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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!

Flower2 flower4

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.

denver Denver2

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

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Three Mile Creek Trail, Grant Co Hiked 4/26/14

30 Apr

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Starting Elevation: 9022 ft

Highest Elevation:  11800 ft but we only made it to 10,100 ft for a total of 1100 feet of elevation gain.

Trail Length: Officially it is 13 miles round trip, on this hike we only made 5.2 miles round trip because of the snow.

Trail Uses:  Hiker, Biker & Horses

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate to difficult, depending on how far you go

Fees: None

Bathrooms:  No, but there are 2 scary vault toilets along the road before you get to the trailhead, personally going outside would be easier….

Pets:  Yes on Leash

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Last week Burning Bear Trail made me fall in love with the area around Guanella Pass and the Mt. Evans Wilderness.  Three Mile Creek was another trail I had found late last year and it is in the same area so we headed out that way first thing Saturday morning.  The morning was absolutely perfect,  sunny with blue skies and the whole day was supposed to be that way with maybe some wind later in the afternoon.

parking lot trailhead

We started out and there was no snow or ice on the trail, it initially climbs just a little bit and goes along the road and then the creek.

starting out

I have to admit I was so excited in the beginning, I really thought we were going to make the whole trip with not too much snow. it was a nice steady climb through this stretch.

Views at the beginning

Views at the beginning

I had read that on this trail that as you go along the creek, it actually crosses over it 15-18 times in the first 3 miles, get to the first meadow and then climb on switchbacks up to the next Meadow where all the views are.

First creek Crossing

First creek Crossing

We made it over the creek about 6 of those times when the snow got to about 3-4 feet deep and while we had our snowshoes with us, the snow was getting so unstable from the warmth building throughout the morning that it was obvious at 2.6 miles in we weren’t getting in any further.

Along the creek

Along the creek

We turned around and just enjoyed what we could see of the trail.  We will for sure go here again and as soon as we can, maybe even backpacking here over the summer.  I had found out that this trail is considered a centennial trail, in that there is supposed to be a 100+different varieties of  flowers to be seen once the snow melts, that it has been written up a number of times.  That also means it is a busy trail during the summer and this summer promises to be epic for flowers given all the snow we have had.

Not too far from our turnaround point

Not too far from our turnaround point

Last picture I took before the snow was too much

Last picture I took before the snow was too much

At times we have made impulsive decisions that can be expensive, getting snowshoes was one of those.  We bought them from the Clymb for half the cost they would have been had we gone for this year’s versions and say I had gone for women’s versus men’s… but we got the adventure ones that are most useful for climbing mountains in the snow with backpacks on.  In total we spent $270 total with shipping and use of a coupon for 2 pairs of snowshoes.  This is how we figured we would pay them off; it costs $18-20 a day per person to rent snowshoes – each time we used our snowshoes we took $20 off what we paid.  We had hoped to have paid them off by the end of next season or spring of 2015.  This week was the 9th time we brought/used our snowshoes which means we paid off our snowshoes in just 3 months!  It is a stupid way of looking at things but it makes us happy, we did a little happy dance after our hike!

Not too many pictures from this hike so here’s how to get to this hike.

Directions: Take 285 from Bailey 10.8 miles to the town of Grant, turn right on to Park County Road 62( often referred to as Guanella Pass Road).  Drive 2.9 miles on the road and you will see the trailhead on right immediately before the Private property for the Next Mile signs.  It is a tiny parking lot so come early!

 

 

Burning Bear Trail #601, Grant Co Snowshoed 4/19/14

25 Apr
Best View

Best View

Starting Elevation:  9627Ft

Highest Elevation:   10,708Ft is the highest we made it but the highest part of the hike is supposed to be 10,740 ft

Trail Length:  The full length of the trail round trip is a 13 miles to Hall Valley  Trailhead we made it just under 8 miles round trip almost to the ridge top which was supposed to be 7.4 miles round trip, we didn’t make it to the Ridge line.  It took us 5 hours.

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker, Snowshoe, cross-country skiing, Horses

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate to Difficult

Fees:  None

Bathrooms:  Not near this trailhead but we passed a few outhouses on the Road up….they looked scary going outside would be better.

Pets:  Yes on leash

Beginning views

Beginning views

Last Fall I found this random website that gave a whole bunch of trail names with no information on where, length, difficulty or elevation.  I wrote down a couple of pages of them, found a few details and last week was the first time I actually studied them.  I wanted something that got us over 10,000Ft and in studying them I found this particular trail.  It looked perfect for our goals, lots of mileage, possible 2000-ish feet total elevation gain, getting above 10k and possible awesome views.  The other great thing about the trail is every report I found, and there weren’t many of them, said there was low to no traffic.  The only thing I wasn’t sure of was if we would need snowshoes or not… the week had been really warm and sunny so I figured if we needed them, it would only be to get over the ridge to get to that last 1.5 miles to the turnaround point.  When the news was reporting from Vail on Friday, there was no snow at the lower elevations which was about where we would be starting so I figured if we carried the snowshoes it would at least help me with my strength building for backpacking.

Saturday we got up early and started our almost 2 hour drive to the trailhead, the weather called for possible light rain in the AM, with thunderstorms starting around 2PM so I wanted to make sure we had enough time to finish before those possible thunderstorms started.  You have to park .2 miles past the trailhead.

Parking lot

Parking lot

Walking back to the trailhead

Walking back to the trailhead

The trail is immediately off of Park County Road 62 :

thru the gate Trail sign

It starts out really well-defined and marked, we took just 5-10 minutes to get to this bridge.

Trail in teh beginning cross the bridgecrossing geneva creek

The creek was beautiful and at first the snow was not a big deal, we went along our way for about 20 minutes before the first posthole.   Through the trees the postholing was minimal and the views were lovely.

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We saw our first trail marker before the meadow of our downfall

This marker is how you follow the trail

This marker is how you follow the trail

We  got to this meadow with the next trail sign and the postholing was epic, the last one went above my knee and I hoped Aaron wouldn’t break through when he came over to help me out.  Then we shuffled to the most stable spot we could find and put on our snowshoes, just a little more than half mile from the trailhead.

meadow  of snowshoe

It was much easier going with our snowshoes one, the trail skirts this huge meadow for around a mile when there is supposed to be a trail break  left takes you to the ridge( Our destination) or further.  While right takes you around the meadow back to Guanella Pass Road (Park CO 62).   We noticed lots of old tracks heading left 5-6 times looking for the right path.  You really need to follow the meadow for about a mile, maybe a little more with the trees on the left.  Once the trail reached the trees we went left, saw a marker and knew we were on the correct path.  We were also now thoroughly in the trees with a nice slow climb.

thru the trees

It was in this section we passed this tepee, it made me wonder under what circumstances it was built because it had to take some time to gather all those trees.

tree tepee

From here we wove over and around the creek.

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Along the Creek

Along the Creek

The snow was pretty deep the whole way and just before we hit the second meadow, it disappeared for maybe a tenth of a mile.

Oh that is what the trail looks like

Oh so that is what the trail looks like

Second Meadow before the  Sun came out

Second Meadow before the Sun came out

The cabin ruins aren’t too far past this second meadow, about half a mile.  Most people turn around here from what I read and from the tracks we saw, no one went past in a long time.

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The trail goes past the cabin and then climbs steeply up switch backs to the ridge.  The sun also came out strong and bright, which was lovely but super snow destabilizing warm.  We decided it was too pretty not to continue on and we felt good, like another mile or so wouldn’t be so bad.

A lot of the blueish gray markers had fallen down at this point so we used the notches to keep us on track

A lot of the plastic markers had fallen down at this point so we used the notches to keep us on track

This last mile was a struggle, in hind sight I should have called it much sooner, my legs become jello so much sooner in snowshoes and while we knew we had to be right at the ridge at 3.75 miles, the trail just continued to climb up as far as we could see.  We had two issues to consider… first we knew that while skies were blue, the clouds hanging out were definitely of the thunder storm variety and with the conditions of my legs at this point meant a fast escape if the weather changed wouldn’t be likely.

Just us with 4ish feet of snow at the turnaround point

Just us with 4ish feet of snow at the turnaround point

We turned around and headed back down, I fell 3 times in awesome fashion.  Then we got to that second meadow closest to the cabin and the effects of the sun made me bummed I didn’t turn us around sooner…. ever posthole with snowshoes on…. EXHAUSTING.  Our quick return was suddenly stalled and after an hour of it I was moving very slow when we finally got to that first meadows the views were spectacular.

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I will tell you this last half  mile or so was painfully long, but I wouldn’t stop moving because we could see the storm coming.  As we finally got back to the bridge and took off our snow shoes, the first drops started  falling which turned into an immediate downpour.  We tried to run but our legs were just toast, fortunately we made it to the car before the sleet started.  Almost perfect timing and despite our exhaustion we were also exhilarated, so worth every bruise I woke up with on Sunday.

pouring

I loved this trail, the views, the forest climb, the meadows, the creek and everything else.  I cannot wait to get back when there is no snow and make it to the ridge, hopefully further.

I hope whatever your weekend has in store for you, it involves getting out there and hiking!!!

Directions:  From Bailey  drive west on 285 for 10.8 miles to Grant.  Turn right on Park county Road #62( Sometimes called the Guanella pass road) and drive 4.9 miles to the trailhead at a turn in the road.  There is a sign and a gate on the left (North) side of the road at the trailhead.  Parking is available .2 miles further at the parking for Abyss Lake Trail.

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

view 2

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!

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