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Scree - July 09-July 15, 2010

scree field


I woke up early and sat outside working at the campsite. It was a great morning.

We have three easy days, doing just six or seven miles each day. Deer Mountain is our first.

We did not start late but Deer Mtn was already hot until we got to tree line. The views are great and, though it is not a hard hike, it is still worthy of effort.

A hiker we met coming down the final steep slope told us, "in case you want to know there are 190 steps. I counted them." He was referring to the steps leading up to the summit. We did not count the steps, his tally seemed accurate enough for us.

I was trying to decide what critteria he used for a step... some of the rock steps are high, 12 or more inches, and some are small, 3 or less inches. So did he only count the big steps or after so many smaller sub-steps did he then count it as a step? Was he only counting man made rock steps? Or did he also include natural step ups? I should have gotten more information from him. Maybe we could get the Park Service to number the steps. Oh, never mind!

Great views from the top.

Speaking of the Park Service... This trail, like most of the other trails we have hiked, had signs posted trying to deter shortcutting. Some say shortcutting is prohibitted, others that shortcutting causes erosion. A different solution - post signs at the beginning of the trail that make staying on the trail more "manly". Such as, Are You Strong Enough to Hike the Trail? or Shortcutting is cheating, walk the real trail.

The rest of our day was spent relaxing. Great hot dogs for supper. It was really weird, last night no one was in camp. I guess since the bears left everyone went to town.

Richard, our tent neighbor, hiked up the trail to the meadows below Chasm Lake. What a great hike. He was very satified.

We walked over to Longs Peak Trailhead, a short distance away. We explored the creek, or brook, and picnic area at the far end of the parking area. On returning, we talked to two hikers who were "heading to the lake." They were obviously military personnel and were looking for something hard to do. On talking to them a bit more, it was obvious they did not have a bivouac permit and had no idea as to what they were doing. Their day will have to be an epic.

Early to bed again. Jon and Laura are on their way out. We are running down to Boulder to see Mark tomorrow.

Wish you were here.


Needing an easy day, we hiked lakes Bierstadt and Sprague.

We parked at the Lake Bierstadt trailhead and rode the shuttle to Bear Lake. The shuttle is a great service.

The hike was easy as we toured Bierstadt and then switchbacked down to the trailhead. There were also great views on the descent but there was also a lot of road noise.

Sprague Lake was one of the finest trails we have ever walked. There were hundreds of people using the trail. the trail is very easy.

Along the trail we visited the Accessible Campsites. What a great location and wonderful campsites. They are available by permit only.

Two small children along the trail were tempting some chipmunks with food. I said something to them about that being against the rules because it harms the animals. They looked astounded. It probably was not the best approach; but feeding the little critters is absolutely wrong.

We did not see a single Ranger in the area. There were however, lots of fishermen.

Off to Dad's to do laundry. I went to work at Notchtop Cafe. There I met "Larry the Local," more on that later.

In camp a woman said that she had spotted a bear and cub on the slopes below our campsites. This created quite a stir. I heard some noise but I did not see a bear.

A Ranger came by to investigate. She went down the slope looking for the bear.

When she returned she toured the campsite and coordinated a vehicle honking session in order to hopefully scare the bear(s) away. It was sort of fun.

There were no more bear encounters, but all the campers seemed to be a little more concerned about bear proofing their campsites.

Wish you were here.


We left the trailhead at 0410. Not really early, but I do not particularly like to walk in the dark (with a headlamp.)

Walking our normal slow but steady pace, we were soon passed by a hiker, who zoomed by us. Not long behind the zoomer were three other hikers obviously trying to keep pace with the zoomer. They passed us, but were resting a few minutes further up the trail. We were not even a quarter of a mile from the trailhead. They commented that we would probably be passing each other all day. I advised them to find a strong steady pace - instead of a rabbit, run - stop, pace. We never saw the guys again. I think the leader had a mutiny on his hands if continued at his pace.

The wind began above tree line and blew seemingly in our face the rest of the day - no matter which direction we moved.

The climb up the loft was great. Snow made us skirt the center of the slope on some fun rock. The wind was just crazy. We had to work twice as hard just to keep being blown over.

We were hoping to climb Meeker too, but the wind was just too strong. Crossing the top of the Loft to Clarks Arrow was almost comical - Amy's wind shirt rattled like a loose sail. When the wind eased we would almost fall on our faces. We looked like a couple of drunks staggering home.

Following endless cairns (piles of rocks meant as trail markers) we descended the wrong gully to Clarks Arrow. The climbing was harder; but we were pretty safe.

We were one gully off. I climbed back up the real gully. It was much easier than what we had descended.

Remember the wind? Well, it had not let up one bit. We continued climbing to the top of Keplinger Coulior. It was hard and I was bonking. Once in the sun we stopped for a much needed break and re-fueling.

Climbing as fast as possible we summited without much ado. The route was in good shape - no ice.

Descending we ran into a few casualties of the trail. The "just too's." Too tired, too hard, too high, and too exhausted to continue climbing. Each had a great story.

One man from New Jersey said he visited Longs last year and fell in love with the mountain. He had flown out with his two boys the day before and we met them on the ledges at about 13,260 feet. I would not have even been able to stand up at that altitude with no acclimating. They were extremely happy and excited to be as high as they were on the mountain.

While walking through the Boulderfield, we came across a couple of campers using an MSR Hubba tent. During the high winds of the day, one of the tent poles broke in half, leaving the tent useless.

So how fast was the wind, well every time I tried to catch my breath, the wind kept blowing all the oxygen away.

There was (comparatively) no one on the mountain that day. The trails were not crowded at all. I think they all knew something we should have... that wind was tough!

We staggered back into camp after eleven hours. We still are not as fit as we were last summer.

Wish you were here.


So we were going to do Kieners Route on Longs Peak today. I did not sleep well at all. I kept thinking about Amy's crampons (a set of trekking crampons without front points). I wasn't happy that we did not have better crampons for her or any kind of protection for the 1,000 foot Lamb's Slide. I kept envisioning (probably overly so) the renaming of the slope to Dortch's Slide, after Amy.

The alarm clock went off an hour early. We talked.

At 0330 I talked her into going to a snowfield and testing the crampons. The crampons are actually mine; but are adjustable to fit other shoes. I knew the limits of the small spikes; but she had never actually worn them on snow.

The winds howled all day. We were glad we were not up high.

After testing the crampons we both decided we needed something else. We called Mark.

Coming back down the trail to Bear Lake, we were stopped numerous times to answer trail questions. How far? How much higher? etc. It actually got to be quite comical. We were wondering why everyone were asking us? At Trader Joe's, they have a person walking around the store carrying a large "?" on a stick. Maybe the Park service should try that approach...

When we were through with the crampon test we scurried back to the car and headed to Boulder. Mark had laid everything out for us. Thanks again, and again.

Back at camp we packed for our early morning start.

The crampons fit Amy's big boots but she did not want to wear or carry them - her pack weighed too much for the climb. After much discussion, we changed routes to do the Loft and Clark's Arrow and descending the Keyhole. We could go lighter and faster.

After a meager dinner we went to bed as early as possible. It was going to be a big day.

Wish you were here.


Mark left this morning. We hope to see him in a couple of weeks.

Amy was feeling better. We went on a hike to Glacier Gorge. She had never been there before.

We took a lot of pictures and had a great walk.

It always amazes me how poorly most folks walk. No wonder they get tired, they waste a lot of energy.

After our hike we washed our hair. It really felt great.

Tomorrow we are doing Kieners Route on Longs Peak. We are really looking forward to the climb.

We spent the afternoon at Kind Coffee.

Wish you were here.


I tried to talk Amy into climbing today; but she just didn't feel like it.

Mark and I went to Lumpy Ridge (a local climbing area). We did La Chaim and Magical Chrome.

To make things more fun, I climbed the route in my new Sportiva Ganda Guides. Overall they did pretty good for a boot.

There were ten people climbing in the area. Four groups or pairs and then Mark and I. They all knew each other.

Mark was able to sneak around the congestion.

One girl was lead climbing. She passed by us on a ledge and set up a belay. When her partner arrived at the belay, she said - she did not know how to build an anchor, nor did she know how to belay. It was not funny; but at least the climbing was easy as it basically crossed a ledge.

Mark and I had Blue Bunny ice cream after the climb. It was great.

Amy rested and was feeling better. She started supper, making fried corn bread patties to eat with black beans and chili.

Mark showed us pictures of bungy jumping, shark cage diving, and safari. He also told us all about his trip to South Africa. Too bad he is not into soccer.

Wish you were here.


Lots of college age boys have invaded the campground. They are very noisy and messy. Too bad Rose isn't here!

With a semi-early start we went to climb Flattop Mountain, Halletts Peak, and slide down Andrews Glacier.

We met a woman who was wearing a tennis skirt hiking. I asked her what she did when it rained... did she have rain pants or a rain skirt?

Flattop Mountain sort of reminds me of a flattop haircut, there is just not that much there.

Halletts was a fun climb.

After a few tries, we found the shortcut that bypasses Alberta Falls.

Mark came and camped with us tonight. It was a lot of fun. The charcoal in a bag was very slow in lighting. It was still better than Ray when we tried to start a non-burnable bag.

I found my blue hat, life is good.

Amy has had a bit of a stomach thing going on, if she is not feeling better by tomorrow, she is going to stay at the campsite.

Wish you were here.