Search results for 'Mt. Flora'

Mt. Flora Trail (Repeater) 9/29/13

20 Oct

1

I had grandiose visions of how this hike might turn out…lots of ooooohhhhhhhssss and aaaahhhhsss.  And while  when I planned out it made perfect sense, in the end, the weather sometimes just doesn’t cooperate.

We had a crazy good time in Breckenridge and it was hard to crawl out of bed to make our way to Mt. Flora (hike details here) on our way back to reality, so we moved a little more slowly then my perfect planning dictated, but I didn’t care because this was the 4th hike in 4 days and I was determined regardless…….. oh wait I am lying, I was totally done hiking and just wanted to veg doing fun touristy things for the rest of our time together.  Instead of telling Mary of where I was at, I said nothing and as we pulled up to the trailhead I started preparing her for a shortened hike.  It truly was windy in the parking lot and would be 10 -100  times windier at the summit…..

Mary for her part was a super trooper to the end.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made her point at the continental Divide trail as proof she hiked part of it…… I think it meant more to me then her

We had all we needed to get to the summit, crampons, gaiters, lots of extra clothes and poles….. what we didn’t have was the best conditions, oh and a guide(me) who was worried after the hike the day before with her guest hiker’s issues with heights.  Not worried about the trail but the person who was “uncomfortable” with heights. On any given day this trail is not hard but it is super high and after you turn a corner the views are REALLY expansive.   Lets not talk about the climb up…with snow …and wind.   There was a point where, when I looked back and poor Mary was so uncomfortable  that I am pretty sure she was shaking, just a little bit.  As a person who has been hiking up high for a while and has no problems with heights, this was a revelation.  I tried to see it the way she saw it, I imagine it looks like seeing through a fisheye lens with skewed blurry edges, everything else just looking off and too close while looking too far away at the same time.  It feels terrifying I imagine, fortunately for me I only get exhilarated when up high seeing the views.

When I got to the point where I was sure the snow would be less deep (and promised Mary this would be the case) and we would be traversing across the mountain, I saw the snow was still like 10+ inches deep.  It was too much and the wind was picking up so I turned us around, not because of how Mary was doing but because I knew after the traverse I would have to turn us around anyway because the wind would be super hard at that elevation to ever summit.  There was no reason to put her through more than she could take to only turn her around a half a mile later.

Turnaround point

Turnaround point

After we turned around she confessed she would have been ok if we had skipped hiking this 4th hike….. sometimes it is ok to trick everyone into a little workout even if no one wanted that workout.   The views were amazing but the trail small and so I kept moving around her taking pictures of us, the hard part was that she could not not move or not say careful careful….  I will tell you that we laughed A LOT.

seriously dont move....

seriously don’t move….

getting windier

getting windier

Seriously windy

Seriously windy

Heading back down she realized that it wasn’t as hard as she imagined it would be going down and that if I had turned her around a half mile later she would have been really mad at me….. It was the right choice.  We took in the crazy amazing views on our way back down and decided to get some yummy food in Winter Park.   I used Yelp to find something good and we hit this place on the main strip called Denos Mountain Bistro, we weren’t really all that concerned if it was good just as long we could enjoy the end of our vacation in style.   I think the shock was how stinking good it was….like seriously unbelievably good, been dreaming about it since I was there good…..  Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE Colorado.  If you are in WInter Park, go there on a Sunday and get the Brunch Burger it is like heaven on a bun and I don’t even like burgers all that much!  Their Eggs Benedict was perfect too and more…. Mary got the Brunch Burger and I resented her for getting to enjoy the whole thing while I got just a piece of it.

Ok here are the last pics I got before the wind was just too much and a promise from Mary that she will try this hike again when there is less or no snow.

good view with a great friend trying for a selfie One more too cute

 

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Colorado Mines Peak( 12,493) & Mt. Flora* Repeater *(13,132), Mt. Eva – Fail, Berthoud Pass Between Winter Park & Empire CO 6/22/13

26 Jun

View west

Continental Divide Trail to> Mines Peak Road> Mt. Flora Trail > Traverse to Mt. Eva

Starting Elevation: 11,315 Ft

Highest Elevation: 13,132 Ft ( We had a total elevation gain of approximately 2800Ft)

Trail Length: Officially, if we had finished 10 miles. We Turned around about a mile short of Mt. Eva so officially we got 8 miles but my fitbit said we got about 10 miles anyway. We spent 5 hours hiking total.

Trail Uses: Hiker only after the road

Degree of difficulty: Strenuous – Mostly due to Altitude & Length

Bathrooms: There is one at the Berthoud Pass parking lot, but keep extra supplies handy, it is popular.

Pets: Dogs are allowed on the trail but they must be leashed.

Fees: None

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We did Mt. Flora ( Details here) last September, it was our first and only 13er and a huge achievement for us. Unfortunately it was also our last because snow moved in, then moved in again and again. We are really close to our planned 14er and so this seemed like a good way to visit Mt. Flora again and do additional peaks, elevation gain, mileage while getting progressively higher in time to do our 14er next week. I read about this trifecta of peaks in my Colorado Mountain Club book, we had already done Mt. Flora so seeing the other 2 peaks felt right.

We started a little later than we wanted to at about 8AM but jumped right in, we cranked it up Colorado Mines Peak road in just 50 minutes. That is 1178 ft of elevation gain in just 1.3 miles.

Colorado Mines Peak Road past the Mt. Flora trailhead.

Colorado Mines Peak Road past the Mt. Flora trailhead.

Almost at the top of Colorado Mines Peak

Almost at the top of Colorado Mines Peak

The view West as we climbed

The view West as we climbed to Colorado Mines Peak

The top of this peak is not very exciting as it is full of buildings and antennas, but the views are beautiful. We didn’t spend too much time here but still managed to not find the official path down to the Mt. Flora trail so we just went down close to the ridge line since we could easily see the trail below. On the way back from Flora we clearly saw the correct path coming off of Mines, if I had to guess it is straight North from the main road once you get to the top.

We started down by this Pole, which would be the wrong way...

We started down by this Pole, which would be the wrong way…

It was is almost a 40o ft decent, and the wall of snow hanging off of the ridge line was impressive.

Wall of snow along the ridge line of Mines

Wall of snow along the ridge line of Mines

me coming down the side of Colorado Mines

me coming down the side of Colorado Mines

We pretty much had Colorado Mines peak completely to ourselves up and then again down, but as we were going down to Flora we could see 3 groups of hikers on that trail already. As we started on the Mt. Flora trail we keep our aggressive pace and in no time we made it to the top. At the point we hit the top of Mt. Flora we had been hiking for 2 hours 20 minutes, 25 minutes less than it took us last time and we had already added elevation and mileage to our hike.

on the path to Mt. Flora

on the path to Mt. Flora

Again we didn’t spend too much time on Mt. Flora as we were anxious to get over to Mt. Eva and to us it looked way further away then 2 miles.

Mt. Eva is almost perfectly in the middle, past the peak on the left but under the higher peak in the middle

Mt. Eva is almost perfectly in the middle, past the peak on the left but under the higher peak in the middle

A Quick capture of us on Flora

A Quick capture of us on Flora

There is no defined path to Eva you just follow your eyes over to it, we kinda went up 2 un-named peaks and then followed a couple cairns down the ridge line, again. Each one looked like an inverted path below but when we got there we were oh that makes sense and moved onto the next one. It took us an hour to work our way almost a mile over and when we looked over to Eva it still looked more than 2 miles away.

Eva is the peak a little left of center with the remains of a building on it

Eva is the peak a little left of center with the remains of a building on it

It was a tough call at this point, the way down looked REALLY challenging then having to come back up 6 hours into a hike seemed not the smartest for us. The wind had picked up and the smoke from all the wild fires was building up more, we decided that we would turn around and try it another day. We climbed back up to Flora even though we could have easily cut it off to get back to the parking lot, we just wanted a little extra mileage and elevation.

On the first un-named peak north of Flora, In fact Flora is over my shoulder

On the first un-named peak north of Flora, In fact Flora is over my shoulder

The view East getting smokey

The view East getting smokey

We felt great on this hike, the altitude was a factor but only in the beginning and then as we came to the top of Flora. We really moved faster than I felt we have for some time. On the way back down we encountered one snow field on the Mt. Flora trail and we were able to walk around with a little work.

Snow FIeld on the way back down Flora

Snow FIeld on the way back down Flora

This is a great hike and one I know we will do again and again. We felt awesome in the way we climbed and how quickly we moved, so much better than the first time we did this hike. One thing I want to note is that this trail is a busy one and mostly above tree line, opportunities to relieve yourself are VERY tricky and use lots of sunscreen ( just sayin). After the directions will be our favorite pictures from the hike. The ones with the shadows are from Colorado Mines peak.

Directions: Take I-70 west to exit 232, US 40 west. Follow US 40 for approximately 14.4 miles up through Empire to the top of Berthoud Pass. You will see Berthoud Pass Trailhead Parking lot there on your right and you are at the trailhead.

View North on Mines OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In Shadows of the buildings on Mines View south of Mines OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA View of CO Mines VIew south west from flora OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA VIew North OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mount Flora Trail-Berthoud Pass/ Between Winter Park & Empire 9/29/12 ( Our first 13ner!!!!)

30 Sep

Continental Divide Trail > Mines Peak Road > Mt. Flora Trail ( Part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail)

Starting Elevation:  11,315FT

Ending Elevation:  13,100FT (Total Elevation Gain 1800Ft)

Trail Length:  6.4 miles officially, my fitbit said 7.5 miles.  It took us 2:45 going up and 1:30 coming down.

Trail uses:  Hiker only after you get off the Mines Peak Road.

Degree of difficulty:  Difficult to Strenuous, mostly due to the elevation

Bathrooms:  There is one at the Berthoud pass trailhead parking lot and, but keep supplies handy it is heavily used, just in the time it took us to get ready to hike at least 10 cars pulled in off of Berthoud Pass just to use it.

Pets:  Dogs must be leashed

Fees:  None

I picked this one out of the Falcon guide: Best Hikes near Denver.  It was the perfect distance as well as giving us another increase in elevation to help get us more practice with high altitude hikes.  We knew this was likely to be the last weekend we could work on our elevation hikes and sure enough it snowed this past week above 12,ooo ft.  But the weather was going to be so perfect and we decided it was worth trying to get this last one in before it is all front range hikes focused on building our stamina until next spring.  When we pulled into the parking lot it was a mad dash to the bathroom/warming hut  and man it was cold outside about 35 degrees.

Park on either side of the lot, the trail starts both at the Continental Divide Trail sign( northeast side of the lot) and goes across the parking lot to the Mines Peak Road ( Southeast side of the lot).

We parked by the southeast side right at the Mines Peak road part of the hike, but our smooth move last week of adding a couple of miles on to our trip by not reading the book carefully had me being extra cautious.  This led me to walk over to the Northeast side of the lot, only to stupidly walk back across the trail to the Mines Peak road and past our car….again.  Fortunately there was only 3-4 people there to witness this awesome move in hiking navigation.  We hiked up the road through almost 4 switchbacks when the Mt. Flora Trail Head came up at the curve on that 4th one, we stayed straight on the single track.

From here it was pretty straight forward, as we got closer to the saddle between Mines Peak( on the right) and Mt. Flora( leftish- straight ahead) the wind really picked up and the snow was now regular.   Here we had a really pleasant surprise, one of my coworkers was headed down with her husband, and Wendy is my hiking superhero so seeing her there was a great rush.  The trail than climbs what other hikers referred to as a false summit, past this boulder bump just keep moving it is half a mile to the summit from here.  It is a pretty flat summit and there is a nice little wind shelter just to the left of the big cairn, which was a nice break at that point in time.   It was COLD!  Fortunately we had packed a lot of stuff to keep us warm, hats, neck warmers, mittens….. if we needed it, we also had long underwear tops and bottoms along with extra socks.  Aaron carries a nice backpack and it holds everything we need in case of multiple situations plus water for him.  I always joke that for every pound I lose, he has to add it to the backpack for him.   It works for me but eventually I will probably have to start working with my own backpack…. We did not take our time capturing images on this one because of the cold, we gave ourselves 20 minutes and then packed up and headed down to a warmer altitude.  So our pictures aren’t too great….

There are 2 real challenges to this hike, first and most important is the altitude while the distance isn’t great, 2:45 hrs to climb to the top seems reasonable as we had to keep stopping and getting some good breathes in.   The other was the wind and then snow that final mile, but we prepared for it.  I could not believe how many hikers we passed on the way down that didn’t look nearly prepared enough to make it to the top and that is a shame because the views were beautiful!   We turned around and went down as quickly as we could and the once frozen path with snow was now icy then muddy as we got further down.  After the directions I will post a few more pictures of our last altitude challenging hike.

Directions:  Take I-70 west to exit 232, US 40 west.  Follow US 40 for approximately 14.4 miles up through Empire to the top of Berthoud Pass.  You will see Berthoud Pass Trailhead Parking lot there on your right and you are at the trailhead.

Hikes Completed

21 Feb

Here is a quick list of the hikes I have done to date, this is an evolving list and will be updated regularly.

Click on the name for hike details:

EASY

Fountain Valley Trail

South Valley Ranch

Spruce Mountain

South Rim Trail

Rawhide Trail – White Ranch Park

Green Mountain – Lakewood

Elk Range Trail – Centennial Cone

Riverside path – Breckenridge

Waterton Canyon

Meyer Ranch

East Castlewood Canyon

Baker Loveland Trail #60

MODERATE

Deer Creek Canyon

Carpenters Peak

NightHawk Trail – Hall Ranch

Mohawk Lakes

Gem Lake

Evergreen Mountain

Finch Lake

Eldorado Canyon Trail

Walker Ranch

Mesa

Big Bluestem

Hell’s Hole

Pine Valley Ranch to Buck Gulch

Mason Creek Trail – Staunton State Park Trail

Staunton Ranch  Trail – Staunton State Park

Castle View Trail – Mt. Falcon

Belcher hill trail

Lookout Mountain

Peaks Trail #45

Matthews/Winters Park

Grizzly Gulch

Herman Lake & Gulch

Chief & Squaw Mountains

Deer Mountain RMNP

Fern Lake

North Fork Trail

DIFFICULT

James Peak

Mt. Flora

Chicago Lakes

Bergen Peak

Butler Gulch

Twin Sisters

Chasm Lake

Lion’s Gulch to Homestead Meadow

Pawnee Pass

Green Mountain Via Gregory Canyon

Mason Creek > BorderLine > Staunton Ranch Trails

Three Mile Creek Trail

Breaver Brook Trail

Mt. Sniktau

STRENUOUS

Ben Tyler Trail – Mostly because I have never finished it.

St. Vrain Mountain

Bear Peak – Boulder

Quandary Peak ( 14,265)

The Incline 

SNOWSHOES:

Mills Lake

Butler Gultch

Breckenridge Nordic Center

Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes

Trail Ridge Road

St. Marys Glacier

Burning Bear Trail

Ben Tyler Trail #606 – Pike National Forest 12/1/12

2 Dec

Our Goal- I think

Ben Tyler Trail #606

Starting Elevation: Approximately 8300Ft

Highest Elevation:  Approximately 11,700Ft ( total gain would have been 3400ft) ….Unfortunately we only made it to just shy of 11,oooFt, we think

Trail Length: 11.5 miles officially but since I left my fitbit at home I have no idea what it would have tracked.  In the end we only made it 9-10 miles due to altitude sickness.

Trail Uses:  Hiking & Horses….No Bikes

Degree of Difficulty:  Difficult – a long in and out with a big altitude gain

Bathrooms: None  and I mean none anywhere close so glad I got over issue with being one with mother nature a few months ago because it would have been awful!!!!!  There is a nice gas station in Bailey as you leave town a Loaf and Jug on the right of 285, use it on the way in and way out if that is something you need.  Otherwise be prepared with ziplock baggies, TP, hand sanitizer and all their glory…..

Fees: None but you do have to register for a free permit at the trailhead. Which would be easy if there were any blank permits…I kinda got the feeling the National Forest Ranger hadn’t been there since September the box was full with filled out permits.  I picked a permit from August and then put my information in with today’s date, mostly because of the time of year we were hiking but I did also have my hiking Emergency Contact fully aware of all of our details.

To be honest we had fallen out of preparedness to do hikes this high but I guess I didn’t really think this through.  My only thoughts were, I need to get re-energized on my life change and I saw pictures of the hike from last weekend with little to no snow showing.  This is pretty unusual this high up and at this time of year so I figured a few amazing views of spectacular mountains would remind me that in order to keep seeing these things I need to be at a healthier weight and stronger.   So I pretty willfully planned doing this hike today.

TrailheadPermit boxTrail sign

We got to the trailhead at 7:30AM, mostly because I was worried at how long it would take us to complete 12-ish miles with a 3400 FT elevation gain, from what I had read it could take between 5-10 hours.  It is inclines fast on these initial switchbacks and then flattens out until the creek.

beginning trailLost Creek Wilderness Pike National Forest

About a 1.5 miles in the trail has an option to go either over the creek or stay straight.  Stay straight, in a half a mile the trail will cross the creek at this second point.  This is the route you want to be on.

1st river crossingStay Straight at first creek crossing2nd creek crossing

The next 2 miles go through the most amazing Aspen grove I have ever seen, it is over 3000 acres large and here the grade got pretty steep as we climbed to our goal.

Aspen GroveAspen Grove to the other mountain

As we climbed out of the Aspen grove, the views started to really open up, unfortunately so did the dizziness….

View ove 10k close to the treeline

While we climbed through the first 2 miles we were right on track at 2 miles an hour, when we go to this point I saw it had taken another 2 hours to go just 2-3 miles…… I am guessing here, but I think we were really close to the next trail break which is at 11,000Ft and almost 5 miles.  I kept stopping Aaron and making him wait while I dealt with my dizziness really slowing us down.  Then he checked his blood sugar (He is a type 1 diabetic) unfortunately he was REALLY high, but the real problem was that he thought he was really low because he was having vertigo with visual issues.  Needless to say, we made the decision to turnaround at that point, as a result no fun pictures other than those I took of trail specs with my iPhone.  We immediately went down as quickly as we could and then drank as much water as was possible.  It was a first for us and as we slowly went down battling our nausea and dizziness, I realized everything I had done wrong.

When we were doing trails this high a few months ago, I very carefully planned each hike to climb one week a little higher and then the next week going just below that, building until we  ended  with our first 13,000+ foot peak, Mt. Flora.  But up to this hike, the past 5-8 hikes had all been around or below 8300Ft.  It was the first failure in a really long time, 6 months in fact, and it hurt both literally and figuratively…..

Honestly this trail was amazing and this is way off-season.  There was only one other couple we saw in 6 hours of hiking, but again this is off-season for hiking it the best time to hike it is late spring/summer and fall.  Really I bet in Fall this is the gem you can’t miss doing with that 3000 acre Aspen grove…. we are so doing this again and I hope soon.

Directions:  From Denver, drive South on U.S. 285 and when you get to Bailey, the trailhead is just under 7 miles further on the left (South) side of U.S. 285.  The parking lot is small and maybe looks more like a shoulder , it can’t hold more than 10 cars so get there early – well only during the busier times now come when you want!

Cool TreeKS n AL

Spring Break hiking 3/1- 3/6/14 All Repeaters

15 Mar
view from Evergreen Mt.

view from Evergreen Mt.

When my nieces came to visit me last year, their one request was more hiking.  I honestly had no idea they would like it as much as they did.  I wanted to get them out as much as possible while still giving them a break from school.  I had grand plans, hike 3/1, snowshoe 3/2, sunrise hike 3/3, break on 3/4, hike of their choice on 3/5 play 3/6 by ear…. our first hike fell apart quickly while the snowshoe on 3/2 was excellent as I mentioned here.

For our sunrise hike on 3/3 I was pretty uncertain we would ever be able to do it because the avalanche risk was so high all through the high country and I am not yet educated on avalanche safety and awareness.  I picked a mountain that I knew was a low risk but tricky to get to, Colorado Mines Mountain.  With the snow storm we had on 3/1 I wasn’t certain the road up would be open but it was so we got up at 2AM and headed out to attempt their first sunrise hike.  When we arrived at the Berthoud Pass parking lot I was not expecting the 15 foot high wall of snow all around the parking lot nor Aaron getting bad coffee from 7-11.  He hardly had the car in park before he was running to the warming hut vault toilets to be sick.  Which I might add is one of the most awful places in the world to have that kind of situation in…. And my old negative Nellie said out loud “oh yeah we aren’t doing this”.

At the top of the continental divide sign

At the top of the continental divide sign

While Aaron was being sick I told them to get their snow pants on and wait in the car while I scouted out the trail to see what we had to work with.  The snow was actually hard enough to walk on and the snowshoe trail was just like Butler’s Gulch the week before in that we didn’t need snowshoes where all the other snowshoers had gone before us.  I walked a good quarter-mile up without anything but my hiking boots.  That walk felt good so I went back, checked on Aaron and the 3 of us adventured up the trail a bit to get a feel.  I should have had them put on their snowshoes and just gone for it but I didn’t, and my lack of confidence probably contributed to their unease.  We went up about half a mile, shut off our headlamps and then turned around.  We decided we would wait for sunrise in the parking lot and then head back for naps as soon as Aaron could safely leave the bathroom.  We goofed around where we could and then as the sun started to rise the snow picked up along with the wind… it was almost a white out.  I took a look down Berthoud pass and we weren’t going to catch any of the sunrise from there the snow was so thick in crazy blowing winds.  I am still kicking myself for not just taking them up alone, I am perfectly capable but I let doubt rule me!  Regardless it would have been miserable at the top with absolutely no views.  I promised them that if they came in the summer we would do this again on a better mountain.

On Wednesday, we hit Staunton State Park and the weather was absolutely perfect, the views were amazing and my nieces were the perfect company.  We hiked about 8 of the miles Aaron and I hiked last fall.  We did the Staunton Ranch trail to Scout Line, took Marmot down and then Staunton Ranch back out.   The hardest part was the little bit of snow we had to contend with, it was just enough to have slipping and sliding more than we wanted too.

The best view on Scout line - see pikes peak?

The best view on Scout line – see pikes peak?

What I loved was just talking with my nieces about whatever, they are adults now and so incredibly smart it was a revelation.   I found myself wanting to study again so I could keep up!

pikes peak and views staunton view on scout line

We did the length of Scout Line trail and then headed down Marmot passage to get a little loop back to Staunton Ranch trial.  Overall it gave us 8-9 miles of hiking with perfect weather and amazing company.

marmot passage sign

Taking marmot passage

view 2

View on the way down Marmot Passage

Staunton view on marmot

too good to miss

After making them hike a lot on Wednesday, my nieces were still up for another hike on Thursday so we decided that the first hike we wanted to take them on- Evergreen Mountain– would be the one to do.  It was like night and day from just 5 days before.  The only downside was the snow on the path with the ice underneath that snow.  Once again Lauren and Anne proved how awesome they are!   It was supposed to a warm beautiful day, and while it was warm the sun stayed hidden which meant it wasn’t as warm as we had hoped it would be.

I love showing new people to this trail, when I do I usually take them to it before we hike much else only because the route up can be kind of boring after other hikes.  I felt that boring aspect the most this last time with no sun and the pesky snow making us slip and slide all over the place even more than the day before.   But the summit views were lovely to behold as always.  I think that was the redeeming part of the hike for us all after a struggle to get up through the melting, sloppy snow… that and the drinks afterwards.

us on evergreen mt. at the top summit of evergreen

This visit overall was so nice, having my nieces here made me both miss my family terribly and want to redouble my efforts to get them all to move here to Colorado…. now I am patiently waiting until my next family visit.  It needs to come faster!

ice castle moment

I hope you are experiencing some form of spring awesomeness and if you are, get out there and hike, life is too short!!!!