Week 10: Molas Pass to Estes Park

So, I climbed all the way up and down 14,015-ft Mt. Wetterhorn, through treacherous Class 3 terrain, and the worst injury I received was when I returned to the trailhead, found a flat tire, and stabbed myself in the knee with a metal tool while trying to yank out a lug nut. I completely failed to appreciate the irony. Less painful, but more persistent, were the ants that chewed my legs as I straddled an anthill while cranking up the jack. I had chosen the wrong place to get a flat tire, and the situation was only going to get crazier from here.



The spare in place, I drove a quarter-mile down the valley to pick up my tent, but I had to disturb the meal of a grazing marmot as I backed the Jeep into the grass by my campsite. The fat, furry rodent fled the scene and chittered angrily at me from behind the trunk of a ponderosa pine. I ignored its beady black eyes and concentrated on loading my gear before the afternoon thunderstorms arrived. And then, unaware of the mischief that was about to be perpetrated, I descended to the stream to wash off the day’s dust and sweat.

After becoming cleaner and chillier, I got back into the Jeep and headed out of the San Juan Mountains. Prior to the flat tire, my destination for the evening had been Keystone, Colorado, where I’d intended to meet up with a young bride-to-be, to seek approval for the song I composed for her wedding this Sunday. As I worried over my musical responsibilities, my nose began to twitch, and I became aware of a burning smell that was drifting through my window. It didn’t smell good. So, I stopped the Jeep in the middle of the rutted dirt road, stepped out, and popped open the hood to see if my engine might be causing the stench.


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