Lisa and I set out on the Mount Antero trail which we had had been looking forward to for over a year. This mountain is one of the highest semi-precious stone sites in the world, (Lisa had her pick-ax all sharpened up and ready to go), and was a “Difficult” ranked off-road trail. We picked the day with the best weather forecast and set out earlier than normal since it would be a long drive to and from Salida Colorado.
With the day being cool but mostly sunny, (Mount Antero is one of the “fourteeners”), we knew it would be cold towards the top so we set out with hats, gloves etc.
As the trail unfolded it started to be harder than we had thought it would be. It had rained for two straight days and it was hard to tell at times whether we were on a trail or in a stream. When we hit the “switch-backs” I started feeling nervous and Lisa had to start getting out to “spot” me with parts of the trail being so narrow and washed out, (if the Jeep slipped off the road, or rolled in a tippy spot it would send us down a few thousand feet, certainly to our deaths). At one point Lisa asked me in a matter of fact way who the Executor of our estate was if we both died simultaneously, (comforting thought).
That aside, the beauty that was unfolding before us was breathtaking, which is what we have come to love about Colorado.
As we continued to wind our way upward through the switchbacks we came upon an old Jeep Cherokee with the tailgate down with a pair of feet sticking out. As we rumbled towards it up popped a head – a retired prospector of 35 years named Jim. Besides his weathered face the first thing you noticed was this enormous chunk of Aquamarine stone hanging around his neck. Jim proceeded to warn us about how the trail may be more likely to fall away with all the rain….. We thanked him for his words of caution and continued on. We finally were almost to the top, (12,500 feet), when one section of the very narrow trail was so washed out it was to narrow, sandy, and soft. With my stomach churning, my heart pounding; we decided to be prudent and abandon the quest to get to the top and back down to a wider spot at one of the switch backs and turn around.
The Mount Antero trail is so narrow only one vehicle can pass in one direction at a time so when we spotted someone coming up the trail and were finally nose to nose, (the person ascending has the right of way); we had to back up to a wider spot since they refused to back down to a wider spot, (going uphill backwards over stuff you were nervous about going forward over). We continued on and I suddenly noticed that the “almost empty” light was on impulsively yelled “we are almost out of gas”! We both started freaking out that we wouldn’t be able to get back down the mountain and would be stranded or have to walk down to get gas and walk back up. I thought for sure when we reached the retired Prospector, Jim he would have some extra gas, he didn’t. We continued on again and now I noticed that the GoPro’s WiFi signal had disappeared. I got out to find the GoPro had dropped off somewhere up the trail. Now critically low on gas and a missing camera, (with unbelievable footage), I found myself pausing to momentarily bury my head in my hands. We decided to walk back up the trail to see if we could find the GoPro. Luckily, it was lying in the middle of the road a few hundred feet up the trail. On our way back down we stopped and talked to Jim and he showed us the pictures of when he was struck by lightning along with some of his big rare stone finds. He let us take his picture and off we went.
As the trail leveled out I now noticed that the “almost empty light” had switched off and the gauge showed a quarter tank, (Lisa did not believe me). As it turned out the road was so steep the Jeep thought it was almost out of gas but wasn’t, (hopefully we will laugh about that someday).
It was quite a day all in all and we were exhausted. We didn’t get to the top, we didn’t find any aquamarine, but we also didn’t crash to our deaths, found the GoPro, met a real live prospector, and didn’t run out of gas. Throw in the beauty of the mountains and it turned out to be a good day.
Today we decided to take it easy and drive to Breckenridge and go on the Peak 10 trail. It was fun and short and we ended having lunch at Stella’s Hungry Horse Cafe, (a food truck with unbelievably good food).