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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

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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

Belcher HIll 1

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!!

me

 

Mt. Falcon, Morrison CO (repeater) hiked 11/3/13

16 Nov
views on the way up.

views on the way up.

I had great expectations for that this second hike of my 3 day weekend on Saturday…. like climb Mt. Everest expectations….. What I got was not so great.

*** WARNING FEMALE ISSUES WILL BE DISCUSSED****There are just days that are not meant to be…. I have been off the pill for 2 years, I can tell you 15 years ago, before I got on the pill, each month was a juggle of time and advil… and it was bad, like throw up once a month can’t get out of bed bad.  But like so many before me, we figure it out and live our lives.  I think the blessing has been, that for the past 2 years off the pill I have never reverted back to those dark days until this particular morning….at approximately 2:30 am.  At first I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening and got in the car and drove to our designated trail head. It was a crazy beautiful drive and the day was unspeakably beautiful, I knew this was the day for the hike I had planned.

When I pulled up to the trail head all I could think was, I can’t take any more Advil without throwing up and I can’t walk without any more advil….. It was decided right then,  as the most spectacular pinks lit up the sky and mountains all around, this hike was not happening….*** DONE WITH FEMALE ISSUES DISCUSSION******

I spent that day in bed and woke on Sunday hungry for a hike and that is how I found myself on Mt. Falcon ( hike details here).

I love November on the front range…one of the best kept secrets is that Denver is crazy mild while the mountains get hammered all winter long, Mt. Falcon was perfect for the hiking that Sunday. It was sunny warm and exhilarating as we flew up the mountain.  We started later than we normally do, so it was much more crowded than we are used too.

I left late and was breaking in new hiking shoes but we still made great time.  We did 10-ish miles with 2100ft+ elevation gain in just 3 hours, it felt so good.  Well mostly good, it was also an interesting and perfect day to be out on the trail.  Sundays aren’t a regular occurrence anymore and the people out with us were a great variety.  I could do without the smokers though…….

The views were amazing, the hike invigorating and my spirits up…. Love hiking!

Denver from the tower

Denver from the tower

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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Deer Creek Canyon, Littleton CO for like the millionth time. Hiked 10/13/13

24 Oct

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I will say the weekend when my bestie was here went too fast but it was a really wonderful  48 hour visit.  It is amazing the effect your best friend can have in such a short period of time.  It was so hard seeing her go and I am not typically a very emotional person, but  I cried the whole way home from the airport.  I think it also had a lot to do with my new reality…..

When I had left to take her to the airport early that morning I had not slept a wink the night before and decided no hike for this weekend, but on the way home I started to feel so bad that I knew just getting out on the trail would help me turn it around at least a little.

We packed up quickly and headed out to Deer Creek.  It was around 10AM when we started, and the parking lot was surprisingly  empty for a late Sunday morning.  I will tell you that I was also a little hung over, not so much because I drank too much but because I drank and got like 15 minutes of sleep the night before.

I just wanted to get in some exercise with beautiful views to clear my head and get a better perspective on life, this hike was perfect for that.   We got in almost 9 miles with around 1700 total feet of elevation gain and we did it in record time at 2.5 hours.   It really felt good to do so much in such a short period of time.   The big shocker was how few people were out there with us, the day couldn’t have been more perfect for hiking this trail and so few people were enjoying it there.  I hope they were enjoying it on another trail!

As always this trail is my favorite go to when time is short but a hike is necessary and this day was no different.   Love you Deer Creek Canyon!