memphis: “Then I tried to catch you, but couldn’t make it last night.  I did pass Hiker Box and Heartbreaker though.”

We had no idea how far back E.D. was and we debated about leaving a note somewhere for her.  Since the weather didn’t seem completely shitty yet, we decided to hike upward to treeline and decide there which option to take.

About a thousand feet higher at the last group of trees, the rain had turned to sideways sleet and we still had another 900 feet to the top of the ridge. We looked back at the forecast and it had not gotten any better.

We opted to backtrack down, hopefully running into E.D. and if not, leaving her a note at the trail junction toward the parking lot. We decided to wait out the sleet and rain in a bar in Frasier, which we could hit in about 8ish miles by our estimates of the dirt roads on Gaia.

However, instead of running into E.D., we ran into Hiker Box and Heartbreaker.  Hiker Box found it hilarious that we were backtracking.  Heartbreaker was just a wee bit behind and when she caught up, Hiker Box filled her in on why were were heading down.

Hiker Box: “Look who I found going north!”

We showed them the forecast and they came with us.  At the junction, we wrote E.D. a note, put it in an extra ziplock, and placed a rock on it to keep it in place.

On our way down the dirt road, a car pulled over and offered us a ride.  Heartbreaker and Hiker Box took them up on it saying that they were open ended section hikers, so they could skip road walks.

Memphis and I continued downhill through various rain storms getting glimpses of the mountains above socked into the clouds.

Eventually, we came to civilization and made our way to the main road until we found a bar.  Cheerfully, we went in and the bar had both veggie burgers and a PBR happy hour.  Awesome.  Love Colorado.

We ate and drank PBR watching it rain outside as the gutters flooded and giant puddles grew relatively quickly.

Then we got a call from E.D.. She had gotten our note and was asking which bar we’d found.  She knew us well enough to know we would try to wait out the grossest part and have an entertaining time waiting.

She came in with Hiker Box and Heartbreaker and the five of us waited out the last of the storms which stopped sometime between five and six in the afternoon.

Finally, we decided to migrate.  Conveniently, a bike path linked Frasier and Winter Park, which made avoiding fast moving vehicles easier for a time.  We planned to head to a car camping campground about seven miles down the road, but then we decided that we smelled awful and needed laundry badly from the lack of laundry in Grand Lake.

The rooms were expensive, but Memphis volunteered to do laundry, so the three of us caved and got a room to dry out and restore some less repulsive scents to our minimal clothing.

In the morning after free hotel breakfast and a foot-long sub for each of us, we followed the bike path until it finished, followed the road, then found an old, unmaintained ski trail which turned into an interesting several mile bushwhack next to the road, then the road to the top of Berthoud Pass.  We ate dinner in a warming hut made for backcountry skiers.

On every wall, there were two signs: “No camping” and “No pets.” They clearly foresaw what we intended.  There was no one there after the construction workers left and the tourists who felt bad and gave us oranges.

While we debated about ignoring the signs, a dude who was clearly a thru-hiker in a dirty, bright t-shirt, and large beard walked toward the hut and appeared to recognize us through the window.

When he got closer, we realized it was Sleepwalker! We hadn’t seen him since Lincoln, about two months earlier. We caught up and all decided to camp in the trees outside the hut, which also had a “No camping” sign near it, but it was partially hidden by a tree and there was only one of them.  Much easier to ignore.


Someone sharpied something clever…


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