High and Low

The last two weeks were full of highs and lows. Literally! After hiking through Utah's national parks I returned to the Coloardo Rockies for another play in the altitudes.

Together with my friend Hilla (whom I know from my time in Israel) I decided to tackle my first 14er. For those not familiar with the term, a 14er is a mountain that is over 14,000 feet high (approx 4'260m). There are over 80 14ers in the US and quite a big chunk of them in the Coloardo Rockies. We chose an easy, comparatively short hike up Quandary Peak (14,271ft / 4'350m) because we weren't sure what the terrain would look like snow-wise and wanted to be sure to make it down some time before sunset. Remember, it is November and the days have become quite short!

It was a beautiful sunny day and although the trail was snow packed and icy at times we made it to the summit without any trouble. And what a view!

In fact, the whole experience was so exhilarating that I decided to do a solo 14er just two days later. And not just any 14er - I tackled Mt. Elbert which at 14,440ft / 4'401m is the highest peak in all Colorado! That is the highest I've ever hiked/climbed up! :)

summit pic on Mt. Elbert

Those were my last adventures in Colorado. I flew out to California a few days later and started exploring the national parks over here. In fact, I headed over to Death Valley National Park for some camping and hiking.

The Death Valley is the driest and hottest place in North America. Large parts of it are actually below or at sea level which makes the winter months the best time for exploring the valley. I set up camp at Furnace Creek for a few nights and went exploring during the day. I hiked Golden Canyon and Fall Canyon and visited the salt flats of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282ft/86m below sea level. The difference in landscape and climate was striking. Instead of snowy hills and cold weather there were yellow and red canyons and hot sunny days. I have to say, I did enjoy the warmth and the sunshine after all the cold in Colorado... :)

Golden Canyon
Golden Canyon hike
Badwater Basin
Artist's palette - look at the colors of the sand! 
Fall Canyon

PS: I spent a day on the slopes at Loveland, CO where to my surprise the lift chairs didn't have any safety bars. One would think that with all the mass tort stuff going on in the US they would be a bit more careful to prevent accidents and avoid being sued by injured skiers but I guess that again would require too much common sense. ;) But that's just an aside...


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