Colorado February 2011
Dates: February 3 - February 6, 2011
People: Mark, Denny, Matt H.
- 2-3 (Travel Day)
- 2-4 (Mt. Sherman)
- 2-5 (Hoosier Pass/Mt. Royal)
- 2-6 (Travel Day)
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 3
This short trip begins with a trip to the airport. With Marcia in town Sarah was able to take Mark to the airport alone, leaving the house around 11:15am. The morning was an easy packing one as schools and Bible class were cancelled because of Tuesday evening’s blizzard. Mark had a good two hours or so at the airport that went by quickly once security and a lunch stop at McDonald’s were accomplished. The flight left ontime around 1:45pm.
This initial leg was very short as Mark was headed only for Midway to meet up with Denny and Matt. Up in the air just long enough for a quick drink (discovered SWA has Corona Extra!). Arrival was ontime at Midway at 1:50pm and Mark was greeted at the gate by the other two.
At Midway we gathered some more lunch at that nice Chinese place out in the concourse. We made it out to our gate plenty early for the flight and had time to talk and recharge our gadgets. This flight was scheduled to leave ontime at 3:40, but ended up being delayed about half an hour. 8 passengers connecting on a flight from Tampa had their flight arrive late. They held up our plane to get the 8 on and we didn’t depart til 4:10pm.
We were only in flight just a short while and they were telling us we should still be on time in Denver, go figure. We enjoyed some more Corona on the leg to Denver and sure enough nearly arrived on time, it was about 5:30pm Mountain. It was quite snowy and cloudy flying into Denver so there was little visibility. Our bags arrived safely and we caught the Payless Car Rental shuttle. We had reserved a Jeep Liberty which was advertised as an SUV, what they didn’t tell us, was it was only 2WD. Denny bartered with them for a 4WD Explorer. They wanted an extra $100/day for the 4WD upgrade, but again we bartered them down to $15/day extra. Frustrating experience, but we survived Payless.
We headed out of the airport to that first main road just before I-70. We ate at Urban Sombrero where Denny and David had eaten last August. Plenty of good burgers and some meaty tacos. The Denver roads were wet and a little slushy but not too bad. Traffic was slowed heading west for an accident but it didn’t last long. The roads were a little more slick as we headed up 285 to higher elevation and colder temps.
We stopped at the Safeway in Conifer at about 8:30pm for groceries. The place was nearly empty but we were successful in filling a cart full of snacks and drinks. We didn’t arrive to the cabin til about 10pm because of the slow driving conditions. We got settled in, unpacked and repacked our gear and readied for the hike in the morning.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 4
We were up at 5:40am for our Sherman hike this day. It was a quick breakfast and prep time and we were out the door by 6:10am. It took around an hour to get over to the Fourmile Creek trailhead at the Leavick site for Sherman.
After driving out from Sherman we decided we were pretty hunger so we headed for Fairplay and stopped at the Pizza Hut there. It was about 3pm or so and the place was mostly empty. We ordered 2 huge pizzas and some buffalo wings. We would end up eating about half of that leaving us with some tasty leftovers. After supper we headed back to the cabin and rested up. Mark and Matt worked on photos and trip reports while Dad headed into Buena Vista to deal with a flat tire issue on our Explorer. We were in bed early to potentially rest up for Humboldt. Denny had already decided this evening that he was not going to do Humboldt in the morning. He was thinking of just hiking the South Colony road.
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 5
We were all of us up at 3:30am ready to do Humboldt. Denny was still a no go and Matt also decided he was no-go because of some back issues from yesterday. He found his chest strap buckle missing before the Sherman hike yesterday and it was more of an issue than previously thought. We also were unsure of the weather report for Humboldt and the Sangres. So we spent about 45 minutes looking for other options for snowshoeing or other hikes and really got nowhere with it, so we headed back to bed for some rest.
Mark was asleep at least til 7:30am when Marcia called wondering if we were on the trail. We got back to work on trying to salvage some great hiking out of the day and Denny finally found it: Hoosier Pass. From Hoosier Pass we could hike either west or east along the ridges and would be very likely to find snow. Mark also figured out that a long hike up the west ridge could land us on the summit of North Star Mountain, a 13er. But that was wishful thinking.
We left for Hoosier Pass at 9am and when we arrived we found it was snowing heavily.. They already had several new inches of powder up there.
After our Hoosier Pass hike it was around noon and we decided on heading to Frisco for lunch and then to attempt a hike of Mt. Royal. So we headed for Breckenridge where we found it was also snowing heavily. Their Ski reports said at least 6 new inches had fallen. Along the roads we found beautifully snowy trees and walls of 5 feet f snow plowed onto the sides of the roads heading into town.
The heavy snow was also at Frisco where they were getting behind on plowing the roads. We found a Wendy’s that looked appetizing and had a mild lunch there before the hike. We tried to be somewhat conservative in our lunch choices so as not to carry too much extra weight up Mt. Royal. We headed for the Royal TH and got ready to start around 2pm.
We were off Mt. Royal around 5pm and began the long slow drive back to Trout Creek Pass. It was still snowing heavily at this point and we also had the skier-traffic to deal with. The drive into Breckenridge wasn’t bad but it may have taken us 30 minutes to drive through Breckenridge with stop and go traffic. On the east side of Breck we stopped at the Brewery for Matt to head in and find us some refreshments.
Past Breck the climb over Hoosier was also slow moving. There was small amounts of packed snow on the road, but thankfully there seemed to be no ice. We were doing about 40 the rest of the drive to Fairplay and past. Even at that speed we had a state trooper flash his lights at us to slow down (mind you, the speed limit was 65). We made it back to the cabin around 7pm. We reheated our leftovers from the day before for supper and settled in again. Another early night hitting the sheets a little after 9pm.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 6
Our final morning we took it easy and were up at 7:30am. We didn’t really have a plan for this day and contemplated some simple hiking but decided things would be simpler without. The thought of packing wet gear for a quick trip to the airport wasn’t enticing. So we spent the morning working on trip reports, packing, and cleaning of the cabin. We were able to leave the cabin around 11:55am to grab some lunch and head for Denver.
We had a beautiful drive through South Park as the skies were clearing at times. Amazingly there wasn’t hardly any snow around the cabin and almost none in South Park. The strong winds blowing though were still putting some snow on the roads. We made the long drive to Bailey to have lunch at the heavily recommended Hog Heaven BBQ there. Arrived about 1:20pm and had lunch for half an hour. They're a small hole in the wall sort of place but very friendly service. We all tried out their chopped pork platters which consisted of a pile of bbq pork, 2 sides, and cornbread. Tasty stuff.
From Bailey we braved more snowy roads into Denver to hit the REI Flagship Store with our spare time. We had a few repair tasks to take care of at REI and also shopped some new gear (such as BP stove and ice axes) to be purchase sometime this year. We were at REI til roughly 3:30pm. From there it was the quick drive into the airport. After making a quick gas fill-up we headed into the car rental places hoping for the best with Payless. They had us fill out an incident report with the flat tire and otherwise it went well. We caught their shuttle and headed for the terminal.
We had no issues with security and decided to head for our gate. We found a few random TV’s on in the concourse with the Super Bowl just starting so we found some seats. We tried to get into the Rock Bottom Brewery in Concourse C but they were packed with Super Bowl gazers. We were able to watch to about halftime til we boarded our flights for home.
Flights left on time for home. Mark was getting updates from the pilot on the status of the Super Bowl mid-flight while Denny and Matt were fortunate enough to get a Wi-Fi flight and check things on their own. Mark arrived early in Detroit but they had issues getting the jetway to move. So we sat for a good 15 minutes til they got things working. Oddly, we still were off the plane 3 minutes early. Sarah and Luke were there to pick Mark up and make the snowy drive home.