Tuesday, August 26, 2008

  Click on any image to see a larger version.

At the "Devil's Rock
Garden" on the side
of Pikes Peak

Nearing the summit
of Pikes Peak

No solitude at the top!

Mount Sopris, seen from Carbondale.
Yes, we climbed all three summits.

The steep side of Sopris,
nearing the false summit.

Pikes Peak and Mount Sopris

In between Denvention/WorldCon, the Writers of the Future workshop and awards ceremony, and now with DragonCon upcoming, I had less than a week to get in some hiking and mountain climbing here at the height of Colorado's beautiful summer.

Last Thursday I took the day to climb nearby Pikes Peak (14,110 ft), a 12-mile hike up from the back side with about a 4000 ft elevation gain. It was a beautiful day, perfect weather, full of sunshine, a great trail; up until the last two miles, when I intersected and followed the Pikes Peak Highway with its constant stream of noisy vehicles. When I reached the summit, it was a large parking lot filled with people. So much for solitude! But I had climbed Pikes three times now (once on snowshoes in winter), so I knew what to expect.

I was nearing the end of my writing work on JESSICA OF DUNE. I walked with my notes and chapter descriptions as well as my digital recorder, and I dictated four chapters on the hike.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, I drove off with my brother-in-law and hiking companion Tim to the town of Carbondale, near Aspen. For years, we had planned to climb Mount Sopris (12,953 ft), an impressive double-peak that dominates the skyline in the area. I had only five chapters left in JESSICA and I wanted to accomplish the mountain climb and finish my writing on the trip. We stayed overnight so we could get a fresh start early the next morning for the 14-mile trip, 5000-ft elevation gain hike. Because so many more popular mountains are in the area, many of them Fourteeners, this trail wasn't nearly as crowded as we expected, but it was exceedingly challenging and exhausting. We reached the first false summit by 11:30 AM, then hit the central/main peak by 1:30, the western summit by 3:00 PM, and got back down to the car by 7 PM. Thunderclouds started to gather by late afternoon on our descent, but the storm never appeared. And, yes, I did finish dictating the last of the five JESSICA chapters (between long gulping breaths).

We got back to the town of Glenwood Springs in time to have a great dinner at the local brewpub, then we spent an hour soaking in the hot mineral springs (made famous because they were where outlaw Doc Holliday spent his last years trying to cure his tuberculosis).

Now I'm home again until Thursday, when Rebecca and I leave for DragonCon. We hope to see some of you there.

-- KJA


Atop the false summit,
with the main peak in
the background

On the western summit

Long shadows on the
way back to the car


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