David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Estes Cone


The days when I could lope up the Twin Sisters’ telephone lines in 46 minutes are long gone, but there are still plenty of nice hikes for old folks like me. When I went up Estes Cone with some friends last week I took along the 1936 K-2 expedition ice ax I used in numerous difficult climbs years ago. Now it served as a mere walking stick as I wheezed my way along the trail.

Estes Cone is just across the road from the Aspen Lodge, which reminds me that I mentioned Joe Droesser here some weeks ago.  He called to tell me that after 28 winters as the owner, he now lives in Phoenix, plays some tennis and has plenty of time to “shoot the rat”—that’s “chew the rag.” It was good to hear from him.

Estes Cone isn’t one of our loftier peaks, at only 11,006 feet, but it’s certainly the most symmetrical as well as one of the first to be named. It appears on the earliest survey maps, right next to “Lillies” Mountain.

The short climb to the top is certainly among the most rewarding in the Park. The view of Longs, Trail Ridge, the Twin Sisters and south through Tahosa Valley is spectacular, and this is a case where getting there is half the fun.

The trail begins near The Ledges which was, as is proclaimed by a bronze plaque, homesteaded by the artist Dean Babcock and his wife in 1909.  As the trail approaches timberline near the summit, one passes through what is known as the Gob1in Forest, so-called because the twisted trees look as though they might reach out and grab you.

The agricultural expert in our little group pointed out the way the trees on the west have struggled to stay alive. Often two or three dead branches are surrounded by a twisting, living branch, as it uses the dead parts for support in this clearly desperate fight for survival.

Looking at them, one senses the power of life itself, in its constant battle to dominate the environment. Many of these trees are hundreds of years old, and we were all disgusted by the sight of some idiot’s recent attempt to immortalize himself by carving his initials on one of the oldest and most beautiful of them.

We were rewarded for our effort with rainbows on the east, snow on the west, and sunshine both north and south; a magnificent pay-off, and while I can’t guarantee the weather, this is a climb almost anyone can make.

I have to say “almost” because near the bottom on the way down we ran into a lady wearing designer jeans, Cuban heels, and a name-tag which said “Hi! I’m Julie.” She wanted to know how far it was to the top.

Who knows, maybe she made it, too.




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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