RMNP and evacuation

This was one of those crazy weekends in my life. A rollercoaster of good and bad luck.
It all started Friday afternoon. All packed I was waiting for Pascal to arrive. It took longer and longer and when I called it turned out that he was dealing with an escalation at his work. A few hours later we picked up Brendan and headed towards the Rocky Mountain National Park. At the entrance of the park a sign told us that three of the five campsites were full. Nevertheless, we decided to check out the one closest to Lower and Upper Chaos. Again a sign: ‘Full’. Ignored it and found a nice empty spot. Full? Yeah right.

The next morning we drove up towards the Bear Lake parking. Signs told us that the parking was full and we should take the shuttle bus. At the entrance the parking attendant said: ‘good news is that you made it up here before 9 am (before the roadwork started), bad news is that you have to go to another parking lot because this one is full). So we drove the loop of the parking, hoping to find a spot anyway. Yes, the parking-gods were in a good mood. Right in front of us, a man turned out of a parking. At the same time, other friends from Colorado Springs were lucky to park there as well.
With the whole group we started walking to Chaos Canyon. It was a beautiful trail past a flowing river, several lakes and nice flowers. At one point the trail went over in rocks, which we had to clamber over. Pretty intensive with the crashpads and bags on our backs. I had seen some pictures of this bouldering area before, but now I saw it for real I was surprised. Rocks everywhere with now and then a very big boulder. I soon found out that I’m super spoiled by climbing in Fontainebleau. Getting to a boulderproblem took me ages and a lot of energy because I’m not so handy in finding the easiest way. I slipped on the snow and dropped into holes several times. Settling in front of a boulderproblem was another challenge because of the lack of flat surface. My stuff fell down into holes between rocks, so I lost my brush. Tired I scrambled to the start of the warm-up boulder. Oh my God! A hole of at least four meters beneath the start… No problem right, this is an easy warm-up so I won’t fall. Climbed the V2 version of the problem twice and it was funny. Saw another problem and did that as well. At that time I didn’t know that these two problems were the only ones I would climb that whole day!
Other problems with okay landings seemed to hard for my finger, so I only watched the others. Easier problems had sick, dangerous landings so no way I was going to climb that. After a few hours I didn’t like it so much anymore, struggled in some easy problems and knew I was done. Pascal had the same feeling so we decided to find our way back to the parking while the others would work twenty more minutes on the last problem.
To be short, after the whole exhaustive way back over the rocks we managed to pick the wrong trail. We walked for two hours or so and found ourselves on the wrong parking lot at the end! This is really the story of our life, getting lost. Hitchhiked back to our own car where the other were waiting for us. Start ahead didn’t work for us, haha. Pizza place was closed unfortunately, but we got a nice cold beer and some (not so nice) food somewhere else! Aaahhhh….good.
When we checked Facebook we saw that the Waldo Canyon wildfire near Colorado Springs was getting severe and evacuations were ongoing. A few hours later we noticed that our neighbor evacuated as well.

The next morning we found out that all of Manitou Springs (the place where we live) had to evacuate. We were wondering if we could pick some of our stuff, before crashing at a friends place that night.
We decided with Brendan to do some indoor bouldering at The Spot in Boulder. We didn’t want to be trapped till 4pm in Chaos because of the roadwork. So after a breakfast we were waiting in front of The Spot to open. Although our bodies were tired, we climbed pretty well in the gym. It was a nice place to escape the heat of 100 F (36 C).

Around 2pm we were heading back to The Springs. When we got closer I got a little a nervous. Would we be able to get our personal belongings? We saw big smoky clouds and it was getting hazier when getting closer. We could see new lines of smoke directly behind Manitou Springs. Scary. After dropping Brendan at his place, we drove to the entrance of our town. Police officers told us we were not allowed to grab our stuff. Bummer! Pascal found us a sneaky way into Manitou avoiding the cops. Carefully we drove through the small backstreets and arrived at our house! When we were packing, the door bell rang… Oops! Two man asked me if I was busy evacuating. Pfew, no angry faces fortunately. When we drove out of Manitou Springs, it felt strange. Like a ghost town. Our always touristic, lively center was empty. We went to a bar in Colorado Springs for our well-deserved beer. We followed the news about the fires closely and two hours later we read the message that the evacuation for Manitou Springs would be lifted at 8pm. So our homeless moment didn’t take long. 8.05pm we drove back into Manitou, waving at the camera crews. We saw a lot of happy, relieved local faces and Pascal suggested that we have to set an annual evacuation party.

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