YIKES!

No ‘whale of a thirteener‘ hike, no ‘Debbie Gibson’ Lake, no bighorn sheep.  Small garter snake, remnants of Aspen yellow, SNOW & Grave Danger RADIATION.  What?????

Alarm buzzed at 5am.  Dark outside but could hear rain.

Alarm buzzed again at 6:30.  Felt my age this morning.  32 miles yesterday, slooooow start.  Cup of Pappy’s sassafras tea.  Unpacked yesterday’s gear, re-stuffed the backpack with hike essentials.  On the road by 8am.  New day, new month, promised Ro high elevation.

Plan A: Whale Peak (elevation 13,078ft), Plan B: Gibson Lake.  Hour-half drive on Hwy 285.  Morrison, Conifer, Bailey…dirt-road right, just past Grant.  BEAUTIFUL autumn drive.  Had I woke ‘on time’ today, would have all been dark.  Everything happens for a reason 🙂

Dodged potholes 5 miles to Hall Valley Campground…dirt road/lotta seasonal use.

ATV-road hike.  1.2 miles to Gibson Lake Trailhead.  The panorama?  Colorado Autumn – one of the last weekends of Aspen YELLOW.  Snowy mountain backdrop.  Today’s WOW shots came early.

Gibson Lake Trailhead coated in ankle-deep snow.  Continued UP the ATV-road.  [in hindsight] Should’ve looked a little harder.  Back of the parking lot, no visible path – but on my hike return, spotted the weathered trail sign.  Gibson Lake → 3 miles.  Ugh.

Snow got deeper, off-leash joy for Ro.  UP, UP, UP.  Took more than a few water breaks.  50K day-after: legs weren’t exactly bounding effortlessly.  LOL>

Trees stunted, wind blew.  Into the Backpack: treat for Ro, GLOVES for dad.  Trail snow thinned, precip blowing to the side in drifts.  Still no Lake but could make out a vault toilet, far in the distance.  Gonna top the next hill, lunch at the Lake, contemplate next steps.  Based on snow conditions, not sure how plausible summiting a 13er was gonna be.

“Go bak” – scribed on a large boulder.  ‘Vault toilet’ reality: 3 buildings & an American flag.  Large purple gate (middle of absolute nowhere) tagged: ‘Keep OUT Mine Property’.  Today’s deal breaker?  “Grave Danger: Very High Radiation Area”.

Hadn’t seen THAT sign before.  4.4 miles in, good enough today.  Kicked back 20 minutes (ironically, against the RADIATION gate), downed a turkey sandwich (both halves), fed Ro.  Might be GLOWING, but my stomach would be full 🙂

2 roadside stops on the drive home: unplanned, unexpected, unrelated – but both SUPER cool.

  • photo opp: Christ of the Rockies statue (Camp Santa Maria)
  • food LOVE: foot-long w/ sauerkraut at Coney Island Boardwalk (Bailey)

Crazy FULL weekend – GRATEFUL to be working tomorrow.  Monday, REST day.

 

 

 

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