The Big Think

March 3, 2005

2004 Colorado Trip

Filed under: — jasony @ 1:49 am

Pictures from our 2004 trip to Nebraska and Colorado (August 11th-23rd)

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Our trip started in Nebraska at Erin’s best friend’s house. Here’s Anne dancing with her dad.

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Homemade chicken soup thanks to Yours Truly.

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We hung around in downtown Omaha. I had never thought that Omaha, Nebraska could be a happening town, but I have to say I was rather impressed. They have a good arts community and a rebuilt warehouse-hip district. And nice cars, apparently. Anne happened to be wearing the exact same color as the Ferrarri. Man, that car even parked fast.

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After we had stayed in Nebraska for a few days, the five of us (Anne’s parents came, too), took off for Estes Park, Colorado, for a 5 day trip. Here we are on our short “day 1” hike. Got used to the altitude and dramatic environmental change.

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Snacking a bit on our hike. It started raining on us just as we got back to the car. Brrr…

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Here’s a pic of me and my lovely wife somewhere in Rocky Mt. National Park. I had never been to the northern part of Colorado before. Just as pretty as the central area where I spent 5 summers as a wilderness/whitewater guide.

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On our next-to-last day we did the Madison Family tradition of hiking the 10 mile round trip to Sky Pond. It was an exhausting day, but well worth it. These next few are from that day.

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Looking tough at the base of a waterfall…

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…which we climbed.

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Is it any wonder why I love this country?

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Nights were mostly spent hanging out at the condo watching the Olympics.

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Very Arts & Craftsy. It was a nice place. 2 bedroom, 2 bath, with a gorgeous view of a stream…

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the gorgeous view of the stream.

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And a cute little parakeet named Fawn at the front office.

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Downtown Estes Park…

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…where the elk roam.

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Yes, they really do get that close to people. They usually come out early in the morning and as the sun is starting down. You drive slowly in Estes.

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After bidding goodbye to Anne and her parents, Erin and I started phase three of our vacation. We went through Boulder on the way to Buena Vista. Boulder has a wonderful little restaurant called the Dushanbe Tea House. It’s a building built by Boulder’s sister city, which is somewhere in India. They built this incredible Indian-style teahouse out of marble and painted by Indian craftsmen. I think we gave them a Wal-mart or something.

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Dushanbe interior. Read more about the restaurant here.

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All of the painting is hand done and the sculptures are hand made.

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There are dozens of teas here, and a nice tea bar where you get served by someone who really knows their stuff. Take that, Starbucks!
As a tea snob, I really enjoyed this place.

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Finally, we got to Buena Vista and visited Noah’s Ark, where I spent 3 summers as a river guide and where Erin worked for one summer. Some of my greatest memories and experiences were here, and it was good to get back there. And even though we missed the last day of the season by a week, we still got to see the place. This is one of my favorite pictures from our trip. I’m walking down by the Arkansas river’s edge right where Noah’s puts the boats in every day. I lost track of the number of times I put in there, but it must be over 200. On the other side of the river you can see the public put-in where the smaller rafting companies go. Since Noah’s owns one of the only riverside put-ins, we could stage our boats (as many as 40 on a busy day!) and go right to it.

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Debbie Miller and I spent weeks on the trail together leading trips. She still lives up in B.V. and we got to see her for a few hours. It was good to catch up. Funny how even being separated by over a decade. We picked up just like we had come off the trail together yesterday. Oh man, the stories we could tell…

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The last part of our trip started with a 12 mile drive up a very rutted and bumpy dirt road in Erin’s “new” Camry. It performed like a champ, but it would have been nice to be in a truck. We drove up to the old mining town of Winfield, Colorado. It’s a historical landmark now that gets maybe 30 visitors per day, and serves mainly as a backcountry parking spot for backpackers.

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Our route took us approximately two miles up an old jeep road and past the historical Winfield cemetery. Beautiful pines gradually turn to a mix of pine, spruce, and aspen trees. After the jeep road, we officially entered the national forest and went another couple of miles up a narrow trail into a deep valley.

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Decent sized packs for a three day trip. Most of it was food. I’m not one of those hyperneurotic backpackers who cut their toothbrush in half and only take three grains of salt in order to save weight. Luckily, I’m big enough to be able to carry a 60-70 pound pack all day without keeling over, so I tend to overpack. Of course, the hyperneurotic backpackers tend to find me on the trail and beg me for some dry socks or one of my Snickers bars. I figure, if you’re going out there, you might as well enjoy yourself, right? I think I even brought two books.

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Here’s me saying “Well, gee, this map is 10 years old and the trail has changed”. Luckily, I used my mad compass skilz and saved us from Certain Inconvenience! This was my hiking outfit years ago. This outfit was perfected over hundreds of trail miles into the perfect combination of breathability, weight, and comfort. The clothes stink to high heaven by day three, but so does everyone else.
Yes, those are long johns. Yes, they’re teal (I believe they call them “blueberry”). And yes, I’m warm and comfy. Laugh if you must, but out there, everybody looks like this.

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We set up camp at the base of a big pine tree, about 200′ from a beaver pond.

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Did I mention I have Mad Fire-starting Skilz, too? Single match, baby. (pay not attention to the bottle of stove fuel…)

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Looking down the valley.

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A dinner of (very salty) tortilla soup.

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The next day, we got about 5″ of sleet mixed with snow. In August. Well, we were at about 11,000 feet. Spent the day in the tent snoozing, reading, and playing Go Fish. This is our drinking water the next day. We brought enough for the trip, plus the requisite filter and purifying tablets, but we had extra stove fuel and thought it would be fun to make dinner with melted snow.

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And did I mention it was cold? The first 24 hours took Erin out of her element, but she really adapted well to the wilderness and had a great time. She wants to go back soon.

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Unfortunately, all good things…

This is how you clean a backpacking tent.

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I really liked this shot of our packed backpacks. It was shot in late morning looking up the valley. That snow sure melted off fast!

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Hiking back down the valley toward Winfield. Mercifully, down the valley.
Have to take a few more weeks up there next time to acclimate. 🙂

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Signing the trail register. Theoretically, they know where and when you put in and when you’re supposed to be leaving so they can come find you if you don’t turn up days later.

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Erin looking all Mountain Womanish.

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Where’s Waldo? Er, I mean Jason?
The ubiquitous aspen groves.

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The historical Winfield cemetery. It’s a tiny little cemetery way up the trail. It only has around 20 plots or so, and only a few headstones left. Only one or two of those are still readable. It’s always struck me as a quiet and peaceful place, and when I let trips on this route, the kids would get a real kick out of coming upon a cemetery in the middle of the wilderness.

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One of my favorite shots of the trip. Like walking through a cathedral of trees.

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Back at Winfield.

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I can’t wait to go back and spend some more time in the thin air!

We had a wonderful time.
If you liked this pictures, drop me a line!

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