Day trip to Trail Ridge Road
A week ago I checked the webcam at the Alpine Visitor Center on Trail Ridge Road and discovered the camera had been moved, as seen above. The shot below is from October 6. I liked having the deck in the scene for scale, but maybe if the camera is more sheltered up under the overhang, the Park Service will leave it on all winter. Or at least until the weather knocks it out.
(I just checked the RMNP website, and the camera is now in winter mode. It will show only morning, midday, and afternoon views, and the temperature will not be accurate. It will continue in this mode all winter unless the weather knocks it out, in which case it will not be repaired until crews can reach it in the spring.)
Monday, because Trail Ridge Road had reopened over the weekend, my brother and I headed up that way and had a great time. We stopped often, both of us drawn to same things. We compared memories of things we’d done in the area, trying to pinpoint the years and our ages. We talked of our hikes and friends’ hikes and things we’d seen and done and the geology and history of the area. We referred often to an old, lovingly worn topo map, identifying peaks, valleys, and jewel-like mountain lakes. He told me about a 6-day solo backpacking trip he’d done along the Never Summer Range on the park’s western edge, including the morning he woke up and found cougar tracks tightly encircling his tent. (This is one of the few times when I would encourage someone to pack a gun, but I didn’t say anything.) And did he leave the area? Of course not. He followed the tracks until they disappeared somewhere higher up the mountain.
We stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center and found it closed and secured for the winter. But luckily for me some outhouses were still open at the edge of the parking lot. I then made a point of walking around behind the main building to look for the webcam and found that yes, it has been moved. It’s now above and to the right (as you look out) of its former location and is up under a roof overhang (visible in the top photo).
We then went on to Medicine Bow Curve, where we paused to admire the vast expanse of the Rawah, Neota, and Comanche Peak wildernesses, rolling away unbroken into Wyoming. If the roof of the Rockies doesn’t humble you, try looking across trackless miles of untouched forest. No ski runs, no roads, no power lines. Just forest as far as you can see.
We went a few more miles, down to Milner Pass on the Continental Divide. Poudre Lake is there, defying physics, sitting almost astride the Divide. But it is the source of Colorado’s Cache la Poudre River (or just Poudre, pronounced POO-der by Coloradans), which drains to the east.
We finally headed back to Estes, where we grabbed a late lunch at Subway, and then on back to Boulder, where we parted company after another fantastic day together. We made a pact to repeat the drive next spring, a day or two after Trail Ridge Road first opens; the peaks will buried in deep snow then, instead of just dusted.
The only fly in the ointment was … a bit more than a fly. In Boulder I discovered my cell phone was gone. The cord that had been charging it was trailing out the passenger side door. Obviously it had gotten caught up in my lap as I exited the car … either in Boulder, at the Estes Park Subway, or at the Alpine Visitor Center. A black phone in a black and gray case lying in one of three black asphalt parking lots. Phone calls failed to locate it. Locating services (Google, Where’s My Droid) couldn’t find it. And no one called to say they’d found it.
Our best guess is that it’s up on Trail Ridge Road, probably crushed into the asphalt by now, or rendered inoperable from damp weather. I’d been unable to get a signal up there when trying to use my PeakFinder app, so it figures the locator apps wouldn’t be able to find it there.
It’s amazing how insecure I felt driving from Boulder back to Thornton without a phone. I rarely used it, and yet I missed it. So the week was spent acquiring another phone and getting acquainted with it. The lost phone was from Straight Talk and was a several-years-old model that couldn’t be upgraded. So, since Verizon’s prices have gotten better since I first shopped there two years ago, I ended up with a new LG G3. (And it was a pleasant experience, nothing like my horrible experience at the Sprint store.) It doesn’t do windows or fix dinner (unless there’s an app for that), but it does just about everything else a small computer can do. (You’ve heard, I assume, that there’s more computing power in today’s cell phones than there was in the Apollo 11 spacecraft.) And its screen is bigger than my aging Garmin GPS unit, so it will be replacing both the lost phone and the old GPS. Now all I need is the right dash mount for the car.
For those interested in Trail Ridge Road, the last time I looked, it was still open. We’ve had some freaky warm weather and hit 82° yesterday, breaking the old record for the date. Looks like we’ll do the same today. Despite that, my brother’s guess is they’ll close the road after this weekend anyway, just so the seasonal employees can go home.
Chin up, though. I saw a report saying the Park Service expects to have all the flood damage repaired and Old Fall River Road open again next summer.
Photos? You wanted photos? Sorry, it never occurred to me to take pictures. We were too engrossed in maps, binoculars, and conversation.
Click map for larger Park Service PDF: