“Welcome to Estes!”

After unpacking my faithful Jetta late at night and making my new bed (former water bed frame with normal mattress inside; like a low-rider baby crib kinda), I lay awake for probably two hours even though I was completely exhausted.  The first thing I noticed in my new abode was the abundance of big mirrors in the master bedroom. Not on the ceiling or anything kinky like that but 4 large mirrors that were directly related to the amount of pictures of the homeowner. Now I’m up for pretty much anything but pictures of oneself, not with friends – just framed solo-shots, in ones bedroom may hint at some slight narcissism. Many thoughts raced thru my head which made it’s way into some bizarre dreams before I finally fell asleep.

9:00 a.m. Saturday
I’m awakened by my great bearded friend Patrick notifying me that the weather would be an unseasonably warm 60 degrees and by golly we were going to take advantage of the conditions immediately… after breakfast. Up we headed to Mountain Meadows, a one-room cabin that served delicious omelets and coffee surrounded by God’s glory. It was great and delicious and hotter than a baby with a fever on a furnace because of the wood stove in the corner that was cranking at full blast. I walked in with a coat, hoodie and sweater and was quickly down to my t-shirt within minutes.

After getting our grub on, we headed towards the Monastery – a climbing area found by helicopter that Becca’s boyfriend had helped develop. It was on this drive up that I started to feel less than stellar, but I brushed it aside. We geared up and headed out on a semi-difficult hike to the climbing area. Along the way, we stumbled upon a deers leg complete with fur and hoof intact but with a clean break at the patella. This made me happy in a weird way to see such obvious nature in action in a blunt and destructive way. So, obviously, I picked it up and stuck it in the ground for Patrick to see as he was a few clicks behind us.

A mile or so in, we reached the first climbing area which was absolutely freaking gorgeous. Beautiful steep crevasses of rocky land with sheer rising rock faces that screamed to be scrambled upon. Trees shot up at impossible angles which acted as permanent hiking poles to slow our descent to the first ledge. We unpacked and suited up with the group deciding that I should try and lead the first route. This was funny for a few reasons: A. I had never climbed on real rock before (well, with ropes *refer to Cambodia & Germany) B. I did ‘better’ in the gym relative to my friends because it’s the only official climbing i had experienced. C. I clipped two quickdraws (carabiners that you clip into bolts) and quickly realized this was utterly different than the gym. In a gym, besides having the holds obviously marked and color-coded, you had to rely much more on upper body strength than fancy footwork. On this rock, you basically were climbing with your feet only and holding on to invisible flakes and crack features. I was totally out of my element.

Temporarily defeated, I let the seasoned outdoor vet Becca lead the route (placing quickdraws into preplaced bolts and anchors) which I followed after more easily on toprope (a rope threaded through two rings at the top of a route). We stayed here for a good amount of climbs before hiking through an awesome two foot crack that split 70 feet of sheer rock. At this area, we climbed an even harder route and took the obligatory climbing photos.

The sun had started it’s inevitable downward spiral as we packed up and began the hike back. This time though, I had an extra rope to carry. No biggy I thought at first, but as we hiked back it seemed much harder than the hike there and it was taking it’s toll. We finally made it back and I felt utterly pooped with weird muscle cramps and aches as a result of extra weight. I stripped off my soaked t-shirt and through my hoody on as we shopped for the evening dinner and booze. We clambered into my new mountain home and quickly showered while making some necessary spaghetti to replace lost energy. 2 glasses of wine later and I was feeling like I was sleep-existing. We called it a night and I crept into my bed utterly sapped of everything… yet it still took another 90 minutes or so to get to sleep.

10 a.m. Sunday
My great bearded friend awakes me again with more dreams of climbing. I begin to talk to him but the only thing that comes out is a croaky-barry white answer followed by a coughing spasm. And then, you guessed it! Yellowish-Brown Egg Yolk Phlegm. (What trip would be complete without some upper respiratory malady?) Nonetheless, he talked me into going with them to Lily Lake, a completely gorgeous park that housed the climbing area Jurassic Park. Today was slightly colder so I threw on some extra layers and proceeded to hike up to Jurassic Park all the while feeling retardedly sick and dizzy. I sat in the corner coughing up mucus as Patrick and Katie climbed – wind whipping all around us. After 30 minutes, i decided to hike back down to the car. I took a little longer way down and completely admired the mountain range housing Long’s Peak before hibernating in the car for a good two hours.

Back home, I took a three hour nap waking up sounding like I had earlier that day. Not good. I perked up a little in the evening as we grilled a huge amount of meat called London Broil bought at the local Safeway for a huge discount. This was a monstrous amount of meat that lasted long enough to be reborn into some of the best french dip sandwiches I have ever had.

The next few days I spent hocking up disgusting shit and trying to get better all while becoming sufficiently acquainted with Estes Park. Everytime we saw something uniquely Coloradoan or the mood felt right, Patrick and I would yell “WELCOME TO ESTES PARK” with huge dopy grins and arms wide open like a Creed video. I scoped out the best places for internet access and checked out a few watering holes.

Oh yea, and there was a huge fire the first monday I was there.


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