This is my record of the roadtrip to the Rocky Mountains in July of 2008.
I live to go on epic road trip adventures. I will take a couple of weeks off from work, make up a rough itinerary, grab a road atlas and away I go. Memories from those road trips are some of my favorites and will stay with me forever. I had a previous killer road trip to the Rocky Mountains when in July of 2004. It is a trip I have recounted numerous times and something that I think most people would really wanted to experience all the amazing things there are to do and see. This is about the 2008, the year I would return to the Rockies.
I am a high pointer, so my goal is to get to the highest point in every state. At the time I had been to thirty-seven high points so far and the late Asta had 29 in his life. If I had my way almost all my vacations would be centered around high pointing. But I also love I planned to add two new high points and to bring Asta's Ashes along with me. Here is a great site that lists all the high points in the U.S.
Since I had taken parts of this trip before planning the intinerary was going to be easy. I sometimes would try to push us too hard. There were some new ground rules in order to keep my sanity on this vacation.
- Camping: One: Maybe a hotel room every third night for a bed and a shower.
- Food: Two: No more calling a sleeve of Town House crackers a meal. I should have real food at least once a day.
- Drive Time: Three: Try to limit the days to 1,000 miles of driving. Get out of the car and stretch from time to time. I can drive for what seems like forever, but I have to learn limits!
- Black Hills:Four: There was an important rule was that I make it to the Black Hills Sunday night because I was meeting someone dad there.
I felt a lot of added pressure creating an itinerary that abided by these rules. Eventually, after hours of planning the route was set, but I had to make up a spreadsheet todo it. I would drive the car to Colorado loaded with my camping and hiking supplies.
View Larger Map
To the right is the route mapped out and a short narrative describing the plan for each day. The vacation does not start until Denver and the map reflects that. Of coure I went rogue and made a detour to the Kansas High Point before getting to Denver.
Saturday, July 12th:
Frirst I had to drive to Vermont for a mountain race at Mt. Ascutney in the morning. Afterwards I hurried home, pack the car and left. My typical plans is to be on the road by 3:00 PM and call it a night on the Pennsylvania/Ohio border in Hubbard, Ohio.
Sunday, July 13th:
I will catnap in the car and drive the rest of the way to Kansas City where he will spend the night. Hopefully I will to pull in KC around 7:00 PM and have a real dinner.
Monday, July 14th:
After a good night sleep in a bed, I will leave early for Denver. The target is 3:00 PM and there is an an eight hour drive to get there (there is a time zone to cross). After arriving the plan is to eat at a Mexican restaurant not far from the airport. Then there will be adrive to the top of Mt. Evans on the highest paved road in America before settling for the night in Leadville where thereis a room reserved fat the Columbine Inn.
Tuesday, July 15th:
Tuesday calls for hike up Mt. Elbert, the highest point in Colorado. This will be a repeat performance high point for me. The trail guide estimates it takes eight hours round trip. After lunch in Leadville we will drive eight hours to Salt Lake City where Todd has a reservation for another hotel room. That room in Salt Lake City will be the last room planned to be stayed in until reaching Omaha on the way home, still not being on the road until 8:00 can be thought of as sleeping in.
Wednesday, July 16th:
After another 'relaxing' night in a hotel, I planned to wake up refreshed and ready todrive to Ashley National Forest which is where the highest point in Utah, Kings Peak, is located. It is part of the Uinta Mountain Range and it is truly to be spectacular, my second favorite summit area behind Katahdin. The peak is located in northeastern Utah. The easiest way to get there is to drive into Wyoming and come back down into Utah. The parking is at Henry's Fork trailhead and the hike is about eight miles to get to a campsite suited to be a base camp. At the camp site I could unload some gear and hike the estimated nine miles round trip 9more like sixteen in hindsight) to the summit and back. This will be high point another repeat for me. After all that hiking it is easy to sleep well in the tent.
Thursday, July 17th:
Up bright and early, we need to hike the eight miles back to our car. This will be another driving day. Our goal is to get to Borah Peak. If you hadn't guessed, this is the highest point in Idaho. Todd advised me that I will not be making the summit; it is just too exposed. I will hike most of the way with him in the afternoon, but I will stop short at tree line and wait for him to reach the summit and return. That night we will camp near the trailhead. This will be high point thirty-eight for Todd.
Friday, July 18th:
After sunrise, we will break camp and drive into Montana through the Bitterroot Valley to Missoula, Montana. While there we will stop by the Missoula International Airport. Online there is an interactive web cam at the airport that Todd likes to play with. Missoula is also the home of Big Sky Brewery, maker of Moose Drool Brown Ale beer. I don't know if they have tours of the brewery, but we will at least pick up some beer. Next we will head to Custer National Forest where we will find Granite Peak, the highest point in Montana. There will be no time for hiking. We will camp overnight at one of the campgrounds inside the park.
Saturday, July 19th:
In the morning we will hike out to Mystic Lake and continue on to Froze to Death Plateau. Todd assures me this is as far as I want to go. While I wait, he will continue on. We are bringing our two-way radios so we will be able to keep in contact with each other. From Froze to Death Plateau I will have a clear view of him on his way to the summit. This will be the second new high point for Todd on this trip, number thirty-nine. Afterwards we will camp on the trail.
Sunday, July 20th:
Sunday morning we will hike back to the car and drive to the Black Hills to meet my dad. I haven't seen him since the wedding and it will be nice to spend some time together. He will have already been there a few days. Dad is renting a campsite in a large campground with all the amenities. I am particularly excited about the hot shower since we will not have had the opportunity to take one since Salt Lake City on Wednesday morning!
Monday, July 21st:
Dad, Todd and I will hike Harney Peak, which is the highest point in South Dakota. Both dad and Todd have done it before, but this will be my first time. This will be the third new high point for me on this trip, number twelve. Afterwards I hope to see some of the waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon and I am sure we will go to Mt. Rushmore. I am looking forward to this relaxing day, compared to what we will have been through.
Tuesday, July 22nd:
We will leave dad early and drive into Hill City where I have rented us a couple of bikes from a local outfitter. There is a rail-to-trail called the Mickelson Trail that runs right by the bike shop. Todd and I will spend half of the day relaxing while biking through the countryside. We can only spare part of the day because we need to get to Omaha. My plane leaves early Wednesday morning and I want to get in early enough to visit with my friend Jennifer.
Wednesday, July 23rd:
Todd will drop me off at the airport for my 7:30 flight and then drive like crazy to get home. He wants to be home on Thursday afternoon. We usually run with a group of friends at the West Hartford Reservoir on Thursdays in the summer and he doesn't want to miss it.
After I get home I will be busy because Saturday is the 34th Annual Connecticut River Raft Race. Todd and his high school friends have been doing this race for years. We have rafts in our back yard and basement that the boys pull out every year and either float or row down the river. We host the pre-race and post-race celebrations at our house.
Thursday, July 24th:
Todd will still be trying to make it home most of the day. I will be feverishly trying to get the house clean and make the food for the Friday pre-race crew. If Todd gets home in time we will run at the reservoir. If not, I will stay home to clean and cook.
After the itinerary was set, we opened our wallet. I thought we were pretty well set with hiking equipment, but I was wrong. I had a small backpack but I didn't have anything large enough to carry my sleeping bag and crash pad, so I got a rucksack. The picture on the left is of Lacey and I hiking Mt. Frissell before the trip. I was trying out my new rucksack. Because of the amount of hiking we were planning, we both decided to get hiking sticks. Since I need to eat real food at least once a day we bought a couple cans of sturno, a collapsible metal stove top, and a set of lightweight cookware. We will use these on the trail. For the times when we are cooking closer to our car we bought a small camping stove that uses Coleman fuel.
Todd is a gadget geek, so we picked up a new laptop so we can offload pictures from the digital cameras. The new trip software will come in handy also. We bought a high definition digital video camera to capture all the beautiful scenery.
The biggest preparation revolved around food. I have digestive issues and am not able to eat gluten. This will be our first vacation with my new dietary restrictions. It is difficult at home to avoid hidden wheat in prepared foods; I can't imagine what it is going to be like on the road. I bought a book which lists restaurants with gluten free menus and picked out some in the areas where we were going. Many fast food restaurant web sites have information about gluten free menu choices, so I printed those out also.
To ease the pressure of finding something to eat in unfamiliar places, I decided to pack a bunch of safe food. That way we will at least have something to eat. I packed plenty of dried fruit, rice crackers, gluten-free animal crackers, pretzels, and peanut butter. For meals on the trail I bought pre-cooked rice, chicken, salmon and instant potatoes. We planned to buy fresh fruit at each of our stops.
Here are (or soon will be) links to journal pages for each of the days of our vacation. I hope you enjoy reading about our killer road trip!
- Pre-Vacation Day 1: Todd gets a late start.
- Pre-Vacation Day 2: He drives like a mad man.
- Day 1: The road to Leadville.
- Day 2: Elevation hurts.
- Day 3: Adjusting our packs.
- Day 4: How much do you want to pay to be smart?
- Day 5: Are we there yet?
- Day 6: Stop punishing me!
- Day 7: I am not going any further.
- Day 8: Relaxing at Harney Peak.
- Day 9: Whose stupid idea was this?
- Day 10: What time did you want to get up?
- Post-Vacation Day 1: Haven't I been here before?