Saturday, July 25 1998. Estes Park, Colorado.
[ Administrative note: I'm going to try something new. I'm going to attempt to seperate the climbing and non-climbing email. The climbing email will have Climbing: in the subject line. Rather than maintain two email lists you'll all get both and if you're not interested in the climbing one just delete it.]
Some times you're thankfull for the small things in life. Colorado has been unfriendly in the camping department thus far. So it was a major shock, we found totally awesome camping place in the middle of Wyoming that was free.
On our drive to Devil's Tower we were looking for a place to have dinner near Douglas, WY, and we spotted picnic tables next to a river, so we pulled in. The town has a small park along the river that offers free camping and even better -- free hot showers! Too bad Douglas isn't near a major climbing area! As nice as it seemed, we didn't stay for the night since we wanted to reach Devil's Tower that night. But it so convenient that we stopped on our way back from Devil's Tower.
We pulled into Devil's Tower on the late side, but still managed to find a nice campsite. Another of the incredible small things were the stars that were visible from our campsite. Having lived near metropolitian areas most of my life, seeing the milky way in full glory is still pretty special. We weren't exactly the first party on the tower, so we had to wait in line for our route. The party behind us was a father with his two sons aged 10 and 12. The two boys climbed really well -- in about a year they'll be kicking jmy ass :-)
One of my favorite aspects of climbing out west is watching the swifts from the belay points. The swifts dive and swoop by performing incredible aerial stunts. Along the entrance to the campground is a prarie dog town. They are quite cute sitting up looking around from their "houses."
Before climbing at Devil's Tower I never realized that climbing is a spectator sport! Devil's Tower attracts quite a few people who stop for a few hours and walk around the tower (there isn't much else to do). The number one question of "spectators" is: did you go to the top? Not, did you have fun, was it hard, was it scary. Interesting perspective on the goal being more important than the enjoyment of the task. We did three climbs on three different days. The first day we did reach the summit, the second we didn't, and the third we were within 25'. The second two days climbing the routes was reward enough, without actually reaching the summit.
Once again we drove through the night to reach Rocky Mountain National Park. Having learned from our experiences in Eldorado Canyon, we made reservations before leaving. The reservable campsites in the park were taken so we're staying for four days in a commercial campground. Not the best place I've stayed, but they have a lodge with a phone jack I can use so I'm quite happy!
Given how late we arrived we made today in to a rest day. We drove through the park including the ridge drive which is the highest paved road in America at 12,100 feet. We saw three beautiful elk with massive racks.
Before leaving Delaware I picked up a 8x10' tarp which has been very useful. In Devil's Tower and now here in RMNP we've setup the tarp to create shelter during the rain.