5.01.2005

Anniversary

One year in the books, today is the anniversary of me moving into my apartment here in Colorado. Hard to believe isn’t it? It went pretty fast, but it was full of a lot of fun stuff, just look at all the old blog postings! This weekend wasn’t quite as much fun as some of those past posts though, due mostly to our weather. Basically we are in “spring shower” mode, which for us can be either rain or snow, and sometimes back and forth all day. Basically it snows at night when it’s cooler and rains during the day, but at higher elevations it is just snow, so if you are driving you can go through pockets of snow depending on where you are. The showers have been widely scattered, in fact most of today was dry in town, but you never know what its going to do, and being several miles away from my car on a hiking trail is not exactly where I want to be if it starts pouring, or becomes a blinding whiteout of snow. That is why Saturday I thought the best plan would be to head over to Arapahoe Basin and extend my ski season a little bit.

This didn’t turn out to be the most original idea of the day, seems half the population of Colorado thought the same way. At 9am when I was getting to the parking lots, the main lot was already full and roped off, and the secondary lots all had long lines of traffic in both directions on the road at their entrances, and one glance at the amount of people already in the lift lines gave me second thoughts about going at all. I figured the amount of skiers would at least double from all the people arriving, and it was already looking pretty full. I kept driving, and parked up at the top of Loveland Pass instead. This too was a popular activity for the day, as the lot was already beginning to fill up, mostly with backcountry bound skiers and riders. The west side of the pass is one of the most easily accessible and popular backcountry ski areas in the state, and relatively safe from avalanche danger because of its gentle slopes, it’s not much steeper than a “blue” (or intermediate) run inbounds. That is where most people were headed but I headed east to take a short hike along the ridge on the Continental Divide. In the fall I had hiked the northern portion of this ridge to Mt Sniktau, so Saturday I opted to follow the southern path instead. This is the path The Divide takes as it rises above Loveland Pass, where it crosses a few summits on its way to its highest point between its start in Alaska and a volcano near Mexico City, Grays Peak (14,270’), which I climbed a few years ago on a trip from Chicago ironically. On this day, however, I didn’t follow the ridge that far, partly because it was starting to lightly snow as I reached the crest, and didn’t want to get too far from the trailhead in case it picked up. I topped out on the ridge at a point at 13,117’ above sea level affectionately known as “Cupid” because of its proximity to Loveland Pass. This is a ranked summit; in fact it is the 555th highest ranked summit in the state. Not as glorious as Grays, which is 9th, but with the wind driven snow starting to pick up, it was a cold and brutal place to be, and far enough for me. I took one quick picture and turned around with the wind howling all the way along the ridge crest. It finally started to calm down on the slopes leading back to the pass. It was only about 3 miles round trip, and I was back at the car a little after 11am. On the way back down from the pass, the police were out towing cars, I thought at first they had driven off the side of the road, and thought it odd because it was not slick at all. Then I realized they were towing skiers’ cars, which were illegally parked on the road a good mile above the ski area. All the parking lots were full, and people had taken to parking in the shoulder to instead! I guess if the lots are full, you are better off just going home or hiking on Loveland Pass. I wonder what they thought when they got back and found their cars missing…