Friday, December 6, 2013

Bear's Den Hike

Sunday morning felt even colder than Saturday but I wrapped up as I was meeting a group for a hike at a place I'd not been to before. It wasn't too far from me and it meant I would be going past Mount Weather, which I'd been wanting to investigate for absolutely ages. While looking for information on Google, I found the reviews, and loved Mark Turner's, click here.
The road actually passes through the 'camp' so there's little they can do to prevent folks gawping and taking photos even though there are signs forbidding that. I quickly snapped some shots from the car without putting my foot on the brake, so technically I wasn't 'stopping or parking'. I didn't see any guards.
Mount Weather emergency Operations Center is a 434 acre site originally built as a weather station for launching balloons in the late 1880's, then later a practice site for mining techniques. The facility was built underground by the Army Corp of Engineers and completed in 1958. It's entrance is protected by a guillotine gate with a 34 ton 20'w x 10'h door that is 5' thick and supposedly take 15 minutes to open.
Click here for a really interesting article written in 2006. It makes you wonder what's been going on in there since then.
After I'd driven around some of the perimeter for a while I lost interest as all the heavy link fencing has been screened from the inside making it only possible to peer through the small gaps between the fence panels, and since parking was not allowed I didn't stop. So I carried on over the top of the mountain which had had its own little ice storm recently and was looking very pretty. I met the group in a parking lot and we set off on our hike promptly, because it was so cold!
It was an easy hike uphill albeit very rocky with plenty of ice left on the frozen boulders. We got to the top where the plan was to stop and eat lunch. The view was magnificent and I plopped on to one of the rocks to munch on my sandwich, then after about one minute stood again as my poor derriere was freezing rapidly. I remained standing while I gobbled down my cold ham sandwich, not even slightly interested in my bottle of water and wishing I'd brought my hip flask filled with local pear brandy. Thankfully we didn't stay long and were soon off again at a brisk pace.
We came across a camping area which really appealed to me and I made a mental note to think about it again in the spring.
Ice was everywhere, completely encasing a pumpkin on the step of the hostel, on the gate and the branches. We kept walking, not slowing down for anything which would allow the cold to seep in. We got back to the parking lot feeling energized and a little proud of ourselves for having come out on such a cold day when most others would consider us foolhardy. But I do have to admit that the rest of the day was spent indoors in front of the fire.

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