The Fourth in the Mountains


We’ve begun a bit of a tradition as most do for the holidays. This was our second year heading up to beautiful Estes Park, Colorado for the fourth of July and I hope its a tradition we can keep on doing. Our good friends have a family cabin up there near the wild basin trailhead so it makes for a super cheap and super beautiful vacay spot.

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Last year when we headed up there we took Allie and Ryan climbing around the Lily Lake area for the first time. As terrified as they were.. they were instantly hooked. After the trip they spent most of the year prepping for the next climbing adventure hoping we would take them again!! And sure enough we did.

Day one after arriving to the cabin, first thing we did was head to the St. Vrain river and took a little dip. Nothing like adjusting to the elevation like a nice polar plunge dip! I’m so proud of Allie and I. We joined John on this little venture not thinking we’d actually jump in.. we were just expecting to dip our toes in.. but sure enough. We did it.. and it felt amazing! Why jumping in cold water is so hard I’ll never understand but the feeling after its totally worth it all!!

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Later, we walked around the Copeland Lake and up to what they call Cracked Rock,  a hidden little boulder they grew up exploring behind the cabin. Funny story. Ryan and Allie were hyping it up like creeeeepy things were going on there and we needed to check it out. They noticed someone had moved a bunch of rocks to one area almost in the shape of a grave or like they just buried someone. They also saw a formation of a logs against a rock like some sort of shelter. So naturally we wanted to go check this out. Walking up to the the boulder, we noticed this amazingly large formation and just so happened to look like a perfect bouldering rock. We noticed chalk marks all over like someone had been working a pretty hard problem for a while and right below it just so happened to be the creepy grave they were talking about. Well if you’re not a climber or have never been bouldering before you probably wouldn’t know why they heck someone would take rocks and move them like that. They were creating a flat surface to lay their bouldering mats on so when they fell off the problem they had something soft to land on verses taking the chance of rolling down the hill. We laughed for quite awhile as they kept telling us for about a year about all the creepy things that were going on up there! I’m still not sure why someone would make a shelter up there.. the road full of cabins or possible campsites is like a 10 minute walk town the short approach. Maybe they just got caught in the rain one day!

Day 2 was the fourth. We started the day with another tradition of heading to the Allenspark parade where they throw candy and have a flee market. I brought my sunhat and was the leading champ of the candy collecting from our side of the road. No one can dismiss the challenge of trying to throw candy in my hat as they drive by. And now noted for every other parade I attend.

Later we headed up to the crag for an afternoon climb. Because of the 4th, we figured it would be pretty busy! The Lily Lake crag is a pretty straight up approach if you’re not used to hiking. It’s definitely doable but still tough. And this time heading to the crag, Ryan’s brother Kyle decided to join us for his first climb! Lily lake tends to be tradition for first time outdoor climbers. It was my first outdoor climb just 3 short years ago, it was Ryan and Allies first outdoor climb last year & now we took Kyle there! Maybe we should do a workshop there?!

We got set up, Allie and Ryan kick off the outdoor rock cob webs (they have been indoor climbing all winter, but its just still not the same) and we had a fantastic day! We climbed the lower portion of the Lily Lake area as there were a ton of people there and we were only planning on climbing for half the day as we wanted to head into Estes to watch the fireworks that evening! We didn’t climb anything too hard, but just got used to the rough granite on our fingertips!

Headed back down, got ready and headed into town. We always sit in the same spot on the golf course, bring a frisbee and cards and just have a gay ol American time while we wait for the fireworks show! This time we forgot the frisbee so we walked around town town to try to find one. We got duped and bought a knit one that was supposed to be just as cool. It was not. oh well. Fireworks were lovely.

Day 3 we did the Wild Basin hike just as we did last year. It was just as good as before. Headed to our little boulder at the edge of the cliff for our photo op. The boys jumped in the water which was definitely 10 degrees colder at the top than the bottom of the mountain.

Our last and final day we headed back up to Lily Lake to test the rock again and check off some routes we haven’t done. The classic route, edge of time is always a staple and one of  the most beautiful and iconic rock formations I’ve even seen. John almost flashed a 12a, which if you’re not familiar with climbing or the ratings – that’s pretty hard especially outside. When you send a route you do the entire route without falling. When you flash a route, you climb a route with no falls and on the first attempt. So people will project a route until they’ve sent it with no falls. On this particular route, John got to the last bolt, peeled off and took a fall. He was so close to the end! I should preface, when you take a fall you don’t fall to the ground.. you just fall to your last protection or bolt.

And that was pretty much the jist of our trip. We climbed, we hiked and we polar plunged, I mean that sums up the majority of what our adventures look like lately. The great thing about our trips is besides the cost of getting there.. nothing costs anything. Its pretty great and why we do it! It takes us to some of the most beautiful places in the world and you get to experience and utilize the land in ways like most don’t! I think thats my favorite things to tell others when taking them to new climbing spots.. you’re getting to experience part of the land that most people just drive on by or never knew was here! Ryan had been coming up to this same spot for almost 30 years and he had never known any of this was up here. It’s pretty cool to be able to show him new places within his favorite summer vacation spot!

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