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The Incline, Manitou Springs CO, Hiked on Easter – 4/5/2015

20 May

At the Top.jpg

Starting Elevation:  6530 Ft

Highest Elevation: 8550 Ft

Trail Length: We did the Standard loop so 3.7 miles

Trail Uses: Hiking only up the incline

Degree of Difficulty: Strenuous

Bathroom: Yes in the parking lot

Pets:  Supposed to be no dogs but there were lots and off leash too and 2 almost knocked me down no owner in sight.

Fees: Yes – $5 when we went last April but I suspect it may go up or already has.

It has been over a year since I posted last and I actually started writing this post way back when we did the hike. I had kinda forgot about the blog except to look up hikes or show friends hikes I thought they might like, but I got my renewal notice a few weeks ago and today I realized I need new motivation to get back on the healthy bandwagon.

A lot has happened over the last year but through it all we never stopped hiking.  Last Fall I had a bad hip injury that kept me on flat short hikes for about 4 months but I started taking photography classes to help keep up my spirits. I have been very slowly working on getting back to climbing since the beginning of the year and had one big set back that was very depressing.

The super bummer, while injured I gained back a lot of weight. So I am going to try this again.  I am going to Germany next week and then when I get back I am full on back to hiking to healthy I have at least a dozen new hikes to write up and I am back at 60 pounds I have to lose to get to my goal.  I am not sure how I will continue with the format, if I will do a weigh in separate from hikes or combine them.  I see wordpress has changed a lot since I was on last so I have lots of new learning to do.

I will also try to show off some of my new photography skills and I am super excited about that.  Another motivation to get back to writing.  Thanks to all of you who have kept checking out the blog while I have been gone, I hope to get reacquainted with the blogging world.

incline sunrise.jpg

 

Now on to this particular hike.

On Easter 2015, since I couldn’t be home with my family I was lucky enough to go on a hiking date with my hiking superheros, Wendy and Didier.

They patiently took us too the Manitou Incline which is known all over the place as straight up torture.  In the first mile you climb straight up 2000 vertical feet. It is used regularly by the Olympic athletes that train very close by and lots of fitness enthusiasts.

We started just before sunrise and thought that since it was Easter it might be less crowded, but in fact the it was lit up with lots of headlamps ahead of us.

getting a sunrise picture.jpg

It is essentially a giant staircase that we were climbing with a couple hundred other people and I know for a fact that it was a light crowd that day. There is a bail out about half way up, and it gets evermore steep after that.  Also the steps aren’t at even height so I often found myself using both my hands and feet to climb it like a ladder at its steepest point.
Once you get to the top, it is amazing views of Colorado Springs and beyond and Sunrise was gorgeous.

Past the bail out.jpg

Looking down.jpg

Once at the top and you have finished celebrating with lots of selfies, take the Barr trail down.  Do not go back down the incline it is so steep and people fall and get hurt all the time.  The Barr trail was updated as well and it an easy decent back to the parking lot. As I recall it is about 3 miles down.

Barr trail.jpg

Barr trail view.JPG

All in all, I feel like you have to do the Incline at least once in your life.  The number of people doing it is so crazy that I honestly never want to do it again.  It is great exercise for sure and a great way to get into climbing shape, maybe just go during the week when there are less people.  I would also go as early as possible and start that one hour before sunrise as it is exposed and can be very warm.

A few more pictures will follow the directions.

Directions( copied from the website http://www.manitouincline.net ::

The easiest way to reach the trailhead is to take highway 24 West to the last Exit for Manitou Springs on Serpentine Drive. This is also the stoplight for the Cave of the Winds. Turn left (away from Cave of the Winds)onto Serpintine Drive which will descend quickly and end at Manitou Avenue. Veer left onto Manitou Aveneue and follow it to a roundabout(rotary). Exit the roundabout on Ruxton Ave heading southwest towards the Cog Railway. The trailhead is located just west of the Iron Springs Theater. Parking is usually difficult to find. Trying to find a close spot usually just results in a lot of wasted time. Just think of your walk to the trailhead as your warm up.

The standard route no longer begins in the Barr Trail parking lot. This parking lot is to be used for the Barr trail alone, access to the trail is now to be from near the old Manitoul Incline Base Station and incline hikers should park on Ruxton Ave.

Do NOT park in the parking spots for the Cog Railway. They will tow you. If you really want a close spot you can pay to park in the Iron Springs Theater parking spots. Last I saw it was $5 to park there.

Prize at the top.JPG

Easter bunny.JPG

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Mt. Sniktau 13,243 Ft, Loveland Pass, Colorado – Hiked 9/21/14

6 May

1

Starting Elevation: 12,000 Ft

Highest Elevation:  13,234 FT at the Summit – total elevation gain was around 1600 ft.

Trail Length: Approximately 4 miles

Trail Uses:  Hiking only (I think I couldn’t find any guidelines)

Degree Of Difficulty:  Difficult mostly because of altitude

Bathroom:  None

Pets: I didn’t see any and I didn’t see any signs saying one way or another.

Fees:  None

2

The best part of Colorado is all the hiking opportunities.  Even with all the traffic along I70, you can still find a gem that you might get all to yourself, Mt. Sniktau is occasionally one of those.  On this particular day I went with my hiking superhero Wendy, who was my hiking host for the day.  She is amazing!  We left before sunrise and got on the trail just as the sun was coming up which made for a beautiful hike,

sunrise

The hike is steep at first as you climb up to Cupid.  At Cupid you can either go right to Grizzly Peak or left to Sniktau.

Heading up

You climb about 900 ft in the first mile.  It is a slow mile….

The view along this stretch as some clouds rolled in

The view along this stretch as some clouds rolled in

Looking back towards the parking lot and Loveland pass

Looking back towards the parking lot and Loveland pass

I understand if you are so inclined you can even get to Torrey’s from this route but that is a killer way to climb that particular 14er. The total elevation gain is something insane.  We went left.  It is a nice gentle climb to the first false summit of Sniktau.

between Cupid and Sniktau

From here you hit the false summit and then the summit climb, both of which are a little tricky but not terribly so, just follow them to the left.

summit climb

We saw 2 other hikers the whole morning on the trail, now the parking lot was full when we got down but it didn’t seem like they were hikers.  Really the view is pretty awesome just from the parking lot and a lot of people do just that.

This mountain is right on I 70 and you can see everything from it, the Eisenhower Tunnel, Grays & Torreys (twin 14ers that are very popular) and the continental divide is stretched out all around you.

A couple of things to know about Sniktau – It is insanely windy all the time no matter what weather is doing elsewhere.  Like all mountains, you want to start early to miss the daily noonish storm and this whole hike is above treeline.  The parking lot can get really busy and turn you off BUT most people didn’t climb very far up the path the day we were there.  I would say get there as early as you can. We did this last September but it is a year round hike/snowshoe apparently, but I would be nervous in winter.  I cannot wait to get back here, hopefully in the next few weeks!

After the directions will be some of my favorite pictures, I would note I didn’t do my usual descriptive set of pictures mostly because I wasn’t sure I would make my way back to blogging.  Hopefully there is still enough for you to get an idea if this is one you want to try.

Directions:  From I-70 take the Loveland Pass exit, passing the Loveland Ski Area on Highway 6 and go to the top of Loveland Pass. You can also take Highway 6 from Dillon through Keystone resort to the top of Loveland Pass.

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Deer Mountain, RMNP Estes Park CO, Hiked 7/19/14

21 Nov

1

Starting Elevation:  8930 Ft

Highest Elevation:  10,013 Ft ( A total Elevation gain of almost 1100 Ft)

Trail Length: 6 miles – it took us 3ish hours but we did spend a lot of time on the summit.

Trail Uses:  Hiker & Horses ( but no horses allowed on the Summit spur)

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate

Bathrooms:  There are bathrooms at the visitors centers there was nothing near the trail head

Pets:  No this is Rocky Mountain National Park and no Dogs allowed

Deer Mountain trail sign

I am so sorry at how long I have been away.  I will have to catch you all up soon, I can tell you that I have had just a few breaks in hiking but have been mostly hiking every weekend.  I want to get out those new trials I did while away and then one big summary of some amazing days out on the trails between then and now.  First Deer Mountain!

Wow it has been a long time since I hiked this one, I almost forgot what it was like!  I did it the weekend after I had company in town so I wanted something that challenged me but was not too much, because when my company was here we had done 3 tough hikes in just 5 days.  I was wiped when we hit this trail.

This hike was exactly what I needed as it has great views all the way up of the mountains that make up Rocky Mountain National Park. But there was this weird haze in the air we hoped would burn off but only ended up getting worse.  We speculated that it was from that horrible fire in California this summer.

The trail head is right off Trail Ridge Road and there is literally a little bit of a wide shoulder for maybe 6 cars to park.  You can park along the road in some places near here, but get there early if you want a parking spot at any of them.  There are also shuttle parking lots at the various gates and you can take a shuttle to so many places in the park so you don’t have to worry about finding parking.

We got there around 7:30 and just barley nabbed a spot.

We got there around 7:30 and just barely nabbed a spot.

The trail starts out super wide and very well maintained, the whole trial was very well maintained and we even talked to a couple of Park rangers we passed while hiking.

Start of the trail

Start of the trail

First trail marker

After a decent climb, while the stellar views just started opening up all around us we got the Switchback part.  Sadly the haze in the air made it hard to get any really great pictures.  I actually gave up taking them because there was no depth but we stopped a lot just to ohhhhh and ahhhh.  It doesn’t take too long to start the switchbacks up the to flat before the summit.

The views were everywhere

The views were everywhere

Starting up the switchbacks

Starting up the switchbacks

Then towards the end of the switch backs

Then towards the end of the switch backs

There were a lot of switch backs on this one and it was a strange struggle that day.  I am not sure if it was the altitude or exhaustion from the few days before with my guests in town, but it took me time to get up this part.  I would not say it is particularly hard but that day for me it was.

Once we turned the corner of the last switchbacks we reached a nice flat that felt like it went on forever but was probably more like a quarter of mile maybe half a mile before the final summit climb.  The summit climb sign made us want to come back and do the rest of the trail back to Estes just to see what is was like.

The summit climb Summit climb conditions

It was just a short steep climb to the summit, and then WOW!  Such an amazing payoff so quickly!

The Summit

The Summit

I will tell you we hung up there as long as we could before more people started showing up.  I think we got a solid 25 minutes up there just to take it all in.  It was lovely.  The hike back down was crowded…. and it was just around 10AM.  I cannot imagine what kind of traffic this trail gets throughout every summer day, but I can tell you I was glad we got there early and had it mostly to ourselves.

If you ever find yourself in Rocky Mountain National Park and you want a great view payout without a ton of effort this is the hike for you.  Of course there are so many great trails in the park but I really liked how this one was both a nice work out with great payout.  There were views in every direction and of the almost the whole park. After the directions will the be the few goodish pictures I took while at the top.

Directions:    The Deer Ridge Junction Trailhead is located 3.05 miles west of the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station along Trail Ridge Road (Highway 36). The trailhead is located on the north side of the road at the Trail Ridge Road – Highway 34 split. There is no designated lot, but roadside parking is permitted. Parking is limited.

View of Estes Park from the Summit.

View of Estes Park from the Summit.

View looking south towards Long's Peak

View looking south towards Long’s Peak

The view West-ish

The view West-ish

Looking North was a little obstructed

Looking North was a little obstructed

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Beginning again – Weigh in Day +9LBS ( 50lbs down 40 Lbs left to go)

9 Aug

So this is the first time I have really weighed in – in months. I have to say I was surprised it wasn’t more, which makes it about a pound a month.

Fat and in pain

Fat and in pain

I can tell though that I have lost a lot of the climbing muscles in my legs which makes me think it may just be 9LBs on the scale but the damage is worse because of the muscle loss.

I would like to say this was a better week for me health wise but it was actually worse.  I had a crazy stressful week at work, worked long hours and squeezed in a workout at least once a day, sometimes twice but no weights.  I didn’t track my food like I wanted to and I am sure I went over my allotted calories every day.

Plus I drank alcohol almost every night, just one drink a night but still I normally don’t drink during the week. But post hike it is always a celebration.

Oh well, I have to start somewhere….

My new goal will be to lose 40 lbs by next July 4th.

The hike I did today was a repeater but it is way out my ability right now.  I am thrilled I made it all the way… and I have summit fever again….I love Colorado.

On Twins sisters

On Twins sisters

There is so much to see just here and I haven’t even started to think about all those other states and countries I have hiking envy over…I am looking at you Rob P My favorite Uk Backpacker!  SO that means I need to get over myself and move forward…..slowly this is me getting over myself….

Get out there and hike, life is way too short!

 

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

8 Aug

1

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.

view 2

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

 

Still Hiking, just not so healthy……

1 Aug

It has been 8 months since I have been on track for the healthy part of this blog…. the hiking has finally started to suffer as a result. I am not sure how it happened other than me consciously deciding to not be healthy.  For about half that time, I have managed to ignore how far off the rails I have gone.

Nugget

Not only have I been struggling with being healthy I have been less than forthcoming about my struggles as if they will just disappear.  And not just with you but with everyone in my life.

So this is my confession, I have fallen far off the healthy bandwagon.  I have been way outside my daily calorie intake.  I have had a considerable cut back on my exercising.  I have been eating my emotions.

I have been trying hard to find inspiration, the last few hikes we have done I was sweaty, overheated and strangely struggling with my breath.  I know I have gained back weight but I am not sure how much at this point as I have been avoiding scales for months.

I have to find balance again in my life in terms of how to control my bad eating habits. I have been trying to figure out where is the best place to start ….again.

I am confessing here because I can’t pretend it is not happening anymore I need to be up front about it all.  I am going to get back to my Lose It! app and tracking my daily calories in and out.  I am also going to venture to get rid of my cheat day which sadly turned into my cheat 3 days….I apparently can no longer be at home without a guardian or having my hands tied behind my back to avoid shoveling food in my face.

I have been going to some of my favorite blogs for motivation, but I have to tell you Nancy over at My year of Sweat always makes me think through my issues a little more in-depth then I am normally willing to do  because she is so good at identifying all of her issues, stumbling points and triumphs.  Over the last year she has become my “live a better life” superhero.  If you don’t know Nancy, please check out her blog it is awesome -> just like her!!!

I am still hiking every weekend and I have been getting in as many days as I can, I have 2 new hikes I need to write-up that I did weeks ago and of course I have done a bunch of repeaters.

The rest of my summer I am going to focus on getting get back into the shape I was last fall.  I really want to do Grays and Torreys (14ers) before the summer ends.  I still want to try to backpack, but to be honest I may not get to it until next summer.

I will start listing my weigh-ins  again weekly.

Thanks for being patient with me and thanks for helping me get back on the healthy track.

Now get out there and hike, I know I will be hiking this weekend!

Herman Gulch Trail #98 to Herman Lake, Bakerville CO hiked 6/28/14 & 7/4/14

4 Jul

1

Starting Elevation: 10,340

Highest Elevation:  12,000 is where the Lake is at.  We had a total elevation gain of  around 1800ft

Trail Length:  8 miles officially, we made it about 7 miles on 6/28 and the full 8 today.

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker & Horses

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate to difficult Mostly because of elevation.

Fees: None

Bathroom: Yes in the parking lot

Pets:  Yes

2

Being in that meadow behind Torrey’s(hike details here) last weekend made me want to keep seeing more amazing views.  I have had my eye on Herman Lake for a while, like 2 and half years kind of a while.  At first I was too nervous I couldn’t do it and then I was so focused on getting to a certain elevation each week that I kept skipping it.  I also know it is a really popular trail.  It is not overly long with a reasonable climb and astonishing views from almost every part of the hike.  Even starting at 7 AM, the parking lot was filling up fast and it is a big parking lot.   There are signs and a bathroom where the trail starts.

Parking lot Map Strating out

The first quarter-mile is a gentle climb to the T-section with a sign listing the trail options with an arrow.  Take the trail on the left.

Trail Sign

The next mile was much steeper and rockier, the best part was when the stream came up along side the trail because it totally drowned out the noise from I 70.  This is one of the steepest parts of the hike.

Nice and steep

Nice and steep

The stream is just to the left and it is high

The stream is just to the left

After this initial climb, you come out into this meadow and really if we made it no further than this point it would have been enough.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead

Looking behind

Looking behind

The next 1-2 miles is through sections of pine and then beautiful meadows.  It was pretty muddy from this point forward with much of the trail an actual stream itself.   Last Saturday the snow was quite the obstacle, this morning more like scenery.

Good and muddy

Good and muddy

second meadow

second meadow on 6/28

Views behind

Views behind

The sides were even amazing

The sides were even amazing

Not one bad spot

Not one bad spot

Trail is a stream

Trail is a stream

I loved breaking out of the pines to see views like this

I loved breaking out of the pines to see views like this

There were a couple of water crossings, some clearly are there normally some are only there when the snow is still crazy deep at the end of June.

water crossing

When we got to the last set of pines we started the final climb up to the lake, it gets steep here, actually the most steep section of the whole hike plus it close 12,000 feet above sea level so just breathing is a work out. Last Saturday the snow was to our knees but hard packed because so many people had gone before us.  We met up with a gentleman who had been to the lake and he said the snow around the lake was hit or miss, some places to your knees some places chest high.  We lost the trail in here but just kept following other footprints until we saw the trail again.  This morning a lot of that snow had melted. We still lost the trail but it was much easier to find again after some obstacles.

Thru the last set of pines Thats snow

The lake is supposed just half a mile from the last set of pines.  Unfortunately we didn’t make it on Saturday.  It turns out Aaron was working on a  decent inner ear infection and his head was to the about to explode point.  We had to turn around.

The lake is just up there

The lake is just up there

Views ahead when we turned around

Views ahead when we turned around

We could tell as we drove towards the hike Saturday morning that is had snowed in the mountains the night before.   Which is kind of surprising, but it made the hike extra muddy while also making everything in sight beautiful, like frosting.  I knew the trail would be crowded but I had no idea how popular it truly was, the nice thing is the path itself is mostly wide enough to pass easily so lots of people was no problem.

It turns out, I could not wait to get back and we went back this morning.  We cruised up and in, the trial was completely different that last weekend with probably a third of the snow and like a bazillion more flowers.  What a difference 6 days makes.  We were maybe a quarter of a mile from the final trail break before lake when we turned around last Saturday. This time we went left, it is not long to the lake and there was a super small pond on the way… it is not the lake.  Continue on Herman Lake is just ahead.

SIgn to the lake Trail to the lake

When we got to the lake, it was so rewarding. everywhere we looked it was spectacular.  There were still snow fields all over the place but getting around them were easy.  I kinda wish I we had seen it last weekend to have a good comparison.

Herman Lake

Herman Lake

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We could have been done in 3 hours both times but we actually hung around taking pictures at every turn, spending 5 hours on the trail last Saturday and just over 4 hours today.  It was’t enough, there so much to see.   If you are ever in this area and you can only do one hike, do this hike there is not one boring part.  The whole thing was a series of ohhhhinng and ahhhing.

After the directions will be a few of my favorite pictures.

Directions:  Take I70 West and just before the Eisenhower tunnel, exit at the un-named exit #218.  Turn right at the end of the ramp, you will see the sign for Herman Gulch.

 

me with a view me in meadow fav5 fav6 rapids On the way down fav 2 fav4 fav1 Views ahead fav3