Celebration Weekend

I officially moved in to the new place on last Tuesday, I was planning on moving over the previous weekend but my list of helpers all had other things going on, so I had to wait until the work week. I am getting a lot more settled in now, the last of the shelving has all been built, including in the storage locker, so I have been able to unpack everything. I still could use some drawers for the office/guest room seeing as I used to use a dresser drawer for all of my papers. I also need to get a futon for that room so people will have a place to sleep. There are still a few little projects for the future, but everything is in good shape for now.

This weekend it was back to business as usual, which means lots of hiking. Knowing that the next peak I climbed within the highest 100 would be number 25, I wanted it to be a good one. You may remember that in January a few friends from work and I had tried to climb Mt Elbert, the tallest peak in the state. Well that trip we ended up turning back because at 2pm we still had a long way to hike, but not enough daylight left to climb and get back before sunset. Its summer now so the days are longer, and the dirt road that gets to the trailhead is snow free, so what a great time to go back and finish what we had started. I was only able to convince Drew to go though, but he and I set out Saturday to stand on top of the state at 14,433 feet for my 25th centennial peak. Being able to drive all the way up the road sure does make a difference, in winter it is an extra 2 miles each way on the climb that even in summer is an 8 mile round trip with about 4,000 feet of altitude gain! We made really good time, and were able to summit in about 3 1/2 hours. It sort of reminded me of the Sears Tower back home. You know how when you are on the 90th floor of the tower you are looking out at the city and are taller than every other building around, but still have 20 more stories until the top? That is Elbert, a couple hundred feet from the summit we were looking south at 6 other fourteeners and they all looked so small, and we weren’t even to the top yet. Of course the summit views are amazing, why wouldn’t they be? I have seen Elbert from the top of so many other peaks, now it was my chance to look down on all those peaks from above! There were a lot of people up there; it actually is one of the easier peaks to climb. There are several routes, the two most common of which both have a trail the entire way to the summit. It takes nothing more than desire and a strong pair of legs to climb this peak. Actually I think it’s kind of nice that it is that way, while some of the fourteeners are technical and very difficult to climb, the highest point in the state can be shared by many. In fact there were three pages of names in the summit register just on Saturday alone, with more still climbing when we got there.

Sunday was the sort of relaxing day; that is when I actually finished up a lot of the moving in at the new place. Then that night was our town’s fireworks display. They do a good job, it’s the largest show in the mountains, and they synchronize it to music that the local radio station broadcasts. We have a lake in our town park and they shoot them over the lake so you get the reflection if you are close enough to the shore to see it. One of the guys at work lives where there is a good view of the park from his house had a party, and I went over there to see them. It was nice to be away from the crowds, and afterward I walked back home so I didn’t have to deal with the traffic either. There isn’t nearly as much traffic or crowds as in Chicago for the fireworks, but when you consider our town has only about 5,500 residents and probably close to 20,000 people come to the show it sure gets a little crazy.

For the Fourth I went on another hike, this time by myself to two of the lesser traveled peaks. I realized that I had yet to climb any peaks in the 13,700 range and there were two near a thirteener I had climbed last year that I thought would be nice to go back and give a shot. Argentine Peak (13,738’) and Square Top Mountain (13,794’) are located just to the southeast of Keystone in between two pairs of fourteeners, Grays and Torreys to the west and Evans and Bierstadt to the east. The views of Evans from Square Top are really nice, and are probably the best views of those peaks together from the west. The hike starts out on a trail which goes over the Continental Divide. The route up the peak leaves the trail at the pass and heads along the divide on Argentine’s north ridge. The ridge is a nice mix of grassy slopes and rocky talus. The connecting ridge to Square Top then drops about 800 feet in-between the peaks. It is of similar character, though slightly steeper in a few places. The summit plateau comes up abruptly, almost as if the peak should be taller but someone chopped it off. I guess Square Top lives up to its name, in fact the summit is large and flat, it was hard to tell where the highpoint was but luckily it is marked. The rest of the day was pretty much just relaxing; then tomorrow it will be back to work. All in all it was a good weekend, and I am glad to finally be settled in to my new place, now I have the whole summer to enjoy it.A W