4. Hike, bike & beer…Colorado 8.2013

Day FOUR - Tuesday   

We woke up to a beautiful morning...not to cold but kind of damp.  While Danny got his pack ready, I spotted elk up on the mountain above our camp.  I love to see wild life out here!

You would have thought have last year’s super scary hike with Danny, I would stop thinking of difficult places to hike....not for him so much.  He’s brave, strong, fearless & can hike endlessly.  But for me...I become the Queen of Wuss when I hike with him.

So, of course, I chose for our first hike (& we don’t have very much time here this week) (& the weather is so crazy & stormy) to try & summit Gothic mountain.  Gothic is huge at 12,490’ & can be seen from all around Crested Butte.  I know people have hiked to the top, & I even asked Dan (SBG) about it.  He told us of a different trail to start out on, that the trail got faint & petered out after awhile, then we’d be able to find it again.  He’s was spot on with that information.  He didn’t really say much more about it.

We left camp & took the back 4WD road up to the top of Washington Gulch road.  I always try to practice my backroad driving skills when Danny is with me.  I’m not sure how he feels about this, but I’m way more confident when he’s in the car (it might be kind of scary for him though!)  We found the parking pull off that Dan (SBG) told us about, put on our packs & headed up.

The mountain you see in the pic is Gothic.  I figured we had about 2,000 feet elevation gain (I didn’t really look it up) & maybe about 3 miles to the top.  The views were outstanding of both Gothic Valley & Slate Valley on the way up.  We climbed so high we could even see one of the Maroon Bells.

There were still quite a few beautiful wildflowers blooming.

But the top still seemed so far away.  We could see these “knobs” up on top & knew we’d have to climb more than one.  The trail wound through the forest, but we still would have openings to see magnificent views on both sides.

Then we hit the steep parts.  Which went on for about 40 minutes.  At times the trail was so steep, you could put your hand in front of you & touch it.  Uh-Oh...I was wondering what this was going to be like to climb down (down is ALWAYS harder!)

We were getting closer.

And then we hit the rock.  It wasn’t a climb, but it was definitely a scramble.  And, about this time a large black cloud started toward us...Uh-Oh....I didn’t like this.  Of course, Danny went for the scramble.  We put his pole in his pack so he’d have his hands free & up he went.

He made it up above the scramble & surveyed the rest of the route.  At this point, it didn’t really matter what he told me, I was pretty sure between the scramble & the weather, I wasn’t going further.  But by then he’d hiked out of sight, so I decided to climb up.  Before I got above the scramble, he was back in sight.  After checking out more of the trail, he said it was quite a bit further, but no more scrambling & no edges.  

I hate to admit this, but by the time I made it to the top of the scramble, my legs were shaking.  He suggested I sit & stop shaking....yeah right.  I told him I was done....I’m bad-weather phobic & have turned us around before.  But he had a right to go on if he wanted.  Just because I turned into a chicken, shouldn’t make it have to stop.

I’m not sure if it was stupid or not, but I wasn’t going back down without him.  So, I watched as he kept climbing, the dark cloud kept moving & the whole time I was sitting, but in just as exposed area as he was...we would both be lightening bait!

Of course being the creative person I am, I imagined all the doomsday scenarios that could happen...& I’d left the duct tape (it fixes everything, right?) in the car!

After about 30 more minutes of climbing, I could see he’d made it to the top! He’s the teeny tiny spot on the farthest point...the one with the black cloud above him!  He had taken the camera, so he spent FOREVER (that’s my time frame, because at this point it was starting to rain, & he still had to get back, then we both had to climb back down the trail) taking some amazing photographs!

Here’s Danny’s pics from the top of Gothic Mountain.

View of part of his trail back down.

The little orange spot is me...huddled in my rain jacket....waiting.  As I watched him start to descend, I heard a couple of rocks go falling down the mountain...Uh-Oh....worry meter just soared!

It had only rained gentle drops, but by the time Danny got back down to where I was, it started hailing.  Oh-boy....I couldn’t wait to get past the rock scramble!  I tucked the camera away, safely in a pack & we both started down the scramble.  We crab-walked, side-walked & I even spent time sliding down on my butt.  Then we descended the long steep trails going back into the forest, the whole while being gently pelted by small pieces of hail.

On  a fun-scale, this hike doesn’t get a good rating.  On the amazing-scenery scale, it’s definitely a 10, & on the adventure scale?  You’ll have to ask Danny...chickens don’t get to vote!  The number of mountains I’ve ALMOST climbed to the top of is almost equal to those I have actually REACHED the top of!

We hadn’t eaten snacks or lunch along the way because of the weather.  Hiking back to the car, we could hear mountain-thunder behind us & in towards town, but we only saw lightening once & it wasn’t close.  The rain/hail was on & off, picking up in intensity right before we pulled out of the parking space.

Danny had hiked about an hour longer than I had, & much more elevation gain & loss.  He was way out of energy, & both of us were tired & our legs a little sore.

Danny standing below the mountain he’s just summited....tired but happy with his achievement!

We drove back into town, cleaned up a little & then went to get something to eat.  The rain got heavier outside & the temps dropped steadily all day.

We both had burgers, fries & salad at the Last Steep.

Then we took refuge in the car for a couple of hours while I finally started on the website & he took a well-deserved & needed nap.

We did our daily chore (buying water & ice) & then went to the Brick!  We knew we wouldn’t get to see Dan (SBG), because he’d told us he was off tonight.  But Dickie was there, so we got to visit with her a little bit while drinking more great beer! 

I had Avery’s Maharaja & Danny had Avery’s Hog Heaven Barley wine.  It was not yet dark when we left to drive back to camp.

I’ve been sitting in the car working on Tripscribbles since we got back; Danny is fast asleep.  We both feel today’s hike in our knees, feet, & legs...it was a tough one for sure.

Before today’s hike, I’d planned another super-hard-I-need-to-be-very-brave hike for tomorrow.  That’s been cancelled!

Not only do our bodies need a break, I don’t want to be in the same situation I put us in today.  And tomorrow’s forecast is for a ton of rain.  The storms have been starting so early...this mornings first black cloud showed it’s ugly head about 11:30am.  

So depending on what we wake to in the morning, I have a much more “gentle” hike plan if the rain & storms hold off until afternoon.

I so admire Danny’s endurance & boldness; I wish I had more of that.  But for tonight, as I feel my muscles protesting, I’m just so grateful we’re safe, we’ve had another good day in Crested Butte & we still have a few days left to play & enjoy this beautiful place, wonderful state & time together.

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