It’s been a long and wild ride the last five days. I’ve spent a couple nights in the truck, splurged for a couple days at a hotel with a hot tub, and I’ve ridden more difficult terrain in the last week than I ever have in my entire life.
Let me rewind to last Sunday: spent the day between alerts hitting my phone via PagerDuty to get things packed-up and get on the road. The notion there was to avoid the six inches of snow that was likely to hit overnight Sunday and into Monday morning, which likely would have made crossing into upstate New York a difficult proposition. After packing up and saying my goodbyes, I got on the road.
I managed to make it most of the way to Albany before I was forced to sleep. The first night in the back of the truck was definitely trying. Road noise, general bodily discomfort, ambient temperature, and condensation accumulation inside the cap made for a pretty rough first night. I’d also realized in that first night that I’d grossly over-packed and had not assessed my overall cargo space correctly. Next time around, things will be a lot different.
After about five hours of sleep outside Albany, I made a long push to a point just outside Des Moines, Iowa. I couldn’t drive any further as I was starting to fall asleep at the wheel, so I found an inexpensive motel and pulled in for the night. I managed to roll-out with the foam roller I’d packed and got a hot shower and a good night’s sleep. After that, I made the choice to make a single long push to Denver, Colorado.
I can’t possibly convey to you how beautiful America really is. While it’s absurdly boring to drive the length of a state like Iowa or Nebraska in a single day, it’s also beautiful. While the vast expanses can be boring to look at and even sometimes depressing since large swaths of farmland either weren’t fertilized or seeded yet. Lots of grays and browns from the prior harvest–at least, that’s what I think it was.
In any case, swinging over the Nebraska border into Colorado was a welcome change of pace for many reasons. Seeing the Rockies towering over everything on the horizon an hour out from Denver sent chills up and down my spine. By the time I got closer and was able to see the mountains close-up and really understand the enormity of them and adjust my visual frame of reference, I felt like my heart was going to jump right out of my damn chest.
I can’t say it loudly enough: the mountains here are gorgeous. To say that this trip has been serendipitous in its spontaneity would be an understatement that would dwarf Loveland. I’ve met fantastic people here and the impression I get is that people have come here from all over is because of the sheer amount of things to see and do in such a short distance from home. Want to go snowboarding on a pow day after work? The mountains are barely an hour or two away. Want to go climbing, hiking, biking, or mountaineering in the Spring or Fall? The Flatirons are right there.
After arriving in Denver, I decided to try and save some money and stay near Loveland Ski Area. Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t anywhere to park overnight at Loveland, so I decided to try and find a parking area nearby. I ended-up driving about a half-mile up Loveland Pass and found a parking area above the backcountry ski access point in the pass and tried to sleep in the back of the truck.
Thus began the longest night of my life.
Something I hadn’t factored into my planning: altitude sickness. It’s totally a thing, and it kicked my ass. I discovered this later after telling a few friends of mine about the night I had just had and the symptoms that I’d exhibited–after which I was told “get to lower elevation ASAP”. I got down to Georgetown, got some caffeine and water in me, and a large number of the symptoms dropped off. I then returned to Loveland, rode the rest of the day on knee-deep powder from top-to-bottom and learned a lot in the process. After exhausting my energy reserves, I decided to drive down to Boulder, CO to go check out The Spot Bouldering Gym. The inside of the gym looks great and the composition of the climbing surfaces makes it look a lot closer to real stone than anything else I’ve seen so far. I’ll have to check it out if I’m ever back in the Denver area for an extended period.
I ended-up talking with a friend from Boston who’d been out in Colorado for a couple weeks ahead of me on a similar adventure road trip, and asked if I could meet-up with him somewhere. After deciding on Beaver Creek Ski Area in Avon, I booked a room in town for a couple days so I could rest and get some good boarding in. Beaver Creek was fantastic, and I’m grateful that my friend goaded me into getting on more difficult terrain. Granted, I fell quite a few times (thankfully no serious falls, bruises, or injuries to report) but I feel as though I gained better insight into areas that I can improve and what I might need to change to continue progressing.
Checked-out of the hotel this morning. Hanging out in Breckenridge at another friend’s suggestion. I’m likely to take today off entirely so that I can be rested ahead of going to Copper with another group of friends. It’s snowing all over the state today and the grand total is supposed to hit four inches of accumulation. Hopefully that means there will be good turns to be had.