Trail notebook: Wildlife, rookie mistakes, trail food and the weird things I see

trailshot

I had a few thoughts going back to the last little Colorado adventure I had. They didn’t fit too well into the Missouri Mountain trip report, and besides, that one was pretty long as it was. But here goes…

Wildlife: No hostile encounters, but some interesting ones. I’m always surprised by how comfortable many animals in the high country are around people. I guess some of that has to do with people feeding them, which is not a good thing.

Some of the little suckers I saw included two marmots fighting. That was a pretty entertaining tussle, with more reversals, takedowns and body slams than your typical UFC match. All for the sake of a girl.

The winner then tried to mate with said girl marmot. I’d say he got decidedly mixed results there.

Look closely and you'll see three ptarmigans hanging out at the top of the ridge.

Look closely and you’ll see three ptarmigans hanging out at the top of the ridge.

I saw ptarmigans up high (13,700 feet), ravens at various elevations and I got buzzed by a hawk or a kite, I couldn’t quite tell which. But he sped by close enough that I could hear the wind of his passing in my left ear.

And then there were deer hanging out at the trailhead.

So it’s official. I saw way more wild animals than people that day. A change of pace on a Colorado 14er.

Rookie move: If you’re car camping by yourself, it’s not a bad idea to lock yourself inside your car. But if you do so with your key fob, be sure to also unlock your car with the fob. Otherwise, you’ll set off the alarm once the door is opened. I did that. Luckily, no one was there. Otherwise I’d have woken up a bunch of angry campers.

Trail eats: I’m starting to get better at taking the right foods when I do a single-day ascent. Here’s a pic of what I ate right before and during the Missouri Mountain deal:

Not exactly michelin-rated stuff here, but good trail fuel just the same.

Not exactly Michelin-rated stuff here, but good trail fuel just the same.

I had the granola mixed with the instant breakfast drink that morning for breakfast. Along the way, I ate the apple sauce in the pouch and munched on Snickers minis. More minis and the peach cup were consumed at the summit, plus a steady drip of Gatorade, water and more snacking on the way down. No, that doesn’t replace all the calories I burned. But all of that stuff is easily consumed, tasty and quick energy. And it also lacks the “gag factor” some foods present when I’m at altitude.

If you have some favorite trail eats, feel free to share in the comments section. I’m always up for new and better ideas.

Oddities: You see some weird things on the trail. I once saw a guy hiking Mount Bierstadt barefoot. Kegger summit parties are more common than you might think. But the flotsam you sometimes see on the trail can be pretty odd as well.

A lot of times people will find stuff other people dropped and leave it for them at the trailhead. Glasses, car keys, etc.

But strange soared to new heights with this sight:

Needless to say, seeing this piece of dental hardware was a tad unexpected.

Needless to say, seeing this piece of dental hardware was a tad unexpected.

That’s right. It’s a retainer, carefully placed on a tree limb near 10,000 feet. So many questions. So few answers. If it’s yours, you’ll find it on the switchbacks below the trees on the Missouri Gulch trail.

A correction: About a year ago, I wrote up a trip report on Mount of the Holy Cross and misidentified this peak:

Holy Cross Ridge, as seen from the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross.

Holy Cross Ridge, as seen from the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross.

This is not Notch Mountain, as I originally wrote. This is the high spot of Holy Cross Ridge, 13,831 feet. Thanks to Corey Babb on the 14ers.com Facebook page for setting me straight on that one. The entry on the Mount of the Holy Cross trip report page has been fixed.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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