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Bergen Peak Trail, Elk Meadow Open space *AGAIN* 4/20/13

20 Apr

The start

This week has been tough on so many levels for so many reasons and I know I am not the only one struggling to find balance and meaning.  I can tell you that the only thing on our minds yesterday was getting out hiking and getting as high as we could (altitude wise of course), but with all the snow we got this week any hike was going to be challenging so we decided that it was going to be Bergen Peak …..again  Details of the Hike here

Honestly, I was not optimistic about our hike yesterday but we figured let’s get all our stuff together and go as far as can.  A pie in the sky hike would be to do the exact same hike we did here 2 weeks ago ( Details here), 13.5 ish miles in 6 hours with around 2400ft ish total elevation gain.  The storm that hit us this past week dropped around 2 feet of snow on Bergen Peak AND we had a chance of rain later sometime this afternoon.  All I wanted was a good hike that would help us to keep moving towards a 14er this summer.  We started out slightly bundled up, gators on for high snow with actual hiking boots (not usual and decidedly heavier) and prepared for every thing the mountains have to offer.  What we got was surprising, the snow was deep and every where but at first it was easier to move through and at just a little over half of a mile  We saw our first herd of elk

Elk 1Elf 2Elk 3

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After 7 years of living here we finally saw our first Elk!!! It was so super cool and we were crazy excited to see them….I even pulled out my big camera which I feel like I only carry for weight building lately.  None of the pictures turned out as good as I wanted them to be but I can tell you it was awesome!!!!

We started out really slow and as we climbed up I figured  if it takes the whole day, then it takes the whole day just as long as we finished before the rain was predicted to start at 4…did I mention we started hiking at 7:30?  At that early in the morning the snow was perfect to walk on, but other than the occasional  slide it wasn’t too bad and there had been enough people before us to create a very nice path.  The traffic on the trail was really light going up we saw one other couple hiking and then one jogger.  That jogger told us he spooked a bear about a 1/2 mile up the summit trail, our pace became slower and we were super attentive, stopping for any little noise.  I was really torn here, scared to see my first bear and yet wondering if I could catch one in a picture.  We then had the good luck of meeting up with another hiker who had just gone up to the summit and she saw no bears so we continued on.  Here are a couple of pictures of what the trail looked like on our way up:

Bergen Peak trail conditionsBergen Peak TrailTrail conditions at the top

It was a beautiful day and crazy challenging, it was like walking up and down sand dunes with lead weights on our ankles and back.  In the end it took us 4 hours to get to the top, which was covered with so much snow and I only fell once, thank goodness for all that snow it totally made my face plant more funny than painful.  We don’t know this trail enough to walk where there weren’t already foot prints and so I was challenged in getting any good shots of Mt. Evans at the top but Pike’s peak was AMAZING!!!!  When we were about to leave another hiker had just arrived and he was so nice, but he told us something new and embarrassing. Before today we always stopped at the vista point assuming it was the summit, but in fact it is not so he showed us where it was and took a picture of us so we had actual proof we made it to the summit.   What a funny lesson for us, I was such a proud hiker until that moment!

Proof we made it to the summit of Bergen Peak

Proof we made it to the summit of Bergen Peak

In the end we did just under 12 miles even thought my fitbit said 14, we are crazy insane tired like my joints have never hurt so much tired and my calves have been aching.  The day was beautiful and different I couldn’t get enough of it all.  I am in love with this particular hike and most times it is pretty crowded but yesterday we had almost the whole thing to ourselves.  Most hikers who actually attempted the peak did the standard route up and back ( Sleepy S > Elk Meadow> Bergen Peak Trail > Summit Trail), we decided to do the loop via Too Long down from the summit trail and just enjoyed the complete solitude.  By the time we headed down the snow was starting to get slushy and slidey, I took the advice I received from Didier when I did White Ranch Park with my nieces last month and took a lot of small steps it helped so much!!!  I still had sore feet but no blistering like I did then…..

Here are some of our favorite pictures from the hike:

on the way up

on the way up

Pikes Peak from Bergen Peak trail

Pikes Peak from Bergen Peak trail

Mt. Evans from Bergen Peak Trail

Mt. Evans from Bergen Peak Trail

Snow is to the top of the Scenic view sign

Snow is to the top of the Scenic view sign

Looking out from the scenic view sign

Looking out from the scenic view sign

Pikes Peak 2

Pikes Peak viewed form the top

Another Pikes peak shot from the top

Another Pikes peak shot from the top

View at the top

View at the top

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Us half way down

Us half way down

Snow moving in as we hike down.

Snow moving in as we hike down.

Snow moving across the moiuntainsPikes peak BPTFav 2

We finished just in time!

We finished just in time!

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Bergen Peak Trail + – Elk Meadow Jefferson County Open Space 4/6/13

6 Apr
The view at the top - Mt. Evans

The view at the top – Mt. Evans

I am on cloud 9, seriously 50 pounds lost on my weigh in yesterday and then today we kicked major butt on our hike.  We did Bergen Peak last August and to be honest it was insanely tough then, like I was practically in tears on the way down thinking “why the hell did I let myself get this way”…. it felt great to finish it with more of a “wow I can still do more” today.

First, we did a repeater today because frankly the weather is all over the place and I am super not confident about what we can do when the trail gets insanely unpredictable.  For me, a trail I know is much easier than one I don’t regardless of what ice and snow may be present.  Plus this park is amazing and it got us up to 9700 ft, we need to gain altitude and work on our lungs again, so I managed to get an extra 2 miles out of this park, which is of course not that hard.   So in total we did “officially” 12.5 miles and my fitbit said 13.5 miles, which took us 6 hours to complete.

In looking for any recent hikes here, I found very few pictures showing trail conditions, so here they are.  There is not much before we got to the Bergen Peak trail, then there is ice and snow periodically throughout:

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but really until we got to the summit trail at the top, we didn’t need any aids.  It was mostly bursts of ice here and there, but at the top is was consistently snow and ice.

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And it was still not that bad, probably because we were some of the first on the trail  so the ice hadn’t settled in when we passed through so we never put anything on until the way down and then it was only me wearing extra help.  I imagine that after we went through it may have been a little more challenging but by then it was getting warmer and digging in was not all that bad.

The day was perfect, it started out a little chilly with some clouds expected.  For the first time we didn’t over dress, even though we had more on board just in case. As we climbed there were things we hadn’t seen the last time we hiked this, like Pike’s Peak.

Pike's Peak - our peek of it lower on the trail

Pike’s Peak – our peek of it lower on the trail

When we hiked this last August,we were in the middle of  a series of fires and the views were limited because of all the haze from those.  I had no idea that we would be able to see Pike’s peak on a clearer day, it is 60-ish miles south of Bergen peak, so imagine my delight as looking up from our climb up to see this.

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The other bonus on hiking today, there was not all that many people out this early in the season we didn’t even see one other person until we got on the summit trail and then it was 3  people in like an hour.  We were almost 9 miles through the hike before traffic picked up.  It looks like the lower trails have much more traffic this time of year.

All and all, it was a great hike and we felt really good getting it done in a way that made us feel so strong and confident about our future hikes.

Here are our favorite pictures from the hike, and for the record I am in love with Mt.Evans.  Everyday it greets me as I go to work and tells me the weekend is going to be awesome because it means I will be up there, some where getting more views of the amazing prowess of mother nature.  Please forgive my over attention to it, this hike gives you breathtaking views of Mt. Evans and so I couldn’t help myself in paying it extra homage!  Do this hike if you can one day, it is worth every single step!

The view from the summit trail facing northwest

The view from the summit trail facing northwest

Fav1 off the trailPikes Peak1Denver

North Front rangeMt.Evans 1Me on the edge

Mt. Evans 2meMt. Evans 4

We made itUS close