Some days, it pays to have a magic carpet. Even better if that magic carpet features kevlar tires and a powerful engine. On this particular morning, we set out for the trail head at the top of the Castle Creek road in the 4×4. After turning onto the four wheel “road” – which can only charitably be labeled as a road by most people – we pass several hikers making their way to the more vertical part of the climb up to the Castle summit.
As we set out across some loose rock, we readily pick up a good trail that we can see extends all the way up the face of the mountain with a few switchbacks. We’re well above tree line here so we’re totally exposed. However, the weather looks good with a slight build up of cloud mass in the far distance. We’re confident we’ll see both summits today.
We reach the ridge near the top of Castle affording some really great views. There is a signature scent of Colorado – a plant that smells rather ‘herbal’ – and we stop to photograph its beautiful color against the azure skies. We’re definitely excited about reaching the summit as we can start to see people traversing across to Conundrum, and the snowfields below hint at the fun in store on the sloping terrain. We may see some glissade action on this trip!
As we summit Castle, we break out the snacks. The altitude and sheer beauty of this summit have my feeling a bit giddy and next think you know, I’ve grabbed my pole and am gesticulating wildly in a sort of homage to Elaine from Seinfeld.
My hiking partners urge me to imitate Elaine again, and this time I know I am doomed as the GoPro records this auspicious moment for posterity. Pole, leg, arm…thrust…and pole and arm-leg-twitch. Boom! Elaine on the summit.
“Oh Lord,” I mutter…”My son is going to see this.” Whether it is the thin air, the fabulous company or the perfect weather…I blame it on the heady combination of all as we break out in dance at the summit once again.
Next, we gather our senses…we’ve watched Steve swing his club, took photos, and digested the views and now we are ready to make the traverse to the next summit.
Thanks for the great pics, Jenn Steve & Alvin!
There are magnificent views flanking both sides now as we trace the route across to Conundrum. Along the way, we note that there is a man who seems to have taken a lesser used route off the saddle. He rests just above a snow patch so we watch with great interest to see if the snow field is passable. After a few minutes, we decide that the path is viable and determine to look at this route on the way back from the next summit.
We are there at the summit of Conundrum in no time at all, and again find our marker. Golf swing, photos, digest more views…it’s a perfect day. We trade glances as we determine if we have one more silly dance amongst us and determine that the higher priority is to find a good route down.
The man that we observed previously has since trekked across the snow field, so we take the more direct route that he took. Soon, we are sitting at the top of the snow field. There, extending about 200 feet, is a nicely shaped half-moon shaped snow path, smooth like the surface of an alpine slide. We urge each other to go first…but soon we are all giggling like school kids playing hooky as we lurch into the tunnel with our backpacks and glissade effortlessly down the mountainside.
Next thing you know, there are several glissades stretching out before us. With each descent, we get bolder. By the fourth stretch of snow patch, we’re taking running starts to get more speed. I feel myself go airborne after one particularly fun bump, and I start praying to stay upright. Whooooosh! We’re all having so much fun that we’ve caught the eye of other hikers, who are now following our tracks.
After several glissades, we reach the bottom with bottoms intact but slightly bruised. Great day!