Day Twenty Five (CDR)… Camping on top of Matchless Mountain- Part 1… 08/29/15

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This is what I woke up to this morning folks!!! A perfect day with no clouds what so ever… It was about 70 out also! Perfect weather for a #hike but I work tonight… So, I moseyed on over to #TheNuggetCafe to spread a little charm… I was feeling excellent today considering everything was flushed out of me yesterday… lol…

So, I went and got my coffee and started working my charm on Chris… It was very slow today and they didn’t expect it to get busy tonight at all… Also this waiter from last season, Matt, came up to help us… He said he can only help on the weekends because of college but that included Friday nights so I eventually got Chris to let me take it off… It took a little working but he let me go…

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I immediately got a ride from my friend Jason… That’s his Jeep Cherokee leaving me two miles down the road… If you remember that dam I showed you from Day Twenty Two, we just passed that and he dropped me off at a very popular fishing spot, where the river runs right through…

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I decided to just go right up the side of the mountain… Chris told me about a trail but trails are not challenges compared to going straight up… I’m here for an adventure, not a trip to Disney Land! So I threw on the pack and got to climbing…

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Looks scary doesn’t it? And this is just the beginning…

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Already I was making quick progress… There’s that river above that everyone likes to #FlyFish… To the left, if you follow the river, you will find #TaylorParkDam that looks like it has grown out of the mountain… I was at the base of Matchless and feeling confident… I really wanted to tackle this mountain hard at the beginning… I knew now what I was in for considering I climbed #ParkConeMountain… No long rests on this #hike for me…

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The base of #MatchlessMountain was very steep… I even had to grab a #WalkingStick so I could take pressure off of my legs… Every time I turned around it looked like I had climbed ten times what I thought I had climbed… I started to think that maybe this mountain will be easier than ParkCone considering I am getting all of the steep stuff out of the way at the beginning… One can hope can’t he?

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The grass was quite long and you had to be careful where you stepped because under the grass there were uneven rocks and all kinds of scattered lumber… One bad step and you could say goodbye to your ankle… The walking stick was very helpful though… I had to also watch out for pockets under these rocks… There were little ditches and holes all throughout the #MountainTerrain… You can’t see them because the grass is so thick and long… I proceeded with caution… I couldn’t wait to get to even ground…

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The place I chose to climb was perfect for judging how high I was getting… All I had to do was look at #ParkConeMountain right behind me and I could see where I was in respect to that mountain… But these mountains are extremely deceiving… You think you are making huge progress yet you have a long way to go…

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I was obviously being foolishly hopeful at this point… I had a really long way to go and here I am convincing myself I am making amazing progress… I couldn’t even see the #MatchlessPeak and that’s a huge sign you have a lot more #climbing to do…

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The rough terrain continued all the way up… I could see little #chipmunks running around, diving into their holes for cover… Also it looked like there were #PrairieDogs up here… That’s what they looked like at least… There were tons of them scattering across the rocks, stopping to look at this weird, furless creature making his way up the mountain…

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I finally hit some flat ground and decided to work my way up through the #trees… I was now guessing where the peak was… Chris told me it was way set back… From the restaurant it looks like one steep mountain when really that peak is tucked way back with a lot of mountain in front of it… I was getting worried I would never find the #peak… If the #TreeLine is thick, you can’t see shit up here!

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This area was obviously too #steep and rocky for any trees to grow… The clearing made a nice steep path up the side of the mountain… It twisted and turned around this rocky cliff…

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Around the other side of this rocky cliff, I was surprised to see a long path created by past avalanches… I slowly made my way up nature’s steep #RockyPath… I had to be very careful here because the ground was sliding out from underneath me… This path was extremely loose and steep, making it hard to get any footing…

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At this point the path was so steep and difficult, I was sweating my ass off… I had to take a few rests making it up this nightmare… When I rested, I had to lay on my back or I would end up sliding right back down the mountain… I was really hoping I was getting the hard part out of the way early, not knowing if I was going in the right direction in the first place…

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But my worries were soon put to rest when I saw this site… There’s the #TaylorParkReservoir to your left… If I could see that #lake then I was heading in the right direction… I knew now I was at the front of the Matchless mountain… If I keep Park Cone to my right and the lake in front of me, then I can’t miss that peak considering I could view it at the top of Park Cone and from the lake down below… It’s always good to have #landmarks to reference when you are hiking… You can always guess where you are pretty accurately if you use your surroundings to guide you… I just had to keep Park Cone to my right and the lake in front of me… then there was no way I could miss the peak…

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It was nice to see the reservoir from a different perspective… There on the other side of the lake is #TaylorPark… I kept on wondering to myself if anyone from #TheNuggetCafe was looking at this mountain as I  was looking at them… I told them to look at the peak tonight because I will definitely have a #campfire burning… I know, I’m like a little kid with this stuff… I love adventures that make me think!

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You can see how steep the face of the mountain is here… Glad I didn’t take that #boat across the lake and try to get up that way…

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I didn’t have much room to maneuver up here… The flat ground was very narrow and the fall looked like quite the long one…

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Matchless Mountain did seem a lot more interesting than Park Cone though… It had a lot more intricate #paths, #SteepCliffs and amazing #RockFormations… Never mind the close up ariel view of this gorgeous reservoir… But there was more climbing to do as you can see, so I put my #BackPack on and started making my way up again… By this time I had been climbing for about two hours…

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Then I hit this grassy area with a lot of #PineTrees… I looked around for the peak but still couldn’t locate anything… There’s Park Cone in the second picture above, peering through the trees… Looks like we have made a lot of progress but I won’t be satisfied until I see the top of that mountain from this one…

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I ran into a couple of #hunters up here… They actually scared the shit out of me! Here I am talking to myself as I hike and I suddenly stumbled upon a kid in his twenties… He was all dressed in #camouflage and had a big #CompoundBow in his hand… #BowHuntingSeason just started this week and this kid was camping up here hoping to score a #Buck… I asked him where the peak to Matchless was and he said I was pretty close… I asked him how long and he said about an hour or more…

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This of course excited me… When I made my way out of the #woods I ran into that boy’s father and brother… They both were also equipped to the max… I just gave them a nod.. they asked if I had seen any bucks… I told them “I wish…” They laughed and we went our separate ways…

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When I got to this clearing, the land leveled out and there was a #trail leading into more #trees… This mountain was larger than I thought… It may be steep getting up at the beginning but there were huge fields in between, still slightly inclined, going towards the top… Then the trail started to lead down hill… I got concerned here until I took a peek to my left…

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Of course the #sun was in perfect position for my revelation… Shining down on the peak of Matchless as if it was an angel… I hurried towards the tree line, still following the #path…

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At first, I was taken aback because the #peak looked nothing like what I had been staring at from The Nugget Cafe… I even doubted if this was the peak at all… But then I realized I’m probable looking at it from a different angle considering I climbed up the side of the mountain… I also reminded myself that it’s going to look a lot different close up considering I will be seeing it 3 dimensionally… When you are looking at these mountains from afar, you are essentially seeing them in one dimension, you are so far away… It’s like looking at a picture and then getting to go into that picture and actually explore it close up… I am fascinated by this because I love to imagine what this mountain will look like close up knowing it will be completely different from what I thought…

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I took a quick rest before heading into the woods to tackle the final part of my climb… I was exhausted by this point, as you can see but excited to set up camp and start exploring my new home for the night…

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It was a little difficult finding the right area to climb… there were a lot of very steep, #RockyAreas… I would have been fine climbing these at the beginning but by now, I was looking for an easier way up… I finally stumbled upon a pretty gradual incline, for a mountain that is… Here’s a really weird plant I found (top right)… Looks like some sort of a cactus or something…

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I would love to pretend that the struggle up the peak of this mountain was as challenging as Park Cone was but it wasn’t… This last stretch was still quite steep but all of the really steep stuff I destroyed at the beginning of this hike, as I suspected… I don’t know if I am just in better shape by now and have gotten used to the #HighAltitude or something, but the last stretch to the top was actually pleasant… There was no hand clawing at the dirt and no #celestial #sunlight gleaming through the #clouds as I tackled the last stretch like #Moses… I was kind of disappointed by this but then reminded myself that you can’t just relive moments like you had at Park Cone when you choose… That’s why they are called spiritual moments… You can’t plan a spiritual moment and if you go out seeking it, it will run away from you… It seems to happen when you least expect it…

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Park Cone was a special experience at a special time in my life… This is a different #journey where I will have different feelings and revelations… or no revelations at all… And trust me, the final part of the climb wasn’t so celestial but what happened when I got up here was…

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So, I was pretty much at the peak of Matchless and could see mountains all around… Absolutely beautiful!

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But there was still a little more to climb to get the full view… The peak of course looked nothing like I had imagined… I thought it would be all smooth rock with no foliage what so ever… But once again my assumptions were completely wrong… The peak didn’t even look that flat from up here… It was more rocky and had bushes growing everywhere… It was still absolutely beautiful though… And if I squinted my eyes, I could vaguely see that silhouette I have admired for so long from below… Now here I was on top of it!

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I thought about climbing to the peak but decided to set #camp first… The guys warned me it gets really cold up here at night… I didn’t want it to get too dark or cold before I set up my tent and got a fire started…

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So, I quickly found a spot to set up camp… The sun was starting to settle by this point and I could feel the air getting cool… It was quite windy up here also… Another reason I didn’t want to set camp on the actual peak because starting a fire up there would have been next to impossible and there were no trees up there to take cover…

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I decided to set up my tent up in the middle of three thick pine trees… It was a perfect location because it fully protected me from the wind and there was a nice small opening where I could start a fire in front… Now if it got really cold, I would be protected by these trees and the fire would heat the inside of my tent from the small opening… then I can blaze the fire all night for heat if need be…

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O.K… So here’s #TheTravelingMac’s 101 on how to set up a tent…

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You first spread out the tent on the ground… Then you read the instructions and…

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Wallah!!!

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Pretty simple right?

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As you can see, I changed my shirt and took off my jacket… My clothes were soaked through with sweat from the 4 hour hike… It is very important that you put a dry shirt on before it gets cold or you could easily get #hypothermia… This is one of the most common mistakes by #hikers and #campers… You need to stay dry no matter what, so it’s always good to have a couple of extra shirts and an extra pair of socks…

If the #Army taught me one thing, it is always keep your feet dry… You hike for too long with wet feet, you will run into some real problems… In the #military, they would stop us mid hike and make us change our socks… then we would hang the wet, sweaty ones on the front of our uniforms to dry… If we needed dry socks again, then we would just put the old dry ones back on… I know it’s gross but this is #survival here, not a trip to the beach…

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After my comfy, temporary home was all set up, I immediately started hunting for #FireWood…

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It was not hard finding dried out #DeadWood up here, let me tell you… There were tons of natural bundles, like this one, everywhere… They were either a combination of #FallenTrees or #DeadTrees that just dried out while still in the ground… The #wood was really light and brittle, it almost felt hollow inside but wasn’t… I knew then and there that this fire was not going to be hard to build…

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If I get one going quickly enough, I could still #hike the rest of this peak and maybe watch the #sunset up there…

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I built a perfect little #FirePit about 10 feet from the opening in the trees which lead to the opening of my #tent… My theory here was that the heat really has no where to go but into the opening of the three trees and into my tent… The #wind was also favoring my theory by blowing towards the opening… Not that the wind had anywhere else to go really because where I set up camp was like a little #WindTunnel, making its way through the trees and into my #campsite…

But that wind tunnel proved to be a real problem when I tried to start the fire… It was blowing so hard, I found it extremely difficult to get even a small flame going… Then to top it off, the altitude up here effects the whole process… The air is so thin up here, it’s next to impossible to get enough #oxygen to start the damn thing…

I hunted around for #kindling small and dry enough to to get a #flame going but everything I was trying was just put out by the mighty wind… I could not get anything to catch fire long enough to spread to the slightly larger wood and tree droppings… I battled at it for at least an hour and it was starting to get #dark… I could feel the #chill coming and was worried I would be struggling to stay warm throughout a sleepless night… What kind of self #ProclaimedSurvivalist was I that I couldn’t even start a fire with dry wood and a lighter?

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But The Traveling Mac lucked out folks! I found some really small twigs under some pine trees that were so small, it took me about 10 minutes to collect a substantial amount… But they proved to be the solution… When I lit these little saviors, they immediately burst into flames… That is when that nemesis wind became my immediate ally… The wind caught that burst of flames and pumped it full of oxygen, spreading it to the rest of the wood… Once the big, dry #twigs started to burn, I knew I was home free! Not that myself blowing at the base of the fire didn’t help… I wonder how foolish I looked, blowing frantically into a pile of wood as I laid on my stomach, praying it would catch fire… If this last try didn’t work, I was definitely in for a cold night…

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Look at that home folks! It’s like a picture on the front of a post card! No money involved really… Just the free nature and what it provides… No mortgage… No down payments… I just pick a spot and make my home… I wish I figured this out earlier in life…

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Me make fire… Fire make me warm… urrrggghhhhh…

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After I got the fire started, I peered up at that peak and contemplated on climbing up there before I ate… But as you can see, it was getting dark and climbing in this lack of light is just plain stupid… Especially since the peak was so steep…

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So, I decided to take some snap shots of my surroundings from down here… or up here… whatever behooves you…

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There’s the peak to Park Cone Mountain… As you can see, we are already higher than that peak and we haven’t even got to the top of this monster yet!

Look at all the mountains miles and miles away… I wish I could wake up to this view every morning… Even though it was chilly up here, the air was fresh and clean smelling as the sunset in the distance…

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I wanted to explore even more but I was starving… Dave, from The Nugget Cafe, was nice enough to put together all the ingredients to make a #PulledPorkWrap… All I had to do was put it together and stuff my face…

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I could only eat half of it though… This altitude really affects your appetite… You get full very quickly, so I put the rest of the sandwich away… to eat tomorrow on my way back down…

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After dinner I quickly got up to go see the sunset… I love this shot of #TaylorParkReservoir peeking through the trees… And there’s the peak I will be tackling first thing in the morning…

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Folks, you can’t create moments… They have to come naturally… No expectations remember…

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Really, who needs to create moments when you are faced with views like these… I was afraid this was all going to be a disappointment compared to Park Cone but boy was I wrong!

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These mountains are so mighty and powerful, if you let them, they will create the moments for you… I found myself thinking about my past… Thinking of what lead me here and all the trials and tribulations I encountered throughout life… They seemed so trivial at the time but now they were just distant memories…

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I thought about my Mums and family… How we have stuck together all of these years through thick and thin… I thought about how cruel people can be and tried to understand why we act in such ways… I thought about my temper and how losing it seemed like such a waste of energy up here… The same feeling I got on top of Park Cone was coming to me up here… That all knowing feeling, like you have everything figured out… A feeling that gave me the confidence to start a new life down below with a whole new outlook on life… It seems so simple up here…

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I thought about all those years I was so focused on success and how I forgot about the simple things in life… Stuck in the city, not knowing I was miserable until I lost my grip on reality…

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I thought about the way I am changing now and how I have throughout the years… Have I grown? Was it for the better? I think so… I hope so…

I thought about how no one could bother me up here and interrupt my thoughts… How my true self could fully express his feelings up here with no judgements or criticism…

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Folks, the sunset was breath taking as that famous burning celestial ball slowly hid behind this picturesque giant hill, leaving a chill that went right up the spine of the mountain… I didn’t want it to be over but it seems moments like these are short lived yet unforgettable…

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I headed back to my new temporary home and waited for the #moon and the #stars to come out… It was so peaceful up here, it brought tears to my eyes… The whole world is so mesmerizing… I can’t believe I have avoided its beauty for so long… What is wrong with me? What is wrong with us?

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It’s all here for us to enjoy for free yet we somehow find ways to avoid this beautiful world and all it has to offer… We would rather go walk around a #Walmart and buy crap that we probably won’t even use… We lock ourselves inside our homes or inside a movie theatre , watching everyone else’s lives, totally ignoring our own…

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We don’t realize it but it’s almost like we are trying to avoid ourselves and any problems we might have by filling up our schedules with meaningless tasks… And when we are not busy, we choose to distract ourselves with video games and reality tv… Not once did I think about my iPhone, which was sitting in my backpack ready to consume my time…

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But how could an iPhone ever compete with this view? Little did I know that it was a full moon tonight and boy did the moon let me know it was there…

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It lit up Matchless like nothing I had ever seen before as it danced behind the few clouds that were hanging in the sky… Beams of light were scattered throughout the trees like nature’s own giant laser light show… I tried my hardest to get a picture of this phenomenal occurrence but it was too dark for my camera to capture… Regardless, these pictures do no justice at all to what I saw first hand on this mountain top… The moon appeared a lot larger in person and it’s mighty light was nothing any technological device could capture…

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I don’t think I could ever get bored up here, not with these sights… It was like an angel was about to appear with all these beams of light, casting down on me and lighting my surroundings … It was so bright, I didn’t even need a flashlight as I took a few minutes to explore…

It was so quiet up here it was eerie and it took me a minute to muster up enough courage to go for a walk… My tent kept on scraping against the tree, as the wind lightly blew at it, making these really creepy noises I would childishly imagine was a #predator hunting for its evening meal…

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But as soon as I got used to my surroundings, I took full advantage of them, curiously looking around, enjoying the fear that laid in the back of my mind… I basically just let the mountain take over, guiding me through my thoughts as I enjoyed the phenomenal sights that were being staged for me…

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Folks, I didn’t want to go to bed… I wanted to stay up all night and relish in this spiritual trance I just rediscovered… But I still hadn’t conquered the task at hand and that was getting to the peak of Matchless Mountain… Remember, I had to be at work at 2pm tomorrow and it was a long hike back down this beautiful beast…

So, I called it a night around 12 and hunkered into my little home… It was kind of cold out but I think the full moon warmed up the area quite a bit… I kept the fire burning just in case but knew I wasn’t going to have a problem when I took my socks off to go to sleep… If you are camping and you don’t need your socks on to keep you warm while you sleep, then you know for sure it isn’t that cold outside…

Folks, I hit the sack and passed out right away… Not once did I wake up throughout the night, that’s how quiet and peaceful it was up here and I wake up at least twice every night when I’m down below… It was the end of another perfect day in the Colorado Mountains…

These mountains are magical, I don’t care what anyone says… I am so happy I stumbled upon this haven and all the ticket cost me was a challenging climb up the side of this mountain… Think of that when you dish out 100’s of dollars for one night out… Goodnight…

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