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Post-Megafest amusements

Started: 2007-06-13 21:19:27

Submitted: 2007-06-13 22:18:15

Visibility: World-readable

In the several weeks since Megafest 6.0, I've amused myself by:

  • Hiked a nine-mile loop at Hall Ranch, and still had enough energy to landscape my yard with US$40 in perennials from The Flower Bin and landscaping stones from Lowe's; this let me take pictures of the outside of my house for future reference;
  • Took my GPS receiver with me everywhere I hiked, adding the tracks to my lifetime kml file, which someday will feature routes between waypoints instead of simply mostly-random lines;
  • Avoided going to Los Angeles, thus avoiding setting foot in all four continental US timezones in a one-month timespan;
  • Submitted my timesheet late two weeks in a row, to the consternation of the accounting department;
  • Went car camping and discovered the fairly new James Peak Wilderness;
  • Locked my keys in my car in Boulder and had to get Kiesa to come rescue me;
  • Worked from home so I could drive to Fort Collins in the evening to attend NCLUG;
  • Drove to Golden only once.

Next week Kiesa and I fly to Washington, DC for a bit of vacation prior to ALA's big summer conference. (I find it ironic that we finally managed to extend one of her work-related trips and call it a vacation instead of my work-related trips, since I fly for work much more than she does.) This means I probably should come up with some ideas about where we want to go while we're there.

Last weekend (9-10 June), Kiesa and I headed up to go car camping; she took Sunday off but was occupied in church on Saturday, so I picked her up at church after packing Motoko with everything we needed for a one-night trip. (I took the rear seats out and was impressed with how much space I had; I was pretty much able to put our camping gear one layer deep in the aft cargo compartment.) We ate lunch at Barker Reservoir (which was full and running over the spillway, which is common for spring) and headed to Kelly Dahl campground in Roosevelt National forest, a few miles south of Nederland. The campground proved more popular than I expected; it was full, so we headed north on Peak-to-Peak and found the second-to-last available space at Rainbow Lakes campground, which the Internet told me opened only the day before. We set up camp and headed up the Arapaho Glacier Trail until the snow drifts made travel difficult. We headed back to camp and drove to Mud Lake Open Space, a brand-new county open space north of Nederland. I was a bit underwhelmed by the three miles of looping trails wandering aimlessly through the nondescript forest.

Back at our campsite, I discovered that the firewood I acquired in Longmont was not ideal for camping: The pieces were uniformly large and so knotted I couldn't split them with my hatchet. I did manage to get a fire going but almost lost it half an hour later when the kindling I made burnt up but wasn't able to sustain burning the larger pieces. I was able to restart the fire, which was sufficient to cook our tofu dogs and marshmallows on the expensive, telescoping roasting poles I found at REI.

Despite having an amazing sleeping bag, I didn't sleep well; I didn't bring enough warm clothes for camping at 10,000 feet (I checked the forecast for 8,000 feet, which was a bit warmer) and was cold most of the night.

We broke camp and left Rainbow Lakes for James Peak Wilderness, a fairly new wilderness south of Indian Peaks Wilderness and encompassing the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel. (I created its Wikipedia page.) We parked at the East Portal and hiked around the tunnel to the valley leading south-west. We turned off the main trail towards Crater Lakes and quickly lost the trail under snow and water. After a few hundred meters, encouraged by vague signs from my GPS receiver and topographic map, I found faint boot prints in the packed snow. We followed the tracks and eventually made it to the southernmost lake. Our path didn't follow the trail by the end, but we accomplished our objective anyway: Visit a wilderness lake surrounded by snow-covered cliffs.

On the hike, I contemplated an interesting question: What would be the religious implications if humanity encountered a sentient alien race and they had Christians? (If I were bored I would write a book discussing it. If I were really lucky, I could convince David Weber to write the book, since he'd probably do a better job than I would, and he seems to do a good job of thoughtfully addressing religion in science fiction.)

Back at the trailhead, we headed up the Rollins Pass Road in my shiny newish four-wheel-drive vehicle. The road was fairly bumpy but not very technical; we reached the last convex curve before Yankee Doodle Lake when we encountered a fifty-meter-long cut filled with snow. I decided to walk the snow first to see if it was passable and decided against it: The full-sized vehicle tracks stopped after ten meters; only ATV tracks made it to the other side, and I didn't see any tracks at all in the next snow patch around the corner. I called it a day and headed back down the mountain and back home.

I now have a new mountain I need to climb: James Peak, 13,294 feet. Now that I know what I'm looking at, I can see it looming in the distance as I drive into Boulder. I can call it training for fourteeners; I want to climb Longs Peak again this summer, six years after my last ascent.