News from the Rocky Mountains

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Above photos by Elliott Hess

My photos:

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This will not be poetic.

            Actually, this is likely to not even make sense.

            I’m in a Starbucks in Fort Collins, Colorado and I’ve not showered since Friday morning when I left. I remember telling my mom how we had found parks with showers the whole way. Our plans haven’t gone as planned yet.

            That’s not to say that we’re not on schedule. When you have no where to be, you can’t get off track. We added two nights here in
Colorado, just because we wanted to.

            That second day after Kansas Elliott and Ed split up 572 miles. Elliott drove what was left of Kansas and Ed took over Colorado. It seems every day we’re stopping and just buying stuff. We seem very unprepared, but if you looked at the Volvo, you wouldn’t believe it. (A story about being unprepared comes soon, keep reading!)

            Our first night in Colorado was simple. We were driving through the Rocky Mountains, taking beautiful photos and trying to find a campground as close to the park as possible. This is where we found Camp Dick’s.

            It was a night just like in Kansas. We pulled in, paid our camping fee and slept 20 feet from the car. It was nice and simple. We cooked noodles on a fire then just sat around a while before sleeping. We didn’t realize the luxuries we were enjoying.

            The next day we drove 87 miles but didn’t travel more than 30 from the night before. All of the Rocky Mountain National Park’s campgrounds were full (holiday weekend) so we had to go for a backcountry pass. This basically means hiking to a campsite and staying.

            We went to the backcountry ranger station to apply for our permit and find a camp site. This is where we learned how unprepared we were for real camping.

            It started with a quick to-the-point question from the ranger, “Have you ever camped on snow?”

            “Um…no,” we all replied.

            She starts asking us questions about what we were looking for in a campsite. What we would like to see? How hardcore hiking did we want to do? How many nights? Right about here is where she started looking worried for us.

            “How much camping gear do you have? Are you prepared?” she asked.

            We gave her an, ‘Oh yeah, we’re good’ look. She didn’t buy it.

            “Do you have any way to purify water?”

            “I was just going to fill up my two bottles,” Elliott said.

            “Yeah, that’s not going to work,” she scoffed.

            So we were taught about the many ways to purify our water with the pump we bought from the town. Then more questions came.

            She informed us about how cold it was going to be, that we couldn’t have a fire, how to defend yourself from mountain lions and bears and then asked us if we had a bear canister to hide our food.

            Of course we don’t have a bear canister to hide our food.

            So she then goes on to tell us about how we’ll be using a bear cable that is provided (it wasn’t) and describing how to use all the parts (they weren’t there).

            Right before we left, she asked us about how much food we had. By this point we’re thoroughly embarrassed to say that we’ve been eating canned weenies and ramen noodles, so we tell her we have food. Then comes the funniest part of the whole process.

            “So I guess you have a stove then, right?” she asked.

            Is she kidding? I wanted to say, “Ma’am, I ate animal crackers for breakfast this morning.” I may have said it, had Elliott not heard me starting a sentence with a doubtful ‘Ummm’. He quickly intervened.

            “Yeah, we have a stove.”

            I just looked over, and appreciated what he was doing. He knew. If we had given her any more reason to doubt us, we probably wouldn’t have gotten a permit. The whole time she was testing our knowledge of the area, animals and camping itself. We passed, but with a D-.

            We went out and bought warm clothing, more bottles, a water purifier, a stove, gas and then had a nice meal at a restaurant outside the park.

            Yesterday we hiked two miles and today we hiked about 9. We visited several waterfalls, one was which we hung out at for a while (mostly because we had to hike for an hour to get to it…oxygen is thin here).

            It’s 7 pm at the time I’m typing this. Still unsure of where we’re staying, what we’re eating tonight and how to even get out of this city, the only thing I am sure of is that we should be leaving soon.

            I think I may wash my hair in this Starbucks before I leave. It’s been a while.

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4 Responses to “News from the Rocky Mountains”

  1. all of a sudden, i missed you all.

    love the pictures. be careful.

  2. Oh you guys are so silly!!!
    i hope you’re having a good time, and that permit you worked so hard to get ended up being worth it… I hope you found a place to sleep, and the starbucks bath was good… quick question: did you guys take coats with you? i didn’t realize there was still snow in some parts of the country…

  3. sounds like a Seinfeld episode! Trying to figure out which one is George, which one is Kramer and which one is Jerry.

  4. After this trip you will hate canned weenies and ramen noodles….probably animal crackers to lol. Love ya Brad have fun but becareful.

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