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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!

Mt. Evans2

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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Matthews/Winters Park, Lakeview CO Hiked 5/17/14

23 May

best view

Zorro Trail> Dakota Ridge Trail> Village Walk>Red Rocks Trail> Morrison Slide> Red Rocks Trail> Dakota Ridge> Zorro Trail

Starting elevation: 6055 ft

Highest Elevation: 6800ft ( total Elevation gain was around 1600 ft)

Trail Length: Approximately 9 miles, it took us 4 hours to do the whole hike

Trail Uses: Some sections are hiking & horses only, most are hiker, biker & horses

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate-mostly because of length

Fees:  None

Bathrooms:  At the parking lot of both Green Mountain and Matthews/Winters Park parking lots

Pets:  Yes – On Leash

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At 5PM on Friday I found our hike for the weekend, it didn’t give me the climbing I wanted for the but it did give us some good mileage plus we had never done this one, extra bonus.  I had wanted to do this one for over a year, but I had written across the map “lots of snakes only hike in winter”  and yet this winter we were obsessed with snowshoeing and completely forgot about this one.

Saturday was strangely humid for Denver so when we pulled up to the trailhead we were cold but determined to not overdress this time.  We actually parked in the lot for Green Mountain (hike details)in Lakewood because that was the best place to start for the loop hike we wanted to attempt.

Starting out

Starting out looking towards the trailhead

The trailhead across Rooney Road

The trailhead across Rooney Road

Zorro is a nice easy climb up about 500 ft over the course of almost of a mile to the Dakota Ridge Trail.  The bad part of this section is all the noise from 470 on this side and then when we got over the ridge, I70 noise was also super loud.

One of the views as we approached the top of Zorro

One of the views as we approached the top of Zorro

Some rocky steps close to the top of Zorro.

Some rocky steps close to the top of Zorro.

As we were on this side of the mountain or hogback, there were clouds all over the front range and they were low.  Green mountain just across the road was covered in clouds, when we got to the top it was all blue skies over Red Rocks.

Green Mountain all cloudy

Green Mountain all cloudy

Dakota Ridge Trail - Go right.

Dakota Ridge Trail – Go right.

Yay Blue skies

Yay Blue skies

Me on Dakota Ridge with Red Rocks in the background

Me on Dakota Ridge with Red Rocks in the background

We walked along this until we crossed over to the west side and through some trees, had a small break from traffic noise until we could see I70 and then the noise was all back.  We could also see the parking lot for Matthews/Winters Park below us.

Coming down Dakota Ridge

Coming down Dakota Ridge

There is Matthews/Winters Park...and I70

There is Matthews/Winters Park…and I70

Coming down Dakota Ridge was the most muddy part of the whole hike but wasn’t super bad and before we knew it we were at the road crossing to get to the next set of trails.

Matthews/Winters Park

Matthews/Winters Park

Trail Map

Trail Map

As we got to the next section of our hike, there were a bunch of vault toilets that we could take advantage of.  It was also the start of all of this fantastic red beauty and because of all the snow the weekend before, the green was amazing against the red.  We took Village Walk ( no Bikes allowed) To the Red Rocks Trail.

Changing over from Dakota Ridge to Village walk.

Changing over from Dakota Ridge to Village walk.

The next trail section starts just after this creek crossing.

The next trail section starts just after this creek crossing.

Village walk

There is an old Cemetery just off the Village Walk Trail.

There is an old Cemetery just off the Village Walk Trail.

Red Rocks goes back to bikers and hikers

Red Rocks Trail start

Red Rocks Trail start

I have to tell when we got to this part of the hike, I was so glad it snowed the week before because the flowers were so plentiful and as we got to the lowest part on this trail there was an oasis of green & red with the running water was stunning.  It was the best part of the hike!

An Oasis

An Oasis

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From here we started climbing back up to the Morrision Slide trail, which climbs up to a lovely flat with lots of views of everywhere we had been so far and where we were going.  It is also the highest part of the hike.

Picking up Morrison Slide

Picking up Morrison Slide

Views of Red Rocks and the Part of Dakota Ridge we had already been on

Views of Red Rocks and the part of Dakota Ridge we had already been on

Morrison Slide flat part on a beautiful day

Morrison Slide flat part on a beautiful day

After the beautiful flat top of Morrison Slide we started descending back to Red Rocks Trail.

Back on Red Rocks Trail

Back on Red Rocks Trail

Trail Conditions coming down Red Rocks Trail

Trail Conditions coming down Red Rocks Trail

I have to tell you coming down this portion of red rocks trail was really hard to not keep looking behind us as it was just a perfect view.  Which made the next section a little disappointing because it was detour on a regular road with car traffic, down to the other side of the Dakota Ridge Trail which also is known as Dinosaur Ridge.  I saw that the construction in Red Rocks had forced a detour of the trail but I never guessed it was actually on the road.

Boo - Detour :(

Boo – Detour 😦

Crossing over to the Dinosaur Ridge part and a closed road.

Crossing over to the Dinosaur Ridge part and a closed road.

This is cool!

This is cool!

I have heard about this place but I have to tell you it was way cooler then I thought it would be.   They left dinosaur bones in the rock so that people could see what they look like when they are discovered!  We were like little kids checking it all out, oohing and ahhing

Dinosaur bones

As we finished up reading about all the bones and the changing landscape, we got back to the original Dakota ridge trail.

End of detour

no more paved road

no more paved road

This last section of the hike was all white and felt so different from the rest of the hike and I loved the change!

The last stretch

I really enjoyed this hike and I honestly think we did it with perfect conditions, on the best day possible.   It is a really exposed trail which means in the summer it is likely HOT, I mean it didn’t get much above 60 while we were hiking and the sweat was pouring off of us-now I get why there are typically a lot of snakes here.   The downside(outside of the snakes of course) is how close it is to both 470 & I70, the noise went away for a good portion of the hike but when it was around it was pretty bad.   Despite that, I will for sure do it again and likely bring guest hikers here because of the great views of Red Rocks.  After the directions will be pictures of all the flowers we had the good fortune to catch before they burn off in the sun.

This 3 day weekend we will get in 2 hikes that will both likely be repeaters!  I hope you all have great plans for the holiday weekend that includes a hike!  Life is too short… you should hike more!

Directions: Take I-70 West from Denver for about 9 miles to C470-East exit (exit 260). Go about 2 miles on C470 East and take the Alameda Parkway exit. Turn right onto Alameda Parkway, then take your first right onto Rooney Road. Go about 1.5 miles and the trail head parking lot will be on your right.

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Mt. Falcon (repeater), Morrison CO hiked 5/10/14

16 May
Red Rocks from the trail

Red Rocks from the trail

This past weekend I had a meeting I had to attend  at 11AM on Saturday and to be honest I figured we would just hike on Sunday.  Then this wicked storm was predicted to hit on Sunday, it started out not being so bad and moved to a couple of feet in the mountains several inches on the Front Range.  Given this impending weather wrinkle we decided to get the best bang for our late start buck by hitting something close but challenging, yay Mt. Falcon ( Hike Details here)!  Unfortunately the weather forecast continued to change dramatically even between Friday and Saturday morning, so our day of beautiful sunshine turned into breaks between rain during our hiking window.   The worst rain shower actually hit before we started hiking when we first pulled up, nothing like a rain storm to make you question if you should go or not.  We decided we had enough gear to risk it and fortunately the rest of the hike ended up being pretty tame weather wise.

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The best part of the hike was the flowers, they were everywhere and just lovely!  It was also obvious that Jefferson County had some trail work done on the bottom half of the trail to repair damage from the floods last fall, it was all leveled out at the bottom of Turkey trot and then nicely packed as it wound up to the trail break with Castle view.  The volunteers did a great job fixing it up!

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Because of the rain, this normally high traffic trail was decidedly pretty empty on Saturday which was a nice change.  We also were coming down late enough in the afternoon that we could hear music from Red Rocks  coming over to the trail, it was kinda cool.

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I keep forgetting how fickle May is for high altitude hiking, all the snow that hit on Sunday is still lingering as low as 7ooo ft.  Plus the mountains have been getting hit once a day with snow/rain since Sunday and I don’t know if I have mentioned it yet, but I am kinda done with the snow!  I know we have been trudging around in it for months, but spring snow is different you can’t float on it in snowshoes and  you are guaranteed postholing anytime after 10AM when the sun starts really to ramp up.  I am not a fan of postholing.

I am struggling to find a hike for tomorrow and praying that inspiration hits me sometime tonight!  Wish me luck!

I hope where ever you are, you find time to get out and hike soon!

These lovely ladies were just a few feet away from us on our way down

These lovely ladies were just a few feet away from us on our way down

Lookout Mountain via Chimney Gulch, Golden CO Hiked 2/15/14

20 Feb
Best view of the day before the clouds moved in.

Best view of the day before the clouds moved in.

Chimney Gulch> Windy Saddle Trail> Lookout Mountain

Starting Elevation:  5780 Ft

Highest Elevation: 7570 Ft ( total elevation gain around 1800 feet)

Trail uses: Hiker, Biker & Horses

Trail Length:  Officially Approximately 8 miles, my fitbit said a little over 9 miles

Degree of difficulty: Moderate, it is steep in some parts but I am not sure I would say it is difficult.

Bathrooms: Not at the entrance off of 6th Avenue but there is one at the Windy Saddle parking lot and at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center.

Pets:  Yes on leash.

View from the Lookout Mountain Nature Center

View from the Lookout Mountain Nature Center

I have driven past this hike a million times and I am always wondering 2 things.  First, what a weird place to pick up a trail and second, dang that is crowded!  It has seemed crowded regardless of conditions too!

This past Saturday, I had hoped beyond hope that we would have our new snowshoes but we didn’t so I decided it was time to check this particular trail out.   I am not sure why I have been avoiding this one for the past 2 years, but strangely I have manged to completely block it out of my mind.  It is a shame too because after the first mile and a half it is beautiful.

You start out literally on the side of 6th Avenue in Golden… And I mean on the side of the road.  If I hadn’t passed it a million times I would never know the Chimney Gulch trail head was here.

The pull off On 6th Avenue to start the trail

The pull off On 6th Avenue to start the trail

Starting out on Chimney Gulch

Starting out on Chimney Gulch

The first mile just starts climbing up along the road and the neighborhood.  Before it gets steep, we came to this cement something or other that acted as a bridge over a little creek or drainage crossing.  I only mention it because there is also a path you can take over to your left which seems more likely but it is the neighborhood access trail, not the Chimney Gulch Trail.  So climb that cement thing and cross over, continuing up.

Drainage Crossing

Drainage Crossing

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On Saturday the trail was super muddy all through this section, with the wind blowing good and strong but strangely warm, we were sliding all over the place!

trail conditions on the first half of Chimney Gulch

trail conditions on the first half of Chimney Gulch

After the first mile you come up to a dirt road/driveway… more likely driveway, go left and look on your right and you will see the continuation of the trail.

Me at the Driveway break with the sign Aaron made for my backpack advertising my blog...isn't he sweet!?!

Me at the Driveway break with the sign Aaron made for my backpack advertising my blog…isn’t he sweet!?!

go left when you get here

go left when you get here

Trail picks up again on the right

Trail picks up again on the right

This next section of the trail goes for 1.5 miles and crosses over a true paved road 2 times.  This is a windy mountain road that I assume ultimately goes to the top of lookout mountain too, but you have to watch out for both cars and bikers.  It was pretty slick from snow/ice, we did have to put on traction devices to help us walk through it safely about a half a mile in.  We must have hit at the right time or the wind and clouds kept everyone at bay, because we had most of the way up to ourselves.

Crossing the road to get to the second section of Chimney Gulch

Crossing the road to get to the second section of Chimney Gulch

Icy conditions

Icy conditions

Views are changing

Views are changing

At the second Road crossing you come to this very picturesque parking lot with a great view of mountains and beautiful stonework.  This is the Windy Saddle Trailhead and parking lot where the one port-o-potty is.  From here it is just over a mile to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and top of the mountain.

As we climb up to the Windy Saddle Trailhead

As we climb up to the Windy Saddle Trailhead

Windy Saddle Parking lot

Windy Saddle Parking lot

Windy Saddle

Windy Saddle Trail

Windy Saddle Trail

I am not sure exactly when it moved in, but about half way up this final climb, clouds encompassed the top of the mountain and all views evaporated.  Don’t get me wrong, the cloud and fog brought its own beauty to the hike, but I have no good summit shots for you.  Instead of ohhing  and ahhing at Golden down below, we hit the Nature Center talked to the people running it that and found out that Boettcher Mansion was open to the public right that minute for wedding reception tours.  I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to check that out so we walked through there too.  I am sure the views are spectacular here  but the clouds just got thicker.  The house was hauntingly beautiful in all the fog.

Take the Lookout Mt Trail

Take the Lookout Mt Trail

Trail Conditions on Lookout Mt Trail

Trail Conditions on Lookout Mt Trail

At the Top of Lookout Mountain

At the Top of Lookout Mountain

Nature Reserve

Nature Reserve

Inside Nature Reserve

Inside Nature Reserve

Boettcher Mansion

Boettcher Mansion

We made a super quick descent because it was cold up in the clouds!  There were way more people out on the trail now and much of the ice that caused problems on the middle 1.5 miles was melting at a good pace.

On the way down

On the way down

I will tell you I am not very fond of the first mile of this hike, it is kind of boring and your views are of houses with some of Golden spread out below you.  But once we got to that second part, the surroundings totally changed and it was all trees, mountains and terrain which was all lovely.  I think if we do this one again, I would start at the first road crossing on the second section of Chimney Gulch.   I am not sure how to get to that road but I think  it is the light just south of the turn off for the first section.   If you find yourself in Golden CO and need a good diversion, check this hike out, I think you will like it.  My Favorite Pictures from the hike will be after the directions.

Directions: Take 6th Ave West from Denver to Golden for about 12 miles. About ¼ mile before the 6th Ave/Route 58/Route 93 intersection there will be an unmarked pullout on the left side of the road. Park here. You will see some single track leading up the mountain. Take this.

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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.

Bergen Peak Trail conditions OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA pikes peak Denver

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.

South Valley Ranch, Littleton CO hiked 1/4/14

8 Jan

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Swallow Trail>Coyote Trail> Parking lot:

Lowest Elevation: 6000 Ft

Highest elevation: 6000 Ft

Trail Length: 2.8 officially for one loop around, we did it 2 times for about 5.5-6 miles

Trail uses: Hiker

Degree of Difficulty:  Easy

Fees:  None

Bathrooms: Yes

Pets: Yes

trail condiitons

It was crazy>thinking those weather forecasters might have it right.  I laughed when Al Roker on the Today show said we would get 6-10 inches of snow on Saturday, because our weather people were saying trace amounts… maybe 2 inches on the front range at the most.  Plus it was like 62 degrees on Friday so how bad could it be?

Apparently way worse than I thought, especially for my civic. That was bad decision #1, taking my Civic and not our CRV.

The first trail we planned on was to get over 8000 Ft.  and along 70, which seemed impossible to get to about 10 minutes into the drive with terrible roads and pretty heavy snow fall.  I switched directions going south thinking it would be lighter… again based on our weather forecasters.  It was a slow but not bad drive and until I pulled on to the final road to the trail head, I got stuck  about 200 feet in.  Stupid decision #2, as it is a pretty steep uphill drive on a semi residential road that likely never gets plowed.  The deer 4 feet away from where we got stuck actually had looks of disdain on their faces clearly thinking “stupid human”

This super nice guy driving past asked if we were ok and I said um…. I think we are stuck.  He acted as a spotter while I drove down the road in reverse, taking advantage of gravity to get unstuck.  Thank goodness for physics! When we got back on the road he seriously offered to drive us up to where we needed to go.  How nice is that!?!?!?  We didn’t take him up on his offer but instead hit South Valley Ranch  on the road back towards home, a park  I honestly thought I would never hike.

South Valley Ranch is a pretty easy hike with a simple 2.5 mile loop and almost no elevation gain, but the parking lot is totally flat and on the same level as the road for a hopefully easy out.  AKA perfect in bad weather for a low clearance Civic.

South Valley Ranch Trail map

South Valley Ranch Trail map

As we bundled up, I was super stressed about not being able to get out ever (drama queen) and thinking who do I know that lives close to here that I could hike to if we get stuck.  In case you’re wondering, I have 2 friends a few miles away we could have hiked to if necessary.

The trail starts out on the right of the parking lot, even with the snow it seemed pretty wide and level.  In just .4 miles you hit the first trail break and we decided to go left, it is a simple loop so left or right is about the same.  The first time through we could actually see Lockheed Martin and the community directly North of the park plus some of the mountains south of us on the trail.  The snow was surprisingly deep too, like 3-4 inches, stupid weather people.

We went left here

We went left here

It was actually a lovely hike and we had it mostly to ourselves, I guess others were making smarter decisions about going out in the bad weather then I was.   We came up to this other trail break where, if the weather was better I think we could have taken it all the way to Deer Creek Canyon.

We went right onto Swallow Trail

We went right onto Swallow Trail

trail condiitons

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It is not too far to the 2nd parking lot which actually had more cars than I expected.

2nd Parking lot

2nd Parking lot

Picnic Area by the 2nd parking lot

Picnic Area by the 2nd parking lot

We just went up and past this cute picnic area, I suspect in better weather employees from Lockheed Martin spend a lot of time over here.

From here we came to the Coyote Song Trail which looks like it goes further north and perhaps up along the hogbacks.  I think another time we might have explored further but for this hike  we just did the simple loop.

coyote trail

Taking the Coyote trail back to the car

trail condiitions

We came across one more trail spike that looked intriguing but again just stayed on the loop.

Lyons back back toithe parking lot

The Loop the first time around was interesting, with the snow giving a nice challenge to an otherwise  easy trail.  We got back to the car at exactly 1 hour and we stopped a few times to adjust stuff.  We did a quick survey of the car to see how much snow had fallen in that hour and decided to go around again.  As we topped the one climb in the beginning, the snow increased significantly.  We could no longer see Lockheed Martin or the Neighborhood to the north we saw on the first loop, then I noticed that our foot prints from the first time around had a lot of snow in it.   I drama queened it up and practically ran the second loop, worried I would get stuck again.  We worked up a crazy sweat and there were even less people the second time around.  We finished in just 45 minutes, thankfully  got the car out and home, no problem.

The park reminded m e a lot of  Fountain Valley Trail ( hike details here) at Roxborough, even the way the huge rocks were shaped along the trail.  I have gotten over my disinterest towards this hike, it would be great place to try cross-country skiing out and a good easy hiking day location, with doing more loops to extend your workout.  On this day the weather helped increase its loveliness but I suspect on sunny days the views  might be a little boring and it is totally exposed so sunblock it up.  I am willing to give this open space another shot, we may even do it this Sunday to get 2 hikes in this weekend… who knows!

Directions:

Main Trailhead: 90 South Valley Road, Littleton.
From C-470, exit westbound on Ken Caryl Avenue. Turn left onto South Valley Road to the park’s north parking area.

South Trailhead: 12399 Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton. From South Platte Canyon Road (S. Wadsworth and C-470), take Deer Creek Canyon Road west to the smaller parking area.

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My Last Hikes of 2013

28 Dec

Ok my goal with this post is to catch up on my back log of hikes that I did in December, it was both busy and slow hiking wise by my choice.

Best view facing West on Green mountain

Best view facing West on Green mountain

We actually started out so strong and got a 3rd hike in 4 days done on 12/1/13.  We hit Green Mountain in Lakewood CO ( hike details here)and just enjoyed a nice quick 4 mile hike to get a good stretch of our legs after the nice hike we had the day before.  It was super nice outside and the trail was pretty busy> which I think is normal for the weekend.  I have started to notice something bizarre about this parking lot… the bikers, and there are a lot of them, totally don’t care about getting hit by the cars coming in/going out of the parking lot or hitting the hikers/joggers that are trying to make their way to and from the trail. They just ride around the parking oblivious to anyone else using the park. It’s completely annoying, especially when you are trying to pull out but one strange biker just keeps doing little loops right behind your car…. or get into a spot while one zooms in front of you.  Outside of parking lot stress, the hike itself was lovely!

Close up of Evans on Green Mt.

Close up of Evans on Green Mt.

Best view East

Best view East at Green Mountain

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The best view West At Green Mt.

That first week of December was almost record cold in Colorado and on Saturday 12/7 the high was a hopeful 4 degrees.  Knowing that I would get limited  opportunity to hike this month, we bundled up and went somewhere close but challenging – Mt. Falcon.  We had received some snow a few days before with all the freezing temperatures and knew that the window to hike comfortably with sun was limited.  We actually started at 10AM and took a little over 4 hours to just go the normal 8.5 miles up and down the Castle view trail.  The snow and cold really impacted our usual pace.  It was so cold in fact that at one point( even though we would clear our water tubes after every drink) we had to melt our tubes with my freaky hot hands…. don’t ask I barely passed pie making in culinary school because of them(one of those blessings/curse things).  We had almost the whole trail to ourselves with some cheeky deer for company .  There was about a foot of snow on the trail in the beginning and it got deeper as we went higher, which is where we actually saw the most people, like 6 total…all day. There were a couple of people snowshoeing, something I haven’t done yet and I was fascinated but also a little confused because the snow didn’t seem all that deep.  I am so renting some soon so I can try it out!  Overall it was a tough day to hike but still felt great getting out, even if it did take me a day or so to warm back up.

Looking icy cold when we start at Mt. Falcon - my car said it was -2

Looking icy cold when we start at Mt. Falcon – my car said it was -2

Yep cold

Yep cold

In the shade on the way up and I am bundled

In the shade on the way up and I am bundled

Climbing up in the cold and beauty

Climbing up in the cold and beauty

Good Company on the trail

Good Company on the trail

I am both frosted and melting the ice in my water tube with my freaky hot hands

I am both frosted and melting the ice in my water tube with my freaky hot hands

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My birthday gift to myself was a new tattoo… so I planned on taking the day off before I got said tattoo to get my last hike in for a couple of weeks.  I got to hike solo for the first time ever and I have to say I didn’t hate it.  It was interesting to see how I drove myself without anyone else around motivating or inspiring me.   I went to my favorite standby Deer creek canyon( hike details here) I didn’t go as fast as I might have other times but I wasn’t a slacker either, I just did 6.8 miles in around 2.5 hours.  The day was beautiful but the snow and ice were annoying, fortunately I did have traction devices for my shoes(even though it took me 20 minutes to get them on without my usual assistance) that helped me keep a nice pace.  I also just had a great attitude, I mean what a better way to start a long weekend then hiking?  Oh and my new tattoo…. AWESOME!!!  I mean seriously my tattoo artist rocks!  If you find yourself in Colorado and want an excellent tattoo see Piotr at Godspeed he is amazing!!! The other huge impact to my attitude…. the night before my girlfriends surprised me and whisked me away in a limo for a night on the town to celebrate my 40th birthday.  It really brought things in perspective for me and just helped me appreciate the wonderful life I have.  Thank you Ladies, you have made my 40th year in life start out better than perfect!!!

Climbing up Plymouth Creek Trail

Climbing up Plymouth Creek Trail in snow and ice

Awesome views at Deer creek

Awesome views at Deer creek

A poor selfie of myself on Deer creek

A poor selfie of myself on Deer creek

My Super Awesome new tattoo for turning 40

My Super Awesome new tattoo for turning 40

After 2 weeks of no hiking while my super awesome tattoo healed( so worth it), this morning I was anxious to get out and get some miles under my feet.  But not just that, I wanted to try out my new prize, a true backpack.  Yep my Christmas elves(or cats) picked out this bad boy for me…. them or the great staff at REI, it’s a toss-up.  Either way, my new challenge for 2014, outside of losing the rest of my weight, is to try for my first backpacking trip.   This morning we decided that NightHawk Trail at Hall Ranch ( hike details here) was a perfect place to get a feel for my new pack and it was an easier trail that had the challenge of distance if not total altitude gain.  I have to say the hike itself was pretty awesome with lots of deer all over the place as company, wearing the new pack not so much.  It was awkward and I hardly had anything more than water in it.  Apparently it is like learning to hike a whole different way, I swayed when I didn’t want to, my balance was off and my knees and hips were throwing around curses I haven’t used myself….. EVER.   At one point it felt like my ankles were hand cuffed!  I still love this trail and know I will do it again and again, maybe even when the sun it out one time since we have never had it as a hiking partner on this trail…. but now I am sitting here  with angry hips and knees  thinking about when I can get out again with my new pack.  Life it pretty awesome in Colorado!

View at the start of Hall Ranch with a little sun

View at the start of Hall Ranch with a little sun

Best non animal view of the day

Best non animal view of the day

What… you think I can't see you?

What… you think I can’t see you?

I totally see you!

I totally see you

The New Backpack.. EMpty and lame but with great hopes

The New Backpack.. Empty and lame but with great hopes

Pine Valley Ranch to Buck Gulch, Pine CO hiked 11/30/13

25 Dec

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Pine Lake >Buck Gulch>Skipper Trail> Strawberry Jack Trail> Park VIew Trail

Lowest Elevation:  6800Ft

Highest Elevation: 7900 Ft( although total elevation gain was closer to 1300+ Ft)

Trail Length: 7-8 miles, it took us under 3 hours to complete

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker & Horses

Degree of difficulty:  Easy to moderate

Fees: None

Bathrooms: At the parking lot only

Pets:  Yes on Leash only

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There is so much to see still of Colorado and for a while I wasn’t challenging myself to find that more but Staunton Park renewed that discovery lust in me again.  I also wanted to make sure that whatever trail we did left us with enough energy to hike again on Sunday.  Pine Valley Ranch seemed perfect!  It is a small park mileage wise but right on the edge of the Pike National Forest, which makes the possibilities very expansive.

When I got there, I was pretty amazed by the 3 huge parking lots on the way to all the trailheads and main park.  It also made me wonder how crazy busy this place might be in spring, summer & fall.  On this morning it was freaky cold and so we had it mostly to ourselves.  It was in fact colder then expected and we almost shy of enough clothing to stay warm.

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Crossing over the beautiful river with its ice and flow.

Crossing over the beautiful river with its ice and flow.

Once we crossed over the river we had the option of walking along the shaded side of the Lake or the sunny side of the lake, given we were crazy cold  it was the sunny side for us.

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We didn’t walk along Pine Lake long before we hit the trail break for Buck Gulch Trail.

Buck Gulch Trailhead

Buck Gulch Trailhead

From here we started climbing and went into shade and I will admit I was thankful for the climbing just to warm up everything.  Normally we are over prepared, but since I broke my day pack we have been cutting it close this was the hardest hike of them all with so little back up available.  But the day itself was just lovely and as it warmed up we were dressed perfectly.  This part of the trail had the most climbing of the entire hike but it wasn’t that steep.

Buck Gulch Trail

Buck Gulch Trail

Entering Pike National Forest via Buck Gulch Trail

Entering Pike National Forest via Buck Gulch Trail

It wasn’t long before we left the Jefferson County open space and entered Pike National Forest.  With that change over we also  came upon an old burn area from the High Meadows Fire in 2000.  I am becoming to really enjoy these areas, not for the devastation the fire causes but for the beauty it leaves behind.  It is a different kind of beauty for sure, but it tells a story of struggle, desperation, loss and triumph.  It forced me to reflect and identify that feeling while I hiked through and along the remains, it reminded me of how an old battleground would feel or a cemetery.  For the record, I am totally one of those people that loves to walk through cemeteries, the older the better and more majestic.  I guess it is no surprise I am falling in love with recovering burn areas.

Views

We were on the Buck Gulch trail for just over 2 miles, I understand it is a popular biking route that takes you into the Lost Creek Wilderness for a 11-13 mile route with lots of elevation gain.  I have to tell you I totally want to hike it some time.  In fact the only other people we saw that day was a huge group of bikers doing that route.  The downside of the whole day…. there were some people shooting the whole time we were in the National forest and it felt like they were a little too close and/or moving in our direction. It was disconcerting and made me paranoid my colors weren’t bright or unnatural enough to point to a human AKA not a target.

From here we took the Skipper trail to the Strawberry Jack Trail.  This was the one of the easier parts of the hike, with slight ups and downs but nothing too aggressive.  The views were lovely, if not breath taking and made me want to come and explore more.

Skipper Trail  Just outside of Lost Creek Wilderness

Skipper Trail Just outside of Lost Creek Wilderness

Strawberry Jack Trail Head

Strawberry Jack Trail Head

Skipper trail conditions to Strawberry Jack

Skipper trail conditions to Strawberry Jack

Outside of the lake in the beginning, there isn’t a ton of water on the hike but there was this one crossing and I am afraid I forgot if it was on Skipper or Strawberry Jack but somewhere along those trails.

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Strawberry Jack Tail conditions

Strawberry Jack Tail conditions

We made a good loop hike by taking the Park View Trail back to Pine Lake,  it was incredibly beautiful coming down with the lake in view.

Park View Trail Break

Park View Trail Break

The lower half of this section is mostly stairs back to the lake.

Stairs coming down

Stairs coming down

The Bottom of Park view trail on the other side of Pine Lake

The Bottom of Park view trail on the other side of Pine Lake

Overall, this is a nice easy hike with lots of options to make it harder or not depending on your mood.  On this particular day for me, a new issue had decided to present itself- interesting joint pain in my hips.  It has forced me to slow down a little, which in turn has effected everything.  Regardless, for this hike I was glad that it was a shorter and easier hike when the end came along.  As my second hike in 3 days, I was feeling better than I thought I might but  a little worried about my hip action.  I cannot wait to get out here again, likely in the summer and challenge myself by doing the full Buck Gulch route for a tough day hike.  I hope if you find yourself out this way that you check this one out, it is so worth it!  After the directions a few favorites pictures from the day.

Directions:

30400 Crystal Lake Rd., Pine External Link Icon

From U.S. Highway 285, turn south on Pine Valley Road (County Road 126) to Crystal Lake Road. Turn right one mile into the park.

Cool Tree

Cool Tree that survived the fire

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Belcher Hill Trail(repeater Hike)- White Ranch Park, Golden Co Hiked 11/10/13

22 Nov

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I was thrilled 2 weeks ago when my friend Tricia from California was in town for a wedding.  That meant I got to spend all of Saturday with her just laughing and drinking…. not so great for my goals but super really good for  my psyche!  We had soo much fun!

Ever dedicated to hiking, I pulled myself out of bed on Sunday to hike, even a little hung over because I can’t miss hiking on my weekends anymore, that next week just doesn’t feel right!  Even worse now, I don’t feel right – but worse meaning really good and awesome.

White Ranch park was really hard hit in the floods we had jut 2 months ago….it has been mostly closed and had just reopened a few trails not too long ago Belcher Hill  (Hike details here) being one those.  We took advantage of that reopening and headed out there that Sunday morning!

The day was just spectacular 68, sunny and no wind what so ever.  It is one of those days where you want to be outside all day long doing whatever makes you happy. Fortunately that was exactly what I was doing, hiking and being happy.

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The trail itself was still rough from the floods with lots of debris, mostly rocks and pebbles pushed down, adding a new  dimension to the trail and some dry debris sliding.  There was also a lot of deep grooves from rushing water that changed the degree of pitch in some places, forcing a lot of the bikers to walk with their bikes.  I also added to the challenge by trying out a smaller hiking shoe size, my feet have gotten a little smaller as I have lost weight and my toes are paying the price so I figured it was worth a shot to go down a half of size.  On the way back down my right foot felt the best it had in 8 months…. my left the worst.  The result of my experiment…. I started one size on my left foot and a smaller size on my right, my feet have been feeling awesome!

Despite the toe thing, the hike was just wonderful there were lots of people out enjoying our mild weather.

Sorry for the delay on posts.  I am hiking every weekend no matter what, last weekend I even got 2 hikes in and both mostly new.   Work has just been super intense and when I am not working late or getting some more work done at home, I am squeezing in exercise where ever I can.  I won’t lie, sticking to eating well has been hard as I am a serious stress eater currently under immense stress, I have really good days and really bad days but my weight hasn’t changed too much.  I swear I will get back on track with telling you all about it again soon!!

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