|Our trip began in Alexandria, Virginia on the morning of
July 18th, 2004. We had started planning this excursion about nine months ago when
Pete first heard that Mack Muir and Dave Green were planning on scaling
Gannet Peak, Wyoming's highest point, this summer. Both Dave and Mac
had other plans in addition to Gannet, so we agreed to meet in Pinedale on
July 31st for a combined effort to scale Wyoming's highest peak. But
now I'm getting ahead of myself.
Lynda and I had not done many of the other Western high points, so we
made plans of our own to do Wheeler Peak in New Mexico, White Butte in
North Dakota, Harney Peak in South Dakota, and visit some national parks
on the way. Lynda decided that Gannet would be a bit much for her,
so the plan was for her to camp out near Pinedale while Pete, et al, were
Our first step was to pack.
Sunday, July 18th -- day one: Our first day began at 7 am
when we took off from Pete's house in Alexandria, Virginia. Pete
stopped by at his credit union to withdraw some cash, then drove a few
blocks to a Starbuck's for a morning cup of strong java, and off we
were. Rest of the day was spent on getting to I-70 in Maryland, then
headed West on I-70 passing through West Virginia and Ohio to Indiana
where we stopped to camp in Grandpa's Farm campground. This campground was located in Richmond, IN. Our first day's
mileage was 529. We pitched our tent (what else is new?), ate
dinner, relaxed a bit, and sacked out for the night.
|Crossing the state line into West
||... and onward through Ohio!
|Pete doing his thing on Grandpa's Farm.
||.. and Lynda doing hers
|Monday, July 19th -- day two: We got up at 5:45, ate breakfast, broke our camp,
reloaded the car, and hit the road a few minutes before 7:00 a.m..
Back to I-70, across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, final stopping at Lake
Shawnee campground near Topeka, Kansas (below). Odometer: 1146.
Day's distance: 617 miles.
Pete taking a moment to relax in the hot Kansas weather.
Tuesday, July 20th -- day three:
We stopped for fuel in Colby Kansas, and what did we see? A
STARBUCK'S! Here in the middle of ..... well, we didn't expect it,
to say the least. And to top it off, we saw a Sonic drive-in;
something Lynda had wanted to visit ever since we had been traveling
together. We struck a deal: Pete gets his Starbuck's shot in
the arm, and Lynda gets a foot-long hot dog.
|Pete going into his favorite shop.
||Lynda ordering in Sonic drive-in.
||Lynda savoring her Sonic foot-long dog.
Later in the day we crossed the border into Colorado, passing through
Limon where we left I-70 and got onto US-24 to Colorado Springs.
After a quick fuel stop, we continued on US-24 to Divide, Colorado, where
we took a local route to The Crags campground operated by the National
Forest Service. With Pete's Golden Age card, the fee was a mere
$5.00; for anyone else, the cost would have been $10. What a deal.
|Pete hanging out.
||"Town" near Divide, CO.
|One of the crags for which
the campground is named.
||In the distance, another
of the crags.
||Lynda at about 11,000
feet, just before the storm forced us to retreat from this hike.
We chose the Crags primarily to get acclimated to the altitude as Pete
was planning on scaling Wheeler Peak, New Mexico's highest point, in a
couple of days. The campground was at 10,300 feet and offered hiking
trails to even higher elevations. After setting up camp, we took a
hike towards Pikes Peak, but were turned back after only about 45 minutes
by an approaching storm.
||At left is another view of the Crags. After
visiting this campground, we decided that we would return some day
and climb many of the beautiful rocks there. Time will tell
whether or not we'll make it.
On the way out the next morning, Pete decided to check out the
quality of local crags (right). It is as solid as granite
Wednesday, July 21st. Day four.
The fourth day found us waking up at 10,300 ft with a slight
headache; probably due to the altitude. After a not very eventful
drive, we arrived in Red River, New Mexico, where we decided to spend the
rainy night in a motel. We were going to assault Wheeler Peak, New
Mexico's highest mountain at 13,161 feet, the next day.