There you sit, trapped behind your Electronic Bombardment Device, working slowly on that flourescent tan, typing your day away with that relentless 'clickclickclick' of the keyboard. 'Clickclickclick'. 'Clickclickclick'. On and on and on and - beep! What was that? Wait - a mail message! Oh, hot diggity-dog, something to break the monotony of the day! Quickly you work your way into your mail and pull up the message - only to find, as you moan your dismay, it's...
another (boring) Indiana Mark Adventure!
"Oh, Gawd," you mutter as your eyes begin to read, your fingers poised over the 'Delete Now!' key. "He's returned..."
Indy was a gumby at climbing this year. He had spent much of his time working, or doing other non-climbing stuff. When he could get out, the Weather God had successfully kept Indy's time out on the rocks to a minimum. His skills weren't where they should be; Indy sucked. But if he got the chance to head West, Indy vowed he would climb what he could...and even ordered up a new pair of climbing shoes just in case the opportunity arose.
One day Indy was quietly pouring over the latest Hubble data, seeking to unlock the secrets of the Universe (or, at the very least, figure out why a particular observation would not process properly through the processing pipeline) when his boss approached him.
"Indy, your vacation hours are reaching ceiling limits. You are now hereby ordered to depart for a duration of no less than one month."
Indy thought this over for a long time (re: a few milliseconds). "Well, if you insist..." he replied.
Indy's mind churned, remembering his latest adventure up the high peak of Mt Washington (and his latest tangle with the Weather God there), and the note he found saying 'Go West'. This was his chance. Now, here. He would go. One month to search for the fabled Ark! He might even have a chance now of locating it.
With a whirl and a flourish spin, Indy announced, "I'm gone!", and he indeed vanished. It was the evening of July 3rd. The aliens had come and started to take over the Earth. But Indy had no time to deal with such trivialities; after all, the next day was Independence Day. The army would find a way to deal with this. Indy disappeared into the night, having quickly loaded his Indymobile with a month's worth of supplies (sans new climbing shoes, since they had failed to arrive in time), and coordinated with a number of his contacts to inform them he was on his way.
"No, no! Don't come!!", they had pleaded, not wanting to have first-hand experience with the Weather God. But it was too late; Indy was on his way...
July 4th-7th - On The Road
Indy awoke early in the morning in a Pennsylvania rest stop just outside of Pittsburgh, and fired up the Indymobile. Off he spun to Lafayette, Indiana, where his friend, Helga-Monster, lived. A brief overnight stop there (where he tried to teach Helga-monster how to skip stones, and she tried to teach Indy how to fish, and both enjoyed an Asian barbeque dinner that Helga-monster's housemate put together), and Indy was gone again. Off to...Normal, Illinois.
The Plan here was to stop in, meet up with some netfriends for lunch, do a quick quiz for Ark information (since the local rivers were rather flooded, mayhap they have seen the Ark floating by), and then zip off to Missouri, to do battle with the Nazi Drivers and seek higher ground. But the best laid plans...
Indy left Illinois a few days later, having been detained by the local Fauna. This was actually a Good Thing(tm) in many ways, as Indy got in some relaxation that he had not had in a while (although he was also severely tortured with an Achy Breaky song - <shudder!>), and the Weather God's preparations and plannings were thrown all askew. Try as he might, the poor Weather God never really recovered from this sudden change in Indy's plans.
By late in the evening of the 7th Indy finally extricated himself from Normal (which really isn't as normal a place as you might think) and bolted for Missouri. Destination: Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri.
Indy arrived to the vicinity of Taum Sauk Mtn late, very late, and took a quick nap. It was foggy out, damp. The Weather God was stirring something up...
July 8th - Destination: The Plains
Sunrise. Indy awoke after a few hours sleep to a humid, overcast morning. He quickly got out his Tome Of High Knowledge, in order to locate the summit of Taum Sauk Mtn. He read the description, and, munching on a pop-tart, marched off to locate this lofty vista.
Only to quickly realize after a few hundred feet the description in the Tome (which was written a decade earlier) beared no resemblance to reality. Landmarks (full houses) were missing, the path disappeared. Indy ended up kinda faking it...and stumbling across a camping area, one that wasn't on the Map Located Inside The Tome Of High Knowledge(tm).
"Weird," thought Indy. He poked around, wandered about. He thought about going back to the car and getting a poncho or something. The skies were looking a little more threatening, and there was...something...in the air. Weather God influences...
Pushing onward, foresaking the poncho, or anything else, Indy explored. And found...a concrete pathway. With a sign that said, 'This Way, boy, to the Summit'. Indy followed it. Sure enough, it led him right to the summit of Taum Sauk Mountain, a full 1,772 feet above sea level.
"It's cloudy, overcast, partly-froggy, and I'm in the middle of the woods!" exclaimed Indy, "I can't see a thing from here!"
Sighing, Indy began to take the mile bushwack back to the car. Thunder began rumbling in the distance.
Indy arrived his vehicle unmolested by the Weather God, and zoomed off. Destination: Mt Sunflower in Kansas, and then to Sherpa-Poe's place in Colorado. Indy had many, many hours drive ahead of him yet.
In short order, as Indy navigated through the Ozarks, the Weather God found him, and wailed upon Indy with gallons of water, and electrical discharges only hundreds of feet from the Indymobile. Indy, undaunted, drove on. And in a short 20 minutes (with visibility akin to that of the bottom of Lake Erie), Indy was out of it. The Weather God roared, but could do nothing to reverse the track of his storm. Indy continued on...out of the Ozarks, out of Missouri, and...into...Kansas...
Indy had heard many a horror-tale about the drive across Kansas. "Nonsense," Indy thought, "Nothing can be that bad!"
However, Indy soon learned...Kansas goes on for miles...and miles...and miles...and miles...and miles...and miles...and miles...and miles...and...
Out of radio range, books-on-tape and audio recordings of Babylon 5 sustained Indy through this ever unchanging enviroment. The sun moved across the sky, but Indy, it appeared, seemed to never move at all. Despite the fact he was cranking out at 75+ (the highways west of the Mississippi go at a wonderous 75 mph, unlike the pokey 65 and 55 mphs ones back East), the perspective and view never changed. On, and on, and on, and on, and...
An hour before sunset Indy finally got off the Endless Highway(tm), and wandered through dusty dirt/gravel/stone-filled roadways/paths to...the alpine heights of Kansas - Mt Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas (an ear-popping 4,039' above sea level). Upon arriving at the base of this majestic rise (at around 3,990' above sea level) he began the arduous trek up the remaining few hundred feet that lay between his car and the summit, via the South Face. Upon arriving at the top, there was a note: "Congratulations, O'Wanderer! You have successfully climbed Mt Sunflower via either the South or East Faces! The North and West Faces are accessible only by cattle-like creatures that inhabit the region. If you are seeking The Ark, you are too late; it was never here. Go back and try another mountain. Thank you."
With a sigh Indy returned to his Indymobile, fired up the tired engine, and drove onward into the sunset and night, to Colorado, arriving his destination (Ft Collins, Sherpa Poe Headquarters) some hours later. Upon arrival Indy collapsed in exhaustion.
July 9th - The Weather God Strikes
The day was dreary. Throughout the previous day while travelling in Kansas it had been bright, sunny, and hot. But now, here in Ft Collins, it was overcast, drizzly, and downright chilly. Indy chuckled. The Weather God was going to try and put a damper on his plans for the day, but little did the Weather God know Indy's plans were...to recover and rest from the arduous journey across the millions of miles of Kansas. "Rain away," called Indy to the sky, who had no plans to go climbing or hiking or anything of that sort. Indy spent the day with the Sherpa Poe Family, repacking the Indymobile, taking over the Sherpa Poe Headquarter Garage with his gear, and being assaulted by finely trained mini-Sherpas throughout the day (gaining respite only during the nap-hour). Indy also made a few calls, contacting various netfriends across the state, to announce his arrival, and to prepare them for any impending visits he might have in store. No one had any information about the Ark they were willing to give Indy over the phone. The day turned from dreary and drizzly to downpouring by sunset. Things did not bode well for Indy's planned Ark-searches come the morrow.
July 10th - Climbing with Mattie-Meister
The morning proved to be once again overcast and threatening. Indy arose after a restful night's sleep (well, okay, a few hours sleep) and wound his way south to Boulder, Colorado, to meet with the infamous net-climber Mattie The Hatter. Breakfast and Ark-discussions were the principle order of business. As they dined in a little greasy-spoon-like place, the weather cleared. Mattismo suggested they head to Eldorado Canyon, and do a little climbing. Indy warned Mattie that the only shoes he had to climb in was a mis-matched pair due to the toes on opposite feet of each pair being blown out. Mattie pshah'd Indy and off they went, to explore Eldorado Canyon. The sun came out, the clouds cleared off, and the day warmed.
It was decided that to keep things simple, Mattie would drive her Mattiemobile (since she had a sticker that allowed relatively free access to Eldo; otherwise one would have to pay an exorbant amount of 200 pennies) and they would play on Supremacy Slab (since many of the multi-pitch routes were taken, and it was getting on to be the afternoon hours).
Supremacy Slab is one of the shorter outcroppings of rock in Eldorado Canyon, relatively easy to set up a top-rope or two on. However, when the Dynamic Duo arrived, they found the entire length of the Slab already rigged. "Bummer," thought Indy.
The two approached the people who were climbing on the rocks (actually, they were all kinda just hanging around at the base; no one was climbing, and most of them were kids). Mattie inquired if Indy and she could possibly drop a rope or two on the routes next to the ropes the group wasn't using. The group leader offered instead for Indy and Mattie to go ahead and use their (the group's) ropes, saving time setting up additional ropes that would just cover the same ground. The group was taking a break to have lunch. Happily Indy and Mattie thanked the leader and harnessed up (with Mattie getting a serious kick out of the one blue/turqoise and one yellow/grey climbing shoes Indy was sporting that day).
First the two played on Practice Slab (which is the shorter of the two Supremacy Slab outcroppings, and doesn't appear in many Boulder guidebooks). They played and played, and then Mattie announced It Was Time.
"Time for what??" asked the leery Indy.
"To climb blind, silly!" giggled the Meister, "This time let go your conscious self, and act on instinct"
Indy gulped as Mattie tied a red bandana around his eyes. "But..with the blindfold on I can't even see," said Indy, stating the obvious, "How am I supposed to climb?"
"Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them," replied Mattie.
Resigned to his fate, Indy began to climb. He made a few hesitant moves and faltered for a moment, unsure of how to proceed.
"Stretch out with your feelings." advised Mattie 'Obi-Wan' Meister.
"That's good. You've taken your first steps into a larger world," replied Mattie.
A passerby called up, "Hokey religions and ancient bandanas are no match for a good 'biner at your side, kid!" Mattie fired a rock (small) off at him, and he scurried away.
Once Mattie finished her little blind-climbing practice run, the two moved up to Supremacy Slab Direct, and each did a run up the longer Supremacy Slab route. A very nice 5.9 route, the climb changed characteristics several times while maintaining its slabbiness, requiring a little forethought as one climbed up. It was a neat little (60'? 80'?) route. Indy wished they had started over on that one first. But the day was done, and both Mattie and Indy were pretty wiped. "Time to retire for the day," stated Mattie. Off they went, Indy eventually returning to Ft Collins again, and the Sherpa Poe Headquarters.
July 11th - More Climbing!
[Unbeknownst to Indy, his brand new climbing shoes finally arrive in Baltimore; too bad he's in Colorado and cannot get them...]
Indy awoke once again early, and headed once again back down to Boulder. This time, to meet and climb with The Valkyrie, and meet Dannie, another netfriend. Arriving Christine's place the two decided to head up Boulder Canyon. Indy placed a quick call to Dannie and her friend, telling them where to meet, and off they roared.
Dannie and her friend arrive a few minutes after Indy and the Valkyrie do. The foursome decide to head up to...The Dome. In short order (getting off-trail a bit on the clambor up the hill - Indy was never one to take the beaten path) they were at the base of the rocks. Indy's eyes grazed across the granite features before him. "Too cool..." he mumbled.
Indy and Dannie's friend headed top-side to set up a top-rope on the right-most portion of the slab, for Dannie and her friend to climb on. Originally they were all going to climb as a party of 4, but only Indy and the Valkyrie had brought any ropes - and that was one each. So Dannie and her friend would top-rope a bit while Indy and the Valkyrie would climb East Slab (or Easy Slab; Indy saw two different names for this route in different guidebooks).
East/Easy Slab is rated at 5.5, harder than easy, but easier of the moderate range routes. And it is one of the Boulder Classics. It's not terribly long: barely more than a pitch, and if one wants to, they can combine pitches 1 and 2 together with little difficulty (pitch 2 is, shall we say, rather short, being maybe 30' or so, tops).
East/Easy Slab starts up some broken vertical rock, following a left-leaning crack for a ways across the face. The protection is good (until the crack runs out, right before the crux), the moves are neat, and the granite is awesome. Indy, climbing in his mismatched and clunky shoes, managed to deal with things quite well (the Valkyrie 'allowed' Indy the honor of doing the leads since he's not been here much, and never to this outcropping). Indy happily went forward. Then he hit the 5.5 section, and things got...as Mattie-meister put it to him later, 'sporty'. No protection (the crack vanished) and a blank face section was before him. "Urrrrrr....gee. This is fun," thought Indy. A couple of hesitant starts off the top end of the crack, and Indy went for it. A couple of 'sporty' (read: dicey) 5.5 frictiony moves later, he was on nicer ground (read: place with partially real handholds again). Compared to other places Indy's climbed at that required friction (eg, Stone Mountain in North Carolina, Whitehorse Ledges in New Hampshire), this ranked up there as being a bit slipperier in the crux section.
Or maybe Indy was just being a climbing gumby still. Who knows.
Indy worked through the moves ahead of him to a nice little corner stance under a pseudo-roof. Nice little sloping place to set up a belay and hang out. So he did so. Plugging in a few pieces for an anchor, he was set. The Valkyrie then started up herself, and in short order was beside Indy at the belay.
"You want to take the last pitch?" offered Indy.
"No, you go ahead. It just goes around this corner here, up a few feet, and you're there."
Indy reracked the gear, and with the Valkyrie belaying, headed up. First he had to pull around a bulging portion of the wall, which proved to not be exactly trivial, and kinda neat. Once he popped atop of that, he traversed over onto easier and easier and easier ground. In short order he was atop the cliff, amidst a jumble of broken boulders. Quickly he set up a belay and brought the Valkyrie up.
"That was fun! Thanks," said Indy
The Valkyrie just smiled, as if to say 'your trials have just begun...'. But she said nothing.
The two worked their way back down to Dannie and her friend, who were just happily playing around on the rocks. Indy had to take the Valkyrie off to work, and promised to be back as soon as he could. "See you!" yelled Dannie and her friend as Indy and the Valkyrie found the real path down the hill and headed out.
Once down to the cars again, it was a short trip to NCAR, where the Valkyrie works. "Ooooo! NCAR; you guys monitor the Weather God's movements and stuff!!" exclaimed Indy.
"Well, actually, not all of us," confessed the Valkyrie, "I personally am doing a research study on the effects of how the butterflies in Tokyo beat their wings (and the frequency of said wingbeats) and correlating it to the weather conditions that occur in Nova Scotia two days later."
"Oh..." said the subdued Indy.
The Valkyrie did take Indy on a quick tour of the facilities, though, and in the process they came upon the infamous Colorado Cliff Swallow, netter and climber-surpreme whom Indy met during his last foray in these parts. Turns out that the Cliff Swallow and the Valkyrie are main climbing partners. They exchanged climbing stories about Indy before him.
"You know, he can almost climb for real," said the Valkyrie.
"You must forgive him, grasshopper," said the more knowledgeable Cliff Swallow, "for he is an Easterner, and a flatlander besides."
"I'm going to go up Mt Elbert tomorrow!" piped up Indy, hoping to promote confidence in his abilities, if not his enthusiasm, to the two Coloradans. They just looked at him sadly, as if to say 'you poor boy, you are toast.'. But they smiled and said encouraging words.
With the Cliff Swallow returning to her work, and the Valkyrie heading off for a shower and then her work (they have full-on showers at that facility!), Indy made a dash into town, to call the Mattie-Monster, to let her know that his afternoon was pretty free if she wanted to join Dannie, her friend, and him up in Boulder Canyon (and to bring extra ropes). Mattie was tired from working all night and decided that Indy should pick her up before he headed back up into the Canyon again. Ashamed at his callous thinking, Indy fought his way through Boulder traffic (and every fricking red light that existed) to get to Matismo. Once there they piled back in his car and headed up to Boulder.
"We have to hurry; Dannie and her friend have been up there forever and are probably bored stiff!" said Indy.
They arrived in short order (only a few hours after Indy had left). Dannie's friend's car was still there. The two bolted for where Indy had left them. Only to discover that Dannie and her friend had vanished. "Short girl, red hair, kinda cute? Oh, yeah, she and her friend, they done left about 10 minutes ago," said one of the climbers waiting in the now-formed line to do East/Easy Slab. Indy dropped his gear and tore back down the hillside (did I mention it was rather steep?) to catch up with Dannie.
Alas, all was in vein; the waters had risen and selectively washed Dannie, her friend, and her friend's car away. "If only I had the Ark!!!" cried out Indy. He tiredly slogged back up the hillside to Mattie once again (did I mention it had actually started to get very warm - almost hot - out and that this is at altitude? No?? Well, it was, and it is...).
"What will I tell her mother??" moaned Indy.
Mattie patted the sad Indy on his head. "There, there. It'll be okay. Tell her the Weather God came and swept Dannie up off her feet. Let's go to Eldo and climb."
So off they went (though Indy tried to press for going to the Flatirons, Mattie was firm on Eldo). They arrived, parked, and headed up to Wind Tower. Mattie wanted to check out West Crack, which is rated 5.2 and is considered a 'classic'.
"I want to know how a simple 5.2 gets a 'classic' rating" she stated.
They clambored up the 3rd/4th class approach, only to find a couple people already on West Crack. Mattie decided she and Indy would do West Dihedral, instead, the 5.4 that went up the corner to the far right of West Crack. "Okay," replied the exhausted Indy (he was tired from running all over the place, and still trying to deal with the oxygen levels at more than a mile above sea level - did I ever mention how much living at sea level sucks?).
Mattie proceeded to lead West Dihedral with nary a pause to put pro it (it kinda just slipped off her gear rack and inserted itself into the rock as she climbed on; somehow the rope clipped itself to the gear as she passed). In short order Matismo was at the belay, and Indy prepared to follow.
As Indy put on his mixed pair of shoes, the shoelaces on his older rattier pair of shoes disintegrated - "Argh!!" shouted Indy, who really wanted his new shoes and cursed those whom delayed the mailing and delivery of the same. With no makeshift resources available, Indy proceeded to climb with one shoe tied, one shoe sans shoelaces. Made an otherwise fairly simple and straightforward route a leettle more interesting. For the most part the route was uneventful. A pleasant ramp to a corner, then up a corner following relatively easy ground. Indy was wondering how this was rated '5.4' until he got to the final couple moves - when suddenly the route 'developed character'.
"Hey! It got hardish all of a sudden," exclaimed Indy.
Mattie-monster just giggled. "Get up here you silly boy!"
Once up, Mattie set up the rappel, and down the two went. They chatted briefly with the other couple on the 5.2 route, as the other couple packed to depart. Once they were gone, Mattie and Indy played on the 5.2 for a short while (which was actually quite a nice wide-ish crack that went up the left side of the face there for ~80' or so; quite a pleasant little climb, worthy of being labelled 'classic'). Once they were done, they departed, and headed back to Mattie's place.
There Indy took a brief nap (can you say 'exhausted' boys and girls? I knew you could!), then jumped back into his car, roaring off (as best as his little car would do at 5000+ feet altitude) to the base of Mt Elbert, the highest mountain in Colorado, and second highest in the contiguous continental US. Indy realized that since he did not leave Boulder until 7:00pm, he would not arrive until well after dark. He had hoped to actually get there before sunset, but...climbing. It'll just suck the time outta ya every time.
The drive to the base of Elbert (and the Half Moon Campground) was mostly uneventful. Whenever Indy hit any kind of hill, his poor little sea-level-oriented car s-l-o-w-e-d w-a-y d-o-w-n. Pulling some of the 11,000' passes really took a toll on his little car. BUT...they made it. Well after sunset they arrived to the Half Moon Campground.
Indy arrived to the Half Moon Campground area around 10pm. He then sought out (in the dark) the trailhead to Mt Elbert. No, not to start climbing now, but to find it so he could get going first thing in the morning. He found a trailhead, but it wasn't marked as being any particular trailhead. Indy checked with his Tome Of Not-So-Infinite-Knowledge, but it proved useless. Indy did find a parking area down the road (dirt) a bit from the trailhead that said 'Mt Elbert/Mt Massif'. Wasn't totally clear (at 10:30pm) if the trailhead he found was the Mt Elbert one, or if the Mt Elbert trailhead was elsewhere in the region. Indy went back to the trailhead and found a register. Within he found that 90% of the people who signed in indicated their destination was Mt Elbert. With this knowledge, Indy figured either the trail lead directly to Mt Elbert, or led to a trail that led to Mt Elbert. Satisfied with this knowledge (he had little choice; there was nothing else around to verify anything), Indy sought out a place to set up camp. A short piece down the [dirt] road he actually found an empty site. He pulled in, and set up camp. Indy looked over the brilliant stars above, set his alarm for 3:30am, and crawled in to the tent, and went to sleep. It was 11:30pm.
July 12th - Mt Elbert
Indy awoke after a restless sleep 4 hours later. He was anxious to get on the trail as soon as possible. Why? Why so early? Well, although he was camping out at around 10,100' feet, he has only been at 5,000'+ for about 5 days, and it was a 4.1 mile hike to the summit at 14,433' - making a total altitude gain in the neighborhood of 4,300'. Indy anticipated a slow slog up the hill. In addition to this, Indy is also fairly familiar with basic Weather God Antics in the high terrain of the Rockies: you want to have summitted and be on your way down from the mountain by noon, lest the afternoon t-storms catch you unwares. Indy, having had more than his share of Weather God fun, really was hoping to get to the summit and be on his way down by 10:30am. He wasn't taking any chances. Indy broke camp, and drove to the parking area he found the night before.
At 4:25am Indy was on the trail, chomping on a pop-tart. The skies were beginning to slowly brighten (they were brilliantly clear and dark when Indy first woke, and the stars...they were just kicking! And when Venus crested a hillside, it cast shadows in the wood around Indy; too cool...). The sun would be up in a couple hours. Indy only needed a flashlight to follow the trail for about 40 minutes. After that, the twilight was bright enough for him to see perfectly without the use of artificial light. Even in the middle of the woods.
The tail to the summit of Mt Elbert up the North East Ridge is pretty straightforward. It has very few switchbacks (read: none), and is fairly easy to follow. A decent trail, no tricky stuff to it. Other than it goes straight up! Gah!! Man, was it a killer trail. Indy was huffin' and puffin' the whole way. Straight up...<puff><puff>...straight up...
Indy's altimeter watch wasn't calibrated properly (not knowing exactly the altitude of the trailhead, Indy wasn't able to fix this), but he thought it was reasonably close. He trudged up and up and up, and finally, up ahead of him, he saw the summit rise before him. Yes! To the left of the summit rise were snowfields against the steeper walls, and all around him was an alpine meadow that was full of flowers (no Indian Paintbrush, however; but plenty of other types of flowers which Indy's knowledge is limited in identifying). Indy could even see the trail heading up the right shoulder of this rise to the summit. Indy bent his head forward and trudged on, feeling a little light-headed from the altitude.
Mind you, the trudging was rather slow. It involved moving ahead along the trail for 10, 20 feet, then stopping, catching his breath. Then moving ahead another 5 or 10 or 20 feet, then stopping again for a few minutes. Slow going, this high altitude stuff. But Indy was undaunted. Whenever he stopped, he gazed about at the rising scenery around him. Mountains, mountains, everywhere, but too far away to climb. Indy drank in the scenery, especially the mountain chain to the immediate north (which Indy is identifying as the Mt Massif chain). Verra neat valley to the immediate west of what Indy believes to be Mt Massif. Then looked ahead, Indy plowed on. And on...and on...and on...
As Indy progressed, he realized that the rise he was going up...wasn't the summit! "<groan!>" groaned Indy. "False summit!" Indy hates false summits - especially when they come as a surprise.
Mt Elbert False Summit
Indy looked ahead to the next rise. Again he could see the trail - going straight up the side of the rise. Indy sighed (heavy sigh). More straight up hiking. Indy was at about 13,000' and the lightheadedness was getting worse. Indy ate snacks and drank from his 3 liters of liquid (2 of water, 1 of gatorade). Indy figured at the rate he was going, he would make it most of the way back down before running out of water. He trudged (slowly) onward...
At 8:25am Indy reached the summit. Tired, dizzy, exhausted, he flopped down onto the ground next to the summit register and register flag (someone before Indy brought up a small American flag and planted it at the summit; people have signed it since then, as the register was WAY too full to sign; Indy decided to not sign the flag or register, but instead wrote up one postcard). After Indy got his breath back, he stood and looked around, absorbing the fantastic mountain terrain that surrounded him, and...looking for the Ark. He figured from the highest mountain in Colorado he'd have a chance.
Instead, he saw about 15 miles to the west, and heading towards him, the Weather God. "<groan>" groaned Indy, "here he comes..." Indy packed up and sped back down the mountainside again, after only a mere 20 minutes up there (never saw the Ark, or any clues about it).
On his way down he met the first person he'd seen since the day before, running up the side of Mt Elbert. A guy named Alex from New Mexico. Indy asked him about the Ark, but no help there; Alex was preparing for a footrace up Pike's Peak in a month, and knew nothing about the Ark. Indy wished him luck on the race, and they went their opposite ways.
A few minutes later Alex was running down the side of the mountain. "I've been to the summit, did it in 1 hour 55 minutes," Alex stated, "and I have seen the Weather God in the distance; I'm outta heah!" With that, Alex bolted down the mountain, not to be seen again. Indy plodded downward as best he could...
As it turned out, the Weather God had diverted his course and headed south; Indy never got hit with anything. He did see other Mt Elbert Pilgrims working their way up to the summit, to offer their various sacrifices to whomever they were offering sacrifices to. None had any knowledge about the Ark. Save one, whose 40th birthday was this day, and was climbing to see if he could still do it. He told Indy to seek The Potato. "'The Potato'," Indy asked puzzledly. But his benefactor was already zooming up the trail, and didn't turn back. Indy went on, and reached his car a few hours later. By now it was noonish. Indy had a second lunch (the first being partway down the mountain), took a very brief nap (knowing he'd need sleep before heading back to Boulder, where he was to link up with the Valkyrie, the Cliff Swallow, and others, for an expedition to the legendary lands of Vedauwoo that evening), then got on the road.
Again, a slowish drive in the mountains, with the poor Indymobile struggling as best it could up the mountain passes and inclines. But finally, a few hours later, Indy was back in Boulder, and at the Valkyrie's place. Within an hour the rest of the gang arrived. And in two cars (the Valkyrie's sporty race car, and the Cliff Swallow & Britt's VanAgain) the half dozen adventurers headed up to Wyoming, and to the aforementioned legendary lands of Vedauwoo.
They arrived after dark, and took the first likely camp area they could in the wilderness. In short order the group set up camp. While scouting for a place to drop his tent, Indy noted they were not alone; across the road, behind a rise was another tent. The Wilderness was fairly popular, it seemed (as the group drove back a fair ways from Vedauwoo to find a place to set up), but nowhere near as crowded as camping usually gets back East, noted Indy. Paying no mind to the neighbors, the exhausted Indy set up his tent, crawled in, dropped off into a deep sleep. The last things he heard were the tent neighbors returning from where ever it was they had been for the evening...