Aren't weekends for relaxing?

The new place is coming along. Thursday the carpet installers were there, then that evening I finished up the vinyl tile as I had under-bought. With all of the new flooring and the freshly painted walls it really looks like a whole different place. Friday I moved a bunch of boxes that I had packed the night before; I did a load at lunch and then another one after work. It’s pretty convenient to only be about a half mile from everything, ahh small towns. I decided that I had a choice for Saturday morning, either sleep until nature woke me up and start working again, or get up early and go for hike. I also needed to make a Target run to get some storage solutions for the second bedroom and the laundry closet, so I came up with the perfect plan. Get up early, climb a peak on the way to Target (sort of), go to Target and then start working. I left the house at 6am, and was on the trail by 6.45. I decided to finish off the “Fletcher Group” in the Tenmile Range to the south of Breckenridge (on the east) and Copper (on the west). The only peak out of the five in the group that I didn’t get to last year was 13,841 foot Atlantic Peak, our 86th highest peak. I approached it from the Copper side because of two reasons, one the hike is shorter and more direct, and two the trailhead is a closer drive. The total round trip is about 6 miles and has 2800 feet of elevation gain. I did it in a little over 4 hours and was back at the car at 11am. In fact I was done with all my shopping at Target by noon, so it was quite a productive morning! The approach to Atlantic’s ridge is along a dirt road that access the old Boston Mine, a collection of several buildings that with there easy access are a popular destination. At 7am there was no one around, but on the way back there were about 10 or 12 people wandering around the site. The ridge itself is pretty straightforward, and is visible in almost its entirety from just above the parking area. The biggest drawback is that there is no trail, but that makes it kind of fun. You feel like you are the first person to ever be climbing it, even though you know that isn’t true. The hardest part is actually before the ridge, there is a stream crossing through a grove of chest high bushes that you have to sort of bushwhack through a bit. The stream itself isn’t that wide, all you need is a spot where there are one or two rocks in the middle and it’s a quick hop across. The ridge is all talus, which are large rocks that are created from the freeze thaw cycle on the mountains. Pretty much every peak I have done is covered in it, and it is actually quite nice to climb on. I was the only name in the summit register in the last four days, and there were only about 7 or 8 listed this month total. The views are great, all the other high thirteeners in the group flank the summit, which is the middle of the five, and to the west you can see all the way to the Elks near Aspen. After a brief snack is was back down the mountain and on with my day. I moved a lot of stuff in the afternoon and the “old” apartment is starting to get pretty bare. I should finish most of it up tomorrow and then move the big stuff after work Monday when my friend (with a pick up truck) is back in town.


Making Progress

Finally the new place is starting to look like “home”. This weekend was a lot of work, and I still have a little bit more to finish up before I can officially move in, but it is definitely getting there. Sad to say, I didn’t get to go hiking, some things have to take a back seat to wrap up my home improvement projects I guess. Saturday I ran some errands, bought some more stuff for the new place, and then headed over there to paint. I managed to finish almost all of the painting that afternoon, in fact by the time I finished the first coat the wall I started with was already dry enough for a second coat. I finished the second coat except for the kitchen; I was running out of daylight and decided to call it quits. I love this dry Rocky Mountain air, the paint dries a lot faster! Sunday I made another trip to The Home Depot and got some wood for shelving, plywood for flooring underlayment, and a bunch of boxes of vinyl composite tile. Then I finished up the second coat of paint in the kitchen, and went out to get some lunch. I at least got to eat outside, my only real outdoor “activity” of the whole weekend, which was incredibly disappointing as it was so amazing outside. It was warm, mid 70’s in my area, and 90’s in Denver, and not a cloud in the sky all weekend. After lunch it was back to work, where I took care of all of the plywood underlayment, and then started to lay the VCT. I started in the kitchen, over the existing tile floor, and finished only that room on Sunday. There were a lot of cut tiles necessary around the cabinets, and also I didn’t want to put down the tile in the dining area until I was done with the shelving seeing as there would be a lot of sawdust.

At the end of the day on Sunday I pretty much had the bathroom and kitchen completely finished, and Monday I put on the cabinet knobs in the kitchen to finish those rooms out to “move in” condition. I now can start bringing stuff over, and already have brought some of the kitchen items that I do not need to use this week. Monday was also a day of cutting shelves; they are completely cut and now are just awaiting install on Tuesday. I did put together the supports for the entry closet, but still need to find a closet rod small enough. I am splitting the closet so it only has a 16 inch rod, and the rest is going to be dividers for a ski rack. I also have to install the shelves for the linen closet, which will have four and master bedroom, which will have a shelf and rod and a second higher shelf above for storage of some small boxes. After that it will be flooring time; finishing the vinyl tile for me, and then having the carpet installers in later this week, hopefully Thursday if everything is delivered in a timely fashion. It has been a lot of time and money, but it is really coming along well. I can’t wait to be finished so I can start hiking again!


Taking a Break, Colorado Style

After a week of painting at the new place almost everyday after work, I decided to give myself a day off Saturday and go hiking instead. I got a nice early start and was actually at the trailhead before 8. I went over to climb Mt Oklahoma, which is a centennial thirteener on the west side of Mt Massive (the second highest peak in the state) near Leadville. The drive from my town really isn’t that bad, it’s only about an hour and a half and most of the way it’s pretty easy going. The last few miles to the trailhead the road gets a little rough, and the last maybe half mile is where passenger cars can no longer make it. The trail rises along the North Halfmoon Creek, and is a fairly gentle trail and well maintained. In fact the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative was out on the section of the trail that branches off for Mt Massive doing some work to make it even better. The trail I was on continues beyond this point, and I was on the trail for about 2 miles total before having to leave the trail, cross the creek, and start climbing Mt Oklahoma. The peak climb portion itself is not on any sort of trail, and even if it was you wouldn’t know because that side of the valley still had a lot of snow. The main route up Oklahoma is on the east slopes, and due to less afternoon sun, the east slopes melt out later than those on the west side of the peaks. Pretty much the entire route from the creek to the summit was covered in snow. The snow was fairly hardpacked though and with the snowshoes on it was relatively easy going. The steepest section of the route, which in the summer is a rock filled gully, was a little difficult with the snowshoes. This was partly because of its near 30 degree angle, and partly because it was so solid that the snowshoes weren’t getting a good grip. Wearing snowshoes can be a little like wearing small sleds when it gets steep, unless the snow is soft. It probably would have been better to use crampons, which are metal spikes you put on your shoes to provide grip in icy conditions, but I had left mine at home. I was putting a lot of my body weight on my ice axe to keep from slipping backwards as I climbed, which made that portion of the climb much more tiring than I expected. I took a rest and had a snack after that crux section of the route before climbing much gentler, but still snow covered, slopes the remaining 650 feet to the summit. All in all the route was about 3 1/2 miles one way and gained about 3300 feet of altitude. And to think I chose this route because my friend Ben was too busy to do a snow climb and I end up climbing snow anyway! From the summit the views of Mt Massive to the east are spectacular, and you can see several other of the surrounding high peaks. Mt Oklahoma itself is fairly high as well; it is 13,845 feet and the 85th highest peak in the state. It was my 23rd “centennial” peak, almost a quarter of the way done! The weather in the morning was a beautiful blue sky, but it slowly clouded up over the course of the hike, and I even got a few raindrops on the drive back down the road. Good thing I started so early or I may have been in the snow on the peak! Tomorrow it will be back to work on the condo, hopefully I can get a lot done so I can climb again next weekend.


The New Place

I think I told most of you already that I was searching for a place to buy up here. It was a tough search, most of the places were too expensive and over the time of my search I probably only saw about 4 places that I could actually afford. I ended up settling on a 2 bedroom, and just closed on it last Thursday. Now it is down to business to get the place fixed up. Not that it needs much, but part of the fun of owning your own place is to add those personal touches. One of the things that had to go was all of the metal in the closets, metal shelves, rods, and doors. Unfortunately the metal doors were full height, and the standard ones are 80 inches, so I had to build 14 inch soffits in the closets. It was my first foray into carpentry, and didn’t turn out too bad. This week I will be heading back into the bedrooms to paint them, and then later I will build new wood shelving for the closets. Another thing I want to do is replace the carpet, but I have to finish all of the painting first. Even with drop cloths there is just too much of a risk for kicking over a paint bucket, or dropping a roller to want to paint over the new carpet. I also would like to tile the entry/dining area, and use the same tile to replace the tile in the kitchen and bath. That can wait until a little later, but still is something I want to finish before I move in. I have a lot of other ideas on the ole “wish list”, but a lot of those can wait until after I move in, and save up some more money. Things like a new refrigerator, or replacing the flush doors with nice 6-panel ones, that sort of stuff can wait. The most critical items are definitely the painting and flooring, as those are the things that are most difficult to do with furniture around. The second bedroom will be a nice addition, and now when people come to visit they won’t have to sleep on the couch anymore.

Between all of the work at the new place, and the rain and snow from this weekend, hiking unfortunately had to take a back seat. It didn’t snow in my town, but the snow line dropped Friday night to only about 7800 feet, so it didn’t miss us by much here. It snowed a good portion of the day in Vail actually, they are at 8150, and the slopes of the ski areas were left with a light coating that almost made it look like winter again. Of course now it is all gone again, and the temperatures should be in the mid 60’s most of the week. Next weekend I definitely plan on taking some time away from remodeling to get out on a hike, I just hope the weather is more cooperative. Snow this time of year is not that unusual though, especially at higher altitudes. The average temperatures on top of a 14,000 foot peak even in the middle of summer are only in the upper 40’s, and they regularly drop below freezing at night year round. In fact I have seen snow falling in every month I have lived here, not in my town of course, but some mornings on peak climbs there have been some flakes near the summits. You always have to be prepared for cold weather whenever you hike in the high country!