OK, so in the last blog post, I told everyone that we met up with a friend of ours at the Echo Lake Lodge, in order to take the road up to Mt. Evans and visit with the mountain goats. I also mentioned that something went wrong with that plan and that we improvised with another plan for photography… let me explain.
I was so excited for us to arrive at the lodge. The road up to Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in North America…. all 14,270 feet of elevation at the top. They say that when you drive to the top, the oxygen can affect you even just walking without elevation or added stress. The reward at the top are the mountain goats which call the mountain top their home. :-)
So you can imagine my shock when we got to the road entrance and saw this …..!
I swear, it was as if we reached WallyWorld (from the Chevy Chase version of the movie Vacation) and it was CLOSED for business. I was absolutely that desperate trying to figure out how I could still get up there. The culprit for the road closure was that the road was in such disrepair that they had to close the winding narrow road for said repairs to be made. The repairs were extensive and kept the road to the top closed for the summer. Estimated completion date was “hopefully some time in August”. Now I know that I’m retired now, but I couldn’t possibly wait THAT long!
Now that road to the top was open for hikers and cyclists, but it was 14+ miles to the top and the elevation gain was about 4,000 ft and ends in 14,270 ft. Quite a bit higher than the 5 ft above sea level that I reside in. LOL.
Tom and I talked it over and over, trying beyond hope to find a way to accomplish our mountain goat “photo session” goal. Tom decided that there was only one thing to do … that was for him to take one for the team and ride up there on his mountain bike!
What a guy, huh? Now if the altitude and the 14+ miles each way wasn’t enough, enter the weather conditions … a brisk 60 degrees with a wind of ~15 mph. They said that at the top, with the exposure of the wind without any shield above the timberline, the wind would be at least 30mph and the temperatures would be at least 15 degrees colder.
So, not only is Tom my sherpa on our photography adventures, but he really took the bull by the horns on this one. Of course, I set up the camera and lens for him, gave him 32 GB (remember that number) to work with, and instructions regarding angles and shots I wanted. LOL While nervously waiting for Tom to complete his mission, I tried to occupy myself with some photography of my own. Even at the 10,000 ft elevation of the base area, I found myself moving a bit slower than normal. :-) After some time, I also decided to hike, since I REALLY wanted to get to the goats myself, though realistically I knew that at 10am to start out, there was NO way I would get up there. Still the area, in the 3+ miles that I did manage, was beautiful. That road just kept going … and going …., climbing and climbing, … and I was really hoping that Tom would reach the top, though he was instructed to return short of the goal if he felt the slightest bit not at ease.
Tom did finally make his way to the top! He took a selfie to prove it! It took him about 2 hrs to get up there. He said that he was so cold up there that his fingers didn’t want to work properly in the beginning to take images for me.
The mountain goats were “everywhere” reported Tom. There were adults basking in the sun with those spectacular views everywhere!
Then he spotted his first young kid, the baby goat, and he said it was just the sweetest thing ever. It pretty much came over to him and stood in front of his Santa Cruz mountain bike. The goats must have been a bit out of sorts in that they’re quite habituated towards people visiting up there, but since the road closure that only get access to the cyclists and some park and wildlife personnel.
He said that they were all shedding their winter coat. It’s amazing to see just how MUCH they shed though.“On the top of the world” shots were definitely requested and Tom did a great job in checking that one off the list. How adorable!!
This shot really cracked me up … almost looks like a two-headed (sort of) kid here, huh? LOL
Not sure if they’re oxygen-deprived as well or not, but these young kids seemed to have some other activities on their mind. LOL Tom was so upset that he got to witness these wonderful little ones without me. Of course, even the adults were fascinating for him to see. Like little children, the tribe of kids were “so adorable” as they played with each other … butting, pushing, climbing on each other. It wasn’t just mountain goats either…. he said that the place was teaming with marmots as well. He even saw a marmot nose to nose with a little lamb. I really wished I could have seen and photographed that one. Though he was freezing up there and getting blown around in the high winds, he found it hard to tear himself away from the wildlife.I was quite excited to see Tom flying down the mountain, which took a mere 30 mins on the descent. When Tom returned, of course, I got to hear all about it and get a sneak peek at the images over lunch at the Echo Lake Lodge, which was delicious by the way. We highly recommend the Mac & Cheese nuggets, but everything was excellent.I couldn’t be prouder of Tom for making the climb, especially in those conditions and without any planning to do so. He returned with images …. that’s right …. 51 in all! Barely making a dent in that 32 GB card he was armed with…. perhaps my instructions weren’t clear … or was it the lack of oxygen, cold weather …? LOL. But hey, that’s 51 more than I would have gotten without his heroic effort. :-) He’s not just my husband, my traveling partner, my sherpa, but my human “mountain goat” and hero as well! He said he did it for love … I’ll take that. Before we left, we also promised to return next year, so that I may get to experience the real thing for myself. Thanks again Tom! <3
Next up: Colorado Springs, CO. Check it out!
© 2015 Debbie Tubridy & Tom Tubridy / TNWA Photography