29 September 2007

Cubs win!!

Courtesy of AP

Enough said!! I can relax until Wednesday. I'm not used to caring this late in the season. It's taxing I tell you.

10 September 2007

Camping with kids

Twin Peaks Campground - near Independence Pass, Co
Aug. 31-Sept. 3

As far as my memory serves, I never have gone camping with children before. Sure, I've done some dayhikes with the little ones. But it was a great mystery to me on how kids camp. Do they spin themselves magical cocoons? Are they afraid of the dark and all of the things that go bump in the night? Are they going to be up all night crying?

My introductory lesson was more like advanced calculus, sans the calculator and not open book. I was invited to go camping for four days out near Aspen over the Labor Day weekend. I had never been to the area and looked forward to gaining some elevation and filling in part of my personal map and erasing terra incognita off that section of the state.

Having had all of Friday off, I was the forward scout whose mission was to secure two adjacent campsites at the Twin Peaks Campground - 8 miles up Hwy 83. I took my job a little too seriously. When I hit Georgetown on I-70, my bladder urged me to pull over. Determined not to be the weak link and not get us a suitable home base, I kept the truck on the highway. Mile by mile crept by as the benchmarks passed: Eisenhower Tunnel, Silverthorne, Frisco, Copper Mountain, Leadville, OMG, when is the Independence Pass Road going to show up?!

With such motivation, I made stellar time, pulling into the campground two hours after I left my place. After touring half of the campground, I discovered there were copious sites available and made a mad hobble-dash to the outhouse. As if taking cue on my purging, the sky decided to follow suit; it began dumping rain and hail for the next 90 minutes. Thankfully it wasn't a harbinger on the fate of the rest of the trip; we had occasional sprinkles but nothing that made one tentbound.

As for the trial by fire with the kids, I survived. It's actually easy since they've got good parents and they have personality. After riding my mountain bike that afternoon up some old dirt roads that diminished into nothingness in the forest, and up to the winter closure on the way to the pass, Chad and Jenn arrived with their kids, Camden, Peyton and Kendell - who is referred to by the twins as "Baby Kendell" - a catchy moniker which I found myself calling her.

My first test was with Peyton. Mind you the twins are a little older than two, and are already smarter than me. Peyton was standing on a logpost, balancing precariously while trying to get onto the tailgate of the Maurer's 4Runner. A simple "Peyton could you please get down?" didn't work, even when asked multiple times.

"Not my daddy," was her rebuttal.

Uh-oh. "But you're going to fall over and get hurt."

"Not my daddy."

You get the idea. It was her mantra for the next few minutes as I pleaded with her to get down while her parents were busy setting up camp. This little rascal was going to make me use logic. I explained to her how she would slip and fall and hit her head and how eyepatches just weren't fashionable any longer.

"Not my daddy."

I'm a moralistic person who tries to hold true to certain norms and taboos. However bribing a 2-year-old was not beneath me. However I had nothing to barter with - not an Elmo, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck or something that made noise or was the least bit interesting to a kid in my possession.

Finally I just went with the law of the jungle - might is right - picked her up with a few loud and quick "Not my daddy"s thrown in. Told her that was enough and distracted her with asking her to get me something.

Be wary, she's smarter than you and cute to boot! Peyton and Kendell

Actually the kids were great. Jenn's parent's showed up in their truck with a campertop that evening. Chad and Jenn had a tent large enough to install walls in or hold the tribal council meeting in. And the next day Nate & Ali showed up with their two sons Sam (2 1/2 years) and Nick (1 year and future star running back at CU).

Nate & Ali met us at the Willis Gulch trailhead and after a quick lunch we went out for a hike for a few hours.

Trekking pole or cookie? Why decide? Peyton & Sam are ready for the trail.

This thing is cool, even if it's taller than me! Camden's ready to go.

The lessons learned camping with children:

* Develop a sixth sense or eyes in the back of your head;
* Paper bowls make really good frisbees that can entertain for at least 30 minutes;
* Playing a variation of Simon Says with sticks also is amusing. Just make sure kids are spaced out enough to not clobber sibling with said stick;
* Bring a dog to clean up all food dropped on the ground;
* Bring beer;
* If all else fails, defer to the parents.

Sunday, Jenn & Ali rode their bikes up and over Independence Pass and down into Aspen for some coffee and girl time. Barb and Greg loaded up the kids in the vehicles and joined them for the day. That left the three guys to go climbing up at Monitor Rock. Note, if you ever decide to climb on this 400-foot tall of granitic goodness and it is missing, then Chad somehow has found a way to move it into his backyard.

Chad of course made Nate and I look like amateurs, flashing his way up some sports routes.

Chad leading 5.11d goodness

Um, Chad. There are no holds up there. Chad taking one of several falls on his lead.

Nate wrestling Squid Kid. Channel your "Inner Maurer" Nate!

I had brought my rack with me on the trip and was determined not to just take it for a hike. A little uphill I found a lightning set of cracks that I thought would either go or be very tough.

When I got to the cracks, I discovered that it was going to be the latter. Adding to the mind games was when racking up I didn't bring the prerequisite gear needed; I was too cam heavy and not enough passive pro.

So I continued up the Ramp Route. While not difficult, it was just an awkward climb peppered with loose rock and vegetation, and with equally tricky placements for my inadequate rack. Should I go up and over the detached block or scoot around it?

About 50 feet into the route I wanted a mulligan. That wasn't going to happen since the only piece I felt was bomber was my #2 Camalot.

Finally I finished the climb, stemming off a corner and frictioning up a slab to some cold shuts. I felt reassured when Nate had the same difficulties following the climb that I had leading.

Monday I said goodbye to the group and headed up to the pass where I found some nice bouldering in an alpine meadow. Note: If you go to Lackawanna Gulch and find the biggest boulder missing, somehow I found a way to move it and put it on my balcony.