| Longs Peak - Keyhole attempt
I woke up at approximately six o'clock in the morning on August 1st in Bismarck, North Dakota. I was on the road by seven, headed for the Longs Peak trailhead! I had a long drive ahead of me at that point! lol Everything went smoothly until my Ford Ranger's fuel pump got a bit lazy in Lusk, Wyoming! After six hours of BS and one hundred fifty dollars missing from my wallet, I was back on the road (at least for a while)! I accidentally took highway 85 south versus its west counterpart which lead me to southeastern Wyoming rather than to I-25. My pickup died when I eased up on the accelerator on my approach into Torrington. At this point I was curious as to what the mechanics in Lusk did and why they sent me on my way. I think they thought my pickup was vapor locking and that my problems would subside after it cooled down but anyway, it didn't really matter because I was just absolutely determined to get to that trailhead so I continued on! I quickly realized that if I kept the engine running at a relatively high and constant rpm it wouldn't quit. So from then on I put it into neutral and reved it every time I had to slow down while breaking with my left foot! Using this unorthadox driving technigue I made it all the way to the shoulder, off of Highway 7, just past Lyons, where it refused to climb the hills. From here, I decided to try to get some sleep, however, this idea failed miserably! I must have just been a little to anxious to venture off into real mountains, for the first time, rather than reading books about them. I started preparing myself and filling my pack with all of the essentials for the long hike that ensued. An hour and a half had past and it was now about 2 o'clock in the morning. I started my pickup hoping for the best of luck. It fired right up gloriously! From here, I read my directions wrong and thought the turnoff was ten miles from Lyons when in actuality, it was ten miles from the intersection of 72 and 7. I ended up driving back and fourth for while until I gave up and decided to drive into boulder and ask someone for directions because I had no reception! However, remarkably, I had my directions mixed up and went the wrong direction where not to far down the road I saw a sign that read Longs Peak with an arrow to the left! I burst out into joy and just twenty minutes later, I was making my way up the trail! I ran into some cool people, of whom I spent quite a bit of time hiking with, that really made the approach more enjoyable!
?????, me, Jeff
Following them was not an easily accomplishable feat! However, I was making pretty good time because of them! Later on, I was beginning to feel the altitude a little, which was understandable considering the fact I woke at 1,600 feet, but it was nothing a little ibuprofin couldn't fix! (This would later punch me in the face when it wore off!) I was feeling great at the boulderfield and was practically running and jumping from boulder to boulder! However, I definitely was noticing the decreased amount of oxygen at this point, but I was so incredibely exhilerated by the terrain and the surroundings (even in the dark) that I must have been running entirely on adrenaline or something!
The view from the keyhole
I had finally reached the keyhole and was overwhelmed with denial! I was actually here! I wasn't looking at a picture! I was high up at 13,000 feet on a mountain ridge! It was just to much for me at the time! I was very cold, however, I felt no pity for myself because I was well aware of the weather beforehand, but refused to wait till I could get to an REI store to purchase the essential clothing required. If my pickup would have made it smoothly this would not have been an issue, but it's all history now and is irrelavent. After all, I am from North Dakota! The cold doesn't bother me a whole lot, well, that is, until my feet and hands start to go numb, then it does, indeed, become a minor problem! lol (wow, I really just made myself look like a redneck! lol)
The wind subsided and it turned out to be a beautiful day to climb a mountain! So I proceeded from bullseye to bullseye! I felt a little uneasy at first with the exposure, but got over it rather quickly and made my way up the trough in no time!
The view from near the top of the trough.
Halfway up the trough, the ibuprofin I had taken earlier began to where off and I went from feeling great to feeling like @*%! in no time at all! However, I was able to keep myself motivated and continued on. At the top of the so called "crux of the keyhole route" right before the narrows, I sat on the ledge for quite a while thinking about whether or not it would be wize to continue! I had absolutely no problem with the exposure, but I think the lack of sleep, acclimation, and probably the fact that all I had eaten in the previous 24 hours amounted to a bag of saltines, chicken strips, fries, and a granola bar was affecting me extensively! I started to ask myself what Ed Viesturs would do and came to the verdict that continuing was unjustifiable!
The view of the boulder field on my return trip through the keyhole.
The way back was hell! I almost laid down and took a nap right in the middle of the trail! I caught up with the people I mentioned above and from there the hike back to my pickup wasn't quite as unbearable!
From there, it being a Saturday, I couldn't find an auto repair shop to work on my pickup until Monday so I proceeded to have an amazing sub sandwich from Quiznos and began my journey to the Grays Peak Trailhead despite my mechanical difficulties. I accidently merged onto I-470 instead of I-70 (I still am not quite sure how this happened!) on my way there. After having family members work the google maps machine and providing me with directions I was soon on my way in the correct direction! Everything was going smoothly again until my pickup quit halfway there! At this point in time I was growing increasingly tired since I had slept only approximately 4 hours in the previous two days so I crashed in my pickup on the side of I-70 for a few hours. I find it amazing that despite the rocking of my pickup after each eighteen wheeler that passed, I was still able to get a couple, few hours of solid sleep! I woke up to my phone's alarm and proceeded to the trailhead where a half mile up the three and a half mile road I couldn't get enough traction with my rear wheel drive pickup to continue up the road and was to lazy to load a bunch of rocks into my box so I just decided to kick back my seat and once again, crash in my pickup. The rest of my trip reports should be posted relatively soon!
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