Saturday, December 31, 2005

Not Enough Adventure

I haven't been out hiking or climbing as much as I would like lately. I did go snowboarding at Copper Mountain December 18th. It was my first time this year and the conditions were awesome. Colorado has had the best early snow in years. Running and hiking doesn't prepare your legs for riding, but I still managed 10 runs.

I did get a mountaineering class for my birthday! I am looking forward to learning how to climb some class 4 and lower 5 routes.

I am going to go for a hike somewhere this weekend. I can't blow a 3 day weekend here in my basement!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Las Vegas 2005

My sister Veronica, her husband James, Michelle and I took a trip to Las Vegas on December 2, 2005. My brother Larry and Kari did not make the trip.

We stayed at Circus Circus because Larry picked it, then didn't show up! The first night we went down town to Fremont Street. There were country bands playing since the rodeo finals were starting. We danced a bit at Binions. There was a goofy band with a strange lead singer.

Day two we went over to the Cowboy Christmas exhibit at the convention center. They had a lot of cool elk statues.

Day three James wanted to stay at the Sport's book all day, so V, M and I went over to the Hilton to check out the Star Trek experience. I thought the rides were okay, but not especially cool. Of course the acting was amateurish. The Borg encounter was better than the Klingon. At least I got my picture with a Klingon chick!

That night we went over to Gilley's to watch the rodeo and get some barbeque. We ended up staying after dinner, dancing to Ricochet. The band put on a great performance. Afterwards we headed over to the Luxor to lose more money.

Monday James and V headed home early. Michelle and I had earned a free buffet at the Wynn. Their buffet was simply amazing! They had king crab, prime rib, lamb chops, suishi, and a great dessert bar.

This post doesn't properly convey the fun we had this weekend, but I guess the best stuff should just stay in Vegas.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hunt 2005 - Conclusion

Colorado's normal elk seasons no longer give you two weekends, so our hunt was over. My hunt for my wallet was also over, so I had to borrow money from Michelle's grandma Millie. She gave me a nice leather wallet with deer on it too.

Saturday, we had breakfast with Angie so Dalton could see his mom and then headed for Moab to celebrate my sister's birthday. Larry and family also showed up, as was our surpise plan. Veronica was puting in new linoleum in her kitchen so we helped. We had a good party for V that night and played some texas holdem. Kari D won.

Dalton and I left Moab late Sunday after mucking through dad's stuff. We loaded our gear and meat at Dave's and realized we did not have Dalton's .270. We decided to go back up to hunt camp on the slim chance we could find it. We drove all the way up there and the road was getting quite bad. Luckily we found Dalton's gun in the case in the mud. It's a miracle Dave didn't run over it pulling out the motorhome.

By the time we returned to Grand Junction, it was 10 pm and the news on the pass was not good. We decided to spend the night at Millie's and leave at 4am for Denver. The passes the next morning were snow packed and an accident at Eagle cost us an hour. Then there was an accident on 6th in Denver which put me at work at 11 am.

Hunting season over!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hunt 2005 - Day 7

On the morning of the last day we pulled out of camp on our way to the towers. Dave drove the motorhome, I pulled the atv trailer with Dave's truck, and Dalton drove my truck. We had to stop in Delta to get diesel for Dave's truck and when we were pulling out I lost those guys on the highway. We wasted an hour looking for each other and it made us late to our spot.

As we were riding up the road, we saw the game warden's pickup. When we got to the top we seen his atv. Since I had lost my wallet, I decided not to carry my rifle even though I was perfectly legal. You must have your license with you, and I figured it wasn't worth the hassle. I resigned myself to bird dogging for Dave. Dalton couldn't carry a gun either, because he already bagged his elk.

After watching the valley for a while, we decided to head on up. Dave and Dalton on would walk the ridge, and I would go through the middle. I wanted to make it all the way to burn, but after hiking until 11 am, I realized I didn't have time. I seen a hunter way up on Indian Point; some day I will have to get there. I believe he came from the top.

I met up with Dave and Dalton at the high tower and ate lunch. Itstarted to rain, so we decided to start hiking back. We had seen no elk, but had heard shots and guys on the radio chasing a bull. As we hiked down it was raining pretty good and we could see it was snowing higher on the mountain. Dalton was getting cold and didn't like the pace Dave was setting, so he got pissed and walked out ahead of us. Freezing rain is by far the worst conditions to hunt in. Even though I was very cold and wet, I was enjoying the unique experience of the outdoors. The smells and moody views in the rain make me feel close to nature.

Back at the ATVs we knew it was going to be a muddy mess getting down the road. I was soaked to the bone, cold as hell, and covered in mud by the time we got to the pickup. After arriving at Dave's house, we spent until midnight cutting up Dalton's elk. Dennis and Tammy came by to check out Dalton's bull.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hunt 2005 - Day 6

With the success of Wednesday and the need to finish packing out the hind quarters, we decide to head back to upper texas for the third day. Dave was back in camp and went with us to upper texas. Steve decided to hunt the spoons since his back was still hurting and the road is so rough our way.

The plan was to hunt in the morning and pack the hinds with the packs in afternoon. I went to Tuesday's overlook to try to find my wallet while Dave and Dalton went higher. The other hunters who were in the valley the past two days were doing the same hunt again this day.

I saw no elk in valley and no evidence of my wallet. There were shots way low and over in w gulch. After a couple of hours I hiked to meet up with Dave and Dalton. We hiked to the high point to hunt and check for my wallet. Dave and Dalton spotted that same buck we saw Tuesday. Here is a picture of a very cool moss covered lava rock.

No sign of elk while hunting the high point, so Dave decided to drop off and hunt the valley beyond high hill. He had a feeling. His feeling turned out to be a nice 4 point buck and doe.

Using the packs, the hind quarters were much easier than without them. It was still quite a task to pack them out to the ATVs. This is wilderness area, and there are signs reminding hunters that they cannot use mechanized vehicles even to retrieve game. By the time we made it out we decided to forgo an evening hunt and instead packed up camp to hunt the towers on the final day. All the shots we heard were lower, so we were thinking that might be a good plan.

Dave Eller is a natural leader and someone I respect. Here is what I mean by natural leader:

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hunt 2005 - Day 5

"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." -- Thomas Jefferson

With the season half over, we had feelings of both hope and desperation. Steve was back in camp and we decided to hunt upper texas where we seen the big bull on Tuesday. This time we got up a bit later and didn't roll out of camp until 5 am. As we rode toward alk basin some other hunters caught up with us and a few tried to pass. I guess they wanted to be first ;-)

I thought for sure that the trail in would be a piece of cake since we came out so nicely the previous evening. The trails in this area are weird though, we never took the same one twice. Steve was getting antsy to split up, so he decided to hunt back in the bowl above alk basin. Dalton and I went too high and had to cross a boulder field to get to our destination. Dalton paused to take a shit, and with our late launch he did it right in prime shooting time. Sure enough, we heard shots.

We got to an overlook and watched the valley for awhile, but we want to hunt that big bull so we preceded on. Then we heard shots close to us in valley, and I could see hunter walking through the middle, just where Dalton had hiked the day before. He was making good time, so I knew he was on to something.

Then I hear a rustling in the oak brush and out pops a spike bull not 20 yards from me. The young elk never even knew I was there. I watched him for awhile as he browsed and moved on. The day was looking better all the time.

Soon after I then spot a big bull on highest hill! Dalton is too far from me for me to tell him, so I decide to just take my best shot and hope he catches on. The bull was a good 400 yards away, so I crouched and braced myself against a tree. Pow! Miss. Pow! Miss. Dalton catches on and fires a few shots too, but the distance might be too much. We need to practice long shots more.

We then meet up with the hunter who was crossing the middle. He claims he had wounded a bull and that we were hunting his elk. We decide to hike up and see if we can spot any blood. Just then we see a rag horn topping the hill. The other guy asks if he can take a shot, so I say "Yes" and tell Dalton to shoot right after him. The guy misses, but Dalton can't find the elk on the hill. I guess he needed his glasses.

The hunter asks us what our plan is. I tell him we are going high to see if we might have hit that bull earlier. He decides to hunt around the middle more, since his buddies had another bull down below.

There was no sign of blood on the high hill and we were just scanning the area when I spotted a 5 point bull on the upper hill side! I tell Dalton, "There he is!" and I let Dalton take a shot. He misses. I take a shot. Miss. Dalton again. Me again. The bull is at full trot trying to climb this hill to safety. Finally, Dalton takes his time, draws a good bead, and makes a clean shot. Got him!! The bull turns once and collapses. We watch him for bit to make sure he is not getting up. If you click on the second picture you can see a small brown spot on the hillside: Dalton's elk.

I am so happy for Dalton and we celebrate with high fives. His first elk! We make our way over to the steep hillside. No wonder this bull was not moving faster, this stuff is steep and rough. Turns out this five point has a broken antler at the thickest part of the upper two tines. Never seen anything like it.

Now the work begins. Dalton dresses for 2 hours as I coach. We had no bone saw, so we decide to drag the hind quarters over a boulder field to the park below to see how hard it would be. It was tough. He isn't the biggest bull ever, but elk are just huge. We then decide to pack out the front shoulders and get Steve to help us. We take off the backstraps and pack them into the little backpack. Then each of us grabs a shoulder and hoofs it back to the atvs. There was a lot of sweat in that last sentence and it took us awhile.

Back at the road we meet up with Steve and the hunter we saw up above. The guy is very nice and loans us a bone saw. The three of us hike back in, quarter up the hinds and I talk Dalton into keeping the full head in case he wants to do a European mount. The hind quarters are much heavier than the front and Steve falls and tweaks his back on the first steep section. Dalton takes over for Steve and we hump the hinds down to the aspens. Still a mile to go and we are out of daylight. So we decide to hide the quarters there and return for them in the morning. If you ever find a "D5" carved in an aspen tree, you will have found the spot.

I packed the head the rest of the way and we took it all back to camp to hang. This turned out to be the best hunting day ever.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hunt 2005 - Day 4

On Tuesday it was just me and my son. Dalton and I decided to hunt above Texas since the only shots we heard on Monday were from this area.

The alarm roused us at 4 AM and we jumped on the four wheelers for the hour long trip over the roughest and rockiest trail I know. Two years ago this trail bruised my wrist and it took until this summer to fully heal. We arrived at the end of the road just before light and we were the first in.

There are many trails through here, but the oak brush is also very thick and nasty. Once you cross two or three ridges you come to a nice spot which overlooks a large valley. Dalton and I found a spot and just watched for about 3 hours. There was one other hunter not far from us, and some walking the valley below. With the guys in the valley pushing, it seemed we were prime to spot any animals.

Alas the only game we saw was a nice buck with some does. I had forgotten to put in for a buck tag back in April and was kicking myself now. In fact, we were in the exact spot that Dalton shot his first buck two years ago. We even found his spent .270 cartridges.

Late morning we decided it was time to move on. We decided I would go high and Dalton would go through the middle. Dalton lost his glasses the day before, so I was to be the eagle eyes. The walk up high is literally a walk in the park. There is a nice bench extending for over a mile and I spooked another nice buck up there. As I watched the valley, I felt guilty about my easy hike as Dalton battled the oak brush and pinions below.

When Dalton had worked his way up to where I was, we spotted that same buck again. We decided to split again and meet high on the far ridge of Texas to look down into the gulch and the towers.

At the top the views of the back side aren't that great. There is alot of black timber and quakies up there and the views are obstructed. The picture to the left was taken here and it is my favorite. Kinda captures the essence, doesn't it?

We decided to work our way down the ridge to find a better view and have lunch. The views from the lower knob are much better and allow you to see both sides of the ridge pretty well. Don't go any lower, though the pinions get thick and the ridge flattens to obscure again.

Holy shit!! We had finished lunch and were just getting ready to head back having seen no elk, when crash! We heard something monstrous in the quakies just below us. I knew it was an elk so I took off running to find a better view. This may have been a mistake, but I get "buck" fever sometimes. Then there he was. A huge bull came over the ridge and shot down into the pinions. Dalton and I both had time only to release our safties, but no chance to get a shot.

We set out tracking him, but it became hard since there was no snow and the ground was very dry. There were numerous elk tracks in this area anyway, so it was very hard to know which he had just stomped. Bull elk are amazingly powerful creatures. We found a pinion tree he had run right through. He snapped a 5-inch tree trunk like a toothpick.

We hunted this bull for the rest of the day, but never did spot him again. Damn. Hours and hours of hunting for a split second opportunity. It sucks. Since this happened to me on opening morning as well, I was really getting discouraged. How do you hunt such situations? I also wonder how we didn't see that bull after spending an hour looking and glassing. I have got to become a better hunter.

On the other hand, at least we spotted elk again. We had burgers and soup over the campfire and decided to go hunt that bull again Wednesday.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hunt 2005 - Day 3

After no sign of elk on day two, we were still convinced that the elk were low in the pinions. We decided to hunt low, but closer to camp on Monday. Dave and Steve had to go back to town Monday night so it would be a morning hunt.

The plan was for Dave and Steve to drop off the top, Dalton would walk the middle road and I would go throught the pinions even lower across the bottom.

I arrived at my spot well before light and watched the old burn area (pre 1993) for quite awhile. There were 5 other hunters watching same meadow that morning and no elk.

The rest of the morning's hike was through very thick pinions, with little opportunity to see more than 10 yards. There was also no elk sign in these woods. I eventually made it all the way to 112. I did hear shots in a. basin late in the morning. The plan was to meet back at the corrals by noon, and even though I was trying to work lower on the way back I ended up much higher.

I met up with the gang for lunch. Nobody saw evidence of elk in this area. Later that afternoon Dalton and I went down to the desert to sight in his gun. We had sighted in at Cherry Creek Shooting Range before the season, but Dalton didn't feel we had it perfect.

I wanted to use my new backpack for the first time and camp high above Texas, but Dalton and I couldn't get it all together before dark, so we decided to just head up there early in the morning. We cooked burgers and ravioli on the campfire and just relaxed. Maybe elk are out there, maybe not...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hunt 2005 - Day 2

We all hooked up at camp Saturday night to discuss the day. Dave saw 20 hunters on atvs at the spoons and no elk. Steve took the wrong trail and got in late, but he too saw no elk. Since I was the only one who saw elk, and we needed to get Matt and Justin back to town, we decided to all hunt the towers Sunday.

The plan was for Matt and I to walk the far ridge, but we got on the wrong road. We ended up hiking the bottom of the valley. Since the original plan was ruined, we decided to head for the lower baldy just below where I had seen the rag horn the day before. Once at the baldy Matt took a little nap and we snapped the photos shown here.

Now that we had made it this far, we decided to make a loop of it and hike to far ridge hump above the saddle where we were supposed to be all along. Since the controlled burn, the hike over to this valley is much easier now that all that oak brush is gone. On the far ridge we saw no sign of elk. We had lunch, then hiked down far ridge to the fence. Matt twisted his ankle and I thought we were screwed with over two miles to the atv. Matt was a trooper and we hiked across the valley to the chained off area. No sign of any elk this low, but I did find an arrow head!

After the long long hike, Matt and I decided to ride the atv over and find the road we were supposed to be on. Turns out it was much closer to the county line. I let Matt drive and we had some fun climbing the dirt hills down in the desert. We followed the power line over some cool hills back to the pickup.

Day Two: no elk spotted, no shots.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Hunt 2005 - Opening Day

Last year the only time Dalton seen an elk of any kind was at a spot we call the towers. So this year he was gung-ho to hunt there on opening morning. Dave had his son Justin with him so he decided to hunt the 'spoons and Steve had Dave's nephew with him (Jason) so they went to the end of the road. We call this area Texas because for a lot of years a group of Texans would camp here. Remember Texas as it will come up again later.

Dalton and I hiked the stairway to heaven up to our special spot. We arrived before shooting light which was perfect. Some other hunters had passed us on the road, but we got ready and started hiking the trail before them.

After 90 minutes of sitting we hadn't seen any movement or heard any shots. I could see other hunters walking the ridges above us, so if there were elk someone would be shooting. Then I saw an elk that must have been 600 yards away. With such a long shot and low light, I couldn't tell if it was a bull or a cow.

By now the morning is old and we decide to go on a little hunt. The weather was quite cold and my shivvering was to a point that I would have trouble shooting anyway. Dalton decided to walk the ridge as I went through the middle of the valley. Hopefully I would push something out and he could get a shot.

After about an hours worth of walking, I jumped a nice little rag horn bull! I had no chance to get him in my scope because of all the damn pinion trees. The pinions are so thick here and the terrain so rugged that hunting is difficult. Maybe thats why not many people hunt this area, but there are always elk. I tried to get to a clearing where I could see him, but never seen hide or hair again. Hours of waiting followed by a split second chance.

I hunted for him for about an hour, but to no avail. I decided to meet up with Dalton by Dalton's rock and discuss our next move. Dalton and I agreed to spend the afternoon chasing this little bull and see what happened.

I went low in the valley and Dalton picked the middle. We picked out a hill top to meet at in two hours. I worked my way slowly over to the hill, but no sign of Dalton. No sign of the bull either for that matter. Finally I radioed D and he said he lost his glasses. I humped it up to where he was to help him look.

Finding a pair of glasses in the woods is, as you might guess, an impossible task. Going off a description of where he left them, I got very lucky and found the damn things. By now that bull could be in the next county, so we decided to head back to our spot for the evening hunt.

As the evening hunt wore on, no sign of elk. We were getting ready to leave and what happens? Dalton loses his glasses again! This time I found them on the trail, but one lense was missing. We hunted until well into the dark, but never found it. I guess he hunts the rest of the season without them.

We huffed back to the ATV and down the road to pick up Matt. Matt was going to hunt with us on Sunday only, since he had school all week.

Day One: 2 elk seen, no shots.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Mount Falcon Trail Run

Sunday morning I went on a 6 mile trail run to Mount Falcon. I had leaves to rake and other honey-do's at home, so I couldn't stray far from the city. Mt. Falcon is in the foothills close to Denver, just 4.2 miles up Hwy. 285 then on to Parmalee Road.

I decided to follow the route described in Dave Rich's Denver Hiking Guide for the Devil's Elbow. The route goes past the very cool Walker Home Ruins, then down the Meadow Trail to the Old Ute Trail (photo 1 go up and left). You then do the loop around the Devil's Elbow (photo 2 go clockwise) and return the way you came (photo at bottom).

This only gives you a 3.8 mile run, so I decided to extend it by taking the Parmalee Trail (photo 3). This trail descends at first, then skirts the slope providing some nice views, and finally ascends to get those quads burning at the end. About half-way on this trail I met up with six does and a small buck (photo 4). The deer here are very tame and let me get quite close. They were grazing within 10 feet of me and weren't spooked at all.

This was the first time I tried taking my camera with me on a trail run. It worked out okay by stuffing it in my small runner's Camelback fannypack. Next weekend I hope to do a bit more scrambling if it doesn't snow too much. The week after that is elk hunting season!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Colorado Trail Section 22

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry" -- adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns

Nick and I decided to push our luck and try one more trip on the Colorado Trail this year. Our quest was sections 22 and 23 along the continental divide above Lake City. The weather report said rain/snow late Sunday, so we figured it might work. We left Friday afternoon and set up camp at the top of Wager Road: the midpoint between 22 and 23.

The first picture is of the Wager 4WD road. The second shows the entire first half of the section. The trail follows this ridge as far as you can see in the picture then drops down to the right. The third picture shows me riding across some crunchy snow. Great fun.

How do you hike two sections without having to go out and back, plus have only one camp setup? With two vehicles you can do it with a bit of travelling. Our plan was to position Nick's car at Spring Creek Pass and bike there from the midpoint camp. Then drive his car to the base of Wager Road where we would take my atv back up to the camp and get my truck. Then we would reposition Nick's Avalon at the end of Section 23 and drive together in my F150 back to camp. Finally after biking 23, we would arrive at Nick's car, drive it back to Wager Road and gather all of our stuff and back to Denver.

Mishap #1: I could not get my atv started Thursday night so we decided not to take it. This meant that I would have to hike up to camp since Wager is definitely 4WD and no place for an Avalon.

Biking Section 22 is great. The Colorado Trail guide book recommends a detour around this sections, but I would recommend that you go ahead and bike it. I don't believe we did any damage to the high alpine environment and the ride is better than many other sections we have done where you push your bike more than ride it. If anyone can clean this section though, my bike helmet is off to you! We did the section backwards (west to east) because it is loses more altitude this way than it gains. Even though you start out going uphill, after about two miles it is mostly a downhill ride. The views from this section are just amazing. We had the entire day to ourselved until about a mile from Spring Creek pass where we met up with a couple of hikers. The fourth picture shows the steepest hill in the section. It was too steep and the switchbacks too sharp for us to ride.

We arrived at Spring Creek pass, loaded the bikes and drove back up the Lake San Cristibol road. I then started my five mile hike back up to my truck while Nick rested at his car... old man you know ;-). At about three miles I met up with some guys from Colorado Springs who were setting up hunting camp a week early. I was still feeling good, so I didn't bother them for a ride to the top. I made it to camp, just at the point where I was getting a bit tuckered out. The weather was starting to roll in, but I didn't think much of it at this point. I drove my truck back down and we started the caravan to position Nick's Avalon at the Lost Trail Trailhead above Rio Grande Reservoir.

Mishap #2: Now it started raining. By the time we made it back to Wager Road it had been raining for a couple of hours. I could not get my pickup more than about half way back up the 4wd road to our camp, so we had to turn around and spend the night in Lake City. Finding a room at 10 PM in this town is not easy in early October. We happened to be here just in the off season. It was after all the Texans had gone home for the winter, and just before hunting and snowmobile seasons. We finally roused a Frenchman at the Moose Lodge to rent us a room. Very nice fellow.

Mishap #3: I was hoping that the ground would be frozen the next morning, but it rained all night in Lake City and snowed 6 inches on the mountain. Having no better plan, we decided to try and get my truck up the road anyway. We didn't even make it as far as the night before. This time, however, I got my truck stuck while trying to turn around. When will I learn that the ground is much less packed just off of the road? Nick tried to talk me into backing down to a pull out, but I didn't take his advice. It took us some time, but eventually we dug enough mud and placed enough rocks to get the pickup out. Luckily there was a big flat boulder just at the edge of the cliff I could use!

Mishap #5: We then started to get concerned about Nick's Avalon at the top of a 19 mile dirt road. Would he be able to get it out if the weather kept up? We decided the best action would be to get it now. We started up Slumgullion Pass, but my buddies at CDOT had not plowed the road. Just below the Lake San Cristobal overlook, a lady had spun her car out in the snow. We helped her get it pointed back down the hill and decided not to try to make it over the pass until the plows went through.

Mishap #6: We then decided to try and rent a 4 wheeler, since I didn't take mine. Nobody was open to rent, so we decided to just hike up to camp and salvage what we could carry.

So we started the 5 mile hike up, 3,000 ft elevation gain. We salvaged about half of our stuff, but Nick's tent had broken in the wind and snow. We dragged my camp box and carried the rest back down to the truck. 10 miles round trip! The final three pictures set the scene for our rescue mission. The last picture is my favorite.

Then we spent 7 hours in a snowstorm getting back to Denver.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Donald Alton Lyman Sr.

Today is a very sad day for me and my family. My father past away after a long struggle with emphysema. Here are the words his bishop gave at the service:

Donald Alton Lyman Sr. was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on March 14, 1942. Clifford, Anna, and Don lived in Monticello until Don was the age of two. After Clifford died accidentally, Anna later remarried. Anna and her second husband, Glen W. Jones, raised and loved Don until there passing. When Don was a child the family moved around awhile as Glen was a civil engineer. While living in Salt Lake, Don's first job was a paperboy. He would later attend Grand Junction High School until 1959.When Don first met his sweetheart Linda Fowler he would walk from Monticello to La Sal to see her. While they were dating, he drove a white 1956 Ford with "Wild Child" in old english letters on the back.. He always loved working on cars and driving fast. In fact, he jacked the back end of his car up by putting 2x4 blocks under the back springs.

Don and Linda were married on May 24th, 1963 in La Sal Utah at the LDS church. Don worked at the Needles Overlook as a high scaler in the early 60's. He later hauled ore for Arthur (Hardwater) Knight. He then worked in Aspen as a bartender, busdriver, and cabbie while living in Carbondale Colorado. His parents Glen and Anna lived on the Crystal River and Don's favorite mountain was Mt. Sopris.

Don and Linda's first child, Don Jr. was born in Glenwood Springs CO on December 23, 1964. Then they had Veronica on November 11, 1966 in Telluride CO in the doctors office. Don was mining with his father-in-law Elmer Fowler at the time. Their third child Larry was born on August 25th, 1970 in Grand Jct.

Don, Linda, and family lived in Grand Jct. for about twelve years while the kids were in school. Don worked as a mechanic, truck driver and bartender. He enjoyed camping and fishing in western colorado and eastern Utah. He also enjoyed watching his children play sports.

In 1982 they moved back to Moab. Don was working for Hardwater again hauling ore. For the next ten years he spent his free time exploring and 4-wheeling the Canyonlands with Linda. One of his last jobs was his favorite. He was a river runner for a rafting company.

In 1991 Don met Joanne Johnson. They spent time out and about before Don got sick. They travelled together to Colorado and Nevada. For the last ten years Joanne has taking care of Don. Bringing him meals and conversation everyday. She was his constant companion and best friend.

His hobbies included collecting coins, comic books, marbles, and eagles. He loved the martial arts and watching action movies. One of his favorite actors was Charles Bronson. After he had stopped mechanic work, he passed his time by obtaining an electronic certificate from Mesa State College and an accounting certificate from an an online college. His favorite pasttime was building and repairing computers.

On September 27th Don Lyman passed away from a long term illness. We are grateful he no longer has to struggle to breath. He was welcomed home by his loved ones on the other side. We will miss his conversations at the stove. Until we meet again, Godspeed.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Torreys Peak - Kelso Ridge

You thought I quit hiking 14ers for the year, because I did not post last week, didn't you? No, no, no my friends. I just had prior commitments that forced me to stay in the city.

This week I am on call at work, so I only had Saturday as an option. Saturday is the sabbath, so the pager won't beep all day. Since I feel most spiritual in the mountains, I reasoned that a quick trip to Torreys and Grays was in keeping with the spirit. I spent seven hours last night at the Benny Hinn crusade at the Pepsi Center and didn't get to bed until 1:30 am, so I wasn't sure I would make it up in time.

Luckily my gumption was up when the alarm went off at 6am. I quickly threw some lunch in my day pack and took off. Six stop lights down the street, I realized I had forgotten my camera. What to do? Of course with the aspens in full color, I had to turn around. 20 minutes lost.

I arrived at the trailhead at 8:30 am and headed up. Using the Colorado Scrambles book as a guide, I easily found the trail to the Kelso-Torreys saddle (photo 1). There are roughly four pitches that could be classified as Class 3 on the way up. I have a picture of each here in order (photos 2,3,4). All can be bypassed, but what would be the point right? I like the fact that you can make it as hard as you desire. The last pitch over the knife edge and gray-white cliff is the most exhilirating (photo 4). I even heard people cheering from the Grays trail below! The rock is loose above this cliff and a bit annoying. Luckily there isn't too long a stretch of it. Staying to the far right or left in this gully is your best footing. I summitted in just under two hours from the truck!

Joining the masses at the top, I asked someone to snap my picture. Then I had a decision to make. Do I head back down the ridge for more fun, or trudge over to Grays to bag another 14er. My goal is not to summit all the 14ers, so I should have headed back down but Grays beckoned me to check him off the list anyway so I headed on over.

These fourteeners are getting easier. I made it over to Grays in no time and had a sandwich. Well, not really a sandwich because I left my cheese on the counter at home and we had no lunch meat. It was really just a bagel. The view from here is very cool. You can see Pikes Peak, Evans, Longs, Quandary, and the Lincoln group.

Because we had company in town (Michelle's family), I decided to make time back to the truck so I could get back to Aurora by early afternoon. I hoofed it down the trail and was back at the truck, completing the loop in just under 3:30 hours. Not a bad time for me... but I think the record is 2:20.

While the Kelso ridge doesn't quite match the Crestone Needle, it is a very fun scramble indeed. I could not quit smiling and whistling the whole way up. Plus its a lot closer to the house than the Sangre De Cristos.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Crestone Needle

"...I have reached the top!" -- Richard Pryor, Live on the Sunset Strip

This week I finally realized my summer goal: climbing the Crestone Needle. Hiking to the top of various fourteeners this year left me with a desire for something more challenging. After doing much reading and studying I set my sites on the Needle. It was sufficiently challenging, yet still Class 3.

I think I prepared for it the right way. First was a probable third class climb on Mount Peale. Then last weekend a bit harder climb on Apache Peak. But the biggest boost was that my good friend Nick agreed to join me!

Originally, we wanted to complete two more sections of the Colorado Trail this year, but the outrageous cost of gas, the need for two vehicles, and a late meeting at work on Friday combined to force us elsewhere. I'm glad the mountain god played us this way.

On the trip down to Westcliffe we encountered the often bemoaned traffic north of Colorado Springs. I don't understand the slowdown there. Even with that we arrived at the trailhead with plenty of daylight. The various trip reports about the 4wd road here range from accurate to exagerated. The first 1.5 miles is rough and I had to put my F150 in 4 low, but it is far from the roughest 4wd in Colorado. We found an excellent camping spot on the flats between the private property and the Rainbow trail.

On the trip up we picked up a hitchhiker named Oova. He said it was the most radical 4 wheeling he had ever done. He was planning on climbing Humboldt Peak the next day. Nick and I set up camp, roasted some hotdogs, and toasted his new job with a six pack.

The next morning we set out on my Yamaha Kodiak ATV on up the trail. It does get a bit rougher in spots, but there were plenty of SUVs and trucks at the upper trailhead. I am glad we had the ATV as it shaved about 7 miles off of the hike.

We hike up to the South Colony lakes and then continued on up Broken Hand pass. The clouds were pouring over the top of the needle and we saw a climber on the Ellingwood Arete. We weren't the first of the day up to the pass, but we were the first headed for the needle. The new trail that contours over to the couloir has one spot that was a little challenging. This gave us a taste of what was to come.

The climb up the west couloir was very fun and not too challenging until we got to the traverse to the east couloir. This was a bit trickier, but with Nick's advice I made it fine. Nick gave me two pointers to work on in my climbing. First, use your legs primarily and keep your body vertical... not against the rock. Second take steps of between 6 and 12 inches up. Your view changes quite a bit if you take these small moves. The climbing from the traverse to the top was just way too much fun. The rock is conglomerate with many solid holds.

We made the trip from the lakes to the top in 2 hours and 20 minutes! At the ajax we had the mountain to our selves. Nick examined the traverse to Crestone Peak and agreed that we could make it... but not this day and not without gear. We left it for our next trip. From the top you have a superb view of the Great Sand Dunes national monument.

On the way down we encountered three other climbers and two marmots doing the nasty. We stopped and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon for awhile before continuing the descent. It was such an awesome day! This is by far the best trip in all my years of hiking.

On the way back to the camp, Nick drove the ATV. It was his first experience on it and he had fun. I think he might even buy one... nah! After hauling it up the trail to camp we decide it was better to ride it all the way down to the bottom.

By the way, there were quite a few hunters in the area of Rainbow Trail. It was opening weekend for muzzleloaders, and we heard two shots on Sunday morning.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Caribou 4WD

After climbing to San Isabel Glacier, we still had plenty of daylight so we decided to explore the area to look for possible deer hunting spots.

First we looked around the Gold Hill Road area. It looks like public ground and private ground in this area is a patchwork that could be quite confusing. The terrain is also very steep, so only dedicated hunters need apply.

Then we proceed to FR 298 toward Arapahoe Glacier. Much of this area is heavily wooded and some of it is owned by CU, which doesn't allow firearms; thus no hunting. Just before the campground we discovered an easy 4WD trail that we decided to take into Nederland. This decision turned out to be awesome.

The trail was not too challenging and requires only high clearance not 4WD. A good thing since we were in Michelle's Cherokee. After we passed another campground, we topped a hill and spotted our first animals! No not deer, moose! A cow and a calf were proceeding across the valley. Further down the road we spotted a cow elk.

I don't know if there are deer in this country, but 29 and 38 are the only units with deer tags left. I think a bit more scouting is in order.

Apache Peak

The decision making process is far more complicated than you might imagine. Far more so than the preparation, which is by now routine. Where to go, where to go, where to go? That is the tough one.

Here are the motivators behind this weekend's choice. First, I wanted to do a bit of scrambling to prepare myself for a trip to the Crestone peaks. Second, Dalton wanted to scout game units 29 and 38 for deer. Third, I wanted to take our dog Gracie on her first hike. Fourth, it is Labor Day and gas prices are outrageous. Put all of this into your hand-held super neural net gps computer and it spits out Navajo Peak. Cool. Bonus because I had not hiked in the Indian Peaks before.

So we set off for the Long Lake trailhead at 6 AM and arrive at the trailhead by 8:30. The parking lot is already full due to the holiday, so we have to park farther down. The price of admission was a bit of a shocker: $7! Oh well, cheap as a movie and much more fun.

The hike from Long Lake to Lake Isabel is flat and easy. A good primer for Dalton who has been burned by hiking with Nick and I before. We tell him it is easy and it turns out to be a mini-epic. From Lake Isabel to the upper unnamed lake is a bit steeper, but very beautiful. You are surrounded by those awesome peaks. You pass by small waterfalls and through marshes and by big boulders.

This brought us to a decision point. To go according to Dave Cooper's "Colorado Scrambles" book (which is highly recommended by the way) you leave the main trail and head for airplane gully. I wasn't sure how tough this trail would be for Gracie and I was hesitant to burn Dalton out on his first hike with me in awhile (given his history with Nick and me.) So we decided to continue on the trail to the San Isabel Glacier.

The trail at this point becomes a much steeper class 2 pull. Gracie was huffing and puffing and Dalton was starting to get preturbed. But I finally felt like we were really hiking! As we arrived at the glacier, Dalton had had enough hiking and any farther was no place for dogs. I, however, was just getting juiced. I decided to scramble up the Apache couloir and then make a decision from there.

The approach to the couloir takes you through a maze of rocks and boulders pushed down by the glacier. Then I had to tip toe across a snow field to get to the mouth of the couloir. I think an ice axe purchase is in my future. The couloir itself is full of loose rock, but otherwise is not too scary. I clung to the right hand side of the couloir for most of the ascent.

As I reached the top of the Apache Couloir, I was filled with exhillaration. This scramble was a bit tougher than my outing on Mount Peale and a good test for me. I didn't want to leave Dalton for too long and the approach to Navajo Peak looked from here to be quite challenging and kinda far away. Plus I was thinking about the descent as well. So I decided to save it for another day and just do Apache Peak instead. The climb up from here involved no scrambling.

The climb back down the couloir looks steep and is steep, but with concentration not too technical. I even picked up some rock samples for my collection. Arriving at the snowfield, I decided a little glissading was in order. Fun all the way down!

As I returned to the glacier, I found Dalton taking a nap. We had lunch and then made the return trip to the jeep. By this time there seemed to be hundreds of people on the trail! I think 9 miles is about Gracie's limit because she was cramping and stumbling at the end.

Thus ended the first half of our day, I will post the second half: deer scouting next.