PostedSep-08-2006 09:39 AM
Altitude11,233.57 ft.
HeadlineAspen to Tomichi Pass
Entry The next morning we look outside to looming skies completely taking for granted what has been beyond perfect weather up to this piont in the trip.

With more updates and IT work to be done we try to knock out early in the morning as Patricia gives us a walk through tour of Aspen. With no music in the apartment we jump on 40% Steve's website and jam out forcing us to reminice about the Indy party. Wish we could experience that one over again. The place has a definite LA feel, no question. It's as if LA had met its mountain village.

Once finishing with what can be done and seeing that the weather is still looking spotty we grab dinner with Patricia before she heads off to work. Being at this altitude, a change is weather can mean serious problems if stuck on a mountain pass where paths can be quickly snowed over and puddles lining the trail can freeze, leaving few options for getting back down. The crowd is anxious to hang out with Patricia and when she gets off work they meet up to hang out. Moral of today, rain sucks.

With weather still a pressing issue, we part ways with our new friend, Austin and wait the day out before taking off that afternoon. We wrap around the southwest side of Aspen and up into what must be noramally used as a service road for the Aspen skiing resort and with the trail being wet and muddy it begins to get a little hairy at times. Along the way we spot an odd but awesome octagon shaped home lit up alone on the trail before winding our way down towards Taylor Pass.

With the wet conditions we're not sure if we're interested in taking on the pass this late at night and pull over in search of a campground near the Ashcroft Ghost Town. With the laptop on another random car pulls up in search of the ghost town but it seems strangely late for them to be exploring. We don't ask questions and check out the National Geographic software to point them in the right direction. This whole scene begins to weird us out and when someone with a flash light begins quickly tromping down towards the truck from a large cabin on the hill we drive on regardless.

It's not long before we find a road leading to a hiking trail set far back from the street where there is trailhead parking but with the rain now picking up we feel too lazy to bother getting wet and pass out in the car. This is a mistake. With the amount of gear packed into the rig there is very little room for laying out. Han shuffles stuff in the back seat to make a path for himself and I tilt back the passenger seat. I couldn't count how many different positions I tried throughout the night trying to get comfortable but none seemed to work. At one point I laid sweaters across the shifter and rested my hip in front of the consol placing my head on the drivers seat and my legs on the passenger.

The hard part about doing this (though there is more than one) is my head would only barely wedge between the seat and the steering wheel. Waking up a few times in frustration you have to fight the claustrophbia of not being able to move your head without strategically thinking about how to go about it. Somehow we make it to the following day and the light is welcomed with open arms.

Creaking and cracking we turn upright in our seats and Hanley goes to start the truck. Nothing. After some deliberation we decide its the battery but have no idea how it was drained. Interior lights are off, inverter was on but that's gone days before without being a problem. We look to our left and though neither of us heard them pull in there sits (at 8 in the morning) a white Dodge Magnum rental with a guy just sitting there. This whole thing feels like a weird dream and knocking on the window a cheery Brit is more than happy to help us out.

Traversing the United States he'd arrived early to the trailhead to get a hike in before there might be any crowd and was just waiting for the rain to settle. Our luck is ridiculous. He gives us a jump and taking some small jabs at his rental saving the day for such an overly decked out rig, takes off on his hike. Wow. So, so, so random.

We're off and onto Taylor pass coming to one point where the wheel base has less than a foot to play with over looking a rock slide cliff that we take plenty of time creeping along. With multiple creek crossings and navigating fairly rough terrain we wind our way to Tin Cup pass. Though we'd heard more ominous remarks regarding Tin Cup nothing that day seemed to equal the tight squeezes of Taylor.

Entering the town of Hancock with the rain still drizzling, the town seems to be made up of hunting cabins and serves otherwise as a mining ghost town. With "private property" and "keep out" signs lining the buildings we've seen friendlier places and after continuously looking, can't seem to find the entrance to Hancock Pass.

We double back asking a group of hunters stepping off their quads and after checking out our route are urged not to attempt Tomichi Pass (just following Hancock Pass) in the dark. They point us in the right direction and mark a spot on the map where we can camp that evening near a mine at the foot of Tomichi.

Making our way up exploring crumbling mining buildings, one of the hunters stops while passing us. He's on his way up to scout the direction of the herd of elk they're going after two days from now. I had no idea the process was this in depth but he points out that without scouting the group would be looking for a lottery ticket expecting to come upon them. He generously points our a hidden turn as we climb in elevation towards the foot of Tomichi. That night we muster about in the rain cooking what food we have left and begin to take notice that routes marked easy to hard are really boring to awesome.