Be forewarned, this is lengthy!
My wife and I arrived in Estes Park on Sunday, August 7th in time for some swimming in the heated pool at our first night's accomodations after our 12 hour drive from Iowa.
Very refreshing indeed.
From out on the plains we had been looking up at the mountain, realizing that this year we were going to make our first summit attempt of Longs....and of ANY mountain for that matter. We had been to the park for the previous two summers and completed many hikes, we had just not tried a peak yet. Somehow, we just decided last winter that we were going to try Longs as the first one.
On Monday the 8th, we planned to head up to Bluebird Lake. We wound up only going to Ouzel Lake due to some weather moving in. We got a bit of a late start , but wound up escaping the rain by mere minutes. I especially enjoyed hiking through the huge, burned out area from the fire. It was certainly unique and it provided us many opportunities to stare up at Longs and talk about what was to come. I pointed out some of the areas we would be crossing, such as the narrows and homestretch.
On Tuesday the 9th, we planned to reach Sky Pond. Again, due to weather, we had to stop short at the Lake of Glass and eat our lunch with a bit of haste in order to get moving back down the trail before the rain moved in. We got sprinkled on a bit, but mostly we stayed dry. We regret not pushing it up to Sky Pond, but with the start of our Longs Peak ascent coming in 12 hours, we figured we made the right choice to head back.
We were planning to meet up with OKCatsFan and his wife at 1:30am at the Longs trailhead, but that fell through...
I had been periodically checking the Weather Channel forecast for the Estes area and it kept saying to expect very cloudy conditions and thunderstorms for Wednesday all day. That night at 10:00 (as it rained at our location), we decided to push the hike back one day, as the forecast for Thursday was much better. It called for partly cloudy in the morning and afternoon thunderstorms... the classic late summer weather pattern.
Wednesday, August 9th. We spent this day driving along Trail Ridge Road and enjoying the tundra. We have driven this road at least 8 times now and it is always extremely enjoyable. As we hiked up to the Rock Cut, we looked over to Longs, which was engulfed in cloud cover. We were pretty sure that no one was making much of an attempt to go beyond the Keyhole due to the weather. This is when the rain started up. We went over to Grand Lake and had lunch and ice cream. I saw a RMNPforums sheet up at the door to the ice cream shop and pointed it out to my wife.
We were rained on for the rest of the day and night.
My nerves were really getting twisted up. There we were, close to taking off for Longs, it was raining, and I could not eat my dinner. I was anxious to start, but worried that weather might ruin it all. We would only have one more day to push this thing off and the forecast was not going to get any better than what it was for Thursday.
I prepped our packs and got everything ready to go, so we would not have to mess with anything upon waking up at 1:00am. It was still raining and I was feeling a bit down about it....but the forecast said it would clear up at midnight. I held to that idea and tried to sleep a bit.
My wife was anxious and was not able to sleep at all.
In fact, she was envious of my TWO hours of sleep.
The alarm sounded at 12:45 and I was up like a flash.
My wife was moving much more slowly than I.
She will admit, she was a little grumpy and I was hoping she was feeling well enough to make a solid effort.
We got into the car and began our 25 minute drive.
Upon turning on the stereo I found that I had left a Talking Heads cd in and it played away as we drove through the darkness. I was in a wide awake state and my wife was zoning out...the music was oddly comforting to both of us though.
I noticed that it was still very cloudy and the roads were wet.
I was worried at this point that the route beyond the Keyhole would be wet as well.
This was an element of the hike I was hoping to not have to deal with.
As we passed Lily Mountain, the rain began. It was pretty light, but enough to make me a bit more anxious about the rocks ahead.
We arrived at the trailhead and grabbed our gear.
Rain jackets on.
Trail register signed at 1:50AM.
We were off.
Edited by invisiblewindow, 16 August 2005 - 12:08 PM.