Thursday, August 25, 2011

 The Rocky Mountains are beautiful.
Rocky Mountain National Park
We visited Estes Park, CO as a (very) belated anniversary trip.  We stayed at a great place - Taharra Lodge - which caters to adults (mostly of the geriatric variety), so it was quiet, clean and served up scrumptious breakfasts and hugs upon departure.  We slept with our windows open every night and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful weather.

We decided to explore the mountains (yep, all of them) via a route to Flattop Mountain.  So, as i tried to explain to Hubbie, mountains are typically up high, so you've got to climb to get there.

"Alright, let's take the route to the lake.  That will be easier," he says.
Really. *lip curls up* i'm reading the "easier for you" at the end of that statement.  Implied or not, the challenge is on. (i should just give in and take the easy route... my trick knee and hip and elbow and head are still suffering.)
Fine.  Up the mountain it is.

Note that the mileage to the lake is 2.0.  The mileage to Flattop is 4.4 (and it's all up).

And seriously... it's all up.  i'm coaching myself all the way up. "Steady Endicott. Breathe in through the mouth, out through the nose. You are agile.  You are strong.  Do not be a wuss."

 All the while folks (geris included) are passing us, equipped with all the hiking accoutrement that we, of course, do not have (hiking boots, those cool sweat wicking pants, huge packs of who knows what kind of important gear, and really cool poles that help you climb the big rocks.)

We come to a beautiful lake overlook and i'm praying we've passed the half-way mark.  A young Forest Ranger with a pack the size of a dead body jaunts up the trail (i'm wondering if it holds the bodies that don't make it up to Flattop.  Will i see the inside of that pack?).

"Are we half-way, yet?" I huff at the guy.
"Sure," he responds.  "Just a few switch backs to go and you're above the treeline." (i hate switchbacks.)
Treeline?  That ends?  Oh right, very little oxygen.

Note the "up" direction.
"Uh, Sweetie, you know that trees can't grow where there's not much oxygen." i share.  "That's where we're headed."
He nods encouragingly.  "Huh, hadn't thought of that."

We trudge up, up, up until we are above the tree line and some snowy patches.  Did you catch that?  *eyebrows raised* i was higher than the snow on the mountain.

That my Friends, is a snowy patch.
We meet the Forest Ranger guy headed back down.  "See that lightening?" he asks.
"Uh sure.  Oh - is that what was booming from that big black cloud, too?"
"It's not looking good, and I'm headed back," he informs us.  "Now, I can't tell you what to do, but it can be dangerous."

By this time, we're close to the top (well, relatively close) and it's depressing to not have achieved our goal (it's all about the achievements). But i'm worn out and i really don't want to get soaked (at this point death by lightening might be a relief).  And while the Forest Ranger isn't gonna tell us what to do (whatever), the guilt trip works (which by the way, i am frustrated with myself that just about anyone can send me on a guilt trip. Therapy.)

So, the executive decision is made to head down.  And did you know that while it might take 3 hours to go 3.5 miles up a mountain, you can make it down in half an hour flat.

Eat your heart out Rocky!  I survived.
That evening at dinner (Poppy's Pizza & Cafe -- who retweeted me the next day, i might add), the host asks about our day.  "Hiking? How great. Which trail? Flattop? Wow, you didn't take it easy did you?"
Hmmm... even locals find this trail difficult.  

When i look it up afterwards, i notice that Flattop Trail is listed as a difficult one.  i am both impressed and tired thinking about it.

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