Friday, July 20, 2007

Day 21, Castle Rock and Gold Hill


We climbed in the canyon today at Castle Rock. Five years ago we were in awe of this 250 (?) foot high chunk of rock. You can walk all the way around it but can't get to the top without technical rock climbing skills.

Dan started to lead a chimney/crack but it was lousy (in other words, too hard). So we switched over to a more straightforward 5.5. Parts of the rock are boulder jumbles and hollow flakes, so the protection was a little sparse or creative in places. Three pitches to the top and it was time for lunch. There are a surprising number of houses on the nearby mountaintops that you can see from the top of the rock.

The trip down took as long as the trip up. The guide book clearly illustrated a fourth class scramble to the road... However, the trail was not marked or easy to find. We scrambled for over an hour before finding a rappel station which got us to an easy trail. Mental note: check out the descent before ascending!!!

After a long day in the sun, we decided to drive up to what had been described to us as a hippie community in the middle of the mountains. The village of Gold Hill is only about 9 miles from the lodge but it took us 30 minutes to get there because of the switchbacks and sections of dirt road. What a drive! 2nd gear all the way up, 1st all the way down. We were literally in the middle of the mountains, but there were gorgeous houses throughout the trip -- not shacks, we're talking huge bay windows and porches overlooking the most beautiful vistas in greater Boulder.

When we finally arrived in Gold Hill there was an inn, a restaurant, a general store, and a couple dozen homes. The whole place reminded us of an old mining town. The restaurant is on the historic places registry and is made from logs and mud. Very rustic!

The food was superb. Dinner was a 6-course meal that took almost two hours. There was a pork salad appetizer, tomatillo or Russian spinach soup, fresh baked bread with homemade jam, salads, entrees (Laurel had shrimp and Dan had venison), then delicious desserts (mint chocolate cup and orange rhubarb pie), and selections from their fruit and cheese plate. Everything was just outstanding.

After we rolled ourselves back down the mountain, we headed to the jacuzzi and called it a night.

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