On Friday night, we packed up and headed up to the mountains to enjoy the three day weekend. This time of year is almost perfect in Colorado, with the opportunity to do a little bit of everything. Maddy was pretty relieved she got to come along. With the mountain bike, ski gear, hiking gear, and camping luxuries, the truck was filled to the brim. With Linnea’s knee down for the count, the plan was to camp near the Collegiates, while I could go on side trips during the day. It turned out to be a great weekend and Maddy tried her hardest to stay out of trouble, avoiding beavers and elk, although nearly had another porcupine encounter.
We camped along the the Arkansas river the first night and Linnea cooked up eggs and sausage for breakfast.
I enjoyed some mountain biking while Linnea watched the rafters roll through “the Numbers.” After, a quick stop in Buena Vista to check out Paddle Fest and the kayak park, we made our way to the Twin Reservoirs area and enjoyed a nice lunch up the river. I wanted to do at least one 14er this break, so we found a campsite up a 4 wheel drive road near Mt. Elbert. It turned out to be a pretty site, next to a huge beaver pond. It actually had fish in it, and I managed to to catch a small brookie.
Later in the evening, 3 beavers came out and swam laps. If you spooked them, they would slap their tails really loud. An elk also came out at dusk.
For supper, we enjoyed campfire pies over the fire. A rare treat in Colorado, since burn bans are usually in effect.
The next day, I made my way up Mt. Elbert. We had already climbed this peak last fall, but my plan this time was to ski it. Maddy was more than determined to come along and I think she would have run up by herself if I didn’t go. We made pretty good time, and I had to slow up my pace and actually wait at the summit for almost a half-hour for the snow to loosen up. Probably around 9:30, I started the ski down. It was perfect! Right off the top, was a huge face with excellent coverage, soft on the top, hard underneath, and I left some sweeping turns. Maddy kept up great and ran full bore. After that, I hopped into the Box Creek Couloirs and picked an intermediate chute. After a few hop turns up high, the terrain opened up for even more soft swooping turns down to a lake. The route was better than I was hoping and the timing perfect. We made our way back around the ridge to the standard route and whizzed past a line of hikers headed up.
Looking back up Box Creek Couloirs, Maddy and I skied down just to the left.
Back at camp around 11:00a, Linnea was just waking up and I was back in time for more eggs and sausage. The half of peanut-butter and honey sandwich Maddy ate on the summit wasn’t enough to fill her up and she decided she needed some sausage too.
Next, we packed up camp and headed up another gulch, past Clear Creek reservoir. There was an old mining 4 wheel drive road I had wanted to check out and it turned out to be well worth it. We had a blast driving the truck through small streams and mud-pits. Only once did we manage to get stuck. Luckily, the locking differential was enough to get out us out. The mountain basin was beautiful and only a few others were up there.
On Memorial day, we explored the basin and went for a short walk up near a stream. Maddy was in her element. In the morning, she would just stand by the tailgate and whimper — waiting for us to get up. I had a close eye on her though because this was porcupine and beaver country. Sure enough, she took off after something by the stream. Luckily, I learned my lesson from the mountain lion encounter and know that she tends to catch the scent of animals and run past them, before coming back. This time it was a porcupine, quills out in full, about 30 feet away, barreling through the brush. I was able to catch Maddy running aimlessly with her nose in the air further down river. After that, I enjoyed some more fishing. I found a great swimming hole too, but wasn’t able to convince Linnea to try it out.
To finish off the weekend, we stopped at our favorite ice-cream shop in Buena Vista — Blue Bell Ice cream. A double scoop was enough to numb my body for the drive back, which turned out not to be bad at all.