A Quick Review.
As I turned my steering wheel to pull the U-turn required to get into a parking spot, my front wheels suddenly lurched forward and there was a loud crunch as the front of my Honda Fit bottomed out on the lip of the ditch on the side of the road. I had failed to account for the ditch being soft and wet, and my poor little front wheel drive sewing machine car was stuck. In a ditch. During the summer.
The Fit lived to see another day however, after Scott and I piled up rocks under the front wheel tracks and a nice man from Wyoming helped us pushed her out. The Fit’s extreme lightness is both a weakness and a strength, it turns out.
Thusly began our adventure and the spiciness did not end there.
Jurassic Park likes tucked into a small ravine in the bluff above Lily Lake in a part of Rocky Mountain National Park that just brushes the road as you drive south from Estes Park in Colorado. There is no entrance fee and there are several popular trailheads as well as a stellar view of Longs Peak (when it is out of the clouds, which is rare).
Once we found our parking spot, we headed around the north side of the lake, enjoying the ducklings we saw swimming in the water and the general sweetness of the cool mountain air. The approach took a less lovely turn as we headed straight up the hill to the north to approach the bluffs. There were several social trails, none of which took into mind switchbacks because people just walk straight uphill when they’re trying to get to there climbs.
Once at the bluffs, Scott led Gilded Lily, a 5.8+ with little to no hand selections and some thrilling little moves that require you to trust your feet- a weakness of mine. Scott was Mister Smooth during this climb, but I ended up doing a lot of swearing as my brain warmed up to this whole “real rock” thing.
Our second climb of the day was “Middle Toe,” a 5.9- that I was all reluctant to climb. It takes me a long while to warm up to outdoor climbing. As I told Scott that day, it’s not a question of whether my body can do it, because I know it can. It’s a question of whether my mind can do it. Middle Toe was a very challenging 5.9-, with tricky beginning moves and pretty thin options on a bulge at the top. I rested a couple of times to get my mind in order, but overall found the climb definitely within my ability.
The crag that day had a friendly vibe with many groups of differently experienced climbers just trying to get onto rock and have a good time. Some people were just coming off of injuries and so were taking things slowly. Some people were feeing really send-y and were flailing on top rope on a 12a. Overall, the day was fine and the people were great- until the thunderstorms that consistently threaten hikers and climbers on Longs Peak came for us as well. Thunder is always more impressive when it’s rolled around the mountains a few times before getting to your ears. Scott and I bailed more for schedule issues than the rain, but I was satisfied with my first excursion into Jurassic Park.