This was the beginning of the true vacation, the part all the first five days were building up to. We were finally in Colorado and at a starting elevation of ~4,700 ft / 1,432 m, meaning I was already the highest I’d even been on land, but this was about to get nearly tripled.
Thinking today would be a quicker day, just a drive to Estes Park, CO and a drive around the mountain in the Rocky Mountain National Park we were extremely disappointed to hear that Trail Ridge Rd was closed at the top ruining our plans for the day. We decided to head up to the park anyway and see what all we’d be able to view and do. The park ranger at the entrance was helpful at indicating there was still many miles of road we could drive on and that it was just a bit of the road that was closed so we opted to enter anyway.
We spent a good portion of the day stopped taking pictures every five meters it seemed and perhaps because of this, by the time we’d made our way up to the top where the road would have been closed, they’d run a snow blower and plow through and we were free to pass. I think kb9skw and I were both extremely happy with our luck this day, because the view presented was amazing. I’ve never been more than say 1,000 ft / 300 m above sea-level without being in a plane, and here I was at 12,100+ ft / 3,700 m and still on land.
The weather co-operated quite well, it was a bit windy but that’s to be expected so high up, but once you were back along the tree line the wind died down and the sun warmed you up quite nicely. I was also surprised by the road conditions, seemed the road was freshly paved this summer, or in very good condition and lots of places to stop and take pictures as well. Quite amazing they’d spend so much money on just a scenic road, I thank them for it and well, I did pay to enter so I guess I paid for a portion of it as well.
Oh yeah, one more thing. I’m terrified of heights. Driving up the road without being able to see the edge and seeing that it’s hundreds of meters down terrified me constantly, but only while in the car. Once I stepped out and could see everything and was more in control of myself, I felt much better. But I was borderline having a heart attack constantly while my friend drove. Once at the top we swapped and I drove down and felt much better and more confident, so perhaps a lot of the fear was the combination of height and lack of control. But either way, I was absolutely terrified for much of the day. So worth it.
The drive back from the Rocky Mountain National Park along Hwy#40 was beautiful as well. The road was generally wider and the grades still quite steep but the view was spectacular. Unfortunately by this point we were in a bit more of a hurry than earlier due to the setting sun and the distance we still needed to cover to get dinner and go back to the hotel for the night. I did however record a photo every second using the GoPro, so hopefully that’ll turn out something. (Side note, thus far in the trip the GoPro’s recorded 75,043 pictures or 131 GB)
The last thing I’d like to mention is that while up on the mountain kb9skw used his 100 watt HF transceiver to talk to folks in Christmas Island as well as Japan. 9,628 mi / 15,495 km and 5,656 mi / 9,103 km away respectively. A feat I thought was quite remarkable given we were sitting in a car. The distance is achievable thanks to something called skywave propagation. A neat effect I knew very little about before the beginning of this trip which answers a question I’d always had, how did amateur radio operators contact those on the opposite side of the earth. Easy, the signal bounces off the ionosphere. (Not easy in the long explanation)
Tomorrow is another travel day, some small things planned along the way I think, but we’ll stop and take a photo anytime it seems right to do so. Now I must sleep, it’s getting late and I’ve punched out two of these tonight catching up for yesterday. Uguuu~