Lughnasa Eclipse Moon
In fact, the highest paved road in North America. Which happens to be only 46 miles from our front door, the Mt. Evans Road. It’s a joint project of the Denver Parks System and the National Park Service with the NPS controlling admission to the road leading to the summit and DPS controlling access to three fee areas: Mt. Goliath (bristlecone pines at the krummholz level), Summit Lake, which is a clear mountain lake with a small glacier poised high above it on Mt. Evans, and the summit itself.
Last year Ruth and I drove up, but were too late to get any further than Summit Lake, the road continuing on past there closed for the season. This year, today, Ruth and I went again. This time we made it all the way to the top. But. The Mt. Evans Road closes every year the day after Labor Day and the summit had a huge number of people with the same idea we had. I knew it would be that way, but it was an incremental improvement over last year.
Next year, during the week, early in the morning in June, July or August. It opens on Memorial Day, if, that is, it has no snow.
The road itself, especially the segment after Summit Lake is narrow and, as the orange sign said, Damaged. That makes crawling up and down it with others entertaining. The downhill side of the road, which shifts as it snakes its way up and down the mountain, has no barrier and for much of the road virtually no shoulder.
Since Colorado has many bikers, both bicyclists and motorcyclists, sharing the road with a car in the other lane and a bicycle or two can be challenging. Not to mention the road damage which can include, and in fact often did today, chunks of road missing, eroded away. This phenomenon almost always presented itself on the downhill side of the road. So there’s that big SUV pushing its way up, you’re on the way down, a good long drop with plenty of over and over and over and over again potential if you make the wrong move, and a bicyclist or two, bless their VO2 maxed out hearts, struggling up or down. Yowza.
In visiting it next year I plan to visit it as a mountain deity, one which took my breath away today, even sitting in my internal combustion powered chair. Mt. Evans is our weather god, altering the flow and intensity of weather patterns as they come from the west and cross the continental divide not far away. The result, in our little Evansonian microclimate, is increased precipitation both winter and summer, but more in the winter. Remember that 200 inches plus we had the second winter we were here? Mt. Evans for the assist.
There was one mountain goat visible to me today. Improbably it was standing among a bunch of hikers above the Meyer-Womble Observatory, which, until an Indian Observatory opened in 2001 was the highest operating telescope in the world. Apparently the mountain goats lick the soil on the summit to obtain needed salts.
If you ever visit during the summer, let’s go. I’m always up for a visit to the mountain top.