Thursday, June 26, 2008

Golden Gate Canyon State Park & Mount Evans

Woke up in Louisville this morning at 5 am and headed over to the airport. By 7am we were on the plane and headed to the "land of the fourteeners", otherwise known as Colorado. We arrived in Denver a little after 7:30, picked up our bags, and then took the shuttle to Dollar Rental Car. Our reserved vehicle, a Dodge Caliber, had mysteriously disappeared just before our arrival so we were "upgraded" to a Dodge Grand Caravan. yes we will be traveling in style, in a white mini-van. From the airport we drove to Wal-Mart where we stocked up on some supplies and got some breakfast at IHOP. Then it was into the mountains via Golden Gate Canyon.
We went on a short, leisurely hike
to the Forgotten Valley
before descending into Idaho Springs for lunch at the Tommyknocker Brew Pub.
After lunch we drove up Mount Evans
where we were rewarded with some excellent views and Eric was rewarded with a pounding headache and nausea. Finally, it was time to find a campsite. Since we had planned on hiking up Notch Mountain the following day, we looked at our handy DeLorme Gazetteer and spied a campground near the trailhead on what was labeled as the Tigiwan Road. Our excellent adventure was about to take a turn for the worst.

The drive to the campsite was a pleasant one. Along the way we drove through the Eisenhower Tunnel, passed through Vail and caught amazing views of the surounding mountains. Then we headed off the interstate and through the town of Minturn to a very rough Tigiwan Road. "It probably gets better maintained when we enter the National Forest", Eric exclaimed. After a bumpy mile we entered the National Forest and were greeted with a gate blocking the road. Our trip up Notch Mountain was abruptly cancelled. Well, the road was narrow, and a small parking lot near rthe gate was full of cars. Eric would have to back up about 50 yards to reach a small dirt driveway where we could turn around. As he did so we heard a THUMP and Noelle calmly stated "that doesn't sound good." We had driven into a ditch!

The ditch was deep enough that we were unable to drive out of it. In fact the the front driver side wheel was barely touching the ground. To make matters worse, the whole event happened right next to a small beaver pond and the mosquitoes were swarming as we tried in vain to figure out a way to get the van out of the ditch. Finally we decided that we needed to call 911 to get some help. After about an hour the friendlt tow-truck operator from the West Vail Shell had arrived and pulled us out in about two minutes. The damage: $180. At least the car was in tact and undamaged. 

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