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561 Summer Stories
The Case of the Missing Pole

Sign at Barr Trailhead

Last summer ('11) after staying in Rocky Mountain National Park for a few weeks, we set out to tour the Front Range area of Colorado. With our friends, Jon and Laura, we first went to Mount Evans, then to Grays and Torreys, and finally Pikes Peak before returning to the Park.

After our successful climbs on Grays and Torreys, we made the long drive to the Pikes Peak area and camped in a National Forest campground. We had planned to pack that evening; but a strong storm delayed our packing until the next morning. Rising early, we began drying out from the storm and packing for our two night trip.

Finally we were at the trailhead and preparing to start the hike. It was getting close to noon and the sun was blazing hot. The trailhead in Manitou Springs is at 6700 feet and the trail climbs a hot east facing slope. Wanting to start on the trail as soon as possible, we secured the vehicle and readied our packs. We were ready to start walking, when I noticed one of my trekking poles was missing.

trekking poles in the Barr ShelterIt became known as the Case of the Missing Pole and the search began.

I knew that I had used the pole the day before on Torreys and Grays and thought I remembered seeing it earlier in the morning while packing. I scanned the back of the vehicle. The pole was not there. I looked around the vehicle and still no pole.

I do not normally lose things. Well, I lose things, I just do not allow them to stay lost. I search until I find them, even for socks. Once a sock goes missing, I search the washer, the dryer, and the floor around the appliances. If it is still missing, I put the family on alert, just in case they come across a spare sock, they will know it is mine. Then, I begin checking all of my clothes that I washed at the same time with the missing sock, just to make sure the sock is not clinging to another fabric. Most of the time I find that the missing sock is not really lost, it is merely hiding some place I haven't looked.

Back to the missing pole, my wife and I took everything out of the vehicle - e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g! The pole was not to be found. It was hot and getting hotter in the parking area. Desperate, I asked my friend Jon, had he seen my pole. He had not seen it either, but he graciously spent a good while searching his vehicle. The pole was still missing.

In the meantime, we opened up the Yakima gear box on top of the car. The poles were not there either. It just did not make sense. I must have lost the pole either on Grays and Torreys or left it in the campground. It definitely was not in the vehicle, Jon's vehicle, or in the car top gear boxes.

We had wasted enough time. There was a spare set of poles in the gear box, so I prepared them to use. We just needed to start hiking. Jon and Laura had already gone and we were sweltering in the sun and we had not even begun to hike. We locked the car, shouldered our packs and started to leave, when I dropped one of the spare poles while adjusting it's length. As I bent to retrieve the pole I saw the now famous missing pole.


Our Element in a parking area


Yes, there was the missing pole resting perfectly between the front wheels, underneath the vehicle. When we took the gear out of the car, the pole must have rolled down the incline and stopped between the wheels. We had looked under the vehicle; but had not crawled around searching for the pole. Happily, I stowed the spare poles and started hiking with the found pole and his twin.

My wife, sighed. She was relieved to know that she would not have to spend countless hours listening to me while I obsessed about the missing pole. Now, we could enjoy the trip.

The hike was a dandy, we highly recommended, and especially with the Case of the Missing Pole - finally closed.

Happy 'to have found my missing pole' trails


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