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East Castlewood Canyon Trail, Franktown CO hiked 5/26/14

1 Jun

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Starting Elevation: 6604 ft

Highest Elevation: 6653 Ft ( there is some up and down overall I think we climbed maybe 400 ft total)

Trail Length: 4 Miles from the trailhead but we had to park a mile away so we hiked 6 miles total.

Trail Uses: Hiker Only

Degree of Difficulty: Easy

Fees: $7 a day

Bathrooms: There are bathrooms at the visitor center and some of the parking lots.

Pets: Dogs are allowed in the park on leash but on this particular trail NO dogs at all are allowed because of the fragile ecology of the trail.

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The best part of a 3 day weekend is that it means 2 hikes over the course of the weekend is guaranteed. This was our 3rd walk of the weekend and strangely my heels had been chewed up worse than I thought on the previous 2 walks.  I needed something easy and had learned that Castlewood Canyon State Park had recently re-opened the East Canyon Hike it was rated as easy as well as one of the longer hikes in the Park.  I think everyone in Colorado decided Castlewood Canyon State Park was the place to go on Memorial Day, when we drove into the park the first 2 parking lots were full so we drove on to the 3rd one which was huge but filling up fast.  Besides the droves of people getting some good outdoor activity in, we were now a mile away from the trail I wanted to hit.

The trail from the car to the trailhead was paved

The trail from the car to the trailhead was paved

I am going to be honest, putting on shoes was tough with my blisters… walking on pavement was even harder.  The mile to the trailhead wasn’t too bad but I was trying to ignore how bad my feet were hurting, so far so good….

Trailhead

The best place to park for this hike is the very first parking lot upon entry into the park from Route 83.  We actually walked right past this sign but when we saw a park volunteer he told us to go off the pavement and look for cairns these would take us through the path.

Looking for cairns

Looking for cairns

This hike turned into a treasure hunt at this point, as the majority of the trail was over huge boulders so we were just looking for cairns the whole time.  I have to tell you it was pretty fun, the geology of this place was totally different then what we were used to and so beautiful!  I have done other trails in this State Park but this one is so much fun!  I mean like I wish I had some kids with me fun.   After cairn hunting for a short period the trail goes under Route 83.

Cairn hunting

Cairn hunting

Going under Route 83

Going under Route 83

All the way under route 83

All the way under route 83

Then back to the treasure hunt.  Slowly we made our way down into the canyon where we hit water – slowly not because the treasure hunt was hard but because my heels were in really terrible shape already.

Creek crossing

Creek crossing

Views while crossing the creek

Views while crossing the creek

Other side of the creek

Other side of the creek

After this low point we started climbing again but not very much, we turned a corner and there were these awesome pools with some fun rock jumping…..again perfect for kids.

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It is not far from here that we hit the 1.14 mile loop and all we could talk about was who kids could we take here?

thru canyon

The loop itself was unremarkable and strangely empty of much traffic.  We did get some amazing views of Pikes Peak and all of the front range, plus there were lots of flowers, lizards and an array of butterflies.  That doesn’t even cover all the birds we saw.

Trail loop conditions

Trail loop conditions

All in all it was a fun trail, perfect for a short easy hike when your feet are in trouble.  I think it would be a great place to take kids for a million reasons but mostly because the whole time I was thinking I would have loved this as a kid.  As an adult it was beautiful and fun, bringing me back to those days when I would explore the creek behind a school as a kid.  It is really exposed and so meant more for spring, fall or winter, I would never do this one in the summer unless it was the end of the day or the very beginning.

In the end I had to take off my shoes and walk in my socks the blisters were so bad but I pushed it to the paved part and as close to the parking lot as I could.  I hate blisters and really I am not sure how I got back here but it was a bad place to be after years of hiking every weekend.  We did the whole 6 miles in just 2 hours which is right for easy and had my feet been in better condition we would have moved faster.

This State Park is really beautiful, not just because of the canyon but because of the endless views, beautiful flowers, adventurous trails and fun discovery.  I may not come out here often as I am currently addicted to summit views, but I will for sure brings lots of friends and families here because it is FUN!

Directions: To reach the main entrance of Castlewood Canyon State Park, take I-25 to Castle Rock, exit onto Founders Parkway eastbound. Take Founders Parkway to Hwy 86, go east on Hwy 86 four miles to Franktown. Turn South on Hwy 83 (S. Parker Rd) and go five miles south to the main park entrance.

flowers flowers 2 pikes peak lizards

 

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Mason Creek at Staunton State Park, Conifer CO hiked 4/12/14

17 Apr

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Mason Creek Trail> Border Line Trail> Staunton Ranch Trail

Starting Elevation:  8197 ft

Highest Elevation:  9450 Ft ( Almost 1600 ft total with a little up and down from Mason Creek to Border Line)

Trail Length: 10.6 miles officially and my fitbit was pretty close with right around 11 miles

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker, Horses

Degree Of Difficulty:  Moderate to Difficult: mostly due to length.

Fees: $7 a day or $70 for the annual Colorado State Park Pas… we have the pass

Bathrooms:  Yes at every parking lot

Pets:  Yes- dogs allowed as long as they are on leash.

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We have been super enjoying all the snowshoeing opportunities these past 2 months but to be honest I feel like we are totally out of shape. None of our snowshoes were very long or had a ton of elevation gain, we stayed up highish but didn’t climb a ton.  I was starting to worry that all that stamina we had fought hard for might be gone.  That’s why we went back to Staunton State Park on Saturday.  This park is just beautiful, the trail options make it easy to challenge yourself or quickly escape if you bit off more than you can chew.

Picking our Route

Picking our Route

The other driver to get in as many miles as possible on Saturday, was the spring snow storm expected for Sunday.  The mountains were predicted to get a foot or more of snow and we here on the Front Range 3-6 inches so we had to make a bang on Saturday.   I am pretty sure everyone in Colorado had the same goal for Saturday as Spring fever has officially set in!

We started out on Mason Creek Trail and at first it was straight forward so we cruised through the 2.2 miles without blinking an eye.  It was wild flying  through this part when the last time we attempted it in the snow it took us forever!  I am torn which I liked more.  It is beautiful for sure, but I think I might actually like a snowy Mason Creek ( our first hike details here) a little more… but I need to see it in summer.  It wove beautifully along the creek which was babbling in and out of ice and snow.  We crossed it a few times and once again I was so impressed with how they planned this state park, everything is so well thought out!  Overall the trail mostly climbs and the last half mile or so declines to the trail break.

Mason Creek Trail conditions

Mason Creek Trail conditions

one of many creek crossings on Mason Creek

one of many creek crossings on Mason Creek

The last mile on Mason Creek went down...on ice and snow

The last half mile on Mason Creek went down…on ice and snow

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When we got to the trail break, we had a choice to do just 7 ish miles or push on and try for the 10.3 miles.  If you get here and want the shorter route take Old Mill, it is just .9 miles to Staunton Ranch and then 1.7 to the parking lot.  The old original Mill is here too, surrounding by fencing to protect it but it was cool to see.

Old Mill

Old Mill

Boarder Line Trail

Border Line Trail

There is actually an Old Mill  in ruins at the trail break

There is actually an Old Mill in ruins at the trail break

We took Border Line and decided further was going to work… honestly I felt good and just doing the whole original planned loop felt really good.

From here it means climbing again and the first mile is straight up but not a super steep grade or anything plus it is a lot of switchbacks.

Boarder Line Trail Conditions

Border Line Trail Conditions

I was loving the views as we climbed, all the beautiful rock faces we saw as driving to the parking lot were right there…..spectacular.

Views on Border Line

Views on Border Line

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We got to the Staunton view-point after a mile on Border Line, it is a little offshoot from the Border Line trail and we took it knowing it added .2 miles to our overall hike.  I am so glad we did, the views were perfect.  It would have been better had the sky been cloudless but there is something about the moodiness clouds add that make it a sight to behold!  It is just .1 miles to the official view and then we kind of adventured to this other outcropping and got 180 degree views of everything….. I super love Colorado.

Staunton Overlook

Conditions at the overlook

Conditions at the overlook

Me at the overlook Views at overlook

From this point we climbed a little more and then it was straight down to the Staunton Ranch trail.

Coming down on Boarder Line

Coming down on Border Line

Staunton Ranch from Border Line

Staunton Ranch from Border Line

Getting on to Staunton Ranch Trail

Getting on to Staunton Ranch Trail

The Staunton Ranch Trail does a little up and down throughout and overall it is the easier stretch of the hike, just 3.3 miles of a stretch so be prepared if you do this loop.  I will admit the last 2 miles were a struggle for me on Saturday, my feet and legs were protesting the whole way but it felt great to get our original goal accomplished.

I am excited for the next hike, the weather is changing and so am I…. I am struggling with my healthy part but I am so looking forward to so many new hikes.  I want to be higher sooner and the snowshoes helped with that, we are comfortable at 10K already, thank you snowshoes!!!  Now I need to get better at carrying my snowshoes so we can be good at 11k, 12K, 13K and finally some 14k.  As always after the directions will be our favorite pictures…

I Hope your spring also started beautifully, so now just get out there and hike where ever you are!

Directions: Take US Highway 285 south to Shaffers Crossing, about 6 miles west of Conifer. Turn north on Elk Creek Road and follow the signs 1.5 miles to the park entrance

Pikes Peak was all lit up whenever we saw it from the trail.

Pikes Peak was all lit up whenever we saw it from the trail.

Rocks along Mason Creek Winter

Rocks along Mason Creek Winter 1/19/14

Same Rocks on 4/12/14

Same Rocks on 4/12/14

 

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Spring Break hiking 3/1- 3/6/14 All Repeaters

15 Mar
view from Evergreen Mt.

view from Evergreen Mt.

When my nieces came to visit me last year, their one request was more hiking.  I honestly had no idea they would like it as much as they did.  I wanted to get them out as much as possible while still giving them a break from school.  I had grand plans, hike 3/1, snowshoe 3/2, sunrise hike 3/3, break on 3/4, hike of their choice on 3/5 play 3/6 by ear…. our first hike fell apart quickly while the snowshoe on 3/2 was excellent as I mentioned here.

For our sunrise hike on 3/3 I was pretty uncertain we would ever be able to do it because the avalanche risk was so high all through the high country and I am not yet educated on avalanche safety and awareness.  I picked a mountain that I knew was a low risk but tricky to get to, Colorado Mines Mountain.  With the snow storm we had on 3/1 I wasn’t certain the road up would be open but it was so we got up at 2AM and headed out to attempt their first sunrise hike.  When we arrived at the Berthoud Pass parking lot I was not expecting the 15 foot high wall of snow all around the parking lot nor Aaron getting bad coffee from 7-11.  He hardly had the car in park before he was running to the warming hut vault toilets to be sick.  Which I might add is one of the most awful places in the world to have that kind of situation in…. And my old negative Nellie said out loud “oh yeah we aren’t doing this”.

At the top of the continental divide sign

At the top of the continental divide sign

While Aaron was being sick I told them to get their snow pants on and wait in the car while I scouted out the trail to see what we had to work with.  The snow was actually hard enough to walk on and the snowshoe trail was just like Butler’s Gulch the week before in that we didn’t need snowshoes where all the other snowshoers had gone before us.  I walked a good quarter-mile up without anything but my hiking boots.  That walk felt good so I went back, checked on Aaron and the 3 of us adventured up the trail a bit to get a feel.  I should have had them put on their snowshoes and just gone for it but I didn’t, and my lack of confidence probably contributed to their unease.  We went up about half a mile, shut off our headlamps and then turned around.  We decided we would wait for sunrise in the parking lot and then head back for naps as soon as Aaron could safely leave the bathroom.  We goofed around where we could and then as the sun started to rise the snow picked up along with the wind… it was almost a white out.  I took a look down Berthoud pass and we weren’t going to catch any of the sunrise from there the snow was so thick in crazy blowing winds.  I am still kicking myself for not just taking them up alone, I am perfectly capable but I let doubt rule me!  Regardless it would have been miserable at the top with absolutely no views.  I promised them that if they came in the summer we would do this again on a better mountain.

On Wednesday, we hit Staunton State Park and the weather was absolutely perfect, the views were amazing and my nieces were the perfect company.  We hiked about 8 of the miles Aaron and I hiked last fall.  We did the Staunton Ranch trail to Scout Line, took Marmot down and then Staunton Ranch back out.   The hardest part was the little bit of snow we had to contend with, it was just enough to have slipping and sliding more than we wanted too.

The best view on Scout line - see pikes peak?

The best view on Scout line – see pikes peak?

What I loved was just talking with my nieces about whatever, they are adults now and so incredibly smart it was a revelation.   I found myself wanting to study again so I could keep up!

pikes peak and views staunton view on scout line

We did the length of Scout Line trail and then headed down Marmot passage to get a little loop back to Staunton Ranch trial.  Overall it gave us 8-9 miles of hiking with perfect weather and amazing company.

marmot passage sign

Taking marmot passage

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View on the way down Marmot Passage

Staunton view on marmot

too good to miss

After making them hike a lot on Wednesday, my nieces were still up for another hike on Thursday so we decided that the first hike we wanted to take them on- Evergreen Mountain– would be the one to do.  It was like night and day from just 5 days before.  The only downside was the snow on the path with the ice underneath that snow.  Once again Lauren and Anne proved how awesome they are!   It was supposed to a warm beautiful day, and while it was warm the sun stayed hidden which meant it wasn’t as warm as we had hoped it would be.

I love showing new people to this trail, when I do I usually take them to it before we hike much else only because the route up can be kind of boring after other hikes.  I felt that boring aspect the most this last time with no sun and the pesky snow making us slip and slide all over the place even more than the day before.   But the summit views were lovely to behold as always.  I think that was the redeeming part of the hike for us all after a struggle to get up through the melting, sloppy snow… that and the drinks afterwards.

us on evergreen mt. at the top summit of evergreen

This visit overall was so nice, having my nieces here made me both miss my family terribly and want to redouble my efforts to get them all to move here to Colorado…. now I am patiently waiting until my next family visit.  It needs to come faster!

ice castle moment

I hope you are experiencing some form of spring awesomeness and if you are, get out there and hike, life is too short!!!!

Mason Creek Trail – Staunton State Park, Conifer CO Hiked 2/1/14

6 Feb

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Mason Creek Trail

Lowest Elevation: 8200 ish feet

Highest Elevation: 9300 isn feet( Total Elevation gain 1100Ft)

Trail Length: we were shooting for 7-9 miles, what we got was 6 miles round trip.

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker, Horses and in winter snow shoe and cross country skiing

Degree of difficulty:  Moderate

Fees: $7 a day OR $70 for the state park annual pass.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking lots

Pets:  Yes, Dogs on Leash only.

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My biggest challenge after going to sea level is always getting my altitude lungs back, this past weekend I only had this one chance to get back up to 9,000ft in prep for our snowshoe this upcoming weekend.  I had decided that Staunton State Park would be great to revisit as there were so many trails we didn’t yet explore and  the trails we had done were pretty tame with altitudes between 8000-9500FT.  What I hadn’t planned for was the 1-2 feet snow that started falling in the high country the 2 days before our hike and was set to continue through Saturday afternoon.

When we got to the trail head around 9AM,  there was just one other car and we had passed a group of snowshoers who had not yet started their journey.  As we bundled up, I will admit I was a little put off by how much snow I was seeing… I had somehow convinced my self that this area wasn’t hit as hard as other mountain areas.  The bonus to that snow, everything was stunning!  The sky was becoming more cobalt blue than cloudy, while it was still snowing with clouds moving and changing like crazy.

starting out

starting out

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We started out pretty optimistic that we would be able to hammer out 11 miles, but planning on only doing 7-9 and it seemed possible that first quarter-mile.  Then we had to start pealing off layers and at the same time the snow shoeing group passed us.  They all looked so happy and fun.  At this point the trail was somewhat broken in with traffic from either super early morning users or the day before, so there was only a couple of inches to really deal with.

As we moved on, I took a turn at being in front because I want to make sure that I take equal time in finding the path and getting us to our destination once we start backpacking.  It wasn’t long before we passed the snowshoers as they peeled off layers.  I didn’t think much of it at the time and just kept plowing through.

We really started to climb about half a mile after passing the group and then slowed down.  The snow was much deeper, no one had come this way in a while, likely since before the storm and  under the snow was not so fun ice.  It was hard work! The trail  moved along a nice ravine, the trees were heavy with all the snow but crazy beautiful…We pulled over to peel off another layer and the group of Snowshoers were there again.  I was thrilled no more breaking trail for us…but then they stopped….right next to where we kindly pulled off the trail…. and waited.   I admit at first I was wondering why they wouldn’t want to get ahead of us, but it turns out they didn’t want to break trail either.

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I will tell you that this felt like the longest 2.25 miles I had ever hiked and when at just over 2 hours we hit that trail marker for halfway on the Mason Creek Trail.  I started laughing, knowing we would be lucky to make the shorter loop I had planned, let alone do anything more than 7.5 miles. Oh and clearly at the halfway sign was where everyone had been turning around, there were NO trail prints after this sign.

getting close to the halfway mark of the Mason Creek Trail

getting close to the halfway mark of the Mason Creek Trail

The snow is just below my knees...although this looks odd

The snow is just below my knees…although this looks odd

We went just 3/4’s of a mile further and my legs were straight up jelly mush, we were taking pictures of a pretty aspen grove(aka – catching our breath) when I had a heart to heart with  myself.  If my legs were in this shape and we weren’t even half way through, how likely was I to hurt myself if I continued on.  It was then that I called the hike and we headed back.   I am glad I did, as on the way back down I did indeed fall but it wasn’t too bad.The best part of the day was insane beauty all round us!  We had moody skies with breathtaking blues, grays and whites.  The snow-covered surroundings made me feel like we were in a fairy tale of some sort, we even had some serious snow fall as we were hiking at one point.   And the treevalanches ( when the snow all falls off of a tree for no apparent reason) were fun to try to catch with the camera… until one caught me… all down my back …. with all my base layers showing since I was so hot from the climb and trail breaking.  Surprisingly Aaron caught it on film…

Before Treevalanche

Before Treevalanche

Getting hit by the treevalanche

Getting hit by the treevalanche

post treevalanche

post treevalanche

Near miss

Near miss

Turnaround point 2

Turnaround point

Turnaround point

After 4 hours of hiking just 6 miles we headed home a little defeated and a lot worked out, we wimped out our Sunday hike and just enjoyed the sore muscles from Saturday.   After the directions are some of our favorite pictures from the day.

Where ever you are, I hope you get out and hike soon!

Directions:   Take US Highway 285 south to Shaffers Crossing, about 6 miles west of Conifer. Turn north on Elk Creek Road and follow the signs 1.5 miles to the park entrance

On the way back

On the way back

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The state park did a great job plowing the parking lot!

The state park did a great job plowing the parking lot!

A Thanksgiving Hike – Roxborough State Park, hiked 11/28/13

16 Dec
View from Carpenters peak facing north

View from Carpenters peak facing north

Work has been so crazy and with such craziness means not going home to Chicago for Thanksgiving.  I also don’t get the Friday after Thanksgiving off so no crazy Thanksgiving party or over indulging for us!  I decided that a morning hike would make the day perfect with a nice dinner to follow.   I also thought something easier would allow us to hike twice over the fast approaching weekend.

View from Carpenters Peak facing West.

View from Carpenters Peak facing West.

With just one day off, I wanted to stay close to home so that I could relax and cook the rest of the day.  We also bought an annual state park pass a few days before and so wanted to start getting our moneys worth.  We went to Roxborough state Park and hit 2 trails, Caprenters peak ( Hike details here) and the South rim hike ( Hike Details here) to get a nice quick 8.7 mile hike.  We finished in just under 3 hours and were surprised at how many people had the same idea as us.  Leave it to Coloradans to make sure they keep Thanksgiving healthy!

The day was completely perfect with a little snow on the trail and the sun shining bright.  We were lucky enough to see these 3 beauties right on the side of the trail, it was pretty special!

3 deer just on the side of the trail.

3 deer just on the side of the trail.

I will never tire of this park, every time we are there regardless of the weather it is stunning!  This particular day was no different… if you haven’t found your way out there yet, check it out, totally worth the $7 day fee!

View from the South Rim Hike

View from the South Rim Hike

View From Carpenters Peak East.

View From Carpenters Peak East.

 

 

Staunton State Park, Conifer CO Hiked 11/23/13

7 Dec

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Staunton Ranch > Scout Line> Marmot Passage>Bugling Elk> Stauton Ranch

Lowest Elevation:  8120 Ft

Highest Elevation: 9240 Ft ( I think total we got around 1800+ ft of elevation gain with the ups and downs)

Trail Length:  Roughly 10 miles

Trail Uses: Most of the trails were hiking, biking & Horses Scout Line is hiking only

Degree of Difficulty:  Most trails themselves are easy but doing them all together is moderate or difficult mostly

Fees: $7 a day OR $70 for the state park annual pass…. on this day we bought the pass since ours expired

Bathrooms:  Yes at each parking area there are vault toilets or Port-o-potties

Pets: Yes Dogs On leash only

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Work has been crazy and getting more crazy everyday, at the time I picked this trail I had not had even a minute the entire week to research hikes.  It was at 10PM that Friday night that I saw Mark and Sandy over a buencamino2014.wordpress.com talking about their hike at Staunton State park that morning.  They have been talking about the merits of this state park since it opened this summer while Mark worked there to get it ready for opening.  One thing I love about Colorado is that when a new state park opens there is as much excitement about it or more, as there was when Ikea opened.  I heard about the lines to get in the park all summer long and just didn’t want to deal with the crowds .  On  a pretty cold Saturday with potentially no sun, it was the perfect time to check it out!  Mark & Sandy  were nice enough to suggest a couple of routes that would get us around 10 miles and some of the best views in Park.  Honestly I would never had picked this route if not for them so thank you Mark & Sandy!

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This particular view was like a beacon of beauty, all lit up from the sun above the clouds.

We started the hike via Staunton Ranch trail,  which also happens to start at the Mason Creek Trailhead.  It is a little confusing as you walk up the trail but look up and left, you will see the trailhead:

Starting out

Starting out

This trail is not tough at all, the path is very well-groomed with a gradual climb as it winds up and around the park.  I really like how they have marked the trails in the park, they use the initials of the trail name on a simple iron post.  I would say this portion is easy to moderate, moderate mostly because round trip it is a 6.6 mile hike.

Staunton Ranch Trail marker

Staunton Ranch Trail marker

It felt like about 2 miles or just under, when we reached our trail break at the Scout Line Trailhead, also very well-marked where the 3 trails intersect and the signs have the mileage to the next trail break – I loved it!

SL Trail sign

This trail is all single track and starts a pretty aggressive climb up to some beautiful bluffs.  I have to say this was my favorite section of the hike, the views were amazing and the way they built up the trail using natural resources was actually really beautiful.

A creek crossing right at the trail break starting up Scout Line

A creek crossing right at the trail break starting up Scout Line

Climbing up SL

Climbing up SL

use of rocks as the trail… Beautiful

use of rocks as the trail… Beautiful

More Climbing after some stunning views

More Climbing after some stunning views

One of the views on SL

One of the views on SL

Me on Scout Line

Me on Scout Line

I have to tell you Scout Line was just gorgeous and reignited that love of discovering a new trail in me.  We spent more time then necessary on the trail just taking it all in the were views all over as we hiked along it.  As we got closer to the next trail break at Marmot Passage we had this great climb along the mountain.

Another great use of rocks to make the trail work

Another great use of rocks to make the trail work

Marmot Passage Trail Head

Marmot Passage Trail Head

Marmot Passage is an easy trail that does a little climbing and then mostly heads back down.  It actually started getting pretty cold while we were on this trail and so we started moving much faster.  As we descended to the Elk Falls Pond, the cloud cover really settled in but the pond still looked pretty from above, it could not dampen our excited and joy.

Elk falls pond Elk Falls pond signage

Once down by the pond, finding Bugling Elk trail to head back was very easy and the trail itself is some type of access road very wide and easy to hike:

BE Trailhead

We climbed up a little and then headed back down to Staunton Ranch Trail.

back to Staunton ranch Trail conditions from BE to SR

Knowing that we were just 3.3 miles from the end had us in great spirits, discovering this gem for ourselves…. well we were pretty chatty about it all.  So chatty in fact we almost missed the herd of deer on our left.  Then while taking too many pictures of them cavorting, we found out almost a minute too late that the main buck was on our right rounding up the rest of his herd and he was CLOSE.   Honestly I have never been that close to a buck, I would say he was just 5-6 feet away from us and totally unconcerned with what we were doing as he got his last doe back in line.

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I have to tell you that this hike was awesome!  I am so glad I happened upon Mark and Sandy’s most recent hike post to pick the park and even more thrilled they could give me advice on such short notice!  There is so much beauty in this state park and I totally get why there were lines of people waiting to discover it all.  Yes the route we took was long but it was crazy beautiful and so worth every step.  For approximately 70% of the hike, we had it totally to ourselves which added to its awesomeness .  We saw the most traffic on Staunton Ranch trail as we were returning to our car and what we did encounter still wasn’t all that much.   Honestly I cannot wait to get back to this State park and see more, I hope you can find your way out here to see it all for yourself!  After the directions will some of my favorite pictures from the day.

Directions:   Take US Highway 285 south to Shaffers Crossing, about 6 miles west of Conifer. Turn north on Elk Creek Road and follow the signs 1.5 miles to the park entrance

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Repeater hike(s) Roxborough State Park – Carpenters Peak & Fountain Valley Trail 1/25/13

26 Jan
View on the Carpenters Peak trail about half way up.

View on the Carpenters Peak trail about half way up.

Whenever I go out-of-town, especially to sea level, coming back to Denver is an adjustment, an almost 2 week adjustment.  Since I went to LA for my annual girls trip last Thursday and returned just this past Tuesday, I was not optimistic about my ability to hike anything new or tough.  We decided to go back to Roxborough State Park to see what we could manage.  Plus this would be our 11th visit to a Colorado State park which means we made money on our pass today, yay us!  The really nice thing about the park is the trail set up, you could easily hike all 3 big trails without crossing over the same terrain or going out of you way to get to the next segment.  When I got up this morning I was worried that the Carpenters Peak Trail ( for trail details click the link ) may be too much for me and a couple of times it was.  I definitely struggled up this mountain and had some altitude tough moments, but the physical activity wasn’t at all a problem.  I was surprised when we came down this trail, I could do more.   Between our 2 options I decided the easier Fountain Valley trail ( for trail details click the link) was the wiser choice.  At the end of the hike we had cleared 8.7 miles based on the map and 9.5 miles based on my Fitbit, not too shabby.  Plus we got a total of 189 flights of stairs climbed, I love my Fitbit I am obsessed with finding out how many flights of stairs we have climbed.

The quirky thing about hiking today was 2 fold, one we are desperate for some moisture here.  It is so dry that our fire season is actually starting now instead of during the summer months.  I remember our first month here people were thrilled that it was raining and at the time I thought it was cute, now I totally get it. I find myself trying out rain/snow dances in hopes the gods will favor us!  The insanely dry weather along with warm temperatures also means the brown cloud of the front range ramped up early and got thick. You can actually see it in the picture of Denver at the beginning of my post. By the time we got home it was 10 times worse.  The air quality warnings were red or high today, saying to avoid driving and stay indoors….which we ignored of course.

The other quirky thing is the temperature.  It was nice and sunny this morning and while just under 40 when we started, we were quickly sweating and stripping down, but at the top of Carpenters peak it was windy and chilly we turned around almost immediately.  I almost went to the shorts feature of my hiking pants during my second stage of taking stuff off but was so glad I didn’t do it.  The trail itself had a ton of ice on it and so we knew it would be a muddy trip down.  This trail is not one you want to do when it is muddy, its like hiking with 3 extra pounds of mud on your shoes or wearing 4 inch heels, going downhill on a moving platform.

Trail conditions

Trail conditions

The mud was pretty bad and another reason why I chose the Fountain Valley trail as my add-on option, because they cover it with pebbles pretty regularly and the mud and ice are not a problem.

Trail Conditions on Fountain Valley

Trail Conditions on Fountain Valley

The best part about today was practically flying out of bed to get on the trail.  It has been a weird month+, traveling home for Xmas, getting sick for so long and then barely a week of exercising before heading off to my girls trip.  I have felt like a slug and staying on track with my weight became really hard, harder than I thought it would.  I need to learn how to control my eating and drinking behaviors on trips.  But getting out there and hiking a hike that has gorgeous views and a nice climb is exactly the medicine I needed.  Nothing charges my batteries like a good sweaty hike!

Next week should be a brand new hike and repeaters shouldn’t so frequently anymore.

Kathy and Aaron at the summit of Carpenters Peak

Kathy and Aaron at the summit of Carpenters Peak