Aspen Adventures: To the Castle!

Picking up where things got interesting from my August 3rd-August 13th Colorado/Vegas Vacation...

We set off to Aspen in an Budget rental car, with some good luck Chipotle burritos (they've got them in DC, but not Kosovo), $200 worth of REI gear (including the new Colorado's Fourteeners, 3rd Edition book), and egos significantly bigger than the 14ers we were planning on climbing.

We were in a $370 Budget rental car, not my little brother's unused car or one my parents cars because my parents don't trust dirt roads. Nor, as we would later find find out, does Shane's Audi. This posed quite the predicament, because rental car companies don't either. If you're counting, that is exactly zero off-road vehicles. But to access two trailheads, we were going to need one.

Half an hour out of Boulder we found our solution: Eagle Car Rentals, or, as I like to call them, Awesome Eagle Jeep Rentals. If we made it to Aspen before 5:00, we'd be able to rent a jeep. Perfect.

We made it at 4:30. And, after a little bit of searching stumbled upon the sketchy lot behind the Conoco near the Aspen airport. And by sketchy I mean Aspen-sketchy: there were no Audis or BMWs in the parking lot.

A Dave in his natural habitat

We met up with Shane at the Aspen City Market. It's just like every other City Market, except the people in it are 20 times fitter and richer than you'll ever be. It's ok, its Aspen.

We picked Castle and Conundrum, the easiest 14ers in the area. Even through it rises above 14,000 ft, Conundrum's actually not a true 14er: it doesn't rise 3,000 ft over the saddle between it and Castle. Dave and I were both coming from sea level and Shane had never climbed a 14er before, these peaks seemed like a good start.

On the way to North Castle Creek TH

Castle has three different trailheads: Castle Creek at 9,800 ft (the last point 2wd cars can make it), a 2.7 miles laster is Castle Creek 2WD TH at 11,160 ft (the last place to stop if you "don't want to devalue your vehicle" -CF3E), and 2.2 miles later, North Castle Creek at 12800 ft. Our goal was to camp at North Castle Creek TH, and at the 4WD Castle Creek TH, we were thinking about summiting Castle that evening. We had plenty of light left and it was on 2.2 more miles to the final trailhead.

Naturally, by the time we made it to 12800 ft, it was dark.

We set up camp, and then introduced Shane to MREs and Portable Settlers of Catan. Around 1 AM, on one of the most crystal clear nights I've ever experienced, we toyed with Dave's new camera.



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