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Chief Mountain (11,700) & Squaw Mountain ( 11,398) Evergreen CO Hiked 7/6/14

8 Aug

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Starting Elevation: 11,000Ft

Highest Elevation: 11,700 Ft ( total elevation gain was around 1800 ft.)

Trail Length: Officially I thought 4.8 miles…8.7 miles later I am pretty sure the book was wrong

Trial uses:  Hiker, biker & Horses some portions are a 4×4 road

Degree of difficulty:  Moderate

Bathrooms:  None

Pets: Yes – Although on the path to Squaw Mtn there is a gun range of sorts so keep them on leash.

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I won’t lie, I originally picked this as an easy hike to do on a 2 hike weekend.   My Colorado Mountain Club book says it is just 4.8 miles round trip, with a total of 1800 feet of elevation gain.  But not only was the round trip distance wrong, so was where the trail was supposed to be.  When I got back to the car I had to look at the book to make sure it said round trip.   It didn’t help that we picked up the trail at the wrong place too.  We saw a trail like entrance across from the wrong pull off and just went with it after driving back and forth a couple of times on 103.   It turned out this is the fire access road to both mountains any way but it did add 2 miles to our trip, which means had we found the original entrance it still would have been almost 7 miles around trip.  I am not sure what has changed in the last 4-5 years but I am pretty sure Squaw mountain didn’t move in that amount of time.

Fire Access Road we started out on

Fire Access Road we started out on

The day itself couldn’t have been more perfect and honestly we didn’t mind the extra mileage as it kinda took us away from the crowds.  FYI the Chief Mountain portion is high volume and for very good reason.  It is a bit of climb in just a mile and half( if you hit the correct starting point) since we started a bit higher and further away, our climb was spaced out a bit.  But for a 3 mile hike( 4.5 miles if you start where we did), you cannot beat the views.

The views from the fire road

The views from the fire road

Once you get to the actual Chief Mtn trail, the trail itself is steep but not too steep and you have some coverage in the trees but that is mostly in the first half of mile.  Then it starts to open up. For us, the first mile was on an old fire road so while we were lucky with shade on the way up because of how early we started, then the impending storm on our way back we didn’t have to deal with too much sun that first mile either.

Ahh Here is Chief mountain Trail.

Ahh Here is Chief mountain Trail.

After that though it was all in the sun to the summit.   And oh my the views!

The right way to hike up Easy to follow Above the tree line

Getting to the summit was a little but of a scramble but nothing terrible, it was 360 degree views and as I was looking over at Squaw I was really starting to doubt it what just 1.5 miles to that summit.

The view of Squaw from Chief

The view of Squaw from Chief

Me climbing down the Scraamble

Me climbing down the Scramble

One view from Chief looking towards Evans

One view from Chief looking towards Evans

We got down Chief fast even with all the people coming up and us giving way.  Once we got back to the fire road, we went to our right to get to Squaw.

Back on the fire road to Squaw

Back on the fire road to Squaw

Squaw Mt. Access Road

Squaw Mt. Access Road

The fire road dead ends right into the Squaw mountain access road which is 4×4 in some places.  It was kinda not exciting AND there was some type of gun range not too far up where 5 or 6 people were having lots of target practice.  For this reason alone I probably couldn’t recommend you ever bring dogs up this path unless they are trained to be ok around gun fire.

Make shift gun range empty on our way down

Make shift gun range empty on our way down

Just up and around the corner from it, there is a gate closing off the road from motor vehicles.  There is also a small parking area if you have rented out the old fire watch tower for the night.  I have to tell you as a storm was starting to role in, I was thinking how cool it would be to rent out that Fire tower for a night or 2 and enjoy some rocky mountain weather.

Some details on renting the old Fire tower

Some details on renting the old Fire tower

The road closes to motorized vehicles from here

The road closes to motorized vehicles from here

Eventually we got to the top of Squaw and were decidedly underwhelmed… not by the views but by all the industrial towers we went up and around them to see the views but saw the weather coming in and so headed back down. It took us 3.5 miles from the top of Chief to get to the top of Squaw.

Fire Watch tower We should have turned around here

Fire Watch tower We should have turned around here

Mostly what is on the top of Squaw

Mostly what is on the top of Squaw

Here comes the weather

Here comes the weather

I will tell you that I will only ever do Chief again and have done it once since we did this back in July.  I will now always take visitors here because seriously the views are amazing.  I never need to see Squaw again unless I decide to rent out the old fire tower.  We didn’t bring our good camera with us because we didn’t have high expectations but once we got up to the top of Chief I was so sad that we didn’t!  After the directions will be a few of the good pictures we managed to capture before weather moved in.

Directions:  From Denver Take I70 west to Evergreen Parkway (Exit 252), go about 3 miles to Squaw Pass Road ( 103). Take it up approximately 12 miles.  When you pass Echo Mountain Ski area look for the next pull off the real trailhead is right there.

View from Squaw

View Chief Mtn from Squaw Mtn

View Chief Mtn from Squaw Mtn It the one on the right

View form Squaw3 View from Squaw 2 Me on Squaw 2 View from Squaw

 

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Bergen Peak(Repeater), Evergreen CO hiked 5/24/14

31 May

Mt. Evans

The snow is still plentiful all over the mountains and frankly I didn’t feel like dealing with it last weekend but I really wanted to get close to 10,000 ft high.  Plus I have been feeling sadly out of shape so I picked my favorite standby, Bergen Peak (Hike Details here).  The day was actually pretty cloudy and we were racing against a flash flood warning that popped up as we were driving to the trailhead.

Outside of the changing weather, which is a normal threat in Colorado like all the time, the hike was great. We spent about 4.5 hours hiking around 10.5-11 miles and the trail was CROWDED.  Plus all the snow from the weekend before created snow melt streams in places we had never seen water at before while on this hike.

When we got to the summit, Mt. Evans was totally drenched in sun and blue skies while we hung out under clouds, it was awesome!

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I started out this hike not wanting to be there for like the first time in years…. literally.  It was not just a tough morning but a tough week, with a tough week before that one and another ahead of me.  I was struggling at first but like it always does, the hike helped me process through some of that. and get to a place of happiness.

There are always tough times, the one thing that always makes me happy is hiking. I am so glad I forced myself out because it made this past week just a little easier to get through.

For the record there was no snow on Bergen peak.  It was a little muddy and definitely crowded, people are getting anxious to get to get as high as they can right now, but overall it was the prefect place to hike and avoid snow.

I was happy to be out there and find some peace, that peace kept me moving all weekend and on a beautiful 3 day weekend no less!

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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!!!!

My hiking adventures on 1/18 & 1/19/14

28 Jan

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My one goal this past weekend was just to make it above 9000Ft on our hike.  I had wanted to hit a new trail and then we got on I70 going west on a Saturday morning.  It was a parking lot even before Evergreen which is pretty bad.  With the traffic nightmare ahead of us, I just pulled off at Evergreen and hit Bergen Peak( Hike details here).  It gets above 9500Ft and is an excellent workout.  Can I tell you how nice it was to have the knowledge to switch hikes at the drop of a hat!  It was a proud moment for me.

Traffic with a view

Traffic with a view

The trail wasn’t too bad at all, yes there was snow and ice but not near the levels it was last spring or even this past fall.  In fact, it had less snow than Evergreen Mt the weekend before, which is just down the road from it.  It did still slow us down, that and hiking with our new backpacks on with some added weight made the whole hike take about 5 hours.  It felt great!  I was exhausted from the added intensity that snow brings to a hike.   Plus the day was almost perfect with beautiful blue skies and almost no wind.

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Oh and everyone must have been skiing, because we practically had it to ourselves until the last mile down.  A great day of hiking for sure.

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We felt very good Sunday morning and so suited back up and hit an easy 5 miles at South Valley Ranch.  I felt so good, in fact, I added 5 lbs to my backpack for Sunday’s hike which effectively made it suck.  Who knew 5 lbs would kill me like that!?!?!  I was like the little kid being dragged along with my head and shoulders hanging down the whole way.  And while Aaron was sweet enough to offer to take my extra weight, I refused because how else am I going to get used to it if I just throw stuff in his pack when it starts to feel hard.  It made our quick 5 miles take a little longer then we hoped.

The day itself was AMAZING – 63 and sunny.  We were hiking in shorts and just our shirt.  Being on this trail on a nice day showed how insanely busy it gets.  We were hiking with 100 or more other people, while more were showing up all the time.

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Last Thursday I got to go to Seattle for a weekend of fun with my bestie Jason and his fiancé Molly, so no hike last weekend, but we plan to make up for it with 2 hikes again this weekend.  I need to get my altitude lungs back quick because on 2/8 is our all day guided snow shoe and I am crazy excited for it.

I am itching to get out and hike now, it is going to be a long week of work!

Get out there and hike if you can!

Evergreen Mountain – 3 Sisters Adlefer, Evergreen CO Hiked 1/11/14 & Mt. Hikingtohealthy done 1/12/14

16 Jan
View at the Summit

View at the Summit

The weather has been questionable lately and on Friday, high wind warnings were given to any place above 6000 Ft, which just about everywhere on the front range.   Hiking in high winds is not fun especially when the warnings are for 80+ mile an hour winds at times.  With this new little wrinkle thrown in, we decided a good old standby was in order… Evergreen Mountain (Hike Details here).   The best part about going to Evergreen Mt is that it gets above 8500 Ft and the exit for the hike is right about where traffic was getting super bad for the skiers heading up for the day.

We timed it perfect, the winds slowed down right when we started at 9 AM, knowing  that it would be picking up again around 11 or 12, our goal was to finish in 3 hours.  There was snow throughout the hike but it wasn’t too bad, although it was bizarrely heavy and felt more like sand.  The best part, we had the whole way up to ourselves which has never happened before!  I think the wind warnings scared a lot of the other hikers off, so yay us!

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The first time we saw anyone was at the summit and then it picked up a little traffic wise, I think saw about 10-15 people on the way down.  Not bad for a Saturday at this open space.  The other great thing was the sky and how it was changing through out the whole hike.  At one point Mt. Evans was lit up like a spot light was shining down on it.

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We finished the hike in just under 3 hours, right as the wind gusts really started picking back up.  The hike was beautiful as always and challenging in terms of getting used to the higher altitude again. I want to get above 9000 Ft this upcoming weekend but I am not yet sure where to go.

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The wind warnings stuck through Sunday, when we were planning on doing our second hike and then I slept in later than planned with company coming over around noon, getting to an actual hike was out.  So I improvised, in between doing sets of weights I would just climb the stairs in my house.  When we finished the weights, I did 30 minutes straight of stairs to get a total of 109 flights done in an hour.  I officially named the stairs Mt. Hikingtohealthy.  Having hiked the equivalent of 135 flights of stairs the day before, I figured my legs would be in good shape afterwards…. they have been so sore I can’t believe it!

Bottom half of Mt. Hingtohealthy

Bottom half of Mt. Hingtohealthy

Top half of Mt. HIkingtohealthy

Top half of Mt. Hikingtohealthy

It was a great substitution for a day, but I did miss my views.  Mt. Hikingtohealthy will be seldom visited…. unless we take the next step by printing off all our hiking pictures and line the walls with them so I have manufactured views.  Right now there is still too much of Colorado to see to stay locked in my house climbing stairs, so that is low on my to do list.

Evergreen Mountain, Evergreen CO (Repeater) Girls Hike #3, hiked 10/20/13

9 Nov

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I love a weekend where I get to hike twice and I super love hikes with my girlfriends!  This particular weekend was extra great because both happened!

I am such a lucky girl!

I woke up early Sunday all excited for my girlfriend hike and then got my second cancellation… but that still left me one girlfriend to enjoy the day with.  I will tell you that I was somewhat tired from Bergen Peak the day before( and celebratory drinking post hike) but I at least I had a good idea of trail conditions, since Evergreen Mt at Three Sisters/Aldfer (Hike details here) was just a few miles away and this is where I was taking my girlfriend(s).  I had decided as I was getting ready and that even if they all canceled I would still go…. But Carrie was my trooper and showed up early even!

The weather was not what I had hoped, it was going to be a tough hike for her and I wanted our typical blue bird skies when we got to the summit so that it all felt extra worth it.  But in the end she totally rocked it and the cloudy skies gave a beautiful depth and moodiness to Mt. Evans that isn’t normally there on a sunny day.   Which was kind of better, a moody Mt. Evans is incredibly beautiful, worth all that effort and more.

Hiking with Carrie was wonderful.  Not only did I get to be a hiking guide, but I got to spend good time with one of the most amazing people I have ever met.  She has been an incredible friend to me since I moved here and someone I have come to rely on heavily for advice.  This hike was no different, she is such  a true and amazing friend I was so thankful to get the morning to talk and hike with her.

The trail itself was in ok shape, it was hit hard in the floods we had in September but had faired better then other trails…. only one section was closed and there were some washouts along the way but nothing too bad.  I was glad we could enjoy it that day.

On the bonus side, we had the trail mostly to ourselves all the way up and Carrie blew my mind with how quickly she was moving up the trail.  On the way down we saw all the traffic of the day and strangely  they were all bizarrely attractive men.  We laughed a lot about it and simply enjoyed the view!!!!!

I know I say it a lot, but on this day like so many others, I was reminded of why I moved here and why I love hiking so much!!!

me n carrie carrie n evans me n carrie 2 fav 1

 

Bergen Peak, Evergreen CO (Repeater) Hiked 10/19/13

30 Oct
VIew at the top

View at the top

I have become obsessed with 14ers.com and their facebook page.  Reading all the trip reports and seeing the excellent pictures of those incredible people climbing 14ers with like 3 feet of snow already fallen up that high, well it makes me feel pretty wimpy!

It has also given me some insight as to how quickly winter has set in above the tree line this year, as those amazing people are postholing up to their thighs while they climb up.  I don’t remember it being like that last fall and I am extra mad at myself for not pushing harder then to take advantage of that dry fall.

With that in mind, I decided to check out a trial I knew would get us close to 10,000 feet up in elevation to get an idea of what it might look like right now.  I went to Bergen peak (Hike details here).  It is a long hike but the views are always wonderful at the top.

There was definitely snow but no so much until we got closer to the summit trail and the snow we did have wasn’t icy yet, we were early enough.  Mostly we just worked our way up the trail.

Upon reaching the final summit climb the snow got a little deeper but in the end wasn’t so bad.   It was a beautiful day to be out on the trail and strangely we had it mostly to ourselves.   We saw a few people going up… a few people at the summit and then a few people on the way down.  It was a little weird… but I won’t complain as I love having a normally busy trail like this one to ourselves.

As always, it was a great hike and the day was perfect!  The snow wasn’t a big deal although the mud on the way down did get a little tiresome.

Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

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