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Summer storms on McClellan Mountain

August 10, 2014 Leave a comment

We decided to play hooky from church today and enjoy the summer day in Colorado. The girls wanted to hit the movies (some ridiculous dance movie sequel), so I loaded up the Land Cruiser and headed west to Georgetown.

After topping off the tank I headed up Guanella Pass Road to get to the trail to Argentine Pass/Waldorf, and the Santiago Mine/McClellan Mountain area. The road is in the Arapaho National Forest and is designated as FS 248.1. There are a few other Forest Service roads that wind in and out but if you stay on 248.1 nearly any 4WD with adequate ground clearance should be fine.

There is a fairly narrow shelf road once you get above around 11,000 feet, but it yields amazing views. It was quite cool on the trail. I got into some early afternoon rain/hail before I got to Santiago mine so I turned back and headed down for the time being, just in case it either got worse or didn’t get better. It gave me a chance to explore the lower sections of FS 248.1B (the “tougher” of the trails; I think this is the way the Rising Sun 4×4 Club went a few weeks ago). This side road requires good ground clearance, careful tire placement, and I thought 4-low made sense. It’s really steep and loose, so the center diff lock came in handy. (Didn’t have to use the rear locker, unfortunately.)

At the Santiago Mine

When the skies cleared a bit I headed back up to Santiago, and then made the hairpin right to head up McClellan Mountain. Fewer and fewer other vehicles as I neared the summit, but found loads of beautiful summer color! The wildflowers were gorgeous, especially cast against the gray skies. Snapped a cool little pika chilling in the rocks. (Look carefully in center of the frame.)

Pose for me, pika!

The clouds started building again near the summit of McClellan, so I didn’t tarry. Fortunately there hadn’t been any thunder or lightning for the better part of an hour so I snapped a few pictures of the splendor below me and then headed back down.

Looking down from the summit of McClellan Mountain

Summer color

When possible I diverted back to 248.1B for a little more of a challenge, a little water, and fewer vehicles. There were a few folks camping but otherwise I had the trail to myself. I had some intermittent sprinkles but besides that, nothing but the landscape to distract me. I did see an abandoned campfire near the “hangman’s tree” up from Santiago. Some morons had left a few signs of their party so I broke out the trash bag and helped out a little.

Rather than queue up on I-70 to head back east I went up and over Guanella. Again, something about the dark skies seemed to make the landscape even more dramatic than usual. I paused for a moment at the summit to let soak in just how fortunate I am to live in the Rockies.

More summer color

Up and over Guanella Pass Road

View from Guanella Pass summit

Life in paradise. ūüôā

Categories: Highlanders Tags: , ,

On process…

The fewer the steps the shorter the path.

I think I made this up, but it sounds kinda Buddist.

Categories: Highlanders Tags: , , ,

Finding buddies in unexpected places

November 1, 2012 1 comment

I had been dreading my trip to South Africa for a few reasons:

  • I had just traveled internationally about a month prior and I really don’t like flights that last more than 3 hours. To get to Cape Town I had a 9-hour flight to London, followed by a 7+ hour layover, followed by a 12-hour flight from London to Cape Town. And although the flight crew on British Airways was great, the plane that took us from London to South Africa was very tired.
  • It’s a very busy time of year for me work-wise. It’s year-end budget and strategy prep time and I have tons to do.
  • Most of all, my family was unable to come with me due to school commitments on their end.

So as a result, I really hadn’t wanted to make the trip but felt that it is my obligation to personally do the due diligence on the company based here that we are looking to do business with. But as happens sometimes in life, I received a very pleasant surprise…I came to love Cape Town in less than a day.

Cape Town is beautiful, and the people are very friendly. I arrived in Cape Town shortly after 7:15 this morning local time (which is 8 hours ahead of Colorado, by the way) and made my way through immigration and customs. My friends and coworkers had arrived late the night before and were gracious enough to pick me up at the airport. After dropping my bags at the hotel we went out for the day to try and walk off the jet lag and high altitude edema in my legs.
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We wandered around a local artisans’ market right outside our hotel and then grabbed one of those double-decker tour buses for a city tour. We hit nearly 20 sites along the way and got a good overview of Cape Town and its history. We hopped off the bus for an hour or so and took a gondola lift up to the top of Table Mountain, the highest point in Cape Town (maybe in all of South Africa, I don’t remember).
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The ride up Table Mountain reminded me of the gondola we took in Santorini, but it was one big car and the floor rotated as the gondola rose and descended. (There was also little to no graffiti anywhere to be found. NOT the case in Greece!) The views from atop Table Mountain were spectacular! I only had my iPhone at the time so the photos are pretty crappy. But you get the idea.
After the Table Mountain gondola and back on the bus I started dozing off a bit as we traversed the¬†coastline. ¬†I missed a lot of the substantive information about the beaches but at one point I specifically remembered hearing something about my favorite animal – penguins! Come to find out, there is a colony of African Penguins on the tip of the cape on a beach called The Boulders in Simon’s Town. My friends are generally animal lovers so they were game to try and find the penguin colony.
Although road construction and heavy traffic made what should have been a 20 minute drive an hour or longer (more napping in the back seat for me!), it was well worth it.¬†By the time we got to The Boulders the wind was up and the¬†surf was very choppy. The water is also quite cold due to the Cape’s relative proximity to Antarctica. We followed signs to “Penguin Viewing” and stumbled across all these little guys just hanging out near the surf!
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We took lots of photos and hung out with the penguins a bit, and then retired to dinner. After a great dinner of angel fish and rice (and beer) it was back to the car (more napping). Then back to the hotel for a much-needed shower and some rest.
Tomorrow we will be getting ready for meetings but will be moving from this hotel to a hotel outside of the city for 2 days as we do our final meeting prep. There will be some “play” involved in that, too, but I have a lot of work to do over the next few days of meetings.
All told, I was dreading the trip to South Africa because I don’t have my wife and girls here, because it’s a very busy time of year both with work and with family things, and because it’s just so darn far to get here. But I discovered a new wonderful place and will have to bring my family back here someday.
Love to all,
Matt