It has again been awhile. I’ve been hesitant to write as I continue to feel uncertain about our travels and plans given all that is going on with Coronavirus. My feelings are mixed as we try to decide the right thing to do, whether it is okay to continue to travel and whether we are having adverse impacts on the communities we travel through. It is harder to find joy in our trip, although I certainly feel very fortunate to have so much access to the outdoors. We continue to seek to avoid crowds, only going inside for groceries or the occasional bathroom stop. We are struck by just how crowded small towns are, especially Jackson, which we drove through between hiking stops. I won’t focus too much on Coronavirus here, as I feel I already dwell on it too much. All we can do is be as safe as possible.
We spent several weeks in Colorado, enjoying the much cooler weather, thick forest, and mountain views. Many places we’ve visited we enjoy for the novelty and unique views, but wouldn’t make them home. Colorado feels like a place that could be home, although we don’t plan to move anytime soon! While in Colorado, we:
- Backpacked in the Indian Peaks Wilderness with my sister, Lauren. It was peaceful and the views stunning. Most of all the time with my sister was so welcome.
- Climbed four 14ers, including La Plata Peak, Mount Columbia, Quandary Peak, and Mt. of the Holy Cross. Mt. of the Holy Cross was particularly special, as we had intended to climb it on a visit to Colorado about seven years ago. This was an early trip for David and me, when we were still living on different sides of the country. We were a bit ambitious for the weekend, especially given our lack of acclimation to the altitude. The trip was a rough one, with David experiencing severe altitude sickness day one. This hike has stayed on the to-do list since then, so it was a good feeling to finally accomplish it! We also really enjoyed La Plata Peak, in part because there were so few other people on the mountain.
- Spent several days in Denver with Lauren and her boyfriend, enjoying some time in a comfy home and the opportunity to work on a few projects, including converting David’s bike tires to tubeless. The bike trails around Denver are quite impressive and we enjoyed being in an urban environment, despite lots of mask wearing.
- Met up with several of my family members in Breckenridge for a family reunion, Coronavirus style. We made all our meals in our rental home and mostly ventured out just for outdoor recreation. Everyone masked up for their travel there and many of my relatives got tested just before the reunion. We debated a lot whether to hold the reunion, but we hadn’t gotten together for three years and we knew it was important for my grandmother to see everyone. It was an amazing time, especially after not being around more than a couple other people since Coronavirus started.
- Found several great dispersed camping spots, one we returned to several times! We loved the area around Twin Lakes and enjoyed seeing a van friend we met during the winter, Jenny, and meeting a few of her friends. We miss the meeting people part of travel, which has been largely absent with our intent to minimize contact. Even when chatting with new people outdoors at a safe distance, it is hard to not be distracted by thoughts of Coronavirus.
Indian Peaks Wilderness Backpacking Trip
After leaving Colorado, we headed to the Wind River Range in Wyoming, a couple hours south of Jackson. Multiple people told us we had to go to the Winds when we were in Jackson last summer, but we couldn’t fit it in. We did a two night trip to Seneca Lake/Titcomb Basin. I think this is the first backpacking trip where I almost turned around two hours in. If we hadn’t just spent several hours driving to the trailhead and packing our bags I might have. The mosquitoes were out of control. I don’t think I’ve ever been bitten so much while hiking and wearing bug spray with deet. We asked several backpackers coming down if the bugs got better higher up, and they warned us they got worse. One poor father said his two sons had stopped talking a couple hours ago because they were so covered in mosquito bites and just wanted to get to the car. We kept going, figuring we could take refuge in our tent once we got to a camp spot and leave the next morning if we needed to. I don’t think the bugs got worse farther into the hike, although I also don’t think they got better. Luckily after dark it got too chilly for the bugs and we were granted some peace, as well as a beautiful view of the NEOWISE comet. We did a day hike from our camp spot to the Titcomb basin the following day, and were wowed by the views. We kept comparing the area to one of our favorite spots in Washington, the Enchantments.
After the backpacking trip, we debated heavily whether to attend an adventure van expo in Targhee, held at a small ski resort. The event would be purely outside, with masks and social distancing encouraged. I was super hesitant to go, but David loves hardly anything more than talking to other people about vans. We decided to go, with some strict ground rules (such as wearing masks anytime we were talking to other people and letting absolutely no one else in the van). The weekend went smoothly, with David having the opportunity to talk to lots of other Revel owners and meet some followers of GNRWGN. I got to go on an amazing run at the ski resort and we both enjoyed the mountain bike trails, tame enough we could handle them on our gravel bikes. We enjoyed the trails so much we decided to stick around for a few extra days of riding, after taking a short side trip to hike up Table Mountain.
We originally planned to be in Alaska this summer, the grand finale to our trip. The border is still closed, with it seeming more and more unlikely it will open this year. We’ve heard of other people getting across the border, on the condition they head straight to Alaska. However, technically this is only intended for those with an essential reason to travel to Alaska. Given the uncertainty of getting across, our rule-abiding tendencies, fact that much of what we wanted to see and do was on the way to Alaska, and Coronavirus situation in Alaska, we decided not to try and make the trip. We are currently planning to head back to Portland at the end of August, about a month early. If we can make it happen and the border reopens, we intend to head to Alaska next summer. We are still figuring things out and haven’t set any plans in stone yet. Despite everything going on in Portland, I think we are both starting to feel some excitement about being home. I have a huge list of house projects I want to tackle and there is something alluring about the comforts of home. In the meantime, we intend to enjoy a last month of outdoor adventures.