I left Texas on a Wednesday, after two weeks of mowing, weed eating, and general maintenance required to get Mom restocked, refueled, and reset before my flight back to Colorado. It was 106 the day before I left. I realize that is nothing to the Arizona contingent, but in the Dallas area, there is no such thing as a “dry heat!”
While I was in Texas this time around, there was little time to return to the House of Pain as family matters took precedence. And it was too darned hot to do much of anything outdoors. If you didn’t get it done before 10:00am, there was no energy to resume outdoor activity again until after 7:00pm once the scorching sun abated, dropping lower in the sky. Most of my midday “activity” was spent running errands in the air conditioned car, or sitting atop the riding lawnmower. So I was a bit apprehensive about returning to “Adventures at Altitude” that I left behind so suddenly.
Meanwhile, boots kept marching in Ouray while I was away. The only thing more heart wrenching than reading about the upcoming hike descriptions in their daily emails would have been to be omitted from the distribution list. One by one, they were crossing off the hikes I had dreamed of doing: Bear Creek Trail, Red Mountain Summit, Twin Peaks. It was torture, reading about the meet-up time, trail length, ride logistics, and follow-up blog posts, knowing my “daily activity” included a whole lot of sweat, chaff, and bug spray. But knowing the Winnie was waiting in nearby Ridgeway State Park made reading emails and blog posts while sleeping on the inflatable mattress a little more bearable.
By the time my connecting flight arrived Montrose, and stops were made to replenish the Winnie, (Thanks, Debbie!) the ubiquitous monsoon afternoon thunderstorms had begun rolling in. I didn’t exactly fancy repositioning in the rain, much less while dodging bolts of lightning, so I spent the night in “stealth mode” inside the Ridgeway SP Boat Storage. My second day was spent positioning out of storage, acclimating with a walk down the road, and visiting our fearlessly convalescing Guide Noir, now out on “Injured Reserve.”
So once settled back in the San Juans, I am eager to rejoin the gangs hiking circuit. Soon, a plan starts to gel for a Friday hike. How about let’s start with something easy on Suzanne’s first day back on the trail…like, oh, maybe summiting a mountain? Oh, sure, it’s only 1.8 miles, but starting at an elevation of 11,400’ and hiking to the summit at 12,890’, a pretty dramatic vertical rise for a recently reset flatlander!
Jim and Gayle have been to the Red Mountain #3 summit just the week prior, but they say the scenery is worthy of a repeat. Chris will also join, as he missed the hike the first time around due to in-town visitors. Having done this hike previously, Gayle warns that it got very cold and windy at the top last week, so wear layers in case it’s another nippy day.
The hike up wastes no time in climbing, but it is a gated, 4WD road, now closed to vehicular traffic. I figure if an automobile is capable of getting up the steep grade, I should be able to make it up, even if it’s in low gear. Thankfully, the majestic views across the mountains begin with the same sense of urgency as the incline, so I am grateful for the frequent photography opportunities as I wheeze and sputter all the way to the top.
Once we reach the summit, we are in luck. The sun-baked red rocks are warm, and it feels like perfect picnic weather with 360 degree views. Mountains in every direction, as far as we can see. And what picnic is complete without fresh baked “Summit Cookies,” straight out of a Lazy Daze oven, compliments of Chris!
Ohhhhh, can I just tell you how happy I am to be back?