GC18: Tarryall

To get to Tarryall, the oldest cache in Colorado and twentieth oldest active geocache in the world, one would take the Ute Pass out of Colorado Springs.  Heading west on Highway 24 will take you past the turn offs for the North Pole, the Pikes Peak Tollway, and Green Mountain Falls.  You’ll be tempted to stop for lunch in Woodland Park, and maybe grab a couple of other caches along the way.

A little further up the road from Woodland Park, you will reach Lake George.  You will look for a turn-off for County Road 77 that leads off to the north.  To get to this cache, you would turn right at this turn off, following the signs for Tarryall Reservoir.  You will gape at the incredible beauty along this secluded road.   Clear creeks run down from the mountains in rivulets along green pastures.  You are trying to pay attention to the road,  but every now and then a brilliant flash of natural beauty catches your eye, and you will glance at your companion and say, “wow,  did you see that?”

Then, you will take a left hand turn on to a dirt road that may or may not have a sign, we don’t remember.  Google calls it La Salle Pass Rd and it looks like it goes on for a while out there in the wilderness.  You will kinda veer off in the rutted dirt road to the right.  If you are in a car with low clearance, you might find yourself having to park along this road and walk the rest of the way in.  Maybe you will be lucky, like our new friend from Alabama, rmayben9, and some cachers from Texas like us, in a Subaru like ours, will pick you up and give you a lift the rest of the way down the dirt road until it is time to stop.  At that point, you will walk slightly uphill, at 8,000 elevation, and look for an ammo can hidden near a tree.  Maybe you will even get some sub-standard cell phone pictures like we did.  You will see some very interesting plants and possibly, as the occasional log reports, black bear.  We saw no animals but we did enjoy the plants.

After this, you will have to walk back down to your car and make it back out the dirt road.  You might even find some more caches along the way out, although not if you were pressed for time like we were.

You will feel a sense of accomplishment for finding this very old cache, and feel refreshed from the nice drive and short hike.  It will be worth the diversion, trust me.


Pikes Peak: With a Little Help From My Friends

pikes peak 1998IMG_20140711_113451
When I was young, fresh out of college, my father and I attempted to drive up Pikes Peak Highway to the summit of this landmark mountain.  We didn’t make it all the way. Both of us flat-landers were terrified of the mountain road, which seemed too steep and dangerous, with no guardrails to offer protection. It seemed like we could just fall off the mountain in my long bed Ford F150.  We ended up trembling with fear and turning around to head back to safety.

Neither one of us had much experience with mountains then. Over that following summer, I gained some familiarity with the mountains while working at a summer camp in Pike National Forest. Much of that experience was on horseback, but there was some hiking and exploring that went along with that.  I lived and worked with two other girls who taught horsemanship alongside me.  At the end of the summer, after camp season had ended, these girls came over one night and spent the night with me sleeping on the floor of my new apartment. In the wee hours of the morning, we headed out on to the Barr Trail that took us twelve miles up to the top of Pikes Peak, to the summit that my dad and I could not make it to by vehicle.

This summer, sixteen years later, I was back and I wanted to show my family this mountain that meant so much to me.  There is no way we were going to hike it, and taking the Cog train was so much more expensive than driving it.  It was time to conquer that mountain, see if I would still be scared of the drive up. This time, we had a much more competent driver (Jason). He and I had been on several road trips involving mountain roads in the years we have been together, not to mention the experiences I had living in Oregon and California, and so our comfort level is much different than mine was that first summer out of Texas.
Also, I had a friend from high school who joined us in our ride in the Subaru up this mountain, “America’s mountain”, and I specifically decided to sit in the middle seat in the back, next to her, so that I wouldn’t focus on the steep drop offs. She and I talked most of the way up and down, and in this way, she was helping me feel better about the drive. There wasn’t even a question this time about making it to the summit, and honestly it did not even seem scary this time.

Both times I have made it to the top, my friends helped me get there.

This is my friend Autumn and I at the summit:

autumn and I 2014 pikes peak

A Walk In the Garden of the Gods


A piece of my heart lives here in this place.  This part identifies with the Native Americans who came to this sacred spot a little over four thousand years ago.  Like a beacon, this place drew me in when I lived near here, prompting me to drive through on my way home from work, to marvel with hushed thoughts at the rock formations formed millions of years ago.  And this day, this third day of our vacation this summer, I brought my boys here for the first time to share this spot with them.

A fourteen year old boy has this pull on him to test the boundaries.  He wants to explore his physical limits, and chafes under restriction.  Mine is no different.  This is the same boy who stood in a valley in Yosemite, looked at El Capitan, and decided he wanted to climb that one day.  This time, he felt the same urge.  But he has no training, no knowledge, no equipment, no permit.  This place was not for him to explore that way, not today.  He felt the denial of freedom keenly.   


Sometimes, though, roadblocks exist to show us the paths we want to be on.  We saw rock climbers behind the fence, working their way up some of the faces with their equipment.  If being behind those fences is something this boy wants, he’ll have to work on it; get some skills, learn techniques, and someday come back with a permit and knowledge to be one of those people himself.  We’re going to start working on this soon.

 _DSC0731I can’t say that these people I live with walked away from this park feeling the same connection to it that I do.  Four years ago, Jason and I came here sans kids, and he has never really gotten why I feel the way I do about it.  The oldest felt like this place would have better with less restrictions, if he had been allowed to do more.  It was too tame, he said.  The youngest was just bored of the whole thing and moved on from looking at the rocks to pestering everyone…especially his brother.  IMG_20140710_182318I have a feeling we’ll be back someday, though, when they are older and wiser.  I am hoping by then the connection has grown, and they can see it through my eyes, or feel it through my heart.

Colorado Highlights: or, “what state are we in again?”

IMG_20140710_172413That last part of the title is the question my youngest son asked us every few hours for a few days.  At first, we were patient, then we were tolerant, but after a while, we were neither.  This question started to be answered like this: “We’re not having this conversation again”, “we’re done with that”, and “OMG enough already”.  This was not a highlight of our time in Colorado.

Also, he had brought a killer cold with him, and Jason had become infected with it as we were making our way out of the Blue Lake Campground area on this third day of our vacation.  By the time we got to Manitou Springs, he was no good and just wanted to be left alone to sleep.   He had exhaustion for the next few days, which really put a cramp on our style, and then by the time he was feeling better, I came down with it.  This was not a highlight of our trip either.

But these things were highlights:

Manhattan’s Pizza Parlor in Pueblo: after a couple of days of camping and eating out of our cooler, it was really nice to sit down somewhere cool and eat the hell out of some New York Style pizza.  This is where we went after leaving GC19, after a couple of random stops in Walsenberg for gas, ice and cold medicine

The pool at the Silver Saddle Motel in Manitou:  we had decided to stay at a fifties-era motel for its character and low cost.  Supposedly the pool was a big feature.  It wasn’t all that, but it was a good place for my younger son and I to go to let the older guys rest and get a break from him.  We met a little girl there who turned out to be the daughter of the owner, and she was able to answer some questions about the history of the place.  It had not occurred to me when I booked the room that the Silver Saddle would be a great name for a biker den.  However, it did become clear that is what it was, at least temporarily this weekend.   That gave us some interesting people watching fodder.

Garden of the Gods Trading Post:  this was a place that I remembered as having an incredible selection of awesome things during the time I lived around this area, which was sixteen years before.  I wanted the kids to experience it.   I had been pushing them to save their money for this place all summer, despite their protests about all the other things they wanted to spend money on.  Even their dad had been like, “they are boys, they don’t care about gift shops” but I KNEW the temptations that existed in this place, and I was RIGHT, because both of the boys blew their money in this place within thirty minutes.

A brief hike in the Gold Camp Road/Bear Creek area to look for an old cache (hidden in 2001).

Manitou Springs Penny Arcade:  even though I lived right above the arcade in the four months I lived in this town earlier in my life, I had never once come down and spent any money or time here.  However, I knew that my sons would like this.  My youngest son especially had a good time, and our leaving was much too quick for him.  He could have spent hours.  They had all kinds of games to play; so many, it was overwhelming to make a choice.

The Springs and the shops of Manitou:  my little one got it into his head that he wanted to taste all the natural springs in Manitou (there are about ten of them), so we stopped at a few so he could use his little “Pikes Peak” cup he had bought to drink some of this water that supposedly had healing powers.

Later, we went over and spent some time walking through the Garden of the Gods, but that deserves its own post and some of Jason’s photos posted with it.  More on that later.