Ryan Haugh and Bobby Burns probably don’t know it, but they played a vital role in making the Outdoor Recreation program’s Thanksgiving tripa success.
It was Saturday, Nov. 21, and the van was packed. Stephan Boleng, Jim DeLung, Travis Moody, and Myles Spencer thought they were ready to go when DeLung, the trip leader, noticed something very important was missing: snow chains for the rear tires.
The group was preparing to begin a week-long trip consisting of hiking and snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, Roosevelt National Forest, and Indian Peaks Wilderness. Their destination was a cabin in a remote, heavily wooded area in between Lyons and Allenspark. ORP took their Thanksgiving break trip to the same cabin last year, and they only had to put chains on the tires once. But having been caught unprepared in situations in the past, DeLung was determined to get a set of chains before leaving Rangely.
Fortunately, Haugh came to the rescue. He was able to relay DeLung’s request for chains to CNCC facilities director Bobby Burns. Before the ORP group could figure out something else they were forgetting, Burns met up with them and delivered the chains. The group loaded up the van, picked up the other group members, Michael Stoner and Darnell Thompson, and, after a long day of driving, made it to the cabin.
Sunday was just a preview. Monday started early, with DeLung waking up the group around 6:00 a.m. From the cabin they went to the Twin Sisters trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. Meeting them at the trailhead was CNCC webmaster and admissions counselor Derek Mogensen and CNCC math instructor Garth Butcher. The hike to the 11,413-foot-high summit of Twin Sisters Peaks was a challenging one.
“Just when it seemed like this hike was going to go on forever, we came around the corner to see the summit was not much further,” explained Travis Moody, a member of the Spartans’ baseball team.
Group members who reached the summit were welcomed by a temperature of 9 degrees with an approximate windchill of 20 below zero.
“I could finally see why some people are so into hiking. It’s like a huge accomplishment and you also get the pleasure of seeing the great views that the summit offers,” said Moody. “I managed to snap off a few photos, but I couldn’t stay up there long because of how cold it was.”
Tuesday brought warmer weather as the group did some hiking at a lower elevation. CNCC alum and current UNC student Chris Votruba joined the group along with his friend Lauren. Tuesday’s goal was to hike to Rocky Mountain National Park’s Gem Lake.
“That was my favorite hike, mostly because of the nice weather,” exclaimed Stephan Boleng, another member of the Sparatans’ baseball team.
Moody agreed, “That hike was also my favorite. Sliding around on the frozen lake was a blast! We even found a man made shelter halfway up the trail.”
The area around Gem Lake is covered with rock outcroppings, making it the perfect place for some non-technical climbing and scrambling.
“After three days of heavy hiking, we thought the fourth day would be laid back,” said Darnell Thompson, a staff member for the Spartan Times. “But leave it to Jim, who loves to hike for fun, which I don’t get, but whatever floats your boat.”
On Wednesday, the group ventured into Indian Peaks Wilderness via the Saint Vrain Mountain trail. This was the only hike during the whole week when the group didn’t see any other people.
“As we started to walk this trail, it was kind of creepy,” explained Thompson. “There was nothing but trees at first. It looked like a bear was going to jump out and eat all of us.”
But after a stream crossing, the terrain changed.
“After a few miles, we could not go anywhere else because the rest of the trail was covered in snow like up past my stomach,” said Thompson. “But there was a nice view and a cool looking stream. The hike down was quick because we were ready to get back and go to sleep. We were ready for Thanksgiving at my house.”
Everyone’s hard work was rewarded with a visit to civilization. Darnell’s stepmom invited the whole group to Thanksgiving dinner at her home in the Denver area.
“Thanksgiving dinner was delicious,” exclaimed DeLung. “I’m so glad that Darnell’s stepmom invited us over. If it wasn’t for her hospitality, I think we would have run out of food on Thanksgiving Day. This group could really put away some food. I think we ate about twice as much food as last year’s group ate!”
“It was nice to be home after being in no man’s land,” said Thompson. “We got in the house and everybody jumped in front of the computer or in front of the TV to watch football. It was nice to have my good friends with my fam. It was a good time.”
“5:30 on Friday morning came quick,” said Boleng. “All we could hear was Jim trying to make as much noise as possible. Waking up to an old radio blasting Spanish music was not the way we wanted to wake up. But Myles could sleep through anything. Jim even tried slamming pots and pans together.”
After DeLung and Stoner took turns playing some loud riffs on Stoner’s electric guitar, they gave up. DeLung and Stoner prepared some breakfast and eventually the rest of the group began to wake up and move around.
Friday was the last hike, and it was a good one. There were clear skies, it was relatively warm, and the wind wasn’t that bad. This allowed the group to spend plenty of time on the 11,006-foot-high summit of Estes Cone in Rocky Mountain National Park.
“The birds at Eugenia Mine were crazy and the view from the summit was cool,” Boleng said about Estes Cone. “But on Saturday we were so ready to be back in Rangely. We all mostly slept the whole drive back except to stop in Glenwood Springs, where we ate at Jim’s favorite place, Moe’s.”
Some members of the group were surprised by how physically demanding all of the hiking and snowshoeing was.
“When we hit treeline, all of us novice hikers were really feeling it. I thought since many of us are college level athletes, it would be a cakewalk,” said Spencer.
While many in the group were excited to return to the comforts of their normal lives, all seemed to be happy with their experience.
“I’m glad that I decided to go on the trip,” said Boleng.
Moody added, “All in all, I’m glad I took this opportunity. Many people never get a chance to see what we saw.”
DeLung said, “This was a really fun group. I think I was laughing during the entire trip. Between Myles telling ghost stories, Darnell’s rants, and the occasional movie quote, how could I help it?”
Could the trip have been any better?
DeLung answered, “A few ladies would have helped…there was way too much testosterone. I nicknamed our group the Spartan Sausage Bomb because it was painfully obvious that only guys went on this trip.”
¦lt;br /> Haugh and Burns proved to be heroes because the ORP group had to put the chains on every day just to get in and out of the cabin.
After unloading the van at the cabin, the next step was to go to the Wal-Mart in Longmont to buy groceries for the week.
“The objective at Wal-Mart was for each individual to get the raw materials to make a dinner for the whole group for one night,” said Spencer, a freshman member of CNCC’s men’s basketball team. “After achieving that goal, we got drinks and snacks for breakfast and for hiking.”
Upon returning to the cabin and unpacking their groceries, some of the group members began to realize what they were getting themselves into.�
“The cabin was simple, nice, and cozy,” Spencer explained.
The group’s primary source of heat became a woodstove. Cell phone service at the cabin was nonexistent. Internet or TV? Yeah, right. Running water could only be used when the generator was on because the cabin is off the grid.
Mike Stoner, ORP veteran, said the group’s anticipation of returning to civilization reminded him of someone being constipated and unable to relieve themselves, referring to Boleng, Moody, Spencer, and Thompson. “They’re such babies, dude. Oh, and my chest hurts,” added Stoner, laughing.
But the real fun started the next morning when the group got their first taste of adventure. It was a beautiful day. but there was plenty of wind. Upon arriving at Brainard Lake State Recreation Area, many participants got their first taste of snowshoeing. Their efforts were rewarded when they reached Left Hand Reservoir and they got to see a view of the many beautiful peaks of Indian Peaks Wilderness.
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