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Ben Tyler Trail #606 – 3rd time is NOT the charm! 5/25/13

26 May
The best view from the top

The best view from the top

Ahh how we are gluttons for punishment!  This past week was another perfect, warm week in Denver and as a result we convinced ourselves that we would try Ben Tyler ( Hike Details here) this weekend in hopes the snow was manageable enough to make it to the top.  I cannot tell you how desperate I am getting to see the top of this hike and so the hike started out almost perfect plus we heard other hikers talk about the peak as if it was clear.  We started up the switchbacks pretty optimistic and as we took in the view around the 2nd or 3rd traverse we started to wonder….

Optimistic start....but I spy snow

Optimistic start….but I spy snow

We were making great time and so far the snow was nowhere to be seen even as we crossed the creek the first time:

2 weeks ago snow was all around this crossing

2 weeks ago snow was all around this crossing

When the trail turned into a creek on its own, we were pretty psyched because we were certain it meant the top was ours this time.  Not to mention that at this point 2 weeks ago we were almost up to our knees in snow.

This is actually the trail with our own little creek occasionally

This is actually the trail with our own little creek occasionally

We didn’t even see our first patch of snow until we got to the point we turned around just 2 weeks ago, we were crazy excited we were moving at a good pace seeing beautiful sites and reaching the end of the of the Aspen grove.  That meant we were getting really close to the last stretch of trail before the top.

When we first started, we were soundly passed by that group of hikers talking about conditions at the top.  It was probably about a mile after our turnaround point last time that we ran back into them….coming down….dejected, ugh! Their words, huge wall of snow blocking the trail about 20 minutes up the trail.  This group was lovely and gave great advice, one of the gentleman said he had never seen it this bad this late in the year and he had been hiking here for years!  We got to their turnaround point and did something I am completely against….we went off trail.   We didn’t get far but far enough to realize that we were chasing a dream at this point.  After a valiant effort we threw in the towel again, not before I took an epic fall that made the most beautiful colors on my calf and left butt cheek, mostly my left cheek.  When I slipped and fell on the rock hiding under the snow my leg actually went immediately numb for about 30 seconds, I knew it was a bad sign.  It kept waking me up last night when I tried turning over but didn’t stop our hike today so I will chalk it up to just a bad fall with a deep tissue bruise as a result.

The best part of Colorado this time of the year was that it was in the 50’s the whole time and we were in shorts, shorts and gators eventually but mostly shorts.  I am becoming more sure every day that we are living in Heaven on earth.  Before I put up our favorite pictures from the hike, does any one know what kind of bird this is?  It was pretty flirty with us and posing like crazy:

What kind of bird is this, anyone?

What kind of bird is this, anyone?

Fingers crossed that next time we see Kenosha pass.

It was hard to resist not trying harder... the view of where we are trying to go

It was hard to resist not trying harder… the view of where we are trying to go

shorts n gators

shorts n gators

Ugh 3+ ft of unstable snow....

Ugh 3+ ft of unstable snow….

Pretty Cactus Flowers

Pretty Cactus Flowers

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Ben Tyler Trail #606-Pike National forest. 2nd attempt failed- 5/11/13

12 May
The view of our destination from the beginning

The view of our destination from the beginning

When we kind of stubbornly decided we were going to do Ben Tyler Trail (hike details here) this weekend, I knew deep down there was no way in hell we would make it to the top……. AGAIN.  It is really close to Kenosha Pass and one of the areas that probably got 4-5 feet of snow over the last month and then this week we had rain all week which meant snow storms up high, but still we got up insanely early and headed out to this trail.

A little closer the curve of the mountain to the middle right is where we are trying to get to.

A little closer the curve of the mountain to the middle right is where we are trying to get to.

At the beginning of the hike we were really optimistic, the trail conditions were straight up awesome and the weather was perfect.  I mean check out that sky, have you ever seen a more perfect color blue!

No gators yet

No gators yet

About a mile or so in, the snow really was taking over and we were trying to not comment about how deep it was starting to get.  There was only one other set of foot prints in front of us and honestly we were really hoping it was someone who had made it to the top.   We saw him jogging down not long before we crossed the stream for the first time and we were so excited he was actually there today (and not the day before) that we forgot to ask how far up he made it.

Crossing the creek

Crossing the creek

It wasn’t too far after this that we saw where the runner turned around, headed back and then we realized that it was time for gators.  I picked up some new ones at a great price and I am so glad they arrived before this hike because I needed them today.

Gator time

Gator time

Snow is getting higher

Snow is getting higher

At least the views made the snow not such a big deal

At least the views made the snow not such a big deal

We honestly didn’t take that many pictures and when we did, these are all with my iPhone or our Olympus tough camera not our canon, but the day was so beautiful I think it would have been hard to take a bad picture.

iPhone - Aaron's favorite from the hike

iPhone – Aaron’s favorite from the hike

After we saw where the runner turned around, it was just us blazing the trail through the snow.  Which we love but man was it a workout, first a foot, then 2 and 3 when finally we got to the trail marker around 10,000 feet up.

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We were huffing and puffing all through here still feeling good so we continued forward although we knew that it was unlikely we could get all that much further. It was actually getting warmer, the snow was getting deeper and more unstable yet we still had hope that we might make it up a little higher or that the snow would be a little less but finally we had to admit….the snow was too much.

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Before we took these pictures, Aaron slid down almost to his waist, for like a second we wanted to try to go further and try too hard to make it to the top.  But the clouds were really moving in and the reality that the snow was not going down at all hit us.  We turned around and started heading back, as I have begun to learn going down is not as easy as I once thought it was, the temperature had started raising and the snow was melting pretty quickly.  Only from the bottom up or so it seemed, the stress to our knees was intense.

the way back is not so great

the way back is not so great

The hardest part of heading down before we wanted too, was that the clouds almost disappeared and the sky turned this intense amazing blue that made us wish we hadn’t turned around ( even though it was the right decision) because the views on a day like yesterday would have been unbelievable.  I cannot wait to make it to the top one day and we will!

Seriously blue with my iPhone no less

Seriously blue with my iPhone no less

I feel like I had never seen this color blue in nature until I moved here and now I cannot get enough.

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In the end we managed to get to a little over 8 miles of hiking with a total elevation gain of 1700ft but it took us 5 hours round trip. One stupid feeling of awesomeness hit us on the way back, there was another pair of foot prints in the snow that suddenly appeared but they turned around at least half a mile or more before we did.  We got to the parking lot as they were finishing up their de-clothing post hike ritual, 2 guys younger and in better shape than us the look on their faces when they realized we went further than them was priceless.  We could almost read their lips “like seriously they beat us”, it felt crazy great!

We just loved the views too much and our favorite pictures got out of control so forgive me.

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