Peak(s):  Panorama Point - 5429
Mt. Sunflower - 4039
Date Posted:  04/03/2014
Date Climbed:   03/01/2014
Author:  EatinHardtack
 March Madness in full effect   

Disclaimer: This trip report doesn't really cover any summits, it does cover two state highpoints though! Instead it covers a series of trips during the month of March that I had planned. Also the fact that I am not working on the golf course today because of snow I thought I'd write something up.

March is usually my vacation month because of my time saved throughout the year. I am typically unable to take vacation during the summer, other than a day here and there, and instead use many vacation days for weekday powder forays into the mountains in the winter. But I always end up with about a week to blow in the month of March before my work anniversary date resets the vacation for me. The beginning of this year has been slow at work and the higher ups decided to issue all managers a 5 day unpaid furlough before the end of the first quarter, so I guess I got two weeks to burn before the end of March, better do something fun!


March started off in the desert of Arizona. My girlfriend of 3 years had just turned 30 and I needed to do something special for her 30th to say the least. The both of us are passionate baseball fans and I decided to take her to some spring training games to see her favorite team. She's a Texas native (I know I know) so she has a love affair with the Texas Rangers. I on the other hand have a distinct loyalty to my Braves and Red Sox, but they play in Florida so they'll have to wait for another year to visit. We ended up going to see the Rangers play twice (against the Angels and White Sox) and we got to check out the Rockies play the Dbacks. In between games we were able to get in a hike on the east side of Phoenix. I had solicited help from the forum members for good hiking recommendations. We settled on Lost Dutchman State Park and I was able to get some great hiking and photography in. The whole experience of Arizona was great; warm weather, great company, wonderful food and beer. What more could you ask for?

If you head down this way my girlfriend and I tried some local food places. Our recommendations for Breakfast are Kiss the Cook in Glendale and Butters in Scottsdale. We love our breakfast places, both were top notch. If you're looking for Micro Breweries then check out O.H.S.O. Brewing in northern Scottsdale, holy crap the beer (my favorite was the Grovey) was fantastic and the shrimp tacos were outstanding. Also on the list were Papago Brewing and 4 Peaks Brewing. We'll be back Arizona, we'll be back. At some point I'll actually need to play a few golf courses down there, but it's not the priority.

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Baseball!

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Big Man Prince

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Arizona Mountains

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Desert Cactus

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Just a bee grabbing some pollen

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Arizona Cowboy

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Me and the Girl

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Costa Hummingbird



March Madness continued after Arizona with a short boy's weekend to Breckenridge. My longtime buddy Steve (14ers member lostinvail) moved away last year to Savannah, Georgia. I tried to talk him out of it, being a Georgia Native I told him of the hardships of humidity and living below the gnat line but to no avail he still moved. Steve rolled into Breckenridge with Rob (also another 14ers member screamingmarmot) on Thursday night, the night ended with us heavily intoxicated in a condo up Boreas Pass road. Next day was one of the better ski days this season. A Friday where the snow reports are 0" and then proceeds to snow heavily throughout the day to the tune of 8"+. Storm skiing at its finest and TBar, 6 chair, E Chair and some of our private stashes were the order of the day. Dead to the world at 4pm we ended up back at the condo and proceeded to drink heavily, seems to be a theme here. Saturday we woke with a bluebird day and proceeded to enjoy the last day of skiing together for a while. Lake Chutes, Peak 7 were the lines to be skied today and with another 6" on top of the 8" from the previous day it made for a great day with the guys. Afterwards we ended up at Breckenridge Brewing for some post skiing food and drink. We ended up at the condo afterward and drank more spirits. Couldn't have asked for a better weekend for Steve to come visit and enjoy the Colorado snow he's been missing this year.


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Steve's Halo

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Next up for March Madness........Nebraska and Kansas state high points, in a single day! I once again had a four day weekend following my Arizona and Breckenridge trip. I had slightly banged up my knee the weekend prior in Breckenridge so I thought taking it easy for a weekend was in order. I headed up to Fort Collins on Thursday to spend some time with my best friend Nathan, who when I got there was already downing some Avery Beers. We proceeded to have a few beers and had dinner downtown. Afterward we retired to his place with some Elevation Brewing First Cast IPA, he had yet to taste the gloriousness of Elevation. The next morning I set out to 'climb' the Nebraska state highpoint. I could only find directions from the North and not feeling like driving up into Wyoming I felt that I could probably find it on my own coming from Fort Collins. After about an hour and forty five minutes outside of Fort Collins and a lot of time looking at my iphone map I was on my way to the Nebraska state highpoint. The trip through towns like Keota and Grover was nothing short of fun. I find it interesting the history these places have had and the hard working people who still inhabit these places today. The summit of Panorama Point was tough but I had made it. It was a tad windy at the top and I could see the mountains to the west and a large herd of Pronghorn Antelope in the distance. After signing the summit register and taking pictures I proceeded to retrace my steps towards civilization. Driving on old county roads you leave plenty of time to contemplate about anything that pops into your head. After about 30 minutes of driving I had a crazy notion of driving down to Kansas and summiting its state high point. I looked at the map and from my location I had the exact same distance to Mt. Sunflower and my house. Hell it was only 11am, why not? I took the scenic route to Kansas. Passing through dusty old cow towns like New Raymer and Wray, Colorado to Haigler, Nebraska then onto Goodland, Kansas. After another few hours of driving I was on the final push to Mt. Sunflower. I was once again greeted with wind and not another soul out there. I took note of the summit register and the views that Mt. Sunflower provided. Both of these state high points in one day add to my total list of 6 now including Elbert, Rainier, Clingmans Dome and Brasstown Bald. After a long day of traveling I headed back to Colorado Springs for some rest and relaxation.

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Grover, CO

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Lone swingseat on the plans

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Nebraska High Point

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School house of the past

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Kansas High Point

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Horned Lark signing at the Kansas HP



But that wouldn't last for long as I had yet another four day weekend the following weekend. The past few years it has been a tradition to head to Moab area in March. I was missing a partner this season due to Steve's absence in Georgia so this trip would be a solo one for me. I headed to Moab on Thursday and proceeded immediately down to the Needles District in Canyonlands. I was able to get in a few miles of hiking before the sun would set and I'd be roaming the desert in the dark. The following day I had decided to hike to Druid Arch within the park boundaries. I have done most of the trails in Canyonlands but had yet to get down to Druid. It was about an 11 mile roundtrip hike from the Elephant Hill TH and the weather was perfect for the hike. There were many spring breakers in the park hiking and generally tended to be a busy place. Although after the final turnoff for Druid Arch the crowds waned and I had most of the canyon to myself. Druid Arch was a fantastic hike, I am not sure what I was expecting but I was surprised by the enormity of the arch. I had the opportunity to be alone with the views of the canyon and arch for about an hour. It really is amazing how anyone would ever find this natural sculpture in a remote canyon but it just shows you the need for humans to explore. After my hike I ended up on the outer boundaries of the park and found a nice place to car camp. The next day was supposed to be another hiking day but the weather did not cooperate and I ended up with a cold rain. I decided to bail and head to the Brian Thomas Monarch ski gathering. After a rough snowy ride over Battle Mountain on highway 24 I rolled into the Eddyline Brewing for a bite to eat and some brews. Afterward I ended up at the campsite where I found some familiar faces drinking and chatting around a campfire. The next day at Monarch was fun and skiing with a great group of guys Brain, Tommy, Nick and Vince. After the day ended we parted ways and I enjoyed the trek home to Colorado Springs.


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Utah views

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Utah sunsets

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Druid Arch

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Needles

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Sunsets make great photographs

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The La Sals

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The last of the suns rays

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Big Sky's in Utah

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Another sunset canyon



Overall the month of March was high on fun and low on work, isn't that how life is supposed to be lived? I was able to visit parts of the country that I would have never had the opportunity to experience without a since of adventure and I was able to re-visit some old favorites.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
globreal

A new definition for March Madness!
04/04/2014 14:28
That's a lot of miles driven and scenery seen in the month of March! Looks like a great way to take advantage of your time off.

Thanks for sharing. You've got some great pictures in there!



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