Wow! It's hard to believe this was our 18th effort at getting DU
Observatory Staff to the summit of Mt. Evans since our first trip on
October 31, 1999. We had a good turnout this year with the following
participants and vehicles, in no particular order.
Jay Couch and Denise Fawn Dambrackas
Ron DePugh and Brian Kloppenborg - University of Denver
1963 Unimog 404.115
Kent Drummond and Dr. Bob Stencel - University of Denver
1963 Unimog 404.115
1972 Unimog 416 Doka
Jim and Matt Harrington
Unimog 406 (Case MB4/94)
Josh Valentine and Peter Konrad
Scott Wolford and Brooks Burgess
Unimog 406 ex-Tug
Rodney Pugh and Trevor Damron - two unsuspecting hikers from Alabama who
were picked up along the Mt. Evans highway and pitched in with the snow
I thought my truck was all ready to go, having done all the maintenance
on it over a month ago. When I installed my CB and plugged into my 12V
outlet, it wouldn't turn on. My 24V - 12V DC-DC inverter had died.
Drat! I need the 12V for my CB and GPS. Got on the phone and called
every place I could think of trying to find an inverter. No luck. Oh,
well, time to grab my handheld CB and I figured I could just run the GPS
on it's internal battery. Philip Staton did his best to fabricate a 24V
- 12V device that would plug into my Hella jack on the dashboard, but he
called at the last minute and said he couldn't get the right voltage out
of it. Philip also had to back out of participating at the last minute,
which meant we'd miss out on his company and the big pot of stew he had
concocted for our lunch on the summit. Curtis Fox called to say he had
to work on Saturday, so he wouldn't be coming either. There went my
plans for caravaning up to Echo Lab. I had told Scott Wolford what time
I'd be passing the Monument interchage, so he could be there to caravan
with me, but he wasn't there when I went through, so I continued on to
Castle Rock. I had told everyone in this end of the state that I'd be
grabbing a burger at Red Robin and when I'd be there. Good burger, no
company. After eating, I hit the local food store for breakfast and lunch
supplies and got back on the road. In about 10 minutes I got a call on
my cell phone from Scott saying he was about 10 minutes behind me, so I
stopped at the south edge of Denver and waited for him to catch up.
During that time, I realized I'd forgotten to get a supply of AA
batteries for my handheld CB and the FRS radios. When Scott and Brooks
caught up to me, I sent them on ahead and found my way to a Home Depot to
get batteries. I was able to catch up to them at Idaho Springs where we
fueled up for the rest of the trip.
The run from Idaho Springs up to Echo Lab was uneventful. My good old
truck made the climb in fifth gear again, so that pleased me. We pulled
into Echo Lab at 9:22. Dr. Bob, Brian, Andrew, and Terry were already
there. Cold Fat Tire and fresh popcorn was ready. As is the usual case,
time was spent getting caught up on one another's activities for the past
year for the next couple hours. Ron DePugh drove in, having just
unloaded his Unimog from his Freightliner up in the upper parking lot.
Then shortly after that Jim Herrington and his son, Matt, arrived.
Everyone crashed sometime before midnight.
Morning started shortly before 7:00..
when Dr. Bob came in and got a pot of coffee started.
Everyone fixed whatever..
..they brought for breakfast.
Then we packed up,
..loaded the trucks..
..and headed up to the gate.
Josh Valentine rolled in with his U1300..
Up at the gate we lined up..
and got ready to go.
No, the Freightliner was not making the trip up the mountain.
We waited until 8:30 for Jay Couch to show up. We had his phone number, but no one was able to get cell coverage at the entrance gate, so we just decided to head on up without him.
Andrew's 416 Doka
Scott's 406 Doka ex-Tug
Terry's Pinzgauer 712
Josh heads through the gate..
followed by Kent..
Scott and Brooks..
Jim and Matt..
and Ron brings up the end.
The road was clear so the going was easy. We stopped at the transition..
..from the Echo Lake side of the mountain..
to the Lincoln Lake side and allowed everyone to catch up.
You can just see Grays and Torrey's on the Continental Divide between the back of my truck and the front of Andrew's truck.
This is also where we picked up a couple of hitch hikers. I think they underestimated how far it is to the top of the mountain.
Once everyone was there, we continued on to Summit Lake where we would need to stop so Dr. Stencel could open the gate at that location. If you look for a shiny dot on the summit of the mountain, with clear blue sky behind, you can just make out the observatory - our objective.
While we were waiting for Dr. Stencel to open the gate,
someone said "Look! Jay's here."
It was as though his truck had just materialized out of thin air. Must be, because we locked the bottom gate behind us. One of life's big mysteries.
Regardless, it was good to see him and his better half, Denise. We all took a few minutes to stretch and enjoy the warm day while looking up at the summit above us
We encountered our first drift at mile 11.
Josh attempted to bash through..
but the snow was too hard, so we broke out the shovels.
Then we streamed on through..
with no problems.
The next drifts were at mile 12. Again, out with the shovels. Two teams of shovelers made short work of both of them.
with no problem.
I was second, but the 404 just didn't have quite enough clearance, so it took me three attempts to get through the first drift, with Scott dragging me out backwards each time until I made it.
Andrew cruises through the first drift.
I made it through the corner drift, followed by Scott.
The corner drift wasn't quite shoveled out well enough and we nearly lost Andrew over the edge until his front wheels found a purchase on the dirt and pulled him back up. You can see him leaning toward his door, willing the truck to pull back up on the road. I'm not sure, but I think he may have had to change his shorts after he got round that corner.
We did some more shoveling..
and everyone else..
made the corner..
with no problem.
The road was clear for the rest of the way to the summit.
We parked around the observatory..
..and unloaded the materials Dr. Bob needed for the maintenance tasks.
14,000 foot mountains don't look so high..
when you're viewing them from another 14,000 foot mountain.
That's Pikes Peak in the distance.
You can see Mt. Bierstad just behind Jim Herrington's 406.
You can see the solar panels on the A-frames near the observatory.
I got a group to help pull the insulation cover off the observatory battery bank so we could top the electrolyte as needed.
Terry had to contribute his Pinz batteries to the site generator, as the generator batteries were dead. Thanks Terry. It was such a balmy day on the summit that everyone kind of wandered around basking in the sun.
Jim Herrington worked on taping up loose insulation in the observatory dome, and Dr. Stencel gave a guided tour of the telescope and filled everyone in on the observatory's history.
Lunch was sort of disorganized, with people eating their sandwiches as the mood struck them. While Dr. Bob and Brian attended to official tasks, the rest of us just sat in the sun outside and enjoyed the day.
We gathered for a group photo.
Scott was working on his truck.
Dr. Bob did bring out a smaller telescope, and we spent some time looking at sun spots.
We could see smoke from the "controlled burn" down in Teller County, near Lake George about 12 miles west of where I live. I zoomed my camera to 16X and took a picture of the smoke.
Dr. Stencel declared mission accomplished, so we packed up and started our descent. From the parking lot on the summit, I took a picture of the lower road working it's way up to Summit Lake..
and another of the Denver skyline off to the east.
a more distant view of the fire.
Ron's VLF rounding the corner at the deep drift.
The trip down to Echo Lab was uneventful. Ron loaded his 404 into the Freigtliner, and Jim loaded his 406 onto it's trailer.
Once everyone was ready, we headed down to Idaho Springs, to convene at BeauJo's for pizza. We pushed two large tables together for the 12 who participated in the feast and quickly dispatched five pizzas of different varieites. Thank you Dr. Bob. It was delicious as always! Once fed, we said our goodbyes and headed for our respective homes.
Mark your calendars for the end of October, early November 2011 :-)
Photos by Kent Drummond, Ron DePugh, Brian Kloppenborg, Dr. Robert Stencil and Scott Wolford.
v2.8 Last modified Sunday, November 14, 2010 18:03:15