Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Conquering Mt. Ida

(the times are a guess at the actual time of the events)

6:03 a.m.

We woke up Thursday morning breathing the fresh Rocky Mountain air. Actually, it was hard to breath it, because it was so thin. I woke up groggy having flash backs of the night before, almost running over a moose in the church van and making smores around a huge bon fire that kept us from freezing our bottoms off in the middle of June. Weird.

Stephanie and I had been invited to climb Mt. Ida. This is a tundra trek to the summit which expands to 12,880 feet. The Mt. Ida hike allows hikers to walk along the crest of the Continental Divide. Which can be breathtaking and scary. 12,880 feet in the air, wildlife around every corner, never hiked up a mountain in Colorado before, thin air, and little sleep. ROCK ON!!! LET'S Go!!!

Stephanie and I were making the trip with Ross Knight. A 16 year old who looks to be in great physical condition. He's a football player, well built, and most of the time a good athlete in every sport. We also made the trip with Floyd Ingram III and Floyd Ingram IV. The father and son tandem were the ones who put the trip together and encouraged a grand total of 3 people to go along with them. For difficulty sake, I will refer to Floyd Ingram III as "Chip" and Floyd Ingram IV as "Floyd". Chip is in his late 40's and not in the best shape. He's not fat. However, he has a nice healthy round gut. He is one of those guys who probably used to be skinny, but now his unhealthy eating habits have caught up with him in his later years. Chip is really enthusiastic and excited to go on this trip. Floyd is Chip's oldest son. He is 15. He's skinnier than a bean pole. He's about 6" tall and about 130 pounds. Floyd is also pumped and ready.

I myself am pumped and ready, mainly because I wanted to get some good photography and possibly see some wildlife. One thing I knew, I was not going to quit until I reached the top. The summit was mine! Stephanie wasn't as sure. She debated going, but I coaxed her into it. Ross wasn't too thrilled about going. I wasn't really sure why he went. I think he went mainly for the exercise.

7:13 a.m.
We loaded up our backbacks with fruit, nutri-grain bars, water, gatorade, granola bars, and crackers. My camera batteries were all charged up and I was ready to go. We all jumped in Chip's van and drove about 15 miles through Rocky Mt. National Park, through a switchback to get to the start of the hiking trail.

7:46 a.m.
When we got there, an entire group of older boyscouts were all suited up and ready to take the hike. They looked like they knew what they were doing. They were ready to go! They blitzed right by us at the start of the trail. Before we started, Chip pulled out what he called, "his secret weapon". It appears that last year Chip and Floyd tried to get to the summit of Mt. Ida and fell about a mile short. Chip's breathing didn't hold up. The higher and harder he climbed, the harder it became to breath and he couldn't make it. Floyd was really upset about the whole ordeal. He wanted to get to that summit. Chip seemed to think it was no big deal. He said, "sometimes in life, God doesn't want us to go all the way". His no-big-deal attitude tried to wear off on us. He sang the entire way to the trial in the van. He put in Audio Adrenaline and knew every lyric of every song and did hand motions and sung like a passionate boy bander. It was funny.

Anyways, you could still tell that Chip was selling his philosophy, but wasn't buying it. He wanted to get to the top, and he was going to stop at nothing to get there. His secret weapon was two cans of Oxygen. First of all, I don't know if I would trust air that comes packaged in a can. Think about the things in a can that aren't as good as the non-canned versions. There's fruit, pasta, veggies, bread, meat, and air? I don't think so. Anyways, Chip brought his two cans of Oxygen and loaded them in his backpack.

7:52 a.m.
Stephanie, Ross, and Floyd took one last tinkle break and we started up the mountain. Before we started Chip mentioned that we would take breaks so that we wouldn't kill ourselves. Little did we realize that these breaks would be a common occurance to the extreme.

8:01 a.m.

We actually get on the trial and start our journey. There is a wooden sign that reads 4 miles to the top, the summit of Mt. Ida. However, we later realized that the sign meant that it was 4 miles until the end of the trial. It was actually about 5 1/2 miles to the top of Mt. Ida. Which means that we would have 5 1/2 miles back down the mountain as well.

8:05 a.m.
We are treking through the woods at a decent pace, until Chip decides to take break number one. No lie, I didn't mess up the times. It was literally about 4 or 5 minutes after we started. We hadn't really even gone up hill yet. Ross fell over as if he had been hiking for hours. I don't know if he was playing or foreshadowing future events. I thought he was in pretty good shape. If this was a sign of things to come, we were in for a LOOONNGG day. Everyone sat down except for me and Stephanie. We were ready to go! We're both runners, so the walking didn't bother us one bit.

8:09 a.m.
We start walking again. I am sneezing constantly for some weird reason. It felt like I was allergic to something. There were wildflowers everywhere, so it may have been possible that I was allergic to some of them. We actually start walking up some hills and the breathing gets harder. The thin air is not making it easy. There isn't much wind at this point, because we are so embedded in the tree line. Once we get out of the tree line, it will be much worse.

8:17 a.m.
We take another break. Oh brother! Come on! I am ready to get moving. Yeah, I am breathing heavily but it's not that bad. Chip acts like he is dying. Ross is already hungry. This is going to be a disaster. I can feel it. Floyd gets a rice krispy treat out of his hip pack. Actually its a fanny pack, but I am trying to make it sound cooler. No lie, Ross takes the Rice Krispy Treat and starts trying to open it. It is one of those packaged treats that takes forever to open. While he's attempting to open it, he starts talking about how hungry he was and how he loves rice krispy treats. I am telling him that he is crazy for eating this early and that we have to make sure our food lasts us all day. As soon as he gets it open, he drops the rice krispy treat on the ground into a snowy pile of mud. He screams like a little girl at the horror. It was good comic relief at this point. The horror didn't last too long, because he picked it up and ate it anyways.

8:47 a.m.
We are moving along pretty good now, but we still haven't gotten out of the tree line yet. I was ready for the wide open view, so that I could snap some good photos. As I was walking a little critter ran right in front of me. It looked like a beaver or a chipmunk on steriods. I couldn't tell. Chip and Floyd informed me that it was probably a marmot. An animal I had never heard of before.

9:22 a.m.
Much walking and many breaks later, we finally start to break out of the tree line. We can see mountains for miles and miles. It is absolutely gorgeous. God's beauty surpasses all expectations. It's amazing. However, our joy is kind of on hold knowing that we still have about 3 1/2 miles until we get to the top, and the hardest part of the journey hasn't even begun.

9:34 a.m.
I take my huge sweater jacket off, because I am getting hot from all the hiking. We walk up a part of the trail that seems to almost go straight up for about 300 yards. It's tiring. Breathing gets real hard. We get to a plateaued area and Chip wants to stop. It's time to break out the secret weapon. Floyd was a little concerned because before we left his mom hugged Chip as if she were hugging him for the last time. She was scared. It appears that the reason they stopped the year before is because Chip was not only having trouble breathing, but he was starting to pass out.

Stephanie and I were having trouble breathing, but it wasn't to the point where we concerned. It just felt like we were exercising heavily. Chip was struggling and we weren't even halfway to the top. Oh great. I started to worry that we weren't going to make it to the top. I was determined, that even if everyone else quit. I would get to the top by myself!

Chip took out his can of oxygen, put the cup piece over his mouth and inhaled. It seemed to charge him right up. It was like he was taking a hit of some kind of drug. It was real strange. I thought everyone else was fine, until Ross asked for some. Ross took a hit off of the oxygen, and then Floyd decided he would take one. What the heck is going on? I thought we were doomed. Me and Stephanie looked at each other baffled at why the oxygen was needed at this point. Nonetheless, we trudged on.

9:48 a.m.
We got to a point on the mountain where a beautiful view surrounded everything. We stopped to take pictures. Floyd and Ross took turns throwing rocks off the side of the mountain to see how far they would go. They would roll big ones off to see how far they would roll. My only thought was, "what if that hit somebody" or what if that hit a bear and he came up and mauled us to shreads. Anyways, I pushed risk aside and threw a few off myself.

10:01 a.m.
We hit another stopping point at which Chip takes more oxygen. At this point he is going to run out before we even get close to the top. Chip needs a long break this time. There a hill above the part of the mountain we were on. I was curious to see what was on the other side of the hill. Thinking no one would dare come with me, I was surprised that Floyd agree to check it out with me. Chip, Ross, and Stephanie stayed and took a rest. Floyd and I climbed up the hill only to see a view that wasn't quite as breathtaking as our view. It was nice, but it didn't have as much snow. We climb down the hill and see a bunch of Mountain Goats about a mile away. I had some binoculors and we checked them out. They were just chillin'. It was interesting watching them walk down the side of the mountain. They have good footing.

10:13 a.m.
We hit the marmot motel as Chip calls it. We see a weird rock formation that is filled with marmots. Those furry little beaver-chipmunk like animals. One was sitting on a rock near us. He let me get pretty close to him, and I got a good picture. He had a scar on his left leg. It looked like he had taken a nasty spill or something. Then I saw a rock fly at him. Floyd and Ross starting hurling rocks at the little defenseless creature. No wonder he had a scar. Some hiker probably had done the same thing to him in the past.

10:31 a.m.
We climb to a point and take a rest. Now we can see the summit. We're probably halfway there. We look down about 100 yards below us and we see a ram laying down on a rock. Actually, they are called big-horn sheep. But to the average person it is ram. Just like the ones you see on TV and in cartoons. He was just hanging out minding his own business. I went to grab the camera and looked down for a second and when I did, he was gone. Pretty quick for a great big ram.

11:04 a.m.
We are starting to take way too many breaks now. Chip is needing another break and starts hitting up more oxygen. Surely his first can is used up by now. He was getting drunk off the oxygen. Too much of that stuff will make you crazy. Stephanie and I weren't tired. The wind was blowing really crazy now. Wind gust were probably hitting 40 miles an hour. However, we still weren't tired. It was hard to breath and it was getting really cold, but we wanted to truck on. I told Chip, Ross, and Floyd that we were going to hike over the next hill and wait for them. So me and Steph moved on and kept trucking. We got to the end of a long hill and waited at the top.

11:15 a.m.
While we were waiting I bundled up heavily. Stephanie took my coat and put it on. I took my sweater-jacket and put it over my head. My head was hurting from the lack of oxygen. I had a throbbing headache, and it was freezing cold. Stephanie and I sat and rested, waiting for the group. I had been drinking a gatorade-water mix. It was keeping me going. I had the water to keep me plenty hydrated, and I had the gatorade to give me energy. It didn't taste great, but it kept me going good. As we were waiting a huge heard of Mountain Goats ran by. I got them on video tape. It was cool.

11:38 a.m.
Finally, Chip, Floyd, and Ross pulled over the hill. It was about time.
The time waiting was good. Stephanie and I had both had a chance to go to the bathroom with anyone looking, and we ate a little bit and relaxed.

11:51 a.m.
We are still not quite there. We have a good bit to go. Maybe about two miles. However, the wind is killing us. It is ripping at our faces, and my nose is gushing. I had to keep blowing the gunk out so it would stop dripping down my face.
We decided to rest in this rock formation. We wanted to get in the rocks so that the wind couldn't nip at us. We were pretty successful in getting away from the wind for the most part. However, I was still itching to keep moving and get to the top.

12:17 p.m.
We are moving along okay, but the trail is ending. It is pretty much all rock from this point to the top of the summit. About a mile and a half to go. We see the boy scouts walking back down the mountain. They had already gotten to the top and were headed back. I was wishing I was at that point. We are walking along the Continental Divide. There is a huge cliff to the left of us. It is an incredible view, but at any point if you slipped off, you would fall several thousand feet to a rocky and icey death. You could see where the snow was melting several thousdand feet below. It looked like a glacier that was breaking off.

12:36 p.m.
We stop for lunch. Chip believed that we were only a half a mile away. But in reality it was still another mile straight uphill, all rocks. Floyd and Ross are laughing about a marmot that Floyd hit in the face with a rock. He threw a rock and it hit one square in the head and it fell over. It wasn't dead, but it was probably bruised with a big knot on it's head.

Stephanie was not amused at all about the marmot. Even though they freaked her out, she didn't want to see the boys hurting one. I ate my apple and nutri-grain bars. I gulped down some Waterade and I was ready to go. They other guys looked tired. They seemed to be at the point of wanting to stop, but I was ready to roll. I stood up and proclaimed loudly, "Next stop, the top!!"

No one else really shared my enthusiasm, but I was sure I was going to not quit until I was sitting on that summit.

12:58 p.m.
We start treking along again. Walking up the rocks is almost like literally climbing. You have to be careful which rocks you step on, and where you climb. The hike is really getting tough now. The wind is blowing about 50 miles an hour. It's hard to breath. We are climbing straight up. It seems as if there is no end in site. It is absolutely freezing. Chip was dying. He couldn't go but about 50 yards, and then he would have to quit again. Stephanie and I just kept going. I didn't want to leave them behind, but they kept stopping and they were never going to get there if there weren't pushed a little.

1:13 p.m.
After waiting for the group to catch up with us, Stephanie and I decided that we were going to permantly separate from the group until we reached the summit. It was all or nothing for me. Stephanie was really tired at this point too. She was almost to the point of tears. She kept thinking we were getting close, only to see the summit over the horizon again and it still being far away.
We saw Floyd and Chip finally catching up to us, but there was no Ross in site. I asked where Ross went and they said that he was too tired to keep going. So much for being the most in shape. They left Ross laying on a rock, right near the edge of the Continental Divide. If he fell asleep and rolled, he could roll right off the mountain. Chip said that he told right to stay in that exact spot until we came back down to get him. Not really the best idea in the world, but what can ya do.

I gave Floyd and Chip a radio. We had brought two walkie-talkies with us. I told them that Stephanie and I were going to haul it to the top. They agreed that they were going slow, and stopping every 30 seconds for an oxygen break, so they would concede and let us go. Chip was on can number 2 at this point.

1:28 p.m.
The summit is in site. Stephanie is questioning whether she can make it, but I kept yelling back to her that we are almost there. Floyd keeps getting on the radio and telling me that he and dad have stopped for a break. At this point Floyd is unsure if they will make it. Chip was really struggling and even the oxygen wasn't helping.
Stephanie and I are both breathing heavily, like we have been running full sprint from a lion or something.

1:34 p.m.
We are so there. The summit is just over the hill. We climb about 200 hundred more yards and we finally reach the top. In fact, there is no where else to go. Once you reach the top, which is all of about 200 hundred square feet in area, you can't go any further. On all sides of us is a great view of the area. We can see Grand Lake. We can see mountains and ranges all over Rocky Mountain National Park. We can see the snow and the glacier like formations that run through the area near the Continental Divide. It was beautiful. I got on the radio and let Floyd and Chip know that we had made it. Floyd asked me how it looked. I said, "It is scary awesome". It was scary in the fact, that there wasn't much room, and if you weren't careful you could fall and hurt yourself. And it was awesome because you were so high and saw so many beautiful things. It was like being smacked right upside the head with God's glorious creation. Unbelievable.

I asked Floyd how much further they had and he informed me that they were still quite a ways from the summit. In fact, they couldn't quite see the top yet.
Stephanie and I took all kinds of pictures and we had a big hug and kiss. She told me that she was glad I pushed her to get to the top.

She laid down on a rock and decided to rest, while we waited to see if Floyd and Chip were going to make it. It made me nervous, because I didn't want her rolling off into oblivion. We saw a marmot at the top. He was sitting on one of the highest rocks on the summit. I wondered how he got up there and what in the world he did for food 12,880 up in the air. Does he wait for a plane to fly by and throw out a bag of peanuts or what? It was craziness.

1:46 p.m.
Floyd and Chip are really struggling. Floyd is pointing out landmarks to me on the radio and asking how far they are from the top. I tried to estimate short so that they would be encouraged to keep going. However, they kept stopping and kept using the oxygen can.

1:55 p.m.
I got tired of waiting and I decided to go back and find them. Stephanie said that she would wait up on the summit. So I climbed down and walked about 300 yards. I looked off in the distance and I could see Chips yellow jacket about 500 yards away. They were almost there. I got on the radio and told Floyd to keep moving that they were almost to the top.

Floyd could now see me. He asked how far to the top it was from where they stood. I told him it was about 500 yards. It was actually a little bit longer. I told him to keep pressing on.

2:01 p.m.
I walked back to the top and waited. Stephanie was snoozing good. It was cold, but the wind had died down a lot. The weird thing was that there was no echo on the mountain. I screamed and yodeled but nothing came echoed.

2:08 p.m.
I get a buzz on the radio. Floyd and Chip were close. I ran to the far end of the summit and I could see them. They were literally just 50 yards away. YES! They made it!

They climbed up to the top, and both about fell over. There were tears in their eyes as they celebrated conquering Mt. Ida. They had done it. Stephanie and I both greeted them and we all took numerous pictures.

Now, the journey is half over.......

We still have 5 1/2 miles to climb back down.

The journey back down is never as bad, according to Chip anyways. However, we hit our share of speed bumps on the way back.

First of all we had to climb down rocks for about a mile. We were walking on nothing but rocks. The last thing I could remember Chip saying is, "Don't twist an ankle." Surely, enough ankle twisting would occur.

We start walking down, also realizing that we have to find Ross. He was asleep somewhere. Chip was sure that he knew exactly where they left him, but Floyd wasn't so sure. We got to a point where we thought Ross was supposed to be, but we saw no sign of him. Chip thought that surely must have been further down the mountain. However, Floyd was getting scared. We saw a spot that Floyd was sure was the spot they left Ross. In the snow just below the spot, you could see several rocks that had been thrown into the snow, probably by somebody. That somebody more than likely being Ross.

We started to panic a bit. We weren't sure where Ross was! We didn't know if he tried to climb up to the summit and we just didn't see him on the way back down. We weren't sure if he had just left and started back down the mountain with us. We weren't sure if he had just fallen asleep and rolled of the side of the cliff. It was scary. We started screaming Ross' name, but again there was no echo. It was like yelling in a small cardboard box. We couldn't find Ross anywhere. We started to move swiftly down the rocky mountain, when suddenly it happened.

I tripped on rock, got my foot caught underneath one and twisted my ankle. I heard something pop and the pain hit me like a ton of bricks. The hardest part was that I could fall down. I couldn't find a soft spot to fall down on so that I could immediately get off my foot. I hopped and screamed down a couple more rocks until finally I found a patch of grass and I fell over.

I put my face first down in the grass and started pounding the ground with my fist. My ankle really hurt and now not only is Ross missing, but we may have to find a way for somebody to carry me back down the mountain.

Floyd was next to me, and Chip and Stephanie quickly rushed to my aid. Chip had brought an ankle wrap and he and Floyd began taking my boot off. I started to feel light-headed and sick like I was going to pass out. I think it might have been a combination of the fatigue, the pain, and the lack of oxygen. I told Stephanie to reach into my bag and grab my water-gatorade mix. She gave it to me and I guzzled it down. That really helped.

Chip wrapped up my ankle and offered to carry my bags the rest of the way, but I told him that I was okay. The ankle hurt, but the wrap really helped it out. If anything I needed to keep moving on it, so it wouldn't get stiff and sore from being rested.

3:11 p.m.
We start walking again. I am hobbling, but suprisingly I am moving quick on my bum ankle. We are still searching for Ross, but Chip thinks he knows where Ross is. We get to that certain spot that Chip had in mind, but still no sign of Ross.

All of a sudden over the horizon, Stephanie and I saw a guy walking. We couldn't tell who it was. I grab the binoculars to see if it was Ross. All I could see in the binoculars was that the guy was wearing a blue jacket. Ross was wearing a blue jacket. We keep walking and I take another look. I now see him waving at us in the distance. The man in the blue jacket was Ross.

3:17 p.m.
He runs towards us, breathing hard. Stephanie starts bawling, because she was so worried about him. She gives Ross a big hug. Ross said that he got bored and went up to find us, but he wasn't sure where to go. He said was going to go back down, but he figured that would be a bad idea.

4:11 p.m.
We are back on the trail now, but still about 3 miles from the bottom. I am leading the way with my bum ankle. Suprisingly, the less I think about it, the more I don't feel the pain throbbing. Chip has to take another stop. His breathing is still pretty bad. It is easier on him going down hill, but he still is losing air. He takes another big hit of oxygen. Ross is complaining about a bad headache, so he takes a hit of oxygen too. Floyd also takes himself some. Stephanie and I still have not used any.

Ross said that his headache immediately went away. However, even though I had a bad headache, it still didn't make me want to take oxygen. I could tough it out.

4:38 p.m.
We pass by the marmot motel again. Floyd decides to roll a rock down the hill and try to knock out a marmot that is standing up like prarie dog. The rock rolls right at the marmot, and just before it hits him, he dives back into a hole that he had built. Stephanie starts screaming. She is mad at this point. She tells Floyd to stop. Even though Chip was laughing, he tells Floyd to stop throwing rocks at Marmots, or "mormons" as Floyd kept calling them.

4:50 p.m.
We are back into the tree line. We are really moving fast now. Very little breaks, and down hill hiking=good times. Finally, the wind is not beating down on us anymore.

5:13 p.m.
We are literally about 200 yards from the van and Chip decides to take a break. At this point it is driving me nuts. I am so ready to get back to the camp and lay down, but Chip is still tired. His oxygen is gone, and his feet are all blistered. He and Floyd bandage up their blisters real good.

5:24 p.m.
We reach the van. The end of the hike. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!
Our faces were beet red from windburn and our bodies were sore and battered, but we had conquered this crazy beast called Mt. Ida. As I sat in the van, I praised God for keeping us safe and letting us enjoy his beauty. My ankle started to really throb. I was going to feel it in the morning, but I didn't care. It was all worth it, and would I do it all again? Ask me again next year.


Blogger GrandmamaS said...

What a trip. It sounds like it was very nice to see.... but wow so dangerous. Praise God you made it okay.
Love ya,
P.S. I also seen your Katy Hawkins Video. You Guys are crazy. :)

8:44 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home