I’m thinking I should probably put some of these stories down on the old electronic paper… John Hoss was my usual partner in crime and he has long since passed from cancer and I’m no spring chicken anymore either! I’m sure his sisters would like to hear the details of some of our adventures and I had probably better get to it before the memories fade 🙂
Well anyway it was probably the spring of ’76, the ice had just gone out on West Okoboji and we were eager to get out in the water. John had built a two man kayak in shop class that winter, with a wood frame and fiberglass skin. Well on that particular day we had decided to put in at Johnson’s and paddle over to Pikes Point and back, doing a little fishing along the way. Of course there was no one at Pikes Point… it was a cold gray April afternoon and there wasn’t a soul on the lake, or even outside for that matter… I think it was about 50 degrees with a light breeze… So we soon bored of Pikes Point and decided to head back. But… at the time it seemed like a good idea to paddle across the lake and visit Gerk’s beach, the reasoning for that decision escapes me now… Well we got a little further than half way and a ferocious head wind came up along with some of the biggest waves I have ever seen on West! So we abandoned the idea of making Gerk’s and just headed for Johnson’s.
In the meantime we had begun to take on water as the bow was dipping under the waves and flowing over the top into the boat. We briefly debated doing some bailing with the bait bucket, but decided it would be a waste of time and only delay our inevitable arrival on Johnson’s beach. Of course in a kayak there are no seats, so we were kneeling in several inches of 40 degree water paddling furiously towards shore when we heard the horn of the Queen, the only other boat on the lake honking at us as it pulled up along our starboard side. Soon we heard the captain’s voice on the PA system asking us if we were in distress and in need of rescue… John and I looked at each other and I said to John, we don’t need rescued do we? John looked at the boat and looked at the Queen and looked at me and said, “Well that would be a real pain in the ass!”! So we told the captain that everything was fine and going according to plan 🙂
Eventually we made the beach, half sunk in the cold gray water of West Okoboji, but laughing about the adventure and vowing to keep it a secret and not to tell our mothers about our marvelous idea and fun filled afternoon 🙂
Ever since I read of the Intemann Trail last spring I have been wanting to complete the entire stretch of that trail between Manitou Springs and Cheyenne Canyon. The journey began last August when I used the part of the trail to get from Red Rock Canyon to downtown Manitou in order to pick up my press pass for the Pikes Peak Ascent. That took care of the segment of trail from Red Rock to Crystal Blvd. From there I walked down the road to the race expo downtown.
Later in August and September I began to explore the remainder of the trail with a friend from Manitou and we managed to get in the sections between Crystal Blvd and Ruxton near the Cog Railway. Which left only one piece of trail unexplored. My friend and I decided to attempt that from Red Rock late one morning but the route proved to be more difficult and lengthy that we were prepared for in the heat of that morning and afternoon and the trail didn’t match the map I had stored in my head and I wasn’t even sure if we were on it. So the attempt was aborted and we cut across Section 16 and took the Lion Trail back to the bottom. Yet another outing with the Pikes Peak Adventures meetup group filled in the Section 16 link to Cheyenne Canyon and a sighting of the southern Intemann Trailhead along the way.
My hiking friend had to move away from Manitou for a job opportunity, and the year ended with the Red Rock to southern trailhead unexplored. Yesterday when I checked the weather first thing, I discovered that it was over ten degrees warmer in Manitou than in Woodland and less snow from the recent storm had piled up down there so I decided to go down there for my hike. As I headed up the Mesa Trail it occurred to me that in my pack was enough liquid and snacks to finish exploring the Intemann Trail. As I made my way along the trail I encountered the bike trail to the east that we took to traverse Section 16, so it turns out we were on the right trail after all. I made note of the time and continued on. Only eight more minutes passed and I found myself at the southern trailhead. I chuckled as I realized we were probably less than a quarter of a mile from our destination when we gave up. I walked a ways past there to make sure it was the same trailhead we encountered with the meetup group and a familiar rock formation soon confirmed it.
March 5th of last year I began a new life with the passing of my wife Tricia, and even though I didn’t complete the trail within my goal of the calendar year 2015, I did manage to explore the entire trail within one year of the start of my new life as a single person. Yesterday’s eight minutes of trail was a small accomplishment, but it did piece together what seemed like a major goal for last year. Feeling more complete today 🙂
Winter is flying by and spring is nearly upon us! The holiday weeks passed by so excruciatingly slowly that I was dreading the “dead of winter” weeks and months with their extreme cold and long boring hours of darkness. But thankfully it has been an eventful and rewarding two months, starting with a discussion with one of my church buddies about climbing a 14er. He said, “the trailheads don’t look good for a winter ascent.”. I thought, hmmm… although Elbert is the highest peak in Colorado, it has a fairly approachable trailhead and although steep, it is very climbable so I said “What about Elbert?”. I saw the gleam in his eye and knew immediately that we were going to do it. Got the call from Ralph and we had a good weather window, so the trip was planned. Friday, January 22nd was the day and we were off for Mount Elbert at 5:30 a.m.
It turned out to be a beautiful day and a successful climb. We encountered a couple of obstacles on the way up, including an unmarked snowfield that I didn’t think we were going to be able to cross. But using my ski poles I was able to feel the packed trail under the windswept snowfield and we eventually made it across. Near the summit the trail was also not marked and we became somewhat discouraged as we discovered not one, but three false summits along the insanely steep approach to the top. We made summit right at about 2 p.m., just as we were starting to think we would never make it. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when we got there, but it wasn’t long before the wind kicked up and made a summit rest a short lived idea. Back down we went. On the way down we discovered that we had taken the long way up and were relieved to avoid the path right past the 2,000 foot deep cirque and the steep icy non-trail back down. The hike back down seemed to go on forever, but we finally made it to the truck at about 5:30, just as it was starting to get dark.
I thought we would have some time off from such difficult adventures, but as a snowstorm was forecast to dump deep snow on the mountains, it seemed like a good idea to try to bag the west face route up Pikes Peak. Saturday, January 30th was the day before the storm, so we hit the trail early in hopes of getting up and down before the weather began to change. One wrong turn took us a mile the wrong direction, but we felt we were still making good time so we continued the trek to the summit. Once again, the trail was covered with snow and the tracks from previous hikers led us straight up the treacherously slippery side of the western access. Finally we made the top of the ridge and the peak and summit house came into view. 50mph winds at our backs were not enough to convince us to cancel the attempt at the summit, but we were discussing the idea of going down the other side on the Barr Trail to avoid the ice and wind. We spotted a rock wall and decided to make that quarter of a mile or so and take a lunch break. However just as we got our packs off and started our break we were suddenly knocked over by a hurricane wind which was blowing snow up the mountain and probably a thousand feet in into the air. What was a bearable temperature suddenly became unbearable as the wind driven snow felt like gravel on our faces. The wind was blowing snow so hard it was going between my glasses and my face causing ice to build up on the lenses so I was barely able to see. I could see Ralph’s face was beet red from the pummeling it was taking from the wind driven ice. I wandered around a bit trying to see if I could find the trail we had taken, but could not. I said to Ralph, we have to get off this ridge now, but I can’t see where we came from! And we knew there would be no time to get out the GPS… we had to move. Ralph had done that route before and spotted a rock pile that was on the way. We quickly agreed and ran towards the pile. Soon we recognized the tundra slope we had come up and began running down. Just as it had been so many other times on the big mountain, just getting a few feet down from the summit was enough to make all the difference. We were laughing on the way down that God had tried to warn us away with the 50mph winds, and when we weren’t deterred the Almighty blast was hurled at us as if He was saying “Get off My mountain NOW!”. The winds quickly scaled back to the previous 50 mph or so and it was considerably warmer. By the time we got to the parking lot it was 50 degrees and the snow was melting furiously. It would not be so the next day though, as the biggest winter snow yet enveloped the Pikes Peak Region.
February also brought some adventure to my life with two winter climbs on the Manitou Incline an one summit of Bald Mountain on snowshoes. 50 degree weather has replaced the frigid start to the winter and spring feels tantalizingly close. I have stepped up my daily workouts at the gym and on the Pike National Forest Trails as plans are being made for spring and summer summits. 2015 was an awesome year with hikes in Cheyenne Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, Red Mountain and the Intemann Trail still fresh in my mind… but 2016 is shaping up to be one of my best years yet! I am hoping for that and a good spring and summer for my friends and fans as well 🙂