Colorado Jul-Aug 2005

Dates: July 29 - August 7, 2005

People: Mark, Sarah, Luke, Denny, Marcia, David, Grandpa & Grandma Wa.


The group, minus Mark & David, left on Friday afternoon. The early plan was getting into St. Louis in the evening to pickup David at the airport. David was flying in from his summer camp in Oklahoma. The driving through Illinois started well but then David's flight was delayed. They stopped in Springfield to visit Uncle Larry so that he could see Luke. The stay there lasted an hour or and then the group moved on to St. Louis. Friday ended with the group in the car waiting for David in St. Louis


Saturday is really an extension of what began on Friday. David was picked up in St. Louis late in the night and the group kept driving for Colorado throughout the day. David and Dad traded turns driving and the group took a few sleep rests at rest areas. Around noon time was the real treat when the group passed the Colorado border. The group passed into Colorado on I-70 and stayed on it through Denver and headed to the Eisenhower Tunnel. Luke was a great traveller through this whole day and we're sure he was as happy as everyone else to finally see the mountains. The group took I-70 into Leadville which was, as Sarah puts it, "enchanting". This was a first visit to Leadville for Sarah and Luke and the town was impressive. From Leadville they headed south on US24 through Buena Vista to Salida and then west to the condo we had rented in Garfield, CO near Monarch Ski resort.


Today was a day where everyone was sort of doing their own thing. Dad & David went off and climbed Shavano Peak and Tabeguache Peak. We [Mark, Dad, David] had hiked Shavano & Tabeguache a few years back but Dad didn't make it over to Tabeguache. So that pair was itching to get some altitude acclimation going and hiked 14ers on their second day out. Mom, Sarah, and Luke spent the day at the condo playing. The project for the week was getting Luke to crawl. David and Dad got home mid afternoon and were both dead tired so the ladies and Luke went out to Salida to do some food shopping. They all anxiously awaited Mark, Grandpa, & Grandma's arrival in the evening

Mark spent his Sunday morning at Trinity doing his vicarage work. He had stayed behind from the rest of the family since he was unable to miss another Sunday of service. Mark went with his friend Matt to the airport right at noon once church responsibilities were over. His flight into Denver went very smoothly and saw some great pictures of light and rainclouds when flying into Denver. Mark waited at D.I.A. for Grandpa & Grandma to show up as his ride. They had been in Topeka, Kansas the night before and were driving straight from Topeka that day. They arrived in town not more than 20 minutes after Mark arrived and had no trouble finding Mark at the airport. So the pickup turned out great. Grandpa had been tired from driving all day so Mark took over the driving on the way to the condo. We went backcountry on US-285 and did some great scenic driving. We arrived at the condo in late evening, but in time to see everyone who was anxiously awaiting us.


Grandpa & Grandma as well as Mom stayed back at the condo all day with Luke to play.

Mark, Sarah, Dad, David all went to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and did some hiking there and took pictures.


Grandpa & Grandma as well as Mom stayed back at the condo again today with Sarah this time.

Mark, David, Dad went with Jim & Karen Laatsch to hike Mt. Elbert. This was Dad's 2nd ascent up Elbert but the first for Mark and David.


The whole group drove down to Antonito, Colorado today and hopped on the Cumbes & Toltec Scenic Railroad. This trip took us through some beautiful scenery and a mountain pass down to Chama, New Mexico. Along the way we stopped at one of their facilities for a lunch break. Luke enjoyed his first train ride as well as his first trip into New Mexico.


Grandpa & Grandma as well as Mom and Sarah stayed back at the condo today with Luke to play.

Mark, David, and Dad went to hike Culebra Peak today. We had to meet the ranch owners at their building around 7am and there were 2 or 3 other groups of people on the climb as well.

We drove our van as far as the 2WD road went, I think it was a stop called 4-Way. We were lucky enough to find another guy with an SUV who let us hitchhike in the back with our packs. He drove us up to the main trailhead. The initial climb was almost without trail and involved climbing up into a bowl and the ridge at its top. It wasn't too bad to start but as we neared the top clouds set in and we had near white-out conditions. We couldn't see where we were at and all we knew was to keep going up. We ran into a pair of hikers who said they'd gotten the top of the ridge already, had turned left and hit the summit already. We thought "what?!?!". I knew the map well and I knew they were wrong. We hit the ridge finally, still in white-out conditions and we followed it to our right. We finally hit some large cairns on the ridge and knew we were on the right path.

Eventually the ridge crested and then started heading down into a saddle. As we descended into the saddle we caught some glimpses of the actual summit through the openings in the clouds. On the other side of the saddle we ascended up the ridge again and this time the ridge took us to Culebra's summit. The clouds had started to clear up finally as we ascended to the summit. For our friend Jim Laatsch this was his 54th and final 14er so we had a little "party" for him up top. The climb down was pretty uneventful and we were again lucky to find someone with an SUV to give us a ride back to the trailhead.


I don't recall much what we did today. Pictures show we may have spent it mostly in the condo.


Today was our initial driving day home.


We finished the drive home today.

The End.