Monday, July 5, 2010

Rockin' the Rockies: Day 2

On our second day of vacation in Colorado, we almost died.

I kid you not. We really almost died.

Of course, what fun is a family getaway without a little adrenaline-rushing-oh-my-gosh-we-might-be-gone-forever-at-any-moment adventure?

The day started out pretty normal. We were sore and tired from the first days' 7 mile hike through the mountains, and so decided to do a little automobile sight seeing. We drove over to the Rocky Mountain National Park's Trail Ridge Road, which is a little road that winds throughout the mountains and goes up to 12,000 feet in elevation.

We stopped and took some incredible photos along the way as we ascended the mountains.

Once we were on the highest point of the road, we pulled over and laced up our hiking boots and put on our jackets. While it was a blistering 89 degrees down in the valley where we were staying, up at 12,000 feet on the side of a mountain it gets pretty chilly - exactly 55 degrees chilly, in fact.

So we hopped out of the car with our backpacks and camera in hand and began to climb the rest of the way up Sundance Mountain. It was a short hike (Thankfully! We could barely move as it was!) at half a mile, but the elevation gain was about 500 feet (Our poor muscles!). We were pretty short of breath and still suffering some of the effects of altitude sickness, so we took a couple of breaks on the way up.

And then we were there.

{Click the image to view larger}

The view was incredible. We sat down on the tallest point for miles, and just drank it in.

We could see the little road far, far below that we had driven down, and could even see the tiny black dot that was our car - 500 feet below us. We smiled and had a snack and some water while we gazed about us in wonder at the incredible mountains and valleys that mother nature had created.

And then we heard it. Thunder in the distance.

And saw it. Big, black thunderheads and bright bursts of lightning.

And felt it. The wind ripping at us, a few drops of hail.

Less than 5 minutes after we had arrived at the top of Sundance Mountain, a huge thunderstorm had advanced on us and as we gazed around, we realized --

We were the tallest things for miles.



We snapped a few last photos to show that yes, we really had climbed Sundance Mountain - and then it was time to go.

Like, fast.

We ran down the mountain that we had just spent 30 minutes laboriously climbing just a few minutes earlier, as the wind tore at our clothing and the skies opened up on us with pellet-sized hail. The previously blue skies were black as night as we tripped on the tundra and scrambled our way down the mountain. Our hair stood on end as lightning struck the top of Sundance Mountain 3, 4, 5 times - exactly where we had been sitting not 3 minutes before. Thunder crackled overhead as we sprinted down and prayed that we wouldn't be next. Panting and out-of-breath, hearing our heartbeat loudly in our ears, we barely realized when the hail turned to rain as we quickly descended the 500 foot mountain. Once we hit the bottom, we kept running across the flat tundra until we tumbled into the car. Safe.

And what was the very first thing I said?

"That was AWESOME! Let's do it again!"

...Um, I blame it on the adrenaline high.

Here's a video we took as soon as we were in the car, showing the mountain and storm and talking (breathlessly) about our near-death experience.

As we were driving safely away in the car, we looked out the window and gasped at an incredibly beautiful sight. We stopped the car and got out in the rain to look upon the mountain in the distance that was drenched in sunlight - through the veil of the storm.

So what about you guys? Have any near-death experiences lately - on vacation or off? Have you run into any dangerous thunderstorms while out-n-about? C'mon and spill the beans on what is surely your best crazy and interesting stories!

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  1. Wow, what a cool post! That's a great adventure to roll out in conversation too.

    As far as near death...well, the house sorta caught on fire with us in it. That was good for an adrenaline rush. Standing on the front lawn in my short leopard print robe for several hours because I'd gone down to see what the kids were "burning in the kitchen (they weren't)" made me sorta wish for death...

  2. Thanks! It's a pretty good story. :)

    Ohmygosh! I didn't know you guys were in the house when it caught fire! Thank goodness you were alright. Although house on fire = no fun. At least you got a good excuse to remodel...?


  3. Wow! Glad you survived! And it sure makes a godo story!

  4. Beautiful pics! Seeing photos like these keeps making me think I need a new camera.

  5. Well, it is a relief? to know you two are keeping the Cornell tradition alive of near death vacation experiences. To name just a few-that maniac storm cell that tried to kill us while boating on Lake George, FL (you and your brother's friends that joined us that day have never gone boating with us again...hmmmmmmm)...ascending a goat trail on the side of a mountain on our way to Sequoia National Park that wasn't fit for human trekking, let alone a 34 ft R.V. motor home...same R.V., but now we are hurtling down the hill in the middle of San Francisco at breakneck speed just as the traffic light ahead turns red...making a 3 point turn in afore mentioned R.V. on the actual wharf of San Francisco's Fishermans Wharf (yes, folks, the actual wharf. Couldn't figure out at first why so many Japanese tourists were grabbing their cameras and snapping off shots of us Crazy Americans lol)...snorkeling in shark infested waters down in the Florida Keys(so, okay, there was only one shark that we spotted,but it was really, REALLY BIG!)...your granmother eating FISH! on an ALL NIGHT BUFFET in Las Vegas...your brother falling out of the boat down in 10,000 Islands, FL as a huge gator started feeding on chum right beside us...ahhh, memories. lol So so glad yal survived the latest near death event, and really glad to view the incredibly beautiful photographs, especially the breathtaking shot of the mountain high-lighted by the sun through the storm clouds. Just beautiful! Thanks for the laughs too. =) Mom

  6. Thanks, guys! We're glad we survived, too. It was pretty crazy out there!


  7. What a crazy story! I'm so happy you made it down okay because lightning is so sudden. When I was in high school the lifeguard at our swim meet was struck by lightning, and it was really scary to see it happen. On another note, the photos and videos are really cool!

  8. That is soooooo scary! And, yes, exactly what I was thinking when it clouds rolled in on us. We were on balds--three of the children not mine! Ah, what if we were struck by lightning? Not a good babysitter am I.

    We were robbed on top of a mountain in St. Martin trapped at the end of a dead end road. In flipflops near dusk. What were we thinking? But I knew something was up and didn't want to get out of the car. My husband now knows to trust my intuition!

    So glad you made it back safely! And, yeah, you are nuts to want to do it again. :)

  9. Anne - that is so scary! I hope the lifeguard was okay!

    Angela - Thank goodness it didn't storm on you guys! Those poor kids would be scarred for life! Ohmygosh - you got robbed?! That's horrible! :( I would DEFINITELY listen to your intuition next time! How scary! Thanks, and I'm glad you and kids (and after getting robbed!) were alright, too!



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